Tibetan migration to India - Why, when, how and with what consequences?

University essay from Lunds universitet/Institutionen för kulturgeografi och ekonomisk geografi

Abstract: When China occupied Tibet in 1950 in order to "liberate" Tibet from its "economic backwardness" of feudal and religious traditions, the effects were devastating. Tibetans were dispatched to labour camps, monks and nuns were executed or imprisoned, thousands of monasteries and temples were destroyed and communist propaganda was forced upon the Tibetan people. Tens of thousands fled over the Himalayas to seek refuge in India, where Tibet's spiritual leader by incarnation, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, had been granted asylum and allowed to form a government-in-exile after fleeing in 1959. An estimated 130.000 Tibetans are living in India today. The vast majority travels to India through Nepal, but a few go through Myanmar (Burma) or straight through India's northeastern parts. Travel is undertaken mostly by foot, and in groups of 5-15 persons because of safety issues and economic reasons. The decision to emigrate to India is often a complex one, with religious, political, educational, social and economic factors involved. Push and pull factors are closely intertwined in the Tibetan migration. The poor education possibilities in Tibet for Tibetan youth is indeed one of the most important reasons for parents to send their children to India or for young Tibetans themselves to make the choice to leave. Economic opportunities are also a large pull factors in the Tibetan migration. The scarcity of work for Tibetans in Tibet is due to the fact that the Chinese are favoured and that most profits coming from development go into Chinese pockets. This is leading to economic marginalization of Tibetans. In India, the heavy inflow of new arrivals has become one of the most pressing policy issues confronting the government-in-exile. As India has limited resources and its relations with China are tense due to the presence of the government-in-exile, the Indian government is not allocating any new land to the exile community and has urged the Dalai Lama to put a stop the immigration.

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