The Kashag (Cabinet)
The Kashag (Cabinet) is the highest executive office of the Central Tibetan Administration. The Kashag runs and fulfills all its executive and administrative responsibilities.
In accordance to the Charter of Central Tibetan Administration, the seven members of the Kashag, is headed by a Sikyong (Political Leader. Sikyong is directly elected by exile Tibetan populace. Sikyong, in turn nominates his seven Kalons and seeks the Parliament’s approval. The term of the Kashag is for five years.
A Secretary (Cabinet Secretary) heads the Kashag Secretariat. The Secretariat provides the Kashag with secretarial and administrative services. All decision made in the Kashag are implemented through the respective departments and concerned offices. The Kashag Secretariat has three sub offices namely: (1) The office of planning Commission, (2) History Documentation and Interim Placement Section and (3) Tibet Policy Institute.
In 1642, the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso was conferred a supreme authority over Tibet by Gushri Khan, a descendent of Mongol Khan, who had overthrown the ruler of Tsang. Since then the Institution of Dalai Lama, which was originally based in Drepung Monastery holds the temporal leadership of Tibet. With his spiritual strength and sheer expertise on diplomacy, the Fifth Dalai Lama unified and governed the entire country through Regent. In the absence and during the minority of Dalai Lama, the Kashag invited the Regent appointed by the Tsogdu, to discuss problems of national importance.
The Kashag Lhengye (in short Kashag, House of Order) performed executive duties under the successive Dalai Lamas or the Regent. It consisted of three Kalons (Ministers), all laymen, till 1750, and of four- a monk and three laymen from 1751 to 1757. Even though the strength of the Kashag remained four, there does not seem to have a monk minister from 1757 to 1894. In 1894, the monk officials appealed for a representation in Kashag, which was later accepted. During those years, common jargons were used to call Kalons as ‘Chihi kawashi’ (Four Outside Pillar). In literary style, the ministers were designated as Dunnadon (Privy Councilors). The successive Dalai Lamas appointed Kalons. The Kashag submitted a list of suitable candidates, but the Dalai Lama appointed anyone he pleased whether or not the name of an appointee was on the list. Normally, he accepted the proposals sent up by the Kashag.
In earlier years, Kashag had a general controlling power over the administration of the country in all matters relating to administrative, judicial, and political. The ministers jointly conducted all the affairs of the State of Tibet: no minister held any specific portfolio. Kashag appointed, transferred, or dismissed lay and monk officials, subjected to the approval of the Dalai Lama, or the Regent in the absence and minority of the Dalai Lama. The Kashag had the power to issue decrees on landholdings without referring to the Dalai Lama.
During the Thirteenth Dalai Lama’s rule (1895-1933), Kashag underwent no basic structural changes and also had no major policy shifts. All monk ministers (Kalon Lamas) were generally the senior ministers of the Kashag, Each lay minister was called Shappe (Lotus Feet), or more honorary as Sawang Chenpo (Great Power of the Land).
When the Communist China invaded Tibet in 1959, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama sought asylum in India. Few senior officials of the Tibetan Government accompanied and followed him into exile, along with over 80 thousand Tibetans. On 25 April 1959, His Holiness the Dalai Lama called an emergency meeting of the few senior Tibetan officials to discuss about the reconstruction of Tibetans in exile. Soon after the meeting, Central Tibetan Administration was established in a reorganized form of the old centralized Tibetan Government, to meet both immediate and long-term needs of the Tibetan people. His Holiness remained as the Head of the State and executive powers were vested upon Kashag, consisting of three lay and two monk officials. Kalons were all appointed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
In 1991, The Constitution Redrafting Committee, instituted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama prepared the ‘Charter for Tibetans in exile’, which was later approved by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on 28 June 1991. With the promulgation of the Charter, His Holiness the Dalai Lama dissolved the Eighth Kashag. Prior to 2001, His Holiness the Dalai Lama suggest three names for each post of Kalon, and the Assembly selects one each. Kalon Tripa was then elected within the selected Kalons. The most far-reaching amendments concern the election of the Kashag, consisting of a maximum of seven ministers.
In 2001, fundamental changes happened with the amendment of the Charter, which facilitate direct election of the Kalon Tripa by the people. The election was held in the autumn of 2001 and Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche was elected with 80 percent of the votes. The directly elected Kalon Tripa nominates kalons, which shall have approval of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile.
In 2011, with the devolvement of political leadership by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and the amendment of the Charter, the political leadership has been transferred to the Kalon Tripa.
However, the black square seal of the Kashag, (Kadham Sishi Dickyi) blessed and presented by the Seventh Dalai Lama in 1751 was never changed or replaced and is continuously being used by the Central Tibetan Administration.
