Democratic Development in Dharamsala Essays

Democratic Development in Dharamsala Essays

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Democratic Development in Dharamsala

The year 1959 brought enormous changes to the life of Tenzin Gyatso, Tibet’s fourteenth Dalai Lama. At the age of fifteen, he was forced to assume political power as Tibet’s supreme temporal ruler. Although the Dalai Lama does not traditionally assume secular power until the age of eighteen, advances made by the Chinese Red Army forced him to ascend to this position prematurely. Needless to say, there was an immense amount of pressure on the teenaged boy: not only was he the religious leader of millions of Tibetans, he was now also their political leader as well. Furthermore, his previous experience with government and international affairs was extremely limited, and he himself did not feel prepared for the position despite the wishes of the people that he become king. When Tibet’s deteriorating situation forced him to furtively escape from Tibet into northern India, the Dalai Lama settled in Dharamsala where he established a government in exile that ruled over the Tibetan refugees. Despite countless obstacles and hardships the Dalai Lama has faced, he has handled his difficult situation admirably, developing a form of government new to Tibetans, one based on democratic ideals. Although not all of his ideas and actions have been received enthusiastically by all Tibetans, the past decades have proven that the government as developed by the Dalai Lama best suits the needs of the refugee Tibetans, as democracy best respects their rights and freedoms as individuals.

History and Background

Until Chinese invasion and occupation, Tibet was what is known as an established religion state, meaning that its government acknowledged and supported the institution and practices of ...

... middle of paper ...

...ral, is up to the Tibetan people, as His Holiness stated in 1969. This statement was an act of true democracy: putting his own desires aside, the Dalai Lama decided to act in accordance with the wishes of the people. He remains encouragingly positive concerning Tibet’s situation; as he has stated, “Certain of the predictions concerning Tibet’s future make [the] point [that things will turn out well in the end] and I myself have always been convinced of it” (Avedon 359). We can only hope that the wishes of His Holiness concerning Tibet’s future reach fulfillment, and that in the future Tibet will prosper, preserving the rights and freedoms of all individuals, and setting an example for communities around the globe.

[1] at least initially – in 1975 the concept of primary elections was introduced for choosing members of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies.

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