Tibetan exiles have gathered in Dharamsala to discuss the future — and the past. The Dalai Lama has been ill, he has expressed disappointment with China regarding talks about Tibet, and suggested that the office of the Dalai Lama will not last forever — nothing does. But for anyone with a shred of sympathy for a free or autonomous Tibet, the picture is a bit gloomy. The Olympics brought Tibet media attention, but the world spotlight has only stiffened China’s resolve to not give an inch on the Tibet issue. Will the global economic meltdown make China vulnerable? Doubtful but possible. It certainly has hurt them as consumers everywhere “tightened their purse strings.”

Some of the delegates gathering in Dharamsala will argue that there is no alternative but to continue to campaign for autonomy; others will argue that now is the time to call for full independence.

The need to discuss the future has been given added impetus by concern over the health of the Dalai Lama, who had to be hospitalised in August, and who had gall stone surgery last month.

China says the meeting in Dharamsala is meaningless, and the participants do not represent the people of Tibet.

But the Dalai Lama has decided now is the time to hear a wide variety of views – with no pre-determined outcome.

Is it time for a new approach? Yes, but what will work?

[Photo: Nir Elias, Reuters]

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