The Tibetan community in exile is arguably one of the most resilient and successful refugee groups in the world. For centuries, a people who had lived in seclusion, suddenly found themselves having to cope not only with the modern world, but also with the fact of exile. Yet, Tibetans the worlds over have proved themselves equal to this challenge, and have achieved a fully literate society, economic stability and a democratic government. Much of this has been possible because of commitment to these changes by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, temporal and spiritual head of the Tibetans.
This book is an attempt to document the lives of members of the exiled Tibetan community in India and elsewhere. It thus aims to fill a gap in our understanding-there have been few serious studies of the Tibetan diaspora.
A revised and enlarged translation of the German publication (Tibet im Exil, this book focuses on two main themes: how Tibetans in exile preserve their culture, and how the community prepares itself for the return to Tibet. This is done through a series of interrelated papers that include chapters which trace the history of Tibet, analyse the legal issues involved in the dispute over her territory and sovereignty, document the reforms and changes introduced at social and political levels, and also an interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
About the Contributors:
Jurgen C. Aschoff is Professor of Neurology at the University of Ulm, Germany. He has been a regular visitor to the cultural region of northern India and Tibet for the past thirty years and has been doing research on Tibetan medicine since 1990. He is the author of several books and articles on Tibetan medicine.
Dagmar Bernstorff studies Political Science, Sociology and History at the Universities of Munich, London and Frelburg. She taught International Relations and Political Science of South Asia at the Universities of Munich and Heidelberg. She has written and published extensively in these areas. She now lives in New Delhi.
Michael von Bruck is Professor at the Institute of Protestant Theology and Comparative Religions, University of Munich. He studies Protestant Theology and Comparative Religions at the Universities of Rostock, Regensburg, Munich and Madras.
Victor Chan was born in Hongkong and now lives in Canada. He is a member of the Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia, Canada. He is President of the China-Tibet Initiative, a Canadian organisation for the furthering of relations between Tibetans and the Chinese.
Gyaneshwar Chaturvedi, PhD, retired as Professor of Political Science at St. John's College, Agra University in 2003. He studies at Agra University and at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He write extensively on identity formation, xenology and Hindu fundamentalism.
Joachim Glaubitz is Associate Professor for International Relations at Munich University. He studies Sinology and Japanology at Leipzig and Hamburg and has taught International Relations at the University of Munich since 1973.
Gyaltsen Gyaltag was born in Lhasa and fled to India in 1956. The Pestalozzi Children's Village at Trogen, Switzerland, gave him shelter in 1969. He studies to become a primary school teacher and later read Psychology and Education at Zurich University. He taught at the Pestalozzi Children's Village from 1986-91. From 1991-95 he was the representative of HH. The Dalai Lama in the Tibet Office in Zurich, where he looked after relations with the EU and the UN. Gyaltsen Gyaltag passed away in 2002.
Eva Herzer, is an attorney and mediator in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is currently the UN Observer for and Chairperson of the International Law Committee of the National Association of Women Lawyers in the USA. She is also a member of the first Steering Committee of the International Tibet Support Network, an umbrella organisation of over 130 Tibet support groups from around the world.
Karma Lakshe Tsomo, PhD. is Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Diego, USA. An American bhikshuni practising in the Tibetan tradition, she is President of Sakyadhita: International Association of Buddhist Women and Director of the Jamyang Foundation, an initiative that has provided educational opportunities for women in the Indian Himalayas since 1987.
Maura Moynihan is a writer, musician and painter. She spent part of her teenage years in India. Maura studies at Harvard University and at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington D. C. As a consultant for Refugees International, she spent many years in Nepal, working with Tibetan refugees. In 1997, she testified on Tibet to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Dawa Norbu, PhD, is Professor of International Relations in Central Asia at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. He fled from Tibet with his parents in 1959 and later studied at St. Stephen's College, New Delhi and at the University of California, Berkeley. Dawa Norbu was also the editor of the Tibetan Review.
