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Tibetan Democracy Day

  • Published
    2nd Sep, 2022
Context

Tibetan refugees across the world are celebrating the 62nd anniversary of Tibetan Democracy Day on September 2.

About

Tibetan Democracy Day:

  • The day was marked with the inauguration of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamshala on September 2nd, 1960.
  • The day is widely known within the community as Mangsto Duchen (‘Mangsto’: democracy; ‘Duchen’: occasion).
  • At the heart of the Tibetan democratic system, which governs over 1 lakh refugees across the world, stands the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamshala.

NOTE: CTA is not officially recognised by any country.

Important developments

  • First Oath: The first elected representatives of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile took their oaths in Bodh Gaya to inaugurate the Tibetan democratic system.
  • 1963: Dalai Lama enacted the Tibetan constitution based on the ideals of democracy and universal values, following which the first women representatives were elected.
  • 1975: Kashag, the apex body of CTA, declared September 2 as the founding day of Tibetan democracy.
  • 1991: Charter of the Tibetans in exile was adopted, and in the following year, the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission was established, introducing the exile community to the three pillars of democracy.
  • Dalai Lama after announcing a position of semi-retirement, called for the first direct election of Kalön Tripa, the executive head of the CTA.
  • 2011: Dalai Lama handed over all his political and executive power to the Sikyong, also known as the President of CTA.

How does the CTA, the Tibetan government-in-exile, work?

  • The CTA, which is based in Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh, has a branch office in every Tibetan settlement spread across India and abroad.
  • Under its incumbent President, Penpa Tsering, 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
    • 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.
  • CTA President Lobsang Sangay was among the invitees at the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.
  • In 2016, Dalai Lama was hosted in Rashtrapati Bhavan by President Pranab Mukherjee.
  • Dalai Lama has also been allowed to visit Tawang, one of the main sites of contention in the Sino-Indian border dispute. In 2017, amid ongoing tensions in Doklam, Lobsang Sangay visited Pangong lake in Ladakh.

Relationship of CTA with other countries:

  • The US is the only government in the world which is politically upfront in supporting the Tibetan issue, whether it be a bi-partisan support for Tibet; Policies on Tibet (Tibet Policy Act 2002, and Tibet Policy and Support Act 2020), and an appointment of special coordinator on Tibet.
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