|Official languages Tibetan||Establishment 28 April 1959|
|Headquarters Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India|
Type Non-governmental organisation
The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA; Tibetan: བོད་མིའི་སྒྲིག་འཛུགས་, Wylie: bod mi'i sgrig 'dzugs, THL: Bömi Drikdzuk, [pʰỳmìː ʈìʔt͡sùʔ], literally Exile Tibetan People's Organisation) is an organisation based in India with the stated goals of "rehabilitating Tibetan refugees and restoring freedom and happiness in Tibet". It is also referred to as the Tibetan Government in Exile, but while its internal structure is government-like, it has stated that it is "not designed to take power in Tibet"; rather, it will be dissolved "as soon as freedom is restored in Tibet" in favor of a government formed by Tibetans inside Tibet. In addition to political advocacy, it administers a network of schools and other cultural activities for Tibetans in India. On 11 February, 1991 the CTA became a founding member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) at a ceremony held at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands.
Position on Tibet
The territory of Tibet is administered by the People's Republic of China, a situation that the Central Tibetan Administration considers an illegitimate military occupation. The position of the CTA is that Tibet is a distinct nation with a long history of independence. The position of the People's Republic of China holds that China is multi-ethnic and that Tibetans are among the recognised nations, that the central government of China (throughout its incarnations) has continuously exercised sovereignty over Tibet for over 700 years, that Tibet has not been independent but its de facto independence between 1912 and 1951 was "nothing but a fiction of the imperialists who committed aggression against China in modern history".
The CTA is headquartered in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, India. It claims to represent the people of the entire Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai province, as well as two Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures and one Tibetan Autonomous County in Sichuan Province, one Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and one Tibetan Autonomous County in Gansu Province and one Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province — all of which is termed "Historic Tibet" by the CTA.
The CTA attends to the welfare of the Tibetan exile community in India, who number around 100,000. It runs schools, health services, cultural activities and economic development projects for the Tibetan community. More than 1,000 refugees still arrive each year from China, usually via Nepal.
Tibetans living outside Tibet can apply at the CTA office in their country of residence for a personal document called the Green Book, which serves as a receipt book for the person's "voluntary contributions" to the CTA and the evidence of their claims for "Tibetan citizenship."
For this purpose, CTA defines a Tibetan as "any person born in Tibet, or any person with one parent who was born in Tibet." As Tibetan refugees often lack documents attesting to their place of birth, the eligibility is usually established by an interview.
The Blue Book or Tibetan Solidarity Partnership is a project by Central Tibetan Administration, in which the Tibetan Government in exile issues any supporter of Tibet who is of age 18 years or more a Blue Book. This initiative enables supporters of Tibet worldwide to make financial contributions to help the administration in supporting educational, cultural, developmental and humanitarian activities related to Tibetan children and refugees. The book is issued at various Tibet offices worldwide.
The CTA operates under the "Charter of the Tibetans In-Exile", adopted in 1991. Executive authority is vested in the Kalon Tripa (chairperson of the cabinet, often translated as prime minister), an office currently held by Lobsang Sangay, who was elected in 2011. The Kalon Tripa is supported by a cabinet of ministers responsible for specific portfolios. Legislative authority is vested in the Parliament of the Central Tibetan Administration.
The Central Tibetan Administration's Department of Finance is made of seven departments and several special offices. Until 2003, it operated 24 businesses, including publishing, hotels, and handicrafts distribution companies. Officially, its annual revenue is US$22 million, with the biggest shares going to political activity ($7 million), and administration ($4.5 million). However, according to Michael Backman, these sums are "remarkably low" for what the organisation claims to do, and it probably receives millions more in donations. The CTA does not acknowledge such donations or their sources.
At the time of its founding, the Dalai Lama was head of the Central Tibetan Administration. Over the ensuing decades, a gradual transition to democratic governance was effected. The first elections for an exile parliament took place on September 2, 1960. The position of kalon tripa was later empowered to share executive authority with the Dalai Lama. The kalon tripa was initially appointed by the Dalai Lama, but, beginning in 2001, this position was democratically elected by the Tibetan exile voters. The first elected Kalon Tripa was a 62-year-old Buddhist monk, Lobsang Tenzin (better known as Samdhong Rinpoche), to the position of Prime Minister of the CTA. On 10 March, 2011 the Dalai Lama proposed changes to the exile charter which would remove his position of authority within the organisation. These changes were ratified on 29 May 2011, resulting in the Kalon Tripa becoming the highest-ranking office holder.
Notable past members of the Cabinet include Gyalo Thondup, the Dalai Lama's eldest brother, who served as Chairman of the Cabinet and as Minister of Security, and Jetsun Pema, the Dalai Lama's younger sister, who served variously as Minister of Health and of Education.
Lynn Pulman, in her 1983 text on Tibetans living in India, argues that the broad goals of the CTA are to develop an intense cultural and political nationalism among Tibetans, to expand the charisma and structure of the Dalai Lama, and to establish and maintain "social, political, and economic boundaries" between the Tibetan diaspora and their host countries. To increase nationalism, the CTA has created the Tibetan Uprising Day holiday, and a Tibetan National Anthem which is sung daily in CTA-run schools. The CTA controls much of the Tibetan-language media which, according to Pulman, promote the idea that the Chinese are endeavouring to "eradicate the Tibetan race" and how it is the duty of the refugees to "maintain the greatness and vitality of Tibetan race and national culture." However, Lynn Pulman's findings are not the product of systematic research, for which Pulman had insufficient time, but of information gained from informal conversations with Tibetans, observations Pulman made, supplemented with the little published material available at the time.
Activities with other organisations
The CTA is not recognised as a sovereign government by any country, but it receives financial aid from governments and international organisations for its welfare work among the Tibetan exile community in India. In October, 1998 the Dalai Lama's administration acknowledged that it received US$1.7 million a year in the 1960s from the US Government through the Central Intelligence Agency, which had also trained a guerrilla force at Camp Hale in Colorado. On 11 February, 1991 the CTA became a founding member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization at a ceremony held at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands.