Challenges to Tibetan Diasporic Institutions in India

originalSourceSummaryThe article starts with highlighting the peculiarity of Tibetan diaspora seeking not only personal safety but also the protection and preservation of their culture and religion when they sought refuge in South Asia in 1959. It then discusses how the Tibetan diaspora from South Asia disperse to distant countries and the variance of their interactions with political and social institutions under Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) in India. The major focus of the article is to highlight the various societal and institutional challenges of the Tibetan diasporic community. It focuses on five major challenges such as confusion over goals of Tibetan freedom movement, the generation gap among three generations of Tibetan diasporas, unemployment among the Tibetan youth, the controversy over acquiring Indian citizenship and gender discrimination. It also discusses why and how Tibetan diasporas confronted with challenges of declining host countries’ support. It ends with highlighting the kinds of reforms that need to be carried out in the diasporic institutions and the community to take the Tibetan freedom movement forward and to facilitate the possibility of CTA and diasporic community holding their own in the changed international context of rising China.
Publication Date01 Jan 2017
AuthorYeshi Choedon
DOI10.1177/0020881718778438
SubjectArticles
Challenges to Tibetan
Diasporic Institutions
in India: Imperative of
Reforms and Way Ahead
Yeshi Choedon1
Abstract
The article starts with highlighting the peculiarity of Tibetan diaspora seeking not
only personal safety but also the protection and preservation of their culture and
religion when they sought refuge in South Asia in 1959. It then discusses how the
Tibetan diaspora from South Asia disperse to distant countries and the variance
of their interactions with political and social institutions under Central Tibetan
Administration (CTA) in India. The major focus of the article is to highlight the
various societal and institutional challenges of the Tibetan diasporic community.
It focuses on five major challenges such as confusion over goals of Tibetan freedom
movement, the generation gap among three generations of Tibetan diasporas,
unemployment among the Tibetan youth, the controversy over acquiring Indian
citizenship and gender discrimination. It also discusses why and how Tibetan
diasporas confronted with challenges of declining host countries’ support. It ends
with highlighting the kinds of reforms that need to be carried out in the diasporic
institutions and the community to take the Tibetan freedom movement forward
and to facilitate the possibility of CTA and diasporic community holding their
own in the changed international context of rising China.
Keywords
Tibetan refugee, central Tibetan administration, Tibetan freedom movement,
Tibetan diaspora, Indian citizenship, societal and institutional challenges
Article
International Studies
54(1–4) 196–217
2018 Jawaharlal Nehru University
SAGE Publications
sagepub.in/home.nav
DOI: 10.1177/0020881718778438
http://journals.sagepub.com/home/isq
1 Professsor and Chairperson, Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament,
School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.
Corresponding author:
Yeshi Choedon, Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament, School of Inter-
national Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.
E-mail: yeshichoedon@yahoo.com
Choedon 197
Introduction
As the Tibetans had to leave their homeland not out of free choice but under the
compulsion of conflict, they are the forced diaspora. The Tibetan diasporas can be
categorized into the contiguous diaspora and distant diaspora. The contiguous
diaspora is referred to Tibetan refugees inhabiting the neighbourhood of Tibet,
that is, in India, Nepal and Bhutan and distant diaspora to those who have migrated
to distant lands. The Tibetan diasporas are known not only for attaining self-
sustenance but also for the successful reconstruction of their social, political and
religious institutions in exile. Due to these reasons, the Tibetan refugee commu-
nity is considered the ‘most successful’ refugee community in the world.
The Tibetans sought refuge in the neighbouring South Asian countries not only
for their own safety but also for the protection and preservation of Tibetan culture
and religion, which was under relentless onslaught in Tibet under China’s rule.
Unlike many other refugee-hosting countries in the world, the host countries in
South Asia have not aimed at the integration of Tibetans into their respective soci-
eties but to facilitate the preservation and promotion of the distinctive culture,
tradition and identity of Tibetans. Those Tibetans who migrated to distant lands
from South Asia still maintained a connection with the Tibetan diasporic institu-
tions in India. These institutions have proved to be the nerve centres of the Tibetan
diasporic community in the world and a beacon of hope for the Tibetans strug-
gling under China’s rule.
After nearly six decades of the existence of these institutions, they are con-
fronted with multiple challenges. Of all the institutions, this article focuses on the
political and social institutions under the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) at
Dharamsala. The article starts with a brief historical background to set the context
and then discusses the Tibetan diaspora in South Asia and their interaction with
diasporic institutions under the CTA. Then it delves into how the dispersal of
Tibetan diaspora to distant countries took place and their interactions with institu-
tions under the CTA. The main focus of this article is to discuss various societal
and institutional challenges confronted by Tibetan diasporic community and also
challenges of the declining host countries’ support. It ends with highlighting
the kinds of reforms that need to be carried out in the diasporic institutions and in
the community to take the Tibetan freedom movement forward and to facilitate the
possibility of CTA and diasporic community holding their own in the changed
international context of rising China.
Historical Background
Tibet was an ancient nation with roots of Tibetan cultural and political identity
developed during the rule of 42 kings of the Yarlung Dynasty till 842 AD.
Although some of the Kings played a pioneering role in the establishment of
Buddhism in Tibet, its influence remained restricted to courtly affairs. The
assassination of the last king, Lang Dharma, was followed by a civil war, which

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