Tseten Norbu was born when his parents fled from Tibet. He studied at Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal, and in Japan and the Philippines. He worked in the Reception Centre and in the Tibet Bureau at Kathmandu. He was President of the Tibetan Youth Congress from 1995-2001.
Tsering Norzom Thonsur is a Member of the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies, elected for a second term in 2001. She was born in India and grew up in the Mundgod Settlement. Tsering Norzom studies at the University of Mysore and holds a diploma in systems Management and Laboratory Technology. She was President of the Regional Tibetan Women's Association at Mundgod from 1980-90 and is a member of the board of the Tibetan Women's Association.
Jetsun Pema is President of the Tibetan Children's Villages. Younger sister of the Dalai Lama, she was born in Lhasa and went to school in India. She completed her studies in England and in Switzerland. In 1964, the Dalai Lama entrusted her with the management of the Tibetan Children's Village. Jetsun Pema is the first woman to be a member of the Kashag, the cabinet, and held the education portfolio from 1990-1993. Her autobiography Tibet> My Story was published in 1996 and has been translated into ten languages.
Taewang Phuntso heads the Liaison Office of the CTA for Latin America in New York. He holds an M. A. in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University, USA. He was President of the Tibetan Youth Congress from 1990-1995. He worked in various capacities in the Tibetan Central Administration, till 2001 as Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and edited the Report "Tibet under Communist China: 50 Years".
Alison Reynolds is Director of the Free Tibet Campaign and co-chair of the International Tibet Support Network, an independent membership organisation campaigning in support of the rights of the Tibetan people to freedom.
Tsepak Rigzin is Principal of the Central Tibetan School at the Mundgod Settlement since 1992. He attended Tibetan schools at Kalimpong and Simla and studied Buddhist Philosophy and Tibetan Literature at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, Dharamsala from 1975-1981. From 1987-1992, he worked in the Research and Translation Section of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Dharamsala. He is a member of the Commission for "Tibetan National Education policy'.
Samdhong Rinpoche, Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) of the Kashag was born in Tibet as the fifth incarnation of Samdhong. He studied Buddhist philosophy at the Drepung Monastery in Lhasa and after his flight to India, at the Gyuto Tantric Monastery in Dalhousie. From 1981-2001, he was Vice-Chancellor of the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies at Sarnath from 1981-2001. The Dalai Lama nominated him member of the XIth Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies in 1991 and he was the Chairman of the Assembly till 2001. In the same year, he was directly elected by the Tibetan people in exile as Prime Minister.
Thupten Samphel is Secretary of the Department of Information and International Relations, CTA. He studied History at St. Stephen's College, New Delhi, and Journalism at Columbia University, New York. Thupten Samphel is the editor in chief of the Tibetan Bulletin. He writes frequently for the Tibetan Review, Hindustan Times, Tribune, China Report, etc. and corresponds for the Bureau of the Associated Press in New Delhi.
Gerald Schmitz studied Law and Sinology at Bonn University. He worked for several year as lawyer at Braunschweig and is now a judge at Gottingen. He has published several articles on Tibet from the point of view of International Law.
Sherab Gyatso is English and has been ordained as a monk in the Tibetan tradition since 1986. From 1987-99 he studied at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, Dharamsala, where he became the institute's first-ever foreign graduate.
For the past seven years he has taught at the Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo Translator Programme, training foreign students as interpreters.
Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama was confirmed as the incarnation of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama in 1939 and received the traditional education of a Buddhist monk. At the time of the Chinese invasion in 1950 he was enthroned as the spiritual and secular head of the Tibetans at the age of sixteen. In 1959 the Dalai Lama fled to India and formed the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1989. His numerous publications on Tibetan Buddhism and the status of Tibet include his autobiography Freedom in Exile (1998, 3rd edition), and The Political Philosophy of His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama (1998).
