India urged to help Tibetan refugees get jobs

By Sujeet Kumar, IANS

Mainpat (Chhattisgarh) : Tibetan refugees living in the hills of this picturesque region in central India since 1963 have urged New Delhi to amend rules to allow their younger generation to join public and private sector jobs.

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"Thousands of Tibetan refugees who settled in India after China's invasion of Tibet are struggling to improve their quality of life and get over extreme backwardness despite good support from the Indian government," Lobsang Chojor, in charge of Tibetan refugee settlement at Mainpat, told IANS.

"Now India should look after the job prospects of the younger generation of refugee families who were born in India and comprise about 85 percent of the total refugee population," Lobsang said, as another World Refugee Day passed by Wednesday.

Around 1,800 Tibetans live in seven refugee camps spread out over Mainpat, about 400 km north of capital Raipur. Based 1,100 metres above sea level, this area is known to be rich in bauxite ore and is the place where aluminium major Balco has major mining facilities.

The Tibetans here are among the more than 100,000 living across the country in 54 settlements since their first batch entered India in 1959.

"We Tibetan refugees are thankful to the Indian government's support and hospitality but the time has come for Delhi to amend laws for providing jobs to post-graduates among the new generation of Tibetans, allowing them to be absorbed in the government and private sector to help them improve their life," said Lobsang.

"When young, highly educated Tibetan refugees seek jobs in the government and private sector, they fail to submit the required documents. After all, we are not Indian citizens. The Indian government has done a lot for us, now we want Delhi to look after our future generations," he said.

Lobsang said about 800 youths in India obtain post-graduate degrees annually from educational institutions run by the Tibetan government-in-exile but they fail to get jobs because of mandatory documents pertaining to permanent resident address and citizenship.

"The Chinese government is still abusing human rights in Tibet and we have been forced to spend life in exile in India for decades. Despite the Indian government's acceptance that Tibet is part of China, we always got good support from New Delhi."

Lobsang also said that India along with major Western nations should exert more pressure on the Chinese government to honour human rights in Tibet.

"We are still hopeful that the situation will improve one day in Tibet and we will be able to return to our homeland. But don't know when the era of Chinese suppression will come to an end," remarked Lobsang, in-charge of the Mainpat camp that is known as one of the 12 agricultural settlements of Tibetan refugees in India.