Kalons of the First Kashag (Ministers of the first Cabinet)
- Zurkhang Wangchen Gelek, Chairman of the Cabinet
- Neshar Thupten Tharpa, Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Shenkha Gurmey Topgyal, Minister of Religion
- Gadrang Lobsang Rigzin, Minister of Finance
Kalons of the Second Kashag (Ministers of the Second Cabinet)
- Shenkha Gurmey Topgyal, Chairman of the Cabinet
- Neshar Thupten Tharpa, Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Phala Thupten Yonten, Minister of Home Affair
- Thupten Norsang, Minster of Religion and Cultural Affairs
- Garang Lobsang Rigzin, Minister of Finance
- Kunling Woeser Gyaltsen, Minister of Education
Kalons of the third Kashag (Ministers of the Third Cabinet)
- Garang Lobsang Rigzin, Chairman of the Cabinet
- Kunling Woeser Gyaltsen, Minister of Religious and Cultural Affairs
- Wangdue Dorjee, Minister of Home Affairs
- Jangchoe Tsering Gompo, Minister of Education
Kalons of the fourth Kashag (Ministers of the fourth Cabinet)
- Kunling Woeser Gyaltsen, Chairman of the Cabinet
- Wangdue Dorjee, Minister of Home
- Taring Jigme Samten Wangpo, Minister of Education
- Jheshong Tsewang Tamdin, Minister of Security
Kalons of the fifth Kashag (Ministers of the fifth Cabinet)
- Wangdue Dorjee, Chairman of the Cabinet
- Jheshong Tsewang Tamdin, Minister of Finance
- Phechoe Thupten Nyinchen, Minister of Education
- Takla Phuntsok Tashi, Minister of Security
- Juchen Thupten Namgyal, Minister of Information
- Sadu Rinchen Dhondup, Delhi Bureau Minister
Kalons of the Sixth Kashag (Ministers of the Sixth Cabinet)
- Juchen Thupten Namgyal, Chairman of the Cabinet
- Tenzin Gyeche Tethong, Minister of Education
- Lobsang Dhargyal, Minister of Finance
- Tashi Wangdi, Minister of Security and Information
Kalons of the Seventh Kashag (Ministers of the Seventh Cabinet)
- Juchen Thupten Namgyal, Chairman of the Cabinet
- Tenzin Gyeche,
- Lobsang Dhargyal, Minister of Finance
- Tashi Wangdi, Minister of Security and Information
- Shawo Lobsang Dargyal, Seating Kalon
- Alak Jigme Lhundup, Minister of Security
- Gyari Lodi Gyaltsen, Minister of Religion and Health
Kalons of the eighth Kashag (Ministers of the eighth Cabinet) ”May 1990 – July 1991″
- Kelsang Yeshi, Chairman of the Cabinet
- Jetsun Pema, Minister of Health and Education
- Tenzin Namgyal Tethong, Minister of Security and Information
Kalons of the nineth Kashag (Ministers of the ninth Cabinet) ”August 1991 – January 1993″
- Gyalo Thondup, Chairman of the Cabinet
- Kelsang Yeshi, Minister of Health and Religion
- Tenzin Namgyal Tethong, Minister of Home and Finance
- Jetsun Pema, Minister of Education
- Tashi Wangdi, Minister of Information and International Relations
Kalons of the tenth Kashag (Ministers of the tenth Cabinet) ”February 1993 – May 1996″
- Tenzin Namgyal Tethong, Chairman, Minister of Finance and Information & International Relations (1993-95)
- Kelsang Yeshi, Minister of Religion & Culture (1993-96)
- Rinchen Khando Choegyal, Minister of Home, Health and Education (1993-96)
- Jetsun Pema, Minister of Education (1993, Feb-July)
- Gyalo Thondup, Minister of Security (1993)
- Tashi Wangdi, Minister of Information and International Relations and Health (1993-1996)
- Sonam Topgyal, Minister of Home, Health and Chairman of the Cabinet (1993-1996)
- Lhamo Tsering, Minister of Security (1993/Aug-1996)
- Dawa Tsering, Minister of Finance (1994-1996)
Kalons of the eleventh Kashag (Ministers of the eleventh Cabinet) ”June 1996 – August 2001″
- Sonam Topgyal, Chairman of the Cabinet (April 1997-2001)
- Tashi Wangdi, Minister of Religion & Culture (1996-2001)
- Tempa Tsering, Minister of Home (September 1999-2001)
- Soepa Gyatso, Minister of Finance (1996-2001)
- Rinchen Khando Choegyal, Minister of Education (1996-2001)
- Pema Chinjor, Minister of Security (September 1998-2001)
- Tsewang Choegyal Tethong, Minister of Information and International Relations (April 1997-2001)
- Samkhar Yangkee Dhashi, Minister of Health (1996-2001)
- Kalsang Yeshi, Chairman of the Cabinet (1996-March 1997)
- Dongak Tenzin, Minister of Security (1996-February 1997)
- Alak Tenzin Pelbar, Minister of Religion & Culture and Security (1996-May 1998)
- Kirti Rinpoche Lobsang Tenzin, Minister of Religion & Culture (April 1997-March 1999)
Kalons of the twelfth Kashag (Ministers of the twelfth Cabinet) ”September 2001 – August 2006″
- Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, Chairman of the Kashag (September 2001-August 2006); Kalon for Security (September 2001-August 2006); Kalon for Information and International Relations (September 2001-March 2005); Kalon for Home (March 2005-August 2006);
- Lobsang Nyima, Kalon for Home (September 2001-March 2005); Kalon for Religion & Culture (March 2005-August 2006);
- Thupten Lungrig, Kalon for Education (September 2001-August 2006); Kalon for Religion & Culture (September 2001-March 2005); Kalon for Health (March 2005-August 2006);
- Lobsang Nyandak Zayul, Kalon for Finance (September 2001-August 2006); Kalon for Health (September 2001-March 2005); Kalon for Information and International Relations (March 2005-August 2006);
Kalons of the thirteenth Kashag (Ministers of the thirteenth Cabinet) “September 2006 – August 2011″
- Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, Chairman of the Kashag (September 2001-August 2011); Kalon for Home (August 15, 2006-August 07, 2011)
- Ven. Tsering Phuntsok, Kalon for Religion & Culture (October 05, 2006-August 08, 2011)
- Tsering Dhondup, Kalon for finance (October 05, 2006-07 August 08, 2011)
- Thupten Lungrig, Kalon for Education (October 05, 2006-May 29, 2011)
- Dongchung Ngodup, Kalon for Security (October 05, 2006-August 08, 2011)
- Kesang Y. Takla, Kalon for Health (May 25, 2007-November 27, 2007); Kalon for Information and International Relations (November 28, 2007-August 08, 2011)
- Chope Paljor Tsering, Kalon for Health (November 29, 2007 – August 8th 2011)
- Tempa Tsering, Kalon for Information and International Relations (October 05, 2006-November 27, 2007); Kalon without portfolio-Representative of Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama (November 28, 2007-August 08, 2011)
Profiles of Incumbent Kalons of Fourteenth Kashag
Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay – also holds portfolio of Department of Education
Dr. Lobsang Sangay was born and grew up in a Tibetan settlement near Darjeeling, where he attended the Central School for Tibetans. He completed his B.A. (Honors) and LLB degrees from Delhi University. In 1992, he was elected as the youngest executive member of the Tibetan Youth Congress (CENTREX).
In 1996, as a Fulbright Scholar, he obtained Masters degree and in 2004, S.J.D, the first Tibetan ever to receive such a degree from Harvard Law School and his dissertation, Democracy in Distress: Is Exile Polity a Remedy? A Case Study of Tibet’s Government-in-exile was awarded the Yong K. Kim’ 95 Prize. In 2005, he was appointed as a research fellow and promoted to senior fellow till early 2011.
Dr. Sangay is an expert on International Human Rights Law, Democratic Constitutionalism, and Conflict Resolution. He has spoken in hundreds of seminars around the world. He organized seven major conferences among Chinese, Tibetan, Indian and Western scholars including two unprecedented meeting between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Chinese scholars in 2003 and 2009 at Harvard University.
In 2007, he was selected as one of the twenty-four Young Leaders of Asia by the Asia Society and a delegate to the World Justice Forum in Vienna, Austria, where top legal experts and judges from around the world congregated.
In 2011, he was elected to the post of Kalon Tripa in an unprecedented competitive democratic election in the Tibetan diaspora.On August 8, 2011, during the swearing–in ceremony of the Kalon Tripa, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, “When I was young, an elderly regent Takdrag Rinpoche handed over Sikyong (political leadership) to me, and today I am handing over Sikyong to young Lobsang Sangay… In doing this I have fulfilled my long-cherished goal.”
Kalon Pema Chinnjor – Department of Religion and Culture
Mr Pema Chinnjor was born in Karze in eastern Tibet’s Kham province in 1945. He attended school in Gaden Monastery. In 1958, he joined Chushi Gangdruk to fight against the Chinese communist invasion and followed His Holiness the Dalai Lama to exile in India in 1959. After arriving in India, he taught Tibetan language and history in the Department of Asian Studies, Punjab University at Chandigarh from 1964-1984. In 1968, he wrote and published published the book ”New Plan Tibetan Grammar and Translation”. The book was revised in 1993 and has been one of the best sellers at Paljor Publications. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in political from DAV College, Chandigarh in 1975. In 1972, he founded Tibetan Regional Youth Congress in Chandigarh and served four consecutive terms as it’s President. Subsequently, he was elected member of the Central Executive Committee of Tibetan Youth Congress. In 1983, he participated in the World’s Buddhist conference in Sri Lanka along with Dhobum Tulku and Khamdrul Khamdrul Rinpoche as the Tibetan Delegation. He also appointed as Vice President of Indo Tibetan Friendship Society in Bangalore, India, in 1984. In 1992, he was elected as a member of Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputy for two terms. From 1997-2001, he was elected as Kalon of the Department of Security. In 2004, he was elected steering committee member of ARDA (Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia) and attended meeting held in Taipei, Taiwan. He attended the first Biennial Conference of WFDA (World Forum for Democratization in Asia) in Taiwan in 2005. In 2007, he received Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition upon receiving United States Citizenship. He was appointed Tibet Fund Board Member in 2009.
