India and its Tibetan refugees

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by ejazr, Feb 6, 2011.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Hindi-Tibetan bhai bhai?

    Ask me where I'm from and I won't have an answer. My stay permit in India states that I'm a foreigner residing in India and my citizenship is Tibetan. But Tibet as a nation does not feature anywhere on the world political map... — Tibetan writer Tenzin Tsundue in 'My Kind of Exile' After crossing the snow-capped mountains on foot, the refugees entered Assam and burnt their woolen clothes. For them, the oppressive heat was unbearable. They were herded into "big houses that moved". None of the Tibetans had seen a rili (train) before. When the train left for Delhi, they panicked as they thought the mountains were moving out and not them. Transported to northern India, the refugees who had followed the Dalai Lama to India in 1959 after a failed uprising in Lhasa, were sent to the mountains to build roads. Hundreds of them perished on account of the heat. "The world's highest stretch of metalled road, running from Manali to Ladakh, was built by the Tibetans. My parents worked on that road. Somewhere along that journey, at a roadside, I was born in a makeshift tent," says Tsundue, who now lives in McLeodganj.

    Founded by the British on the ridge facing the plains below, McLeodganj was abandoned in 1905 after it was hit by a tremor. In 1960, Jawaharlal Nehru offered the ghost town to the Dalai Lama to settle in even as he wrote to all the chief ministers to give land to the refugees. Today, this little town is known as Little Lhasa. Tibetan monasteries, schools, shops, restaurants, hotels, curio shops and small businesses are spread across Himachal Pradesh, sustaining more than 35,000 people. On a normal day, the streets of McLeodganj are jammed with Tibetan monks and nuns, sweater-sellers and women dressed in the traditional chuba selling momos. Though the Tibetans have been here for 50 years, they are still seen by some in stereotypical images : monks in Nike shoes hanging out with westerners; young men zipping around town on their bikes with blondes riding pillion; people doing nothing and waiting for their US visa to come through. "They don't work. They get dollars from abroad. Their life is good. We have to work so hard and yet we can't imagine having a living standard like them," says Raj, an autorickshaw driver in McLeodganj. This resentment has led to friction between the locals and the Tibetans. Some years ago, an incident over a cricket match led to street fights, turning so ugly that the Dalai Lama threatened to leave McLeodganj. Today, India's 125,000-strong Tibetan community is facing a new challenge. The Karmapa Lama, the second highest-ranking Tibetan spiritual leader in exile, is in the eye of a storm. It's alleged he received money from China and is a Chinese agent. Tibetans fear their "loyalty" is in question . To the pain of exile is added the agony of impending rejection. A senior official of the Tibetan government-inexile voices some of the angst: "Many Indians think we are living off foreign donations. That's not true. Most of us are hardworking people. And we get maximum assistance from India not from foreign governments" .

    If anything, most Tibetan refugees are at pains to stress their feelings of indebtedness to the "host country" for its assistance in creating an educational system for them. "The Indian government provides substantial financial assistance for our education ," says Thubten Samphel, an official of the gov ernment in exile According to Sam phel, there are more than 80 Ti betan schools all over India. They are affiliated to the CBSE and receive liberal financial aid by the central and various state governments. "These schools have produced hundreds of engineers, doctors, teachers and filmmakers who are working for the community all over the world," says Yeshi Dhondup, an artist who studied at the Central Tibetan School in Mussoorie. "This is the backbone of our community." There is more that joins the community to India. Thupten, a refugee from Kathmandu says, "The community here is much better off than back home. There is a lack of democracy there. We're not allowed to demonstrate against the Chinese. "

    The Tibetan sense of well being in India is at least partly down to the Indian authorities' concerted efforts to look after them. The first school, now called the Tibetan Children's Village (TCV), was set up in Dharamsala in 1960. The Dalai Lama and Nehru were worried about numerous deaths among road construction workers, so they devised a plan to house Tibetan children. Meanwhile, the effort continued speedily to create settlements for the refugees. Contrary to popular belief that Tibetans mostly live in and around Dharamsala, the biggest refugee settlements are in Karnataka. Responding to Nehru's letter, the then chief minister N Nijalingappa offered land to the refugees near Mysore. Thousands were sent to a densely forested area that was to be their new home. Today, Bylakuppe, M u n g d o d and Kolleg a l — t h e three biggest settlements— are thriving towns with well laid out colonies, monasteries , schools, eateries.

    and community halls. All this was achieved because the Tibetans set up a farming cooperative after they cleared the forests and started to farm. This was an undoubted success story. But has success under a foreign sky dulled the desire for home. Most Tibetans say 'no' , even though more than half the community has never seen Tibet. Tashi Phuntsok, a Kollegal farmer, says: "We are living contented lives but my dream is that my homeland be freed from Chinese occupation before I die" . He adds, "Homeland is homeland, we are refugees here." Most Tibetans, even those born in India, wish to go back to Tibet one day. "We have to renew our registration certificate every year. Despite all the help from the Indian government, I'm still a refugee," says Tashi Thondup, 40, who is associated with an NGO in Darjeeling.

