Tibetans in Dharamshala elect new Settlement Officer

Tibetan Settlement Officer elect Kunga Tsering poses for a photo in McLeod Ganj, India, on 22 May 2019.

Tibetan Settlement Officer elect Kunga Tsering poses for a photo in McLeod Ganj, India, on 22 May 2019. Tibet Sun/Lobsang Wangyal

By Lobsang Wangyal

McLEOD GANJ, India, 22 May 2019

Tibetans living in Dharamshala elected Kunga Tsering as their new Settlement Officer in Dharamshala in two phases of voting.

After the counting of votes from the final round of the election on Tuesday, Kunga Tsering was announced as the winner with 605 votes, as opposed to his contender Thinley Jampa with 507 votes. The preliminary round of voting took place on 3 May with 870 votes cast.

Speaking to Tibet Sun, Kunga said, “Dharamshala being the abode of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, it has special significance. He is a global icon and therefore there is greater responsibility. So to try to make this place reflect his teachings will be the priority.”

The protection of the environment of the area will be high on Kunga’s agenda, as it’s also one of the important causes that the Dalai Lama promotes.

Since the Settlement Officer comes under the Department of Home of the Central Tibetan Administration, he will be duty-bound to function within the framework of the rules and regulations, and Charter of the CTA.

Only the Dharamshala settlement officer is elected by the people. In all the other Tibetan settlements, the officer is appointed by CTA.

Maintaining good relations between the Tibetans and the local Indians would be another important task for Kunga.

He will also participate in the Indian government projects. “One example is that Tibetans could have joined in the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) initiative.”

“I am not saying that my predecessors haven’t worked on these matters, but I will see how I could enrich them.”

The contender Thinley Jampa said that he was happy with the outcome. “I congratulate Kunga Tsering for the win. We both stood in the elections to serve the community. I have served our community in various capacities for the last 25 years, and I will continue to do that.”

Kunga Tsering, 38, attended TCV School in Dharamshala, and obtained his BSc IT degree from Sikkim Manipal University. He has been running a shop specialising in iPhone and Apple MacBook laptop repair.

“I was born in a poor family. My school mates were mostly from Tibet. I have good understanding of the Tibetan problems and issues. I am sure these experiences will make me effective as a Settlement Officer.”

“Even though I know there are other Tibetans more capable than me, I stood in the elections to inspire others to do social service.”

He feels that there will be a lot of things to do and initiate. “I will do my best within the available resources and my capacity.”

There are about 12,000 Tibetans living in and around Dharamshala, according to the Settlement Officer Dawa Rinchen. About 9,500 hold RC (the stay permit issued by the government of India).

Dawa also said that there are about 6,000 eligible voters, but only about 20% cast their votes. “People say so much on social media and public meetings. But they are not being practical. I feel this is very irresponsible.”

A handing-over ceremony will be held on 15 June. Kunga will serve a term of three years.

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