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Reformist Sonam Wangchuk supports Tibet's freedom from China

One of India's most iconic educationists, Sonam Wangchuk, has come out in support of Tibet's freedom from China, which he believes is yet another reason to use ‘wallet power' against Chinese products.

Reformist Sonam Wangchuk supports Tibets freedom from China
Sonam Wangchuk


In an interview to IANS in Leh, 53-year-old Wangchuk, whose campaign ‘boycott Chinese products' received overwhelming support from Indian citizens following the violent face-off between Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in May this year, asserted that his call against Beijing has ethical reasons.

The engineer-turned-educationist, who inspires millions of students across the country for having chosen a modest and simple life in a village in Leh over a career in a big city or abroad, argues that China is a violator of human rights of six million Tibetans.

"Any source that is a violator of rights of others should be given up. For example, people gave up the products which were made by child labour and involved violation of child rights, even if the products were cheaper," he said.

The Ramon Magsaysay award winner, who founded the Students' Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh over three decades ago, asked, "If you care about child rights and animals rights, how about the human rights of the six million Tibetans and 11 million Uighurs (under China)?"

The conscience keeper of India, reiterated that the "whole world needs to use the same wallets that made China so powerful, to bring it down so that countries like Tibet who have been unlawfully occupied by China are given freedom. Not only Tibetans and Uighurs, but I would say that 1.4 billion Chinese people are also bonded labourers there. So definitely Tibet, by all means Tibet, but also the Chinese people deserve freedom."

Responding to the criticism that the boycott of Chinese goods can result in loss of jobs and recession in Indian economy, the educationist scoffed, "It is ridiculous that we say we find employment in selling Chinese goods when a decade or two ago, there was ten times more employment by making those products in India."

He referred to the products like toys, bicycles, shoes, shirts that Indians used to manufacture. "All their employment went to China but we are not worried about that. We are worried about the few jobs generated by trading somebody else's products," the social reformist said.

Describing it as a warped view, Wangchuk added, "We are suffering from amnesia. We think that we have always had imported Chinese goods and never made anything."

Making a strong pitch for his campaign, the activist said that it is an attempt to bring back "all that we have had -- making things ourselves and for ourselves. Perhaps, we can do this for the world also."

Out of the seven billion people in the world, he pointed out, India and China make 2.5 billion or so. "The rest of the five billion people are there for us to take our products outwards if we wish," he argued.

"If we want to go global, the whole world is looking for alternative manufacturing. Unlike in the past, today, people around the world are wary of China and apprehensive about its expansionist actions. People around the world, particularly the most advanced countries, are looking up to countries like India to provide alternatives," he said.

But for the sake of ecology and environment, Wangchuk is happy if India made things just for itself and so did each country for itself, locally. An admirer of Indian philosophical thought, the educationist said that actually the world should emulate India.

"The world should also be somewhat like how India is. Not very greedy and not very materialistic. I would rather like everybody to be content and happy with what they have. The whole world needs to slow down, relax a bit and stay happy with little," he argued passionately.

Though he agreed that India has to reach a certain level of economic growth and prosperity where people should be free from hunger and sickness, he insisted that beyond that, money and material do not work. The law of diminishing returns kicks in, he warned, after the initial happiness and satisfaction drawn from accumulating assets and wealth.

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