New Login   

Tibetan Politics in Exile: Compulsions & Shortcomings

Jabin T. Jacob

By Stephanie Roemer
Routledge, New Delhi, 2008, pp. xii+220, Rs.795.00


The Tibetan movement has witnessed some significant events in recent years. Foremost among these is the 2008 protests in not just the Tibet Autonomous Region but in four other provinces in China with Tibetan populations. These protests marked a failure of the Chinese approach of trying to pacify and stabilize minority-dominated regions by promoting economic development and growth. Tibetans continue to see such development processes as favouring the ethnic Han and as means of subverting their religious and cultural identity. The Chinese authorities in Beijing have so far not come up with any response bar an increased crackdown on Tibetan dissent. While the protests renewed international focus on the six million-odd Tibetans living inside China and to goings-on inside Tibet, the fact remains that it is the Tibetan Government-in-Exile based in Dharmasala in Himachal Pradesh, India that articulates the grievances and aspirations of Tibetans everywhere. And in another important milestone for the Tibetan movement, the 14th Dalai Lama after years of trying finally convinced his flock of the need to separate his temporal and spiritual authority. He stepped down in August 2011, as head of the Government-in-Exile and handed over political charge to a newly-elected Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister), the Harvard-educated lawyer, Lobsang Sangay. It is against this backdrop that Stephanie Roemer's work gains significance. Written when the Dalai Lama was still in charge of the movement, this book is a carefully-researched resource on the Tibetan movement in exile, focusing in the main on the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) as the Tibetan Government-in-Exile is officially known. The author not only examines the nature and politics of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile but also attempts to fill the gap in theoretical literature on political structures in exile. Roemer provides a useful introduction to modern Tibetan history that both informs and clarifies. Several important concepts central to the Tibetan experience are addressed including the very definition of Tibet and the Tibetan identity. Tibet's various regional identities, society, economy, government structure, administrative divisions, religion and foreign policy are all examined at some length. While most readers are aware that the relations between Lhasa and Beijing of old cannot be understood using modern concepts of sovereignty and inter-state relations, they are seldom aware of the fact that the old Tibet was no unified entity either with the Lhasa administration's political control limited to central Tibet and heavily reliant on traditional societal and religious structures in the extended ethnic ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.