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Tibetans in India

Tibetans purchacing Tibetan bread in Main Square of McLeog Ganj Now by 2020, it has been more than half a century, the Tibetans have been living in India and in many countries for that matter - mostly as refugees. In 1959 Dalai Lama escaped from the Chinese invasion and came to India via Sikkim. With him and following him, many Tibetans took refuge in India. Many other countries like Switzerland and Germany too, accepted many refugees from Tibet.

Initially The Dalai Lama was given some land in Delhi for residence, but He didn’t like the big city and requested for more mountain place which resembles his home in Lhasa. Indian government was happy to allocate him the land in Upper Dharamshala or McLeodgunj in Himachal Pradesh. Many Tibetans went to different places in India. Today there are as many as 38-40 official settlements of Tibetans in India. Near Mysore in Karnataka is one very big settlement which hosts around 70,000 Tibetans.

Usually Tibetans make a very friendly and peaceful community. They are known as good neighbours and mostly live peacefully and contribute a lot to the society they are living in. I know several musicians who are living in Europe doing some very good job or running some businesses besides their performances of Tibetan Traditional music and dance around the world.

It is estimated that McLeodgunj hosts about 6,000 Tibetans. Some are in TIPA [ Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts] , some are working in Tibetan government offices, some run their own businesses - small or big, and some are doing social work for other Tibetans. All the newcomers sooner or later get absorbed in the society and work hard to make their life. Although, generally the Tibetan community is peaceful, there are lots of hidden issues and attitudes under the surface. Indians in McLeodgunj are getting business Only because the Tibetans are there; And Tibetans are getting everything, as India has politically supported them. But they also know the Indians are getting business because of the presence of Tibetans as well as The Dalai Lama.

Although the Tibetans are refugees, some of the Tibetans have become rich by now. Either they have excellent business sense and have made some very good monies, Or have married some Indian person and are doing some very good business. And then it could be considered natural that jealousy can emerge out in some other minds; especially that of local Indians who don’t have such business sense. Typically the Tibetans who marry other nationals, tend to retain their Refugee passport [ documents and status]. Either because a refugee passport is the most powerful document or for their national pride - or perhaps both.

Decades ago there was one major incidence in which a big fight erupted between Indians and Tibetans. Lots of Tibetans were beaten as they sheerly were outnumbered by the Indians joining in from neighbouring villages. Media in India wasn't so strong then so it went unnoticed for the rest of the country. Naturally there was government mediation and since then both the parties have been living comparatively peacefully.

But recently no such incidence has happened and the life generally is peaceful. India has been traditionally patient with refugees. Illegal entrants from Bangaladesh, and the refugees from Shri Lanka and Tibet are the main refugee communities and I imagine Tibetans are the some of the best contributors to the Indian society.

Glimpses of Tibetan people in McLeod Ganj, and nearby.

Tibetans in India
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