Kalon Dolma Gyari – Department of Home
After completion of her studies Mrs Gyari joined the women section of the Tibetan Youth Congress. In the following years 1986 and 1989 she was elected as culture officer and joint secretary of the Central Executive Committee of Tibetan Youth Congress. From 1991 to 2006 she was elected as member of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile for four consecutive term during which she was elected as Deputy Speaker of the House three times.
Kalon Tsering Dhondup – Department of Finance
Mr Tsering Dhondup was appointed as senior clerk in the Office of the Auditor General in 1984. He was promoted to deputy secretary in 1991, and in 1993, he was promoted to joint secretary. After completing one-year further studies in United States in 1993, he served as joint secretary in the office of Auditor General from June 1994. In April 1998, he was promoted to additional secretary of the Office of Auditor General. From March 2000, on the same post, he served as secretary in the Department of Education and was promoted to secretary in July 2000. From April 2002, he served as secretary in the Department of Home. He served as Kalon for the Department of Finance in the 13th Kashag from September 2006 – August 2011. He was reelected as Kalon in the incumbent 14th Kashag and holds the portfolio of Finance department.
Kalon Dongchung Ngodup – Department of Security
Mr Ngodup Dongchung joined the civil service of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) on 15 June 1977 and he was appointed as senior clerk in the Department of Security on 1 September 1978. He was promoted to deputy secretary in 1987. On 1 July 1991, he was promoted to additional secretary. From 1993 – 2006, he served as the Secretary of Department of Security. He served as Kalon for the Department of Security in the 13th Kashag from September 2006 – August 2011. He was reelected as Kalon in the incumbent 14th Kashag and holds the portfolio of Security department.
Kalon Dicki Chhoyang – Department of Information & International Relations
Ms Dicki Chhoyang was born in Mussoorie, India, in 1966. She emigrated to Canada along with her family at the age of four. She grew up in Montreal in Quebec, Canada and began serving the Tibetan community at a very young age. Around the age of 14, she began working on translation and serving as interpretor for community events from Tibetan to French. In her twenties, she worked in two key projects. One was her participation in the first Canadian documentary on Tibet titled “ A Song for Tibet” produced by the Canadian National Film Board. The second project was Tibetan-US resettlement project under which she served as the cluster site coordinator and helped 21 Tibetan resettled in Connecticut. After completing these two projects when she was 27, she studied, researched and worked in Tibet and China in pursuit of becoming a stronger advocate for Tibet. She completed her graduate degree in Central Eurasian Studies and conducted her field research in eastern Tibet in Amdo.
Kalon Tsering Wangchuk – Department of Health
After completion of High School in 1993 Mr Wangchuk received scholarship for further studies in Warsaw, Poland from the Department of Education where he did his Doctor in Medicine followed by two years of internship at Hospital of Warsaw Medical University. In 2003 he returned to India and joined as Resident Medical Officer at Menlha Hospital, Phuntsokling for five years from 2003 and 2008. From 2008 to 2009 he worked as Medical Officer cum In-charge of TRSHC Clinic and Hospital of Tibetan Refugee Self Help Center in Darjeeling. Since 2009 he has been working as Senior Medical Officer at Tsojhe Khangsar Charity Hospital, Bylakuppe.
- Wangdue Dorjee (1962 – February 1964)
- Rabgang Sonam Paljor (March 1964 – February 1966)
- Bartso Tsering Paljor (March 1966 – June 1968)
- Jampel Tsering (July 1968 – March 1971)
- Gyaltsen Choeden (April 1971 – December 1971)
- Tenzin Wangdak (January 1972 – January 1980)
- Ngawang Choesang (February 1980 – June 1990)
- Dongag Tenzin (July 1990 – August 1991)
- Sonam Tsering (September 1991 – June 1996)
- Desang Tsering (July 1996 – July 2005)
- Tsering Dhondup (Officiating) (August 2005 – September 2005)
- Migyur Dorjee (September 2005 -February 2012)
- Karma Gelek Yuthok (February 2012 – Present)
The Kashag Secretariat
Central Tibetan Administration
Dharamshala – 176215
Tel: +91-1892-222218, 222713, 223546
Kadrung (Cabinet Secretary): kadrung[at]tibet.net
Kalon Tripa P.A.: katri-pa[at]tibet.net
Account Section: kayig.account[at]tibet.net
a. Audit scrutiny and follow up Section
The section scrutinise the overall audit report of Departments and its branch offices and thereby report any objections to Kashag. After Kashag’s clearance appropriate actions are followed with Audit Office or with concerned departments.It also gives official tour sanctions put forward by departments and their branch offices after careful study of the Rules and Regulation governing them. The section also handles all interim budget sanction requests and after careful study recommends the same to Standing Committee of Tibetan Parliament, and there after circulates the sanction budget to concerned Departments.
