Odisha: Sikyong Penpa Tsering of the Central Tibetan Administration visited Phuntsokling Tibetan settlement in Odisha from 9 – 10 April. The two-day visit began with an offering of prayers to the settlement’s temples and shrines. It was then followed by inspection visits to the offices of the local Tibetan assembly, settlement office, regional Tibetan co-operative society, old age home, Mentseekhang, branch health clinic, and the local Tibetan workshops. He also visited the monasteries based in the settlement including Dechen Choepheling, Ogyan Thekchokling, Dudul Rabtenling, Namkha Khungzong nunnery, Rigon Thupten Mindroling, and Nedo Ogyan Thekchokling.
In the afternoon of 9 April, Sikyong met around 30 Tibetan youth of the settlement and discussed various issues facing the Tibetan people. He particularly spoke about the sustenance of the Tibetan settlements and the role and responsibilities of the local Tibetan youth. He spoke about the importance of learning vocational and trade skills that can benefit both the individual and the society. He further discussed the Kashag’s plans to offer loans for Tibetan entrepreneurs starting business in the settlement. He also said he will discuss and appoint a staff at India-Tibet Coordination Office (ITCO) based in Delhi regarding challenges faced by Tibetans in obtaining land for market stalls for winter sweater businesses, and promised to resolve the difficulty faced by parents in the registration of new RCs for Tibetan children.
The next day on 10 April, Sikyong inspected the settlement’s agricultural lands followed by visits to the two Tibetan Sambhota schools. Following the visit to the schools and meeting with the staff and students, he addressed the local Tibetan community of the settlement followed by a brief question and answer sessions.
Before Sikyong’s address, the local Tibetan settlement officer Tenzin Gelek gave the introductory remarks and read out a brief annual report of the settlement. In his formal address, Sikyong spoke about the 16th Kashag’s objectives and what the 16th Kashag has been doing in the past 10 months since assuming office. He also spoke about his official visits to Ladakh, Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Gangtok, and the Tibetan settlements in Uttarakhand as well as his plans to visit the Tibetan settlements in Northeast India in coming June.
He reaffirmed the 16th Kashag’s firm commitment to resolve the Sino-Tibetan conflict through the mutually beneficial Middle Way Approach proposed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In that regard, he explained the Kashag’s institution of the new Permanent Strategy Committee. He also explained the amendments made to the CTA staff rules and regulations. Before concluding his address, Sikyong advised the residents of the settlement to maintain cordial relations with the host community and reminded them about the benevolence and hospitality by the Indian government and public toward the Tibetan people. He also urged the Tibetan public to follow the guidance and aspirations of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.