Wangpo Tethong, Son of Tibetan refugees, was born in Trogen (Switzerland). He studied History and Law at the University of Zurich. From 1986-1990, Wangpo Tethong was a board member of the Association of Tibetan Youth in Europe. He co-founded the Student Study Circle for Tibet. Wangpo Tethong edited the Tibetan-German paper 'Bad Shon' (Young Tibet) from 1990 to 1997. He is the elected President of the Swiss-Tibetan Friendship Society since 2001. Wangpo served as Secretary and Press Liaison of the Green Party in the Kanton of Zurich and is currently Press Officer of Greenpeace, Switzerland.
Penpa Tering was born in India and grew up in the Bylakuppe Settlement. He was elected to the XIIth Assembly of the Tibetan People's Deputies in 1996 and subsequently to the XIIIth Assembly in 2001. He is Executive Director of the Tibetan Parliamentary and Policy Research Centre (TPPRC) in Delhi since 2001.
Tsering Tsomo is a Member of the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies since 2001. She holds an M.A. degree in Geography from the University of Kentucky, USA. Tsering Tsomo worked in the Department of Information and International Relations of the CTA as Head of Women's Problems and later of Environment and Development. She was also Managing Director of the Tibetan Parliamentary and Policy Research Centre (TPPRC) from 1997-2001.
Kunchok Tsundue holds a doctorate in Geography from the University of Bochum in Germany. He is Secretary of the Planning Department, CTA. He had a major responsibility in the conducting of the Tibetan Demographic Survey in 1998 as its Technical Officer.
Hubertus von Welck is Director of the Regional Office, South Asia of the Friedrich -Naumann-Stiftung in New Delhi, India, since 1998. He studied Public Administration at Konstanz University and participated in an interdisciplinary course on Problems of Developing Countries from 1977-1978. Hubertus von Welck joined the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in 1979 and represented the foundation in Zimbabwe in the 1980s. He headed the Personal Department of the foundation from 1989-98 before moving to New Delhi.
From the Introduction:
The Tibetan community in exile is one of the most resilient and successful refugee groups in the world. The Tibetan people who had lived for at least the last two hundred years secluded on the 'roof of the world' with hardly any contact with other societies and cultures, have in exile performed three remarkable feats. First, individual Tibetans and their families stand on their own feet economically and are able to maintain themselves. Second, a school system has been built up, which has transformed a largely illiterate society (as far as the lay people were concerned; the monastics were of course learned) into a fully literate society within two generations-a testament to political will. Finally, His Holiness the fourteenth Dalai Lama, the temporal and spiritual leader of the Tibetans, introduced democratisation and reduced his own power step by step, so much so, that in 2001 the prime minister of the Government-in-Exile (the chief kalon) is no longer appointed by the Dalai Lama, but directly elected by the Tibetan diaspora.
It has been rightly said that the success of the Tibetan refugee community is due to their culture of hard work. Another essential factor was that a part of the Tibetan society has been transplanted to South Asia with their own internal organisation, their culture, their leader. It was surely a wise decision to create settlements, (located on land leased to the community by the governments of the various states), where the refugees could rebuild their lives. This contrasts with other refugee groups who have lived in provisional camps for decades entirely dependent on assistance.
The Tibetans retained their organisational structure, however, with one important difference: the influential abbots of the major monasteries as well as the big landowners have lost their power and influence with their land. In the settlements, every adult, whether farmer, nomad, businessman or monk, was allotted half a hectare of land-a drastic change in a society dominated by monastics. The young Dalai Lama was thus able to bring in modernisation and emocratisation without much resistance.
There is comparatively little systematic research on the Tibetan community in exile. Sociological enquiries date back to the 1960s, but almost ceased in the 1970s.
This volume, aims to fill this gap at least in facets and to encourage reflection and further research, and is a revised and enlarged English edition of the German publication Tibet im Exil (Baden-Baden 2002). The articles have been updated and three new chapters have been added: Ven. Sherab Gyatso writes on monks and monasteries, Maura Moynihan relates her experiences working with Tibetan refugees in Nepal and Alison Reynolds reports on Tibet Support Groups worldwide.
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