b. Parliament Liaisons and planning supervision Section
This section drafts reply to the queries raised during the Parliament session and that of the Standing Committee of the Parliament. It also co-ordinates in drafting reply from concerned Departments to questions raised in tour reports of members of Parliament. This section assist in drafting official bills of Departments to be tabled in the Parliament session.
a. Task Force Section:
This section keeps record of all documents related to Sino-Tibet dialogue process. It arranges the meetings of Task Force committee members. It compiles and does necessary translations of the documents as per directions from Kalon Tripa.
b. Travel Document Section
This section scrutinise all Tibetan applicants seeking to visit abroad as individual, non-governmental meeting, family visit, study, and family re-unification based on exile Tibetan government’s policy of issuing Travel Document sanction.
c. Dolgyal Affairs Scrutiny Section
This section keeps record of researched documents related to Dolgyal and updates it from time to time. It researches on any new developments related to Dolgyal and reports it to the Kashag. To view statements and resolutions on Dolgyal, click here.
d. Development consultancy
The Administrative section is further sub divided into 6 sub-sections:
a) Personal Assistant to Sikyong
b) Staff appointment and placement section
c) Accounts section
d) General office section
e) Task force on negotiation section
f) Tibet Corps section
a) Personal Assistant to Kalon Tripa
The personal Assistant brings to the attention of Sikyong’s daily letters and petitions addressed to him and assist in drafting replies. He keeps daily diary of Sikyong and also prepares the tentative program of official visits of Sikyong and sends the copy of tour program for information to the speaker of Tibetan Parliament and concerned Departments.
He reports to the Sikyong all letters by Departments whose charge is temporarily under Sikyong and co-ordinates with regard to its follow-up. He keeps all confidential documents related to Sikyong.
b) Staff appointment and placement section
This section keeps records of all the officials of the Central Tibetan Administration concerning new recruitments, transfers, promotions, leaves and resignations. It recommends application for retirements, extension of retirements, re-appointments, contractual appointments, deputations and all special appointments to the Public Service Commission. It also keeps record of overall sanction posts and does timely up date of record due to staff re-shuffle. It responses to all staff petitions and keeps record of individual staff service profile.
c) Accounts Section
This section keeps recurring, special and earmarked accounts of Cabinet Secretariat and its two sub units namely: The Planning Council and Kashag Contingency section. It also prepares annual draft budget of the office in consultation with Cabinet Secretary and keeps Kashag’s special accounts. It maintains the leave records of all Kalons and staff members including its two sub units. It keeps record of all office inventories and looks after its maintenance and replacements. It also helps in arranging of all the Kashag’s official receptions.
d) General Office Section
This section handles all incoming and outgoing letters of the office and records in its respective registers. The letters are finally indexed and filed by this section. It maintains all official documents of the office. It also supervises and receives all visitors to Kashag and the office. It handles all incoming and outgoing calls of the office.
With the timely order from Secretary and Additional Secretary, this section also assists in drafting all letters and helps in referring the concerned files and maintaining it.
e) Task force on negotiation section
This section keeps record of all documents related to Sino-Tibet dialogue process. It arranges the meetings of Task Force committee members. It compiles and does necessary translations of the documents as per directions from Sikyong.
f) Tibet Corps Section
The overall goal is to mobilize professionals, both active and retired, and young leaders in the Tibetan refugee community and diaspora as a skilled voluntary work force and create a knowledge community that will support the development of a vibrant, resilient and stronger Tibetan movement, poised to serve Tibet and Tibetans for generations. (www.tibetcorps.org)
The Kashag Secretariat’s three sub-sections:
The office of Planning Commission
This sub-section of the Cabinet Secretariat was established in order to assist the Central Tibetan Administration in formulating the plans of various Departments. It helps in integrating various plans according to human, physical and economic resource development needs in Tibetan community. Although it has a separate office complex with its own staff, but the accounts and administration is directly handled by the Cabinet Secretariat.
History Documentation and Interim Placement Section
This section has two sub units namely:
- History Documentation and
- Interim placement section.
