Can you get rid of the alienation of a people through development? Can the Metropolis buy loyalty-and, with luck, affection-by pumping a few
billion dollars into the Periphery? (If that were the case, there should by now have been at least ten people in Pakistan who would publicly admit
to liking the USA.) or does the answer lie in cultural symbols-language, sacred monuments, the presence (or, at least, pictures) of a wildly
popular religious leader, and respect for the history and culture of the Periphery?
It is true that identities based on religion and language are a-what expression did Uncle Karl call use?-false consciousness. Why, then,
are they so pervasive?
But, hey! That’s not what this book is like -or about.
We figured that since you are in for an extremely easy read-a mere travelogue that asks questions-we could use fancy language at least
on the flap.
Sidharth and Parvez have the objectivity of outsiders. And yet, having lived and worked in Ladakh and Bhutan, where people have the
same religion, race, script and culture, it was like moving to another room within the same house-the sacred room.
Even though Parvez Dewan was born in mountainous Kashmir, he saw his first snowfall in Tawang, an eastern region of India
where Tibetan Buddhism is practiced. Four years and two thousand kilometers later, Parvez got caught in a snowstorm in a comfortable house in
a village in Zanskar (Ladakh), a region in the northern extremity of India, which, too, follows the culture and religion of Tibet. With nothing else
to do for almost a week, he decided to learn the Tibetan script, which has been derived from India’s Devanagari.
After serving Zanskar, Parvez translated a Buddhist epic, wrote Ladakhi phrasehooks, promoted tourism in Ladakh and, in 1993,
started the now-famous Ladakh Festival. He has been researching Buddhism in Himalayan lands as far apart as Tawang and Ladakh, with Sikkim,
Bhutan, Nepal and, of course, Tibet, in between.
Parvez was educated at St Stephen’s College, Delhi, and the University of Cambridge, and was later elected a Visiting Research
Fellow of Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford.
At St Stephen’s, he was the President of the College Union Society and was awarded the L. Raghubir Singh History Prize for ranking
first in his BA (Hons.) class. At Cambridge, he won the Jennings Prize in 1987 for obtaining the highest marks, and a distinction, in the
Development Studies class. He was the Senior Treasurer of the C.U. (Cambridge University) Friends of the Earth and was also active with the
C.U. Green Party and the C.U. Mystics.
Published books by Parvez Dewan: Hindi-Urdu: A language Survival Kit; The Civil Services; India’s Western Himalayas; The Hanuman
Chalisa; The Names of Allah; Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh: Kashmir; Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh: Kashmir; Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh; The Book of
Hanuman; Allah ke muqaddas Naam; Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh: Jammu; Jammu: A History; Kashmir: A History; Ladakh: A History.
Under publication: Hanumanji, his Vanars and his Lanka (2009, Shubhi Publications), Allah: the Hallowed Names’ (Shubhi
Siddharth Srivastava is a philanthropist and a promoter of the art and culture of North Eastern India. He was born near
Bodhgaya (Bihar). His grandfather, Shri RAP Sinha, named him after Lord Buddha and Brought alive for him the spiritual richness of Bodhgaya,
the holiest Buddhist pilgrimage in the world, as well as the art and cultural resources of Buddhism. Since his childhood Siddharth had always
wondered what Tibet would be like. The first visuals that he saw of Tibet were in Tintin in Tibet.
Siddharth spends a part of every year in Europe, as part of his business, and North Eastern India for philanthropy. He has set up a
programme for the electrification of a remote village in Assam through renewable energy and has been working in rural North Eastern India for
the development of artists. He has an excellent collection of pictures of monasteries in India, Bhutan and China. His photographs catch the
spiritual side of living beings and capture images which have not yet been seen by the normal eye. His photography is based on peace and
spiritualism. Sidharth owns a marine logistic organization. He is a graduate of Commerce from Delhi’s Sri Ram College of Commerce.
Fifty years ago I and tens of thousands of my fellow countrymen and women escaped to freedom in India and Communist China consolidated its
control of our homeland, Tibet. Since then interest in Tibet with its rich and ancient culture has grown throughout the world and yet, given
conflicting Tibetan and Chinese accounts, many people remain confused about the present situation there.
Whenever friends have asked my advice I have encouraged them to go to Tibet if they can, to see for themselves with their own eyes
how things are there and to make up their own minds what circumstances Tibetans are living under. What’s more I have urged them, when they
come home, to tell others what they saw.
Parvez Dewan has for many years taken a special interest in Tibet and the Buddhist culture it shares with the Himalayan region and
appreciates its value. He has lived in Ladakh and traveled widely throughout the Himalayan region, but in late 2008 he finally had the opportunity
to visit Tibet. Photographer Siddharth Srivastava accompanied him and this book is an account of what they found.
Back of the Book
Two-Indians-the first Tibetologists from Gyagar since Rahul Sankrityayan (1893-1963)-went to Tibet to plug gaps in their knowledge of
Himalayan Buddhism, and to see how Tibet compared with the neighbouring Ladakh region of India.
What they found instead was an affluent, breathtakingly planned, 21st century town, with sparkling six-lane roads and glass-front shops
that sold all the top international designer labels. Siddharth dubbed Lhasa ‘the most romantic city in the world.’
And yet, the mood of the people was somber. Tibet had been reopened to tourists only a few weeks before, after major riots that had
taken place earlier in the year.
Three issues seemed to dominate their thinking: Has Tibet been swamped y outsiders-and has its population been diluted? Is Tibet a
self-sufficient land with enormous natural resources? And has Tibet historically been an independent land, a protectorate or a province?
Parvez and Siddharth set out to find the answers.
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