Dharamshala: On 29 December 2019, Speaker of the 16th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile Pema Jungney interacted with 10 grade students of Tibetan schools at Lower TCV school. The total of 269 students from 28 schools with 28 teachers came for a workshop on Leadership programme organised by Department of Education of Central Tibetan Administration and every winter this workshop is being imparted for school students. On an invitation by the organiser, Speaker imparted the students on the evolution and the process of Tibetan democratic polity.
Speaker extended his warm greetings to the participants and started his lecture. It was during His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama, where He tried hard for democratic reform but it didn’t happen as per His vision. Then after the enthronement of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, He appointed Reforms Committee by introducing administrative and land reforms in Tibet as a step towards democracy but then due to the bad obstacles or rather the illegal occupation of the People’s Republic of China, this sensible vision didn’t make it and thus after coming to exile, democratic reform was set up under the great vision and leadership of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. The structure of our democratic polity portrays with three pillars which are Executive (Kashag), Legislative (Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile) and Judiciary (Supreme Justice Commission). Among these, Kashag was set up first. In earlier days of our exile, there were some of our official staff based at Kalimpong who came to visit His Holiness at Mussoorie and His Holiness suggested having a spiritual and a political based democratic administration and advised on assigning offices according to that. Thus, officials from Kalimpong and officials who are with His Holiness met and discussed with each other and then on 29 April 1959, offered a report on their discussion to His Holiness. Thus from there onwards, Religion, Home, Foreign Relations and Finance came into effect. These offices were assigned to the respective Cabinet ministers (Kalon). Thus, Kashag was set up on 29 April 1959.
Whereas regarding the formation of Legislative, On 3 February 1960, 27 representatives from three traditional provinces of Tibet and four religious school of Buddhism came together at Bodh Gaya and offered Long life rituals to His Holiness and took a promise infront of His Holiness. They even stressed that back in Tibet, there was no unity among the religious schools and among provinces which led to the unfortunate situation for Tibetans to leave their own country. They requested His Holiness to be the Head of the State and promised to stay united and will follow Him unconditionally. At that moment His Holiness emphasized on following the electoral base administration. His Holiness even guided on electing three representatives each from respective provinces and one from each of four schools of Buddhism. Those elected representatives took oath on 2 September of that year as the Commission of Tibetan People’s Deputies (CTPD) and from this day onwards, the date is observed and celebrated as the Tibetan Democracy Day.
Regarding Judiciary, Supreme Justice Commission is the main head and there is local justice commission that comes under Supreme. On 10 March 1992, at the commemoration of the 33rd Tibetan Uprising Day, the first Supreme Justice Commissioner Lobsang Dargye took the oath and thus this day is considered as the birth of Tibetan judiciary.
Further, Speaker stressed that there was no Tibetan parliamentary secretariat during the 1st CTPD. After the oath ceremony of the parliament members, departments are allocated and thereon, they functioned accordingly. There was no Speaker and deputy speaker. If ever the members had to meet up for a matter, they will gather up under the shadow of a tree where upon decisions were made. Members will turn by a turn become the chairmanship of the session. After the second CTPD, the start of appointing Speaker and deputy speaker came into effect. They functioned by dividing the departments. The office of Tibetan parliament started from the third CTPD. There were no rules and regulations until the 4th CTPD. But during the 5th CTPD, Tibetan Election Law was enacted by looking at the Indian law and was promulgated. Then in sequence, Rules on Tibetan Public Civil Servant was ordained. From 1st to 7th CTPD, the term was for 3 years and after the 8th Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (ATPD) the tenure extended to 5 years. On 10 March 1963, Constitution for Future Tibet was proclaimed worldwide and in those extracted 77 Articles, it asserts freedom as the basic foundation for future Tibet. The Constitution was designed accordant to the free nation’s constitution that in the near future, after getting freedom, Tibetans in Tibet will follow the democratic system of administration. His Holiness even suggested on adopting the democratic system in the exile administration.
Until 10th ATPD, there was no parliamentary proceedings like these days but there is a National Working Committee wherein the deputies, members of Kashag and the administrative heads met and discussed on the reports presented. Accordingly, they formulated significant decisions and policies and then these matters were apprised to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and on getting approval, these matters were executed.
In 1970, Tibetan Youth Congress organisation was founded and during that time, it was called as Tibetan Youth Organisation. Tibetan Youth Congress petitioned for the Deputies of ATPD to be elected by the combined electorate of all three provinces and four religious schools. They specified that the ongoing electorate based of electing Deputies of ATPD by the three provinces and four religious schools of Buddhism will be deputies of the respective electorate and not the Deputies of Assembly of Tibetan people’s. This suggestion was accepted to be followed before the election of the 8th ATPD but could not carry forward. Thus a Special People’s Congress was summoned and call upon the utter need of having Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies. Above that His Holiness the Dalai Lama was requested to nominate the deputies for the house. On this appeal, His Holiness though not satisfied with such a system, compelled to appoint the deputies for the 8th ATPD. Back then Tibetan people lack the knowledge on the democratic system of governance and had full faith in His Holiness. Even the 9th ATPD was nominated by His Holiness and during the audience of the deputies, His Holiness advised or rather guided the deputies to elect the 10th ATPD deputies within one year that too through democratically electorate system. The 9th ATPD lasted for only one year and the deputies for the 10th ATPD were elected by the people as per the electoral structure laid earlier.
Then during the Special People’s Congress on 11 May 1990, His Holiness advised on setting up a Constitution Drafting Committee and voting of Cabinet ministers through election. On that day, Kashag and ATPD members declared dissolved and an interim Kashag was elected to hold the office until the declaration of the new Charter. A Drafting Consitution Committee was set up and thus in 1991, a Charter was adopted during the 11th ATPD. Earlier, Deputies had to take 100,000 precepts of Buddhist Mantra (Om Mani Ped Mey Hum) on their head during oath taking ceremony but from 12th ATPD, deputies had to take an oath by reading out the note of swearing in to abide by the Charter of Tibetan in exile.
In 2001, as per the suggestion of His Holiness, the first-ever Chief of Cabinet (Kalon Tripa) was directly elected by the people and from there onwards, such a system is implemented. Then, followed with the greatest landmark in Tibet’s history, i.e. His Holiness vested all his political authorities to the elected leaders so as to benefit Tibetans in the long-run and to make Tibetans pave way to the full democratization process. After that Speaker responded to the questions put forward by the students.