(TibetanReview.net, Mar25, 2015) – Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, on Mar 23 delivered the inaugural address at a conference on ‘Strengthening Democracy in Asia’ held at the India International Centre, New Delhi. It was held to celebrate the legacy of veteran Indian activist and federal government minister Mr George Fernandes whom the Dalai Lama described as “my old friend”.
Referring to Mr Fernandes, the Dalai Lama said, “He was sympathetic to Tibet and the Tibetan cause right from the start and never missed an opportunity to speak up for them. His face will remain in my heart until I die and I’ll remember him even into my next life.”
Mr Carl Gershman, President of the US congressionally funded National Endowment for Democracy, welcomed the Dalai Lama and the head of the exile Tibetan administration Sikyong Lobsang Sangay before outlining aspects of Mr Fernandes’s life.
Associating democracy with freedom, the Dalai Lama said even animals love freedom, noting that they love to run whenever the door is open. He added that apart from freedom, equality was important, pointing out that some 2600 years ago, Buddha Shakyamuni had opposed caste discrimination and that the problem still remained in India.
He also noted that the movement for freedom and democracy has historically been a difficult one. “The Bolshevik revolution opposed and removed the Tsar, but then Lenin became a tyrant like the Tsar before him. Likewise, the Chinese communists successfully opposed the Emperor and powerful warlords, only to become like warlords themselves.”
He suggested that the movement for democracy today should include people from all over the world standing opposed to the narrow-minded short-sightedness of totalitarianism.”
Others who participated in the conference included Mr Anselmo Lee from the Asian Democracy Network, South Korea, and Ms Melinda Quintos de Jesus from the World Movement for Democracy.
Mr Fernandes, a former defence minister, has been suffering from Alzheimer’s Syndrome and Parkinson’s disease for some time and was therefore not present at the conference.
Later in the afternoon, the Dalai Lama was received at the Gymkhana Club where he spoke about the need to foster both warm-heartedness and intelligence.
The day before, the Dalai Lama met with Mr Arvind Kejriwal and Mr Manish Sisodia, the Chief and Deputy Chief Minister, respectively, of Delhi. Their Aam Aadmi Party had won a landslide victory in the recent city election with the agenda of fighting corruption. “Corruption is a kind of violence and it must be done away with,” the party quoted the Dalai Lama as saying, issuing a press statement on the meeting.