Sakina Batt is an experienced news anchor, Interview host, news writer, video producer, editor, scriptwriter and content creator. She leads the video series namely, "In Conversation with Tibet TV", which profiles Artists & Politicians. She is also one of the hosts for the weekly news bulletin, "Tibet This Week", which features the latest on everything related to Tibet, His Holiness The Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration. She received her Master's in Mass Communication from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. Excerpts from our conversation with Sakina Batt:
1. You have proved your talent in multiple areas – you are an experienced news anchor, Interview host, news writer, video producer, editor, scriptwriter, and content creator. You also became the first Tibetan Muslim woman to work at Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). A long and wonderful journey indeed. Talk to us about your journey so far.
To be honest, it was not my plan to be what I am today. I always wanted to be a fashion designer or anything to do with the fashion industry. But somehow it just didn’t happen and I decided to join mass communication. After working as a film student, I started developing an interest in making films, especially documentaries and when I got a job in CTA’s Tibet TV, I started to enjoy my conversation program “In Conversation with Tibet TV” where I got to connect with inspiring people from all walks of life and know their side of their success story.
After 4 years and 3 months of service, I had to leave Tibet TV. Working at CTA made me realize that I wanted to be a part of the Tibetan cause and continue working for it. Some of the Tibetan media even approached me but reading and writing in Tibetan was necessary which I lacked.
I realized the importance of reading and writing in Tibetan, especially when you have the urge to work in Tibetan media. I hope that one day I can work in the Tibetan Media and contribute to the Tibetan cause.
After coming to Nepal, I managed to get a job as a director in a marketing agency called Meeting Point. I direct promotional videos, copywriting, develop content, and also do voiceovers. Just a few months after joining Meeting Point, I was approached by Asia Freedom Institute for the post of Moderator for AFI’s virtual event called the Freedom Hour. I am forever grateful to AFI, for connecting me back to the Tibetan Cause. So currently I am working for both Meeting Point and AFI.
My life gets very busy most of the time but I want to get busy at this point in time and grab all the opportunities that come my way and learn. Sometimes work gets hectic and I feel like giving up everything, but that doesn't solve anything. I surround myself with good company, positivity and decide to keep moving no matter how challenging it gets at times.
2. As part of the interviews, you have interacted with many accomplished Tibetans from various fields. What are your key takeaways from the experience of hearing their stories? One memorable moment, if there is one.
Connecting with many Tibetans and also Tibet supporters during my interview program was itself one of the best experiences at Tibet TV. When you decide to interview a person, you just don’t sit and start to interview them. You need to research the person and their work. Interviewing Tibetans who are doing great work in exile is very inspiring. Each one has their own stories and many have influenced me personally as well. For instance, I decided to be a vegetarian and started connecting with animals after I interviewed the Vegan Activist, Dawa Dolkar la, I started to voice my own opinions after interviewing Kaysang la, the co-founder of Drokmo, an NGO set up to pursue gender justice in the Tibetan and Himalayan communities.
There is so much to learn from each one of them. It is not an easy journey for the Tibetans in exile, but many are doing so well and have established themselves despite all the challenges they face as a refugee. I am so happy that I get to tell their stories and inspire the other Tibetans who are watching the stories of Tibetans from the interviews through Tibet TV.
3. In your opinion, what are the most pressing political issues that Tibetans in exile should focus on, and how can the Tibetan diaspora effectively advocate for their rights and interests?
These days everyone has access to social media and should use that platform to raise all kinds of Tibetan issues. One doesn’t have to be a famous or popular figure to voice their opinions. We should all be responsible Tibetan and do every little thing that we can in our own way for our Tibetan cause. We should all be aware of what is happening in Tibet and to the Tibetans in exile. We should read news on Tibet updated on the Tibetan social media platforms.
One of the most important responsibilities of each Tibetan is to preserve their language and culture. Tibetan parents should make sure that their children have access to the Tibetan language. If our language and culture disappear then it is equal to our identity being lost.
4. How do you perceive the current political situation in Tibet, and what impact does it have on your life as a Tibetan youth in exile?
Whatever is happening to the Tibetans inside Tibet is directly or indirectly having an effect on the Tibetans in exile. There are many Tibetans working at CTA, who is not in contact with their own families in Tibet. During my service at CTA, I recall one of my colleagues sharing she forgot that she even had an elder sister in Tibet. She was not in touch with her family in Tibet and she sometimes forgets that she actually has her own family back in Tibet. This struck me so hard and got me into deep contemplation.
I had to always be updated about the news inside Tibet while I was working at Tibet TV and it kept getting worse. As a Tibetan, it did bother me and made me sad but when you look around you where you are surrounded by Tibetans and their resilience and hope to resolve the issue of Tibet, you gain strength.
China is one of the most powerful countries in the world and yet that doesn’t lower our hope and strength. We Tibetans should all be united and keep our differences aside. The situation will get more challenging in years to come and so should our fight for the rights of the Tibetan people.
5. How has HH the Dalai Lama inspired you? How was your experience meeting HH?
It’s always surreal meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama, especially for someone who had to stand for hours under the scorching sun once upon a time and wait for His Holiness to get a few second's glimpses.
While working in Dharamsala I saw His Holiness a couple of times even before my audience.
I had the opportunity to have an audience with His Holiness twice, one was an in-person audience with my family in 2018 and one was a virtual audience before I left CTA. I cannot explain in words how I felt. I feel very fortunate to be in the presence of His Holiness so closely with my family and I felt very blessed.
His Holiness is an inspiration not just to the Tibetans but to the world. After enduring a lot since the age of 16, His Holiness always has a smile on his face and talks about peace and compassion. His teachings and talks always inspire me to continue to work for the Tibetan cause and become a better human being.
6. How do you stay informed about current events and developments in Tibet and the Tibetan diaspora to be well-prepared for reporting on different topics?
My work at AFI introduce me to various people, and we have monthly discussions on Tibet-related issues. I do my own research before these meetings and interaction with our panelists helps me keep updated with the current issues inside and the Tibetan diaspora.
I follow most of the exile Tibetan media houses such as TibetTV, VOA, VOT, and RFA and keep myself informed on the current issues.
7. Can you please share your experience working in Tibet TV?
I learned a lot while working at TibetTV, regarding the plight of Tibetans and the functioning of the Central Tibetan Administration. I loved wearing Chupa every day at work, although the men not wearing their traditional attire bothered me a little. Most men wore their traditional attire only on Wednesdays. At CTA, no matter how hectic the work gets, you feel a strong sense of responsibility as we are doing it for our own cause and that feeling of commitment is very special.
8. What is your advice for Tibetans especially for the Tibetan Youth?
Learning the Tibetan language, not just in terms of speaking but in reading and writing. Language is one of the most important aspects of preservation. Be informed about the Tibetan cause, talk about it. Never lose hope and support one another. Encourage the ones who have the will to rise and motivate the ones who are doing well.
9. What do you think is the role of social media in today’s world and how it will help in spreading awareness about Tibet and its culture and traditions?
Each one of us can play a very important role in social media as most of us have access to it. There are many Tibetan youtubers who are doing well on social media platforms and portraying their culture beautifully in terms of clothes, food, festival, etc. We should keep growing and not be discouraged by the growing economy of China.