International Relations

Tibetan Democracy Day: A Struggle and Resilience Legacy

  • On September 2, Tibetan Democracy Day commemorates the establishment of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamshala.
  • It represents the restoration of Tibetan democracy following forced displacement.

Historical Origins of the Tibetan Government in Exile

  • The first elected representatives of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile were sworn in in 1960, a year after Tibetans were expelled.
  • His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s influence resulted in the adoption of the Tibetan constitution, emphasising democracy, in 1963.

The Central Tibetan Administration’s (CTA) role

  • The CTA, headquartered in Dharamshala, manages approximately 100,000 Tibetan refugees worldwide.
  • It is at the heart of Tibetan autonomy and resilience.

CTA’s Evolution:

  • Under the Tibetan constitution, the first women parliamentarians were elected in 1963.
  • The CTA designated September 2 as the founding day of Tibetan democracy in 1975.
  • The Tibetans in Exile Charter was adopted in 1991, and the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission was established in 1992.

CTA’s Operation

  • The CTA is organised into departments directed by the President (Sikyong): Religion and Culture, Home, Finance, Education, Security, Information and International Relations, and Health.
  • The Tibetan Parliament in Exile is comprised of 45 members that represent various sections of the Tibetan community.

Leadership Change

  • Following the Dalai Lama’s semi-retirement, the executive head, Kalön Tripa, was elected directly.
  • His Holiness handed political authority to Sikyong, President of the CTA, in 2011.

Bodh Gaya’s Function

  • The first elected Tibetan MPs took their vows in Bodh Gaya in 1960, ushering in the democratic system.
  • Bodh Gaya was crucial in the early days of Tibetan democracy.

India’s perception of Tibet

  • The Dalai Lama is respected in India as a spiritual leader, but the CTA is not officially recognised as a government.
  • It strikes a balance between diplomatic considerations and support for Tibetan refugees.

Global Appreciation

  • The United States is a prominent backer, with bipartisan backing and specialised Tibet coordinators.
  • While international recognition is limited, Tibetans appreciate India’s constant assistance.
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