Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Elections for the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Comparison of TIbetan constitutional scheme with India

Mains level : TIbetan refugees issue

Over 1.3 lakh Tibetans living in exile and settled across India and other parts of the globe shall be electing their next Parliament-in-Exile, called Central Tibetan Administration, and it’s head in May 2021.

Do you think that India’s support for the Tibetan cause is the root cause of all irritants in India-China relations?

Electing the exiled Government

  • The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE) has its headquarters in Dharamsala, in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.
  • According to the Green Book of the Tibetan government-in-exile, over 1 lakh Tibetans are settled across India.
  • The remaining are settled in United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Mongolia, Germany, United Kingdom, Switzerland and various other countries.

Here is how the Tibetan elections will be held:

Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile (TPiE)

  • The Speaker and a Deputy Speaker head the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile.
  • The 16th TPiE had 45 members – 10 representatives from each of the traditional provinces of Tibetan – U-Tsang, Dhotoe and Dhomey.
  • It includes two members from each of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the pre-Buddhist Bon religion.
  • Other representatives are from the Tibetan Communities in North America and Europe; and from Australasia and Asia (excluding India, Nepal and Bhutan).
  • Till 2006, it used to be called as Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (ATPDs) with the chairman as its head and a vice-chairman.

Tibetan Constitution

  • The Central Tibetan Administration exists and functions on the basis of the Constitution of the Tibetan government called the ‘The Charter of the Tibetans in Exile’.
  • In 1991, The Constitution Redrafting Committee instituted by the Dalai Lama prepared the Charter for Tibetans in exile. The Dalai Lama approved it on June 28, 1991.
  • In 2001, fundamental changes happened with the amendment of the Charter that facilitated the direct election of the Kalon Tripa by the Tibetans in exile.
  • The Kalon Tripa is called Sikyong or president of the Central Tibetan Administration.

The Kashag (Cabinet)

  • The Kashag (Cabinet) is the Central Tibetan Administration’s highest executive office and comprise seven members.
  • It is headed by the Sikyong (political leader) who is directly elected by the exiled Tibetan population.
  • Sikyong subsequently nominates his seven Kalons (ministers) and seeks the parliament’s approval. The Kashag’s term is for five years.

A backgrounder: Democracy for Tibet

  • The Dalai Lama began democratization soon after he came to India during the 1959 Tibetan National Uprising.
  • He reportedly asked Tibetans in exile to choose their representatives through universal adult suffrage, following which polls were held for electing Tibetan Parliamentarians in 1960.
  • Democracy for the Tibetans, thus, began in exile.
  • The Dalai Lama, however, continued to remain the supreme political leader. On March 14, 2011, he relinquished his political responsibilities, ending a 369-year-old practice.

Is TPiE officially recognised by any country?

  • Not exactly, it is not recognised officially by any country, including India.
  • But, a number of countries including the USA and European nations deal directly with the Sikyong and other Tibetan leaders through various forums.
  • The TPiE claims its democratically-elected character helps it manage Tibetan affairs and raise the Tibetan issue across the world.
  • The incumbent Sikyong, Lobsang Sangay, was among the guests who attended the oath-taking ceremony of our PM in 2014, probably a first.
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