    It is an oft-expressed sentiment in this settled but queerly unsettled community. Even so, the sense of being in a limbo hasn't stopped the Tibetans from cultivating selfsufficiency . The communities they have established all over India are often called Little Lhasas and seem to be their homeland in microcosm – minus the mountains and the unpeopled expanses. Officially, the Tibetan Refugee Colony at Majnu ka Tila in Delhi, is only a transit camp. But it is self-sufficient. Life may be tough in this cramped locality but the Tibetans love it. The camp gives them "freedom", they say. Now, with the Karmapa episode hanging over the community like a pall, some Tibetans fear they may no longer be able to take this limited "freedom" in exile for granted.

    (With reports from Naresh Kumar Sharma in Dharamsala, M B Maramkal in Mysore, D S Kunwar in Dehradun, Deep Gazmer in Darjeeling and Parakram Rautela in Delhi)
     
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  3. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    I wonder why children born of tibetan parents aren't given citizenship ?

    Person who is born in India and has lived all his life here is as much an Indian as me or any other citizen.
     
  4. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    You realize what this means for foreign policy, right? That we still acknowledge Tibet to be a "nation", despite its currently "being a part of Chinese 'territory'".

    You realize what this means for future foreign policy? That despite, current acknowledgment of its being part of "Chinese territory", we extend an undulating support, for Tibet as a country.
     
  5. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

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    I know that...but if they approach for citizenship then on what grounds can we deny legally ?
     
  6. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    We can't. Which is why this is a quagmire for the Foreign Office.
     
  7. SLASH

    SLASH Senior Member Senior Member

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    Our immigration policies are one of the strictest in the world i think. I know many Iranian and Nepali students from good and clean background being denied residency in India even after living here for such a long time. These guys were actually very smart individuals. Dont know on what ground they are denied residency.
     
  8. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Important development.

    Could be the next rallying point for Tibetans after the Dalai Lama!
     
  9. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    I don't see why it's a quagmire for Foreign Ministry of India. They may on one hand maintain Tibet is a country or being part of PRC subj to "occasions", on the other hand grant citizenship to refugees. Anyway I think it a good thing for both China and India those refugees get naturalized as Indians.
     
  10. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Tibet was a country till the Red Army marched in.

    Thereafter, it was taken that it was an autonomous region of PRC.

    There has been no change in the official policy of India on that.

    I don't think that refugees should be citizens of a Nation that is not theirs.

    I am sure they will return to their homeland one day. At least, that is their desire.

    Everyone loves his homeland and land of origin.

    I am sure the Tibetans will find ways to return.
     
  11. cw2005

    cw2005 Regular Member

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    In Hong Kong SAR (Part of PRC now), I saw people of Nepal, Pakistan and India origins travel with Hong Kong passports and are treated as normal Citizen of Hong Kong. Many of them even receive social assistance from Hong Kong Government in the form of affordable housing, public medical service, 13 years free education for their children etc. These people's parents came with the British and were left in Hong Kong when the British went home in 1997, leaving them to the PRC that took the responsible to integrate them into the Hong Kong society.

    Disregard whether the Tibetans will return to their homeland in future or not, why India could not treat these people who were born in India like their own people and grand them full citizen status until they go home and give up such status voluntarily.
     
  12. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    The issue of Hong Kong is separate.

    A 'Home Return Permit' (traditional Chinese: 港澳居民來往內地通行證,simplified Chinese: 港澳居民来往内地通行证), also referred to as a Home Visit Permit or China Back Home Pass, is the colloquial name for the national identity document officially known as the Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macau Residents issued to PRC citizens who are residents of Hong Kong and Macau as the entry permit to China. The permit is issued by the Public Security Bureau of Guangdong province through China Travel Service sub-branches in Hong Kong and Macau and allows holders to travel freely to mainland China.

    The word 'home' is used because this permit used to be issued to Chinese migrants living in Hong Kong and Macau for travelling to China which was their homeland. Today, most holders of this permit are people who were born and brought up in Hong Kong and Macau; the permit plays the role of a travel document for visiting China rather than a permit which allows the holder to 'return home'.

    Most adult permits are valid for 10 years and minors under 18 years old are issued permits for three years. Temporary permits are given for practical reasons, such as when a person's permit has expired and the replacement has not arrived. There have been instances of limited single and double entry home visit permits issued due to political reasons. For instance, controversial individuals such as pro-democracy politicians—often from Hong Kong—are only issued single visit permits

    Rights and responsibilities

    Holders of the Home Return Permit are able to freely enter Mainland China for tourism or business purposes (except purposes of employment) within the validity of their travel document. However, they must register with the local police (Public Security Bureau) within 24 hours - or within 72 hours in the countryside - if they are staying overnight for a short trip in a friend or relative's home.

    If holders of the Home Return Permit intend to reside in the Mainland on a long term basis, they are required to first obtain permission from the local prefecture/municipality police (Public Security Bureau), from whom they will obtain a special long-term residence permit if their application is accepted.

    A home return permit constitutes proof of PRC citizenship; however, not all PRC citizens in Hong Kong or Macau have a home return permit. Unlike a compulsory Hong Kong identity card, application for a home return permit is voluntary.

    Lots of difference between the Tibetan issue and HK. And see the riders even for Hans, let alone others!
     

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