The opening session began with a minute's silence as a mark of respect for the people affected by the recent natural calamities in Tibet and other parts of the world.
During the six-day meeting, delegates will discuss a range of issues such as politics, democracy, religion, culture, sustenance of settlements, education, health, the economy, welfare of Tibetans living in scattered communities and the resolution of the Tibet issue through the middle-way approach.
In his opening address, Mr Penpa Tsering, speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, said the attendees will be divided into eight groups to discuss largely preordained topics. “This meeting will mainly focus on China-Tibet talks," he said. "However, the delegates initially will have choice to join sub-groups [relevant to] their...field, responsibility and interest...[so] various subjects such as education and health will be discussed.
"This meeting will...be to discuss your support [of] the current policy of Tibetan government and its democratic system and further development...I hope every parliament member, including officials, individuals and attendees...from far away, will use the best of their skill and intelligence to make this platform fruitful."
Mr Penpa added, "A unanimous resolution was passed...at the seventh session of the Tibetan Parliament in-exile, [after] His Holiness the Dalai Lama...called for an annual Tibetan general meeting [at] the Special General Meeting on Tibet...in 2008."
The Kalon Tripa Samdong Rinpoche (Tibetan prime minister) said in his address, “Under the leadership and blessing of His Holiness the Dalai lama, the Tibetan community-in-exile, unlike other refugee communities, has become one of [the] most exemplary and successful establishments in terms of society, education and health.
"However, the sustenance of the present condition of Tibetans in exile will solely depend on the Tibetan people's collective merit and their way of thinking and moral behaviour.”
The Kalon Tripa continued that, since addressing the problems of exile from 1959 to the 1970s, the Tibetan community-in-exile has achieved good social sustainability, but since the 1980s, and particularly in the last two decades, this positive trend has undergone great changes which should be discussed during the general meeting.
He concluded by emphasing the need for serious deliberation on strengthening efforts to achieve specialisation in the issues of education, population growth, community self-reliance and the degeneration of ethical behaviour.
The final recommendations of the meeting will be presented in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama during the closing ceremony on August 31.