It compiles document on Tibetan struggle and reconstruction post 1959 period of Tibetan Government in exile. Interim placement unit is a unit for interim placements.
Tibet Policy Institute Section (TPI)
The TPI will strive to serve as an intellectual hub for Tibetan scholars/researchers across the globe and to become an internationally recognized and effective platform for Tibetan scholars/researchers to articulate their argument on the issue of Tibet that will shape the perception of the international community and the policies of the various governments regarding Tibet and the Tibetan people.
The TPI will serve as a think tank to assist the Kashag of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) to identify strategic issues and challenges for Tibet and the Tibetan people and come up with analysis or recommendations for the Kashag.
My fellow Tibetans:
Today on this auspicious day when Guru Rinpoche, the great Indian yogi who spread Buddhism in Tibet, was born, and in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, our most revered leader, I accept, with deep humility, the post of the Kalon Tripa.
We invoke the spirit and call on the Gods and Goddesses of Tibet to watch over and guide us. My profound gratitude goes out to the overwhelming support of brave men and women in exile, and the enduring solidarity and support of our brave brothers and sisters in occupied Tibet. We are motivated by their support and sustained by their prayers.
Blessed spiritually by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and authorized politically to continue the extended historical legitimacy of the great institution of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, I am here not as a result of my personal achievement but as a result of the hard work and sacrifices made by elder generations in Tibet and in exile. Today, I pledge to carry on and build upon this great legacy of our elders. I pledge to you, my fellow Tibetans, to strengthen and sustain our movement until freedom is restored in Tibet, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama returns to our homeland.
Over one century ago, in 1910, His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama, took one last glance at the Potala Palace before leaving his homeland and promised to his people: “I shall return.” Our ancestors at the time did not have modern education and sophistication, but with dedication and unity they work tirelessly to make the return of His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama possible. His Holiness returned to Lhasa in early 1913 and reaffirmed Tibet’s independence from China.
Almost half a century later, the same pledge to return was poignantly repeated by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama as he departed Lhasa on the fateful night of March, 17, 1959.
Today, the responsibility to help ensure the return of His Holiness is with our generation of Tibetans who have modern education and sophistication. But do we have dedication, unity and commitment to make tireless effort like our ancestors? If we do, we will prevail. If we don’t, we fail.
No doubt, our task is of Himalayan proportion. But we take inspiration from thousands of other brave Tibetans who, throughout our history, have given up their lives and devoted their hearts to Tibet. We have been tragically separated by force, not by choice, and, we will reach the mountaintop of freedom to reunite Tibetans on both sides of Himalayas.
I promise to work to fulfill the vision of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to create a truly secular democratic society. This year’s dynamic Tibetan election demonstrated to the world our commitment to genuine democracy and the universal principle of human freedom. Our democratic election reveals that Tibetan unity is built upon and sustained by universal democratic principles that transcend region, sect, gender, and generations.
Outgoing Kalon Tripa Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche (R) handing over the Official Seal of the Kashag to new Kalon Tripa Dr Lobsang Sangay (L), at the swearing-in ceremony at Tsuglagkhang, the main temple, in Dharamsala, on 8 August 2011
The results of this election should send a clear message to the hardliners in the Chinese government that Tibetan leadership is far from fizzling out – we are democracy that will only grow stronger in years ahead. And we are here to stay.
Let me be very clear: our struggle is not against the Chinese people, nor is it against China as a country. Our struggle is against hard-line policies of the Chinese regime in Tibet. Our struggle is against those who would deny freedom, justice, dignity, and the very identity of Tibetan People. Chinese authorities and our Chinese friends alike must realize that grievances of Tibetan people are many and genuine.
Today, my fellow Tibetans, I reaffirm in the oath and aspiration forged by our forefathers – a treaty signed more then a millennia ago by Tibet and China that pledged a great epoch when “Tibetans shall be happy in the land of Tibet and Chinese in the land of China”.
In 1950, when the Chinese Army first came to Tibet, they promised “Socialist Paradise” for Tibetans. Some Tibetans helped build roads to Tibet from China and were paid in Silver coins for their labor. During that time, the Chinese soldiers were very polite and treated our ancestors kindly.
However, once the roads were built, tanks encircled strategic urban areas, lorries headed straight to the mineral-rich mountains and pristine forests: and Chinese workers arrived to exploit and mine billions of dollars of gold, copper, and uranium. Overnight, it seemed, something had changed. The polite Chinese soldiers changed and became overbearing, aggressive, and violent. They used their guns. Battles erupted. Death and destruction ensued.
The great epoch of happiness was put into peril. And since that time, I fear, Tibetans have become second class citizens in their own homeland.
