Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama devolved his "formal
authority" to the elected leadership of the Tibetan exiles, he
created history of sorts by reversing the over 350-year-old
tradition in which the top monk guided the Tibetan government.
Officials of the Tibetan administration, based in this northern
Indian hill station, said the decision of the 75-year-old Nobel
laureate to shed political and administrative powers was a major
landmark in the Tibetan history.
"The aim of His Holiness is to strengthen Tibetan democracy and to
develop a common responsibility among the people (exiles),"
Thubten Samphel, secretary of the department of information and
international relations of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA),
told IANS Monday.
"Of course, it's a big victory for the democracy," he added.
The elderly monk Sunday devolved his "formal authority" to the
elected leadership of the exiles.
"Whatever amendments we (Tibetan parliament) have made in the
charter, have been approved by His Holiness. He gave his approval
yesterday (Sunday). Now, the Dalai Lama's administrative and
political powers are vested with the democratically elected
leaders," Tenzin Norbu, a spokesperson for the parliamentary
secretariat, told IANS.
So far, the Dalai Lama was not just the spiritual guru but also
the political head of around 140,000 Tibetans who live in exile in
India and abroad.
But now, with the Dalai Lama draping only the spiritual robe, he
ceases to have any say in the political arena.
Political observers here believed that the Dalai Lama gave up his
political charge because he did not want any chaos after his
For the past one decade, he has been saying that he is in a state
He has indicated a number of times that he has already transferred
most of his political powers to Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche,
whom he has addressed as his "boss".
The Dalai Lama, the global face of the Tibetan exile movement,
shocked many Tibetans March 10, the 52nd anniversary of the
Tibetan national uprising, by announcing that he would hand over
political power to the elected leadership.
As the budget session of parliament began March 14, the Nobel
laureate's message was read out by Speaker Penpa Tsering. "My
intention to devolve political authority derives neither from a
wish to shirk responsibility nor because I am disheartened. It is
to benefit Tibetans in the long run," said the message.
A few days later, he told a gathering here: "The rule by spiritual
leaders or the rule by kings is an outdated concept. In reality, I
have been describing myself as a semi-retired person for the last
Samphel said the practice of the top monk guiding the Tibetan
government was in place since 1642.
"From the fifth Dalai Lama (Lobsang Gyatso) to the 14th (the
present one), this practice was being followed. In 1642, Lobsang
Gyatso was enthroned as both the spiritual and political leader of
Tibet," he said.
But Samphel clarified that "the Dalai Lama would stay committed to
the cause of Tibet and will continue to be the spiritual head of
Tibetans-in-exile have elected 42-year-old Harvard Law School
senior fellow Lobsang Sangay as the next Kalon Tripa or prime
He will assume office when the two-time prime minister Rinpoche
retires Aug 14.
It was in 1959 that the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, whom China
calls a separatist, fled Tibet after an anti-communist uprising.
He then headed a Tibetan government-in-exile which never won
recognition from any country.
India is also home to around 100,000 Tibetans.