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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Preparation for the Future -- A SWOT and Trend analysis:Tsewang Namgyal

November 15, 2008

Development of strategies and goals requires an in depth insight into
one's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). SWOT
Analysis is a proven technique often used in the business world to
understand these issues and craft successful strategies. Similarly,
Trend Analysis (TA) is another useful tool. TA allows for the
understanding of the world's political and economic changes and
enables one to develop plans that are less reactive and can stand the
test of time. In addition, understanding the trends would allow one
to leverage on them similar to when a surfer rides the waves by using
the natural forces to one's advantage. Here I would like to apply the
above analysis technique and use them to our community.

By Tsewang Namgyal
Phayul
November 14, 2008

SWOT Analysis

We have many STRENGTHS in our "fight" with the Chinese government and
some of their bad policies. Our obvious strengths are His Holiness,
our legal and historical credibility, the dedication of the exiled
government officials, patriotism of the Tibetan people and the
richness of our culture. However, I believe our greatest strength is
our unity irrespective of whether we live inside or outside of Tibet.
This belief was most strengthened by a conversation I had with an
influential Tibetan who used to work for the Chinese government.
According to him, he believes the main reason why the Chinese
government talks to the Tibetan leadership in exile is because deep
down they are aware that Tibetans inside Tibet support the exile leadership.

We also have many WEAKNESSES such as the lack of recognition of the
Tibetan government-in-exile, small population, poor economy and lack
of political sophistication. However, I believe the most important
weaknesses we need to improve on are in improving our education and
economic level. Unless we are able to financially and intellectual
empower ourselves further our difficulty will be not only in
achieving a political breakthrough but more importantly in executing one.

Here I would like to appeal especially to young Tibetans to study
hard and think of (legal) ways to economically empower oneself. As a
community we should consider it a "patriotic duty" to do so even if
the focus is on individual empowerment. At the end I believe an
empowered Tibetan will benefit our community whether intentionally or not.

The greatest OPPORTUNITY that has opened since the March 2008
national uprising that took place is the unprecedented interest in
Tibet by the Chinese people. Granted most of the interest has not
been supportive. However, I believe if we can clearly share with
ordinary Chinese people our similar interests, such as human rights
and freedom, I am confident we will get their support. The other
opportunities are the rising concerns of many countries regarding
China's growing military power and the world's continual interest in
Tibetan culture because of its benefits.

I believe that our biggest THREAT is attracting and retaining the
best Tibetan minds to join the Tibetan Exile Administration. Pleading
and invoking patriotism may only go so far. In addition, I believe it
is the responsibility of every Tibetans to provide the government
officials with sufficient resource, inspire them by genuinely and
publicly recognizing their efforts and support them financially
whenever possible. The importance of a company's success depends much
on its management. The same logic applies to a government. Therefore,
while we demand from our government officials to continue to provide
the best service and make sure we have the appropriate checks and
balances so mistakes are not made we also need to empower and inspire
our government officials. Similarly I believe it is critical we
always think of ways to inspire and encourage our many volunteers
whether they are in the social, education, community and political
field as they help fill in the service gap.

In line with the importance of supporting our government officials, I
believe at the Special Meeting, while we may have differences in our
final goals and strategies to achieve it we must always continue to
remain respectful of our government in exile. At the upcoming
meeting, while one strongly share our goals and policies to the
Samdhong Rimpoche administration it is important that we not try and
force them to change directions. If we do that, we could start a
dangerous trend and create an anarchic situation both now and when
Rimpoche's term expires. In the end, I believe we should always
respect the mechanism in our constitution irrespective of whether our
democratically elected administration supports Independence, the
Middle Path or any other goals.

Other threats we face include the Chinese government's ability to
influence the international community to isolate our officials and
create disunity among our people.

Trend Analysis
Related to the opportunities and threats I would like to share a few
important trends of which we should bear in mind. Prior to that
thought I share one of the most powerful teachings that I have heard
from our elders so that we are never in a state of panic. When "good"
things happen remember it is impermanent. When "bad" things happen
remember that too is impermanent. Such reflections allows one to have
a calm and clear mind enabling one to best analyze and "exploit" the situation.

Changes in China and the world around us will continue to have a
tremendous influence on Tibet. Personally, I believe economic changes
will have as much impact on Tibet as political changes.

The world economic crisis and drop in commodity prices will likely
have a mixed impact on the Tibetan people. On the negative side,
financial donations and remittance to Tibetan exile institutions and
families will likely decrease. On the positive side, the drop in
copper and oil prices by over 40% since the summer will likely delay
some of the planned large-scale natural resources extraction
activities in Tibet. This delay may give Tibetans valuable time to
really understand the industry and play a more proactive role when
large-scale development does take place.

Related to the economic crisis, this month China has announced a
US$586 billion stimulas package. Much of it is planned to be used to
finance infrastructure project. Although this is welcome as it would
likely help stabilize China's economy with their decrease in exports,
there is a danger that some of the funds will be used to further
finance their occupation of Tibet.

Current political developments in Taiwan also have the potential to
have a major impact on Tibet. With the possible open team up of the
KMT administration and the Chinese government on one side and the
potential support of the Taiwanese people by the free world on the
other side, a showdown is not inconceivable in the near future. If
such a conflict does arise, this has the danger of a continual strong
clampdown on Tibet so that the Chinese government can focus on the
external threats. However, the other scenario is the Chinese
government may prevent such a scenario and focus more on a carrot
policy with the Taiwanese people and even usher in some freedom in
Tibet to try and seduce the Taiwanese people.

The new US administration's Tibet policy will likely continue to be
kind and just. Tibet fortunately enjoys both an emotional and
strategic interest for the United States. The European Union will
probably continue with a conflicted Tibet policy driven both by their
economic interest in their relation with China and moral obligations
to support human rights.

The new government of Nepal is likely to continue to have a draconian
policy on Tibet unless the Nepali people themselves stand up to their
government's inhumane policies. It is unlikely foreign or external
pressures will be able to influence their new government as China
will be able to neutralize it. However, if the influence is from
within Nepal led by the Tamangs, Sherpas and other ethnic groups who
share the same Tibet culture and ideals of human rights it has the
potential of changing their government's Tibet policy to conform with
the civilized world.

India's continual focus on her economy and its sensitivity to its
borders will likely be the key factors that could change their Tibet
policy. Historical ties and the special relationship that Tibetans
and Indians have will cushion any drastic changes. Overall it is
likely India will continue to be generous to Tibetans but it would be
prudent for the Tibetans to carefully watch the situation since this
is the basket where Tibetans have placed most of their eggs.

There are many other trends and in an uncertain world we will never
be able to predict and influence all of them. However, we should not
wait for the perfect environment but need to look for opportunities
that open with each change in scenario.

In conclusion, I believe it is important to see beyond our Tibet
world in identifying our opportunities and to capitalize on our
strengths. We should never get caught up in petty internal politics
if it is ill motivated and remember that every Tibetans contribution
must be appreciated. Use of proven techniques such as SWOT and Trend
analysis will allow us to help shape our direction, mobilize our
resources effectively, mitigate our threats and react pro-actively.
Our precious teachings teach us that with compassion and wisdom we
will be able to achieve our spiritual goal. I believe the same
applies to our political goal.

The author is an MBA graduate from the Thunderbird School of
Management and currently works in the Investment Banking field in New
York City. Besides his regular work, Tsewang has traveled extensively
throughout the three provinces of Tibet and provided consulting and
voluntary services to a number of Tibetan organizations. He can be
reached at densang123@yahoo.com
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