By Tenzin Tsering
Bylakuppe, August 26: The First Tibetan National General Meeting began here this morning at the largest Tibetan settlement located in the south Indian state of Karnataka.
Over 300 Tibetan delegates from across the world are taking part in a rare pivotal meeting, first one in two years' time, hosted by the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile to deliberate on pressing issues facing the exile Tibetan polity.
The opening ceremony was held at the Dickyi Larso settlement's community hall and was attended by members from Kashag and parliament, and representatives from various NGOs and educational and religious institutions.
"The GM will be divided into eight sub-committees, each focusing on issues like political affairs, promotion of democracy, sustenance of the settlement, education, health, economy, religion and culture, and advocacy for Tibetan issue and the assessment of the status of Tibetans settled in countries other than India, Bhutan and Nepal," explains Mr Penpa Tsering, the Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament.
Addressing the meet, Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche gave an overview account of the Tibetan exile community's progressive evolution and the problems faced since its inception in 1959.
A memorandum of the discussions and the propositions will be drawn at the end of the course which will see its final decisions in the last two days of the GM.
During the meeting, it is likely that the representatives will also raise other issues facing Tibetans in their respective areas.
"We have been facing problems in acquiring Green Book for Tibetans based in the western countries, especially in Europe," said Yakar Gelek, who is representing 250 Tibetans settled in Italy.
A Tibetan representative from Japan said, "The views and discussions involving Tibetans from different countries in their various capabilities will surely help enlighten one another in the issues we are dealing with and each representative has the responsibility to convey the message back to their respective settlements, institutions and associations."
The event will conclude on August 31 at Sera Monastery and the Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama will grace the session.
A traditional ceremonial long-life prayer for Dalai Lama will be offered by Tibetans at Sera Mey Monastery on September 1.
The 50th founding anniversary of the Tibetan Democracy will also be officially commemorated in Bylakuppe on September 2. During the ceremony Tibetan parliament on behalf of the Tibetan people will honour the Dalai Lama with a 'Golden Seal' for leading the Tibetan freedom struggle and for establishing democracy in Tibetan polity. Over 30 parliament members from 14 different countries, legislators of Karnataka and local dignitaries will also attend the event.
Bylakuppe is one of the first Tibetan settlements established for Tibetan refugees who fled Tibet in 1959 after Chinese occupation. Located in the Mysore district of Karnataka state in India, it is home to around 20,000 Tibetans. It has 21 camps, three schools and 6 monasteries.