Jaipur, December 30 - A tiny community of exiled Tibetans who earn their daily bread by selling winter clothes in Jaipur eagerly wait for the day when they would go back to their native land.
The Tibetans, who figure in thousands, have been staying across the country for the past four decades as refugees. Though, they have no complaints against the government, they want to do away with the "refugee" tag.
"Life here is fine. But everyone wants to go back to his or her homeland. No matter what happens we are only known as refugees," said Gummu, an exiled Tibetan running a woollen clothes shop.
The Tibetans say that they are ready to do whatever their spiritual leader Dalai Lama asked them. "Whatever Dalai Lama has decided about our autonomy, we are ready to abide by that. If Dalai Lama will ask us to go back to our homeland, we will go back happily. And there we will do something," said Lommo, another Tibetan shopkeeper.
The Tibetians' government-in-exile has a full cabinet in place and hopes to return to Tibet and form a free democratic government there some day. Though the government has no international recognition, the Dalai Lama has garnered widespread sympathy and financial support.
Thousands of Tibetans had fled Tibet after an uprising under the leadership of the Dalai Lama failed against the Chinese government. The Chinese army had marched into Tibet and occupied it in 1950. The Dalai Lama along with thousands of his followers fled to India in 1959 and set up his government-in-exile in Dharmasala town in 1960.
The Tibetans had earlier this year rejected a white paper or a government report on the region by China. In the 30-page document aimed at reaffirming existing policy, Beijing ruled out the possibility of greater autonomy to Tibet on the lines of Hong Kong and Macao under the contentious "one country, two systems" formula. The paper is the first of its kind and squeezes already slim hopes of a political solution that might allow the exiled spiritual leader to return to his homeland.
About 134,000 Tibetans live in exile, the vast majority in India and Nepal, and of them less than half were born in their homeland.