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IMG_3534-1024x681-2012Dharamshala: - The 8th annual conference of the Tibetan settlement officers organised by the Central Tibetan Administration's Department of Home began today. 41 settlement officers and 3 co-ordinators from Tibetan settlements in India and Nepal are attending the four-day conference in Dharamshala.

Home Secretary Sonam Topgyal Khorlatsang said the conference would take up discussions on a wide-range of issues, which include how to sustain Tibetan community in exile; make Tibetan settlements self-reliant; protect and preserve lands legally-owned by the settlements; formulate an all-round sustainable development projects; and promote harmonious relationship with the Indian community.

In his opening address, Kalon Tripa Dr Lobsang Sangay urged the settlement officers to make a concerted effort to build sustainable Tibetan settlements in exile in case the issue of Tibet remained unresolved for another fifty years.

Kalon Tripa urged the settlement officers and the general public to shoulder greater responsibility towards making our community self-reliant and developing sustainable projects based on Kashag's guiding principles of self-reliance and innovation.

"Even after achieving freedom, people in Africa still faces problems as they could not ulitise their resources due to their failure to remove their dependencey mindset. In our case, we are afflicted by dependency syndrome and it is undermining the courage, determination and creativity of our present and future generations. I noticed the negative impacts of such mindset on the younger generation during my recent visits to the Tibetan settlements," Kalon Tripa said. "For the long-term interest of our cause, we must strive to become self-reliant and nurture this mindset in the mind of our posterity," he added.

Kalon Tripa also underlined the political implication of Central Tibetan Administration's performance in the next five years. "Having confidence in the present Tibetan generation, His Holiness the Dalai Lama devolved his political powers to the democratically-elected Tibetan leadership. As the world particularly China, is watching our performance, we have to demonstrate to the world, including China, that we are capable of fulfiling the visions of His Holiness the Dalai Lama," he said.

Kalon Tripa also announced the Kashag's plans to organise a grand celebration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's birthday this year in recognition of his historic devolution of political powers to the democratically-elected leadership. "We are not telling Tibetans to have lavish parties and gambling, but to celebrate His Holiness's long-term vision behind devolution of his formal authority and the honourary awards like Templeton Prize received by him. It will also be an occasion to foster harmony and co-operation with the local Indian community by inviting the local leaders and showcasing them our culture," Kalon Tripa said.

Kalon Tripa also spoke on the Kashag's policy to involve overseas Tibetan community in assisting the development of settlements in India. "The Tibetan Associations based in foreign countries are willing to support our sister shichag project," he said.

Kalon Tripa underscored the need to maintain utmost caution to combat attempts from outside to undermine the efforts and unity of the Tibetan people.

Kalon Tripa assured the settlement officers of wholehearted support from the Kashag.

Earlier addressing the conference, Kalon Dolma Gyari urged the settlement officers to legalise and protect entities such as lands owned by the settlements. "We must preserve and protect the lands provided by the Indian government so as to return it in good condition," she said.

Kalon Dolma Gyari also emphasised that more efforts should be made to increase agricultural produces and explore markets to sell them.

She expressed concerned over the lack of co-operation from some settlements in the youth empowerment support (YES), a visionary project initiated by the home department to make unemployed Tibetan youths self-reliant through providing vocational trainings and micro-credit loans. "Some settlements have not yet formed YES committees, but also failed to inform the general public about the project," she said.

In his address, Health Kalon Dr Tsering Wangchuk called for the settlement officers' co-operation and support in effectively implementing various healthcare policies such as clean drinking water programme, mother and child health programme, disease control programme (TB, Malaria, Hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, etc), health information system, control of drug addiction programme, Tibetan torture survivors programme among others.

Ms Dicki Chhoyang, Kalon for the Department of Information & International Relations, spoke on how the settlement officers could play a vital role to engage the local Indian community in the Tibet Support Groups movement through maintaining good relations with them. "For this reason we had specially arranged a meeting between the Indian supporters and our settlement officers during the TSG conference here," she said. She also emphasised the importance of rectifying at once the false and misleading media reports about the Tibetan people and issue of Tibet.

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