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Tibetans in Exile Say "Thank You, India"

April 28, 2009

Proshun Chakraborty
Times of India
April 27, 2009

NAGPUR -- Thujke Che India! Hundreds of Tibetans
gathered in Nagpur are saying these words. They
simply mean ‘Thank You India.’ Commemorating 50
years of their exile, the Tibetan community
(around 240 families) settled in a refugee camp
at Pratapgadh, tehsil Arjuni Morgaon, in the
neighbouring Gondia district organised various programmes in the city.

As a part of nation-wide celebrations, the
community here decided to hold this special
thanksgiving festival to show their gratitude to
Indians for giving them shelter since the Chinese
occupied their country in 1959. During the
three-day long programmes they organised
exhibition showcasing handicrafts and cultural
programmes with songs and folk dances. The event
commenced on April 24 and concluded on Sunday.
Similar programmes will be organised in Gondia and Bhandara in May.

Palden Lhundup, secretary of Central Tibetan
Administration (CTA) said, "We want to thank the
Indian government and the people for giving us
shelter over the last 50 years. We also want to
tell them that their support has not gone waste.
Over theses five decades we have preserved our
culture and identity while making steady progress
in the field of education and health science.”
Tibetans, especially women, still wore their
traditional costumes and children were also keen
on preserving their rich and traditional cultures, he said.

Barring voting rights, Tibetans enjoy all
facilities given to Indian citizens including
being considered for government jobs. However,
they can not apply for a top post like collector.

Tenzin Phendey, secretary of Multipurpose Tibetan
Cooperative Society, said the government had set
up a CBSE affiliated school, a primary health
centre and also provided agricultural land where
they produced rice. "Besides, we also weave
carpets, manufacture incense (without stick),
sell ayurvedic medicines and during winter season sell winterwear," he added.

Lhundup said the community was definitely getting
restless over present situation in Tibet.
"However, we haven’t lost hope. Compared to
India’s struggle for freedom, our struggle is
still young," he said and added, "His Holiness
the Dalai Lama sends his message that we should not lose hope, we won’t."

Many among the present day Tibetans have never
seen Tibet. Says Phendey: "Though I was born and
brought up here in Gondia district, still my
passion to see my homeland is no less than those
who actually escaped from Tibet five decades back."
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