Tibetans in India have kept their roots, says author

IANS    25-Dec-2013

undefinedNew Delhi, December 25: Author Kaushik Barua, whose debut fictional tale is set during the 1956 Tibetan resistance movement, says Tibetan refugees in India have kept their roots intact and have retained their culture well.

Researching for the book "Windhorse", Barua spent time meeting, interacting and observing Tibetans living in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, and Majnu-ka-Tila in Delhi, where the refugees have been staying since coming to India in 1959.

It was during these conversations that Barua realised how young and old, and Tibetans born in India have not given up on their roots.

"They have done a remarkable job in retaining their culture," Barua, who has been working with the UN for the past five years, told IANS.

"They are a modern, happy community who have stayed rooted and are proud of their brave past and optimistic about the future," he added.

After spending six years researching and penning his novel, Barua feels Tibet is one issue the international community does not want to speak about.

"They just give token speeches. No one is actually talking about freedom in Tibet," he said.

The author has been a supporter of Students for a Free Tibet - a global grassroots network of students and activists working for human rights and freedom.

It was in 1959 when a revolt erupted in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, and an armed conflict took place between Tibetan rebels and the Chinese army, which had been controlling Tibet since an agreement in 1951.

Published by Harper Collins, the 366-page book follows the lives of a group of Tibetan rebels who set up an armed resistance movement against the Chinese.

It is a story about Lhasang Tsering, who grows up in eastern Tibet, and Norbu who is born in India. The two meet and join the movement, and so develops the narrative further.

Though Barua says Lhasang is a real-life character whom he met during one of his visits to Dharamsala, he quickly clarifies that the story is completely fictional.

"Six years ago, I had met him at one of the book stores where he gave me a book on Tibet. I found it pretty interesting and that is how we became friends. I became so interested in this subject that I started meeting many Tibetans," Barua said.

"But I was sure from the beginning that I would be writing a fiction because I wanted to use my imagination and writing skills," he added.

The author has taken liberty with his two lead characters and speaks of turmoil and conflict through their personal struggles.

"I have given them different countries so that I can show how they feel. As Norbu lives in India, he is in emotional exile, whereas Lhasang is physically drifting from the situation," he added.