In Exile, Tibetans to Celebrate '50 Years of Democracy'

By Jaideep Sarin

Dharamsala (Himachal Pradesh), Aug 8 (IANS): Tibetans living in exile in India for over five decades will celebrate 50 years of democratic tradition in their adopted land next month.

The celebration will take place Sep 1-2 in Bylakuppe, Karnataka, making this the first time the Tibetans hold a big event outside Dharamsala - the abode of the Dalai Lama and the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

It will be preceded by a meeting of the Tibetan leadership Aug 26-31 to review the work done in the last five decades and to discuss the future and welfare of exiled Tibetans in settlements across India and globally.

There are over 50 settlements of Tibetans living in exile in India, Nepal, Bhutan and a few Western countries. India is home to over 100,000 Tibetan settlers.

The meeting of Tibetan leaders, including ministers, MPs, representatives from various Tibetan NGOs like the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) and from settlements, will focus on welfare measures like education, health and development of the exiles. Nearly 400 delegates will attend.

Tibetan delegates from other countries like the US, Britain, Canada, Europe and other places will also attend the meeting. Nearly 50 MPs from the US, European Union and other countries will be coming too.

Bylakuppe near Mysore is the biggest Tibetan settlement in India. This is the first time a major event of the Tibetans is being held in one of the settlements.

The 50 years of Tibetan democracy celebrations are being held by the Assembly of Tibetan Peoples' Deputies (ATPD), the Tibetan parliament in exile. The parliament will award the Dalai Lama Sep 2 with a gold medal for leading Tibetans and setting up the Tibetan democracy.

"His Holiness (the Dalai Lama) will be honoured at the function in Bylakuppe by the Tibetan parliament in exile. This is the first time a big event is taking place in one of the settlements," Tibetan MP-in-exile Karma Yeshi told IANS.

The event takes place at a time when the process of election of the new exiled parliament and the election of the Kalon Tripa (prime minister) starts in October. The preliminary election for parliament's 43 seats and the post of Kalon Tripa will be held Oct 3.

The final round of election for MPs and the Kalon Tripa - if there is more than one candidate for this - will be held in March 2011.

The Tibetan democratic system in exile does not have a party system. Even though the National Democratic Party of Tibet (NDPT) is a registered body, it is not allowed to field candidates under its banner.

"The Tibetan Parliament is holding the event to mark the 50 years of democratic tradition. Top functionaries of the Tibetan government have been invited for this," Thupten Samphel, secretary for information, Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), told IANS.




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