The ongoing political repression, cultural assimilation, economic marginalization and environmental destruction in occupied Tibet is unacceptable. The construction of new Railway Line brings each day more heavy equipment to exploit mineral resources and more Chinese migrants to demographically dominate Tibet and dilute our rich culture and identity. Today’s empirical facts are startling: around seventy percent of the private sector is owned or run by Chinese, and more than fifty percent of public sector jobs of the local Communist Party cadre are also held by the Chinese. Meanwhile, nearly forty percent of our Tibetan brothers and sisters who have worked hard and earned university and high school degrees are unemployed. These statistics are made worse, as we all know, by Chinese officials who treat Tibet as their personal inheritance, and act as feudal lords.
But three years ago, in 2008, Tibetans men and women, young and old, nomads and farmers, monks and nuns, all rose up against the Chinese rule in Tibet – from Dromo to Dhartsedo, Ngari to Ngaba, from Lhasa to Lithang, from Kongpo to Kumbum. They spoke out against Chinese oppression and mistreatment and the universal slogan was: we want His Holiness the Dalai Lama return to Tibet. Let me be clear: the Tibetan Administration does not encourage protest in part because we cannot forget the harsh response Chinese authorities hand down in the face of free and peaceful expression. However, it is our sacred duty to support and to be the voice for our voiceless and courageous compatriots.
After sixty years of misrule, Tibet is no Socialist Paradise that Chinese officials promised. There is no “Socialism” in Tibet, but rather Colonialism. Tibet is not the “Paradise” that it could be: today, it is a tragedy because of the Chinese occupation. Chinese government ought to know it. Recently, many Chinese leaders have visited Lhasa to observe sixty years of “peaceful liberation”. The reality is that the anniversary was observed under undeclared martial law with troops holding automatic machine guns, marching in the streets of Lhasa, sharp shooters positioned on rooftops, tourists banned from visiting Tibet entirely. Bejing’s rule in Tibet is clearly unjust and untenable.
Despite the tragedy in Tibet, we want the world to know, especially Chinese friends, that we remain firmly committed to non-violence. We do not view China as a nation and Chinese as a people with malice but with respect. Guided by the wisdom of our forefathers and foremothers, we will continue the Middle-Way policy, which seeks genuine autonomy for Tibet within the People’s Republic of China. This, my fellow Tibetans, is a win-win proposition for both the Tibetans and the Chinese. We believe in a peaceful resolution for Tibet, which means a peaceful process and peaceful dialogue. We are also willing to negotiate with the Chinese government anytime, anywhere.
Let’s not forget: China aspires to be a superpower. It is the fastest growing major economy in the world and is backed by the largest army in the world. Sadly, however, China’s moral power is lacking behind. Moral power cannot be bought in the market or forced with military might. It has to be earned. As long as Tibetans are repressed, there will be resistance, and waning respect for China. Finding a lasting solution to the Tibet question will go a long way toward restoring China’s positive image in the minds and hearts of people around the world, as well as towards protecting its territorial integrity and sovereignty. The Chinese people in China and the Greater Chinese diasporic community have a key role to play in helping China overcome this moral deficiency.
I have sixteen years record of reaching out to hundreds of Chinese students and have organized conferences on Tibet between Chinese and Tibetan scholars at Harvard University. We will continue to reach out to the Chinese people to build mutual understanding and trust. I would like to extent our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to the United States, Europe, international community and Tibet Support Groups for their enduring support. We appeal to them to continue to stand with us for justice, freedom, dignity, and equality, and to persuade Beijing to resolve the issue of Tibet peacefully. A lasting solution to the situation in Tibet will be one of the most defining stories of the 21st century for it will reaffirm faith in humanity’s capacity to build peace, non-violence and universal freedom. This would be a victory not only for the Tibetan people, but for all the marginalized people around the world.
A just and speedy resolution of the issue of Tibet is in the interest of all Asia. For thousands of years, the Tibetan people served as responsible guardian of the environment of the world’s highest and largest plateau that is the source of ten major rivers that contribute to the livelihood of more than 2 billion human beings. China’s damming of rivers that originate from Tibet will undermine the livelihood of millions of people downstream in Asia. It is for this reason, millions of people in Asia have a vested interest in seeing that the Tibetan people are restored to their traditional role of being the responsible guardian of the environment of the Tibetan Plateau. This transcends politics. It touches upon the wellbeing and welfare of Asia.
We remain eternally grateful to the people and the government of India for offering the Tibetan people refuge and for allowing us to remain as guests for the past five decades. For those of us who live here, India is our second home. The Tibetan Administration will uphold and continue to honor the special relationship between the Tibetan and the Indian people. Our debt to the Indian government and its people is already enormous. But our work together continues. We humbly appeal for your continued support and kind consideration to treat Tibet as one of the core issues between India and China.
