Kalon Tripa Dr Lobsang Sangay unfurling the Indian national flag at the Kashag Secretariat to mark India's 66th Independence Day on August 15, 2012. (Phayul photo/Phuntsok Yangchen)
DHARAMSHALA August 15: Tibetans led by Kalon Tripa Dr Lobsang Sangay today observed India’s 66th Independence Day in the exile Tibetan headquarters of Dharamshala.
At a brief ceremony held at the Kashag Secretariat earlier in the day, Dr Sangay unfurled the Indian national tricolour amidst the singing of the Indian national anthem.
Senior officials of the Central Tibetan Administration were present at the ceremony.
Speaking to reporters, the elected head of the Tibetan people, congratulated India on 66 years of its Independence and wished the people of India “shining success” in the years to come.
“As a Tibetan, from a civilisation and cultural point of view, India and Tibet are very much linked. Geographically also we are very much connected,” Dr Sangay said. “We owe a lot to India and the Indian people historically because our Buddhist civilisation came from India and great Indian scholars brought Buddhism to Tibet.”
Kalon Tripa said Tibetans are “eternally grateful” to the Indian government and the “great people of India” for being “tremendously kind and supportive” over the last more than 50 years.
“As we are based in Himachal Pradesh, we also extend our gratitude to the government and people of Himachal Pradesh,” Dr Sangay added.
Following the ceremony, Kalon Tripa attended the official Independence Day celebrations at the Police Ground in lower Dharamshala.
Dr Sangay extended heartfelt greetings to Jai Ram Thakur, minister of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj of Himachal Pradesh state, who was the chief guest at the ceremony.
In the afternoon, local Indians and Tibetans came together to celebrate the day at a felicitation function organised by members of the Civil Society in Dharamshala.
The organisers in a release said that Tibetan refugees living in India share great joy in the celebration of India’s independence and her emergence as one of the new world leaders.
"While we celebrate India’s achievements, we reflect on our freedom struggle and express our deep gratitude to the Indian Government and our Indian brothers and sisters for the refuge and friendship they have offered us," organisers said.
Ajay Singh Mankotia, President of Indo-Tibetan Friendship Society and Tenzin P Atisha and Tashi, Secretaries of the Department of Information and International Relations, CTA were among the guests.
In his address, Ajay Mankotia, a long time friend of the Tibetan people, prayed for Tibet’s freedom and urged people of the free world to press their parliamentarians and representatives to raise the issue of Tibet with China.
“I pray Tibet gets its freedom soon and then we Indians will come to Lhasa to celebrate our Independence Day,” Ajay Mankotia said.
The programme also included distribution of ladoos (Indian sweets) and Indian and Tibetan cultural performances with a special local Himachali performance by Tibetans.
Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in his Independence Day speech today highlighted issues like Lokpal, inflation, corruption, poverty and security issues.
Addressing the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort in New Delhi, Dr Singh promised further steps to reduce corruption and ensure transparency in governance.
"We will continue our efforts to bring more transparency and accountability in the work of public servants and to reduce corruption," the Indian PM said.