"The spirit of Tibetans living inside Tibet is very strong, and the Tibetans in exile have put in place a healthy democratic institution in both temporal and spiritual fields. So we are very much prepared," His Holiness told Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN's Devil's Advocate programme on Sunday.
On being asked if he is serious about his retirement plans, His Holiness said: "Oh yes, of course. Since 2001 we have put in place a political leadership in exile. So theoretically the more than 400-year-old tradition of the Dalai Lama institution as head of both the temporal and spirituality has ended. Since then my position is something like a semi-retired position. The major decisions are taken by the elected political leadership. So in order to utilise fully democracy, I felt better not to involve myself in any sort of these works. Of course, I can devote my efforts in other fields like in the promotion of human values and religious harmony. So I am thinking about retirement."
When asked if he has set any date of retirement, His Holiness said: "No. Firstly, I have to discuss with the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile. I want to inform them about my intention (retirement), although I had already briefly mentioned to them about this."
On the question of the continuation of the Dalai Lama institution, His Holiness said: "If my death comes in the next few years, then I think most probably the concerned people, including the Mongolian people and the Buddhists living in the Himalayan range, will keep this institution. Then the 15th Dalai Lama will come."
The key question is how your successor will be chosen. At the moment Tibet is Chinese control and the Chinese (government) are not sympathetic to the institution of the Dalai Lama, said Karan Thapar. In his reply, His Holiness said: "I think Chinese are very much concerned about the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. They are more concerned about the next Dalai Lama than me."
Do you think the next Dalai Lama should be chosen in the traditional way or do you need to make changes in the process or the rules? His Holiness said: "I have made it clear many years before that if the majority of Tibetan people want to keep this institution then the next question would be how to choose the successor whether through the traditional or a modern way. I have expressed this openly more than 20 or 30 years ago."
Given the present critical circumstances are you to prepare to nominate the next Dalai Lama in your life time? His Holiness said: "I think for the moment the issue of Dalai Lama is in no hurry. I am quite healthy, so we can wait for another 15 to 20 years. As far as leadership in temporal field is concerned, we have elected leadership through elections after every five years as long as we remain in exile. In the spiritual field, all the different Tibetan spiritual traditions are being carried by a very healthy younger generation. So I have no worry."
"If the Tibetan people really want to keep the Dalai Lama institution, when the time of my old age there is possibility to have a deputy Dalai Lama to carry forward my work of promotion of religious harmony and human values," His Holiness said.
If the next Dalai Lama is to be chosen in the traditional way, should he be discovered only from within the territory of Tibet or can you also permit Tibetans in the Diaspora living outside Tibet to be considered? His Holiness replied: "Since many years ago I have it made very clear that if my death occurred while we remain outside Tibet then logically the new reincarnation's purpose to succeed the works started in the previous life. My reincarnation should be someone to carry continuously my struggle. Therefore, logically the reincarnation will appear outside Tibet. Of course the Chinese (government) may choose a Dalai Lama like the present two Panchen Lamas. One official Panchen Lama and another Panchen Lama. But I think over 80 - 90 percent of Tibetans don't believe the official Panchen Lama and many Chinese also usually call him as false Panchen Lama."
On being asked if he hopes to see again in his lifetime, His Holiness said: "Yes. It would be difficult if the Tibetan problem was a result of civil war which is the not the case. The actual problem came from the Chinese government and not its people. Within the Chinese government there are different sorts of opinions. The hardliners' way of thinking changes and the Tibet's problem will find a solution within a few days." On being further asked if he is confident to see Tibet, His Holiness said: Yes.
His Holiness was asked how can he fight to stop the Chinese government's policies to wipe out Tibetan language and culture. His Holiness said: "We are trying to achieve a meaningful autonomy within the People's Republic of China."
But the Chinese are sitting in Tibet wiping your language, culture and religion, and trying to break the link between the Dalai Lama and monasteries, Karan Thapar said.
To this His Holiness replied: "These policies are unrealistic and will not succeed."
Are you confident it will not succeed? No I don't think, His Holiness replied.
So China will fail and Tibet will survive culturally and in religious and linguistic terms?
Certainly, His Holiness said.