For the next five years, with unity, innovation and self-reliance as our guiding principles, the Tibetan Administration will strengthen the freedom movement, and sustain it for another fifty years, if need be. I urge Tibetans inside and outside to support the Lhakar Movement to be proud of and assert Tibetanness – to show solidarity, to embrace unity, and to keep alive the Tibetan spirit – for together, I know we will foster a dynamic environment and strengthen Tibetan institutions and communities around the world.
Education will be our number one priority. As His Holiness the Dalai Lama has taught us, sharing knowledge is “a way to achieve immortality”. It is the beacon that will light the future of Tibet. We will strive to reach 10,000 professionals among 150,000 in exile and appeal to Tibetans inside Tibet to reach 100,000 in the next two decades.
We will also continue to professionalize the Tibetan Administration and ensure greater access and transparency through the integration of technology and social networking tools. To this end, in the months ahead we will establish a Tibet Policy Institute that will serve as an intellectual platform to envision, develop, and execute policies that will strengthen Tibet. We will also establish Sister Shichaks (settlements) to strengthen solidarity between Tibetans in India and the West and introduce Tibet Corps, a movement that will invite skills and know-how of Tibetans within and abroad to serve Tibet, and create employment for youth and build sustainable shichaks (settlements).
Along with all other Tibetans, I am profoundly grateful to Professor Samdhong Rinpoche for his leadership over the past decade. And I thank him and the able members of his cabinet for their heartwarming hospitality and productive support during this smooth transition of administrations. Going forward, I will abide by the Charter and Supreme Justice Commission, and extend my full co-operation and partnership to the honorable speakers and gentlemen and women of the fifteenth parliament, and lead our very capable and dedicated civil servants in the fulfillment of this pledge.
In conclusion, it is important to remember that the devolution of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s political power is not at all solely to me as the Kalon Tripa, but to all Tibetans. His Holiness’ trust and belief in the people and our 50 years of consolidation of democratic institutions now will be challenged to survive and thrive independently, without his political involvement. So this is a test for each of us. It is a test, for the leadership in the judiciary, for the parliament and for the executive branch to live up to His Holiness’ expectations and to work as an effective and united entity. This is our challenge and our opportunity.
I speak with particular urgency to the younger generations of Tibetans. We need your support, your energy, and your talent to stand tall and march forward to freedom. Let us never forget: during our lifetime, our freedom struggle will meet the fate of justice or defeat. Tibet will either appear or disappear from the map of the world. Tibetans, as a people, will be alive or become a museum piece. Tibetan perseverance and pride, wit and will, courage and commitment, will be truly tested.
This is no time for simply criticism and cynicism. This is a time for courage, and a time for conviction. Above all, it is time for confidence in the belief that we are Tibetans and we can do it. The time has come for the younger generation to take a greater leadership role in both internal and international forums. Remember: if we do not, no one will.
Of this, we can be certain too, my fellow Tibetans: like the successful return of His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama to Tibet, the opportunity will arise and our day will come. Like our dedicated and united ancestors, if we are not united and prepared to accept the challenges together, we will fail. Unity is paramount and it simply cannot be compromised; it is the bedrock of our movement. Any failure to attain unity will solely be our fault. We should do our utmost not to disappoint the majority of compatriots in Tibet who have put their faith in us, and who will be closely watching every step we take from today onward. However, thankfully we take comfort in the knowledge that His Holiness the Dalai Lama, our most revered leader, is very much in our midst to offer his wisdom.
During my first audience as the Kalon Tripa elect earlier this year, I was reminded by His Holiness the Dalai Lama that I was sitting on the same spot when I first met him nearly two decade ago, in 1992. His Holiness told me that my term as the Kalon Tripa will be good and I am committed to making his words come true. However, my two hands alone are not nearly enough. I request you to lend me your 12 million hands in realizing the words of the present Dalai Lama on the fateful night of March 17, 1959 that “he shall return” to Tibet.
For my brothers and sisters in Tibet, I say to you with confidence today: we will meet soon. Though I have never been allowed to set foot in Tibet, Tibet is in my heart each and every day. I am proud to be born a Tibetan and I will be proud to die as one. While I live, I am determined to fight for our freedom. My late father, like many of our parents, could not return to Tibet. But this, my fellow Tibetans, will not be the story of all Tibetans. Together, we will ensure the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet, reunite our people, and restore freedom in Tibet.
Today, we are in the holy land of India, where the Lord Shakyamuni attained Buddhahood. Next we will meet in the holy land of Tibet, where Buddhism is the heart and soul of six million Tibetans. We are always ready to embark on this epic journey from Dharamsala, the abode of Dharma, to Lhasa, the abode of Gods. From the town where His Holiness the Dalai Lama lives, to the city where he belongs.
This is our aspiration. This is our struggle. This is our dream. And with unity, innovation, and self-reliance as the guiding principles of six million Tibetans, victory will be ours. Long Live His Holiness the Dalai Lama.