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Tibetan Democracy Day

  • Category
    International Relations
  • Published
    9th Sep, 2023

Context

More than 60 years now, Tibetan Democracy Day is globally celebrated on September 2, every year.

Background

  • Tibetan Democracy Day, or ‘MangstoDuchen’, signifies the start of the Tibetan exile community's democratic system.
  • On September 2, 1960, a year after thousands of Tibetans had been forced to flee their home.
  • The first elected representatives of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile took their oaths in Bodh Gaya to inaugurate the Tibetan democratic system.
  • The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), headquartered in Dharamshala, Indiawas also established to oversee the Tibetan diaspora and their democratic governance which serves over 100,000 refugees.
  • In 1963, the Dalai Lama enacted the Tibetan constitution based on the ideals of democracy and universal values.
  • In 1975, Kashag, the apex body of CTA, declared September 2 as the founding day of Tibetan democracy.

How the CTA (the Tibetan government-in-exile) works?

  • The CTA, which is based in Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh, has a branch office in every Tibetan settlement spread across India and abroad.
  • The President, PenpaTsering, CTA runs seven departments: Religion and Culture, Home, Finance, Education, Security, Information and International Relations, and Health.
  • The President is directly elected every five years.
  • The Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, the highest legislative body of the CTA, comprises 45 members:
    • 10 representatives from each of the traditional provinces of Tibet, U-Tsang, Dhotoe, and Dhomey;
    • Two from each of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism;
    • Two representing each of the Tibetan communities in North America and Europe; and
    • One each from Australasia and Asia (excluding India, Nepal and Bhutan).

Every Tibetan above 18 with their Green Book, the main document of identity, is allowed to register in the voter’s list.

India’s official policy towards the CTA:

  • India considers the Dalai Lama as a revered religious leader and an honoured guest, but it does not encourage political activities by Tibetans.
  • It does not recognise any separate government of Tibet functioning in India.
  • Although, Tibetan refugees across the world recognisethe CTA as their legitimate government.

The Global stance:

  • US is the only government in the world which is politically upfront in supporting the Tibetan issue like on Policies on Tibet (Tibet Policy Act 2002, and Tibet Policy and Support Act 2020), and an appointment of special coordinator on Tibet.
  • However, the CTA is not officially recognised by any country.
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