Dalai Lama Steps Down

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, has announced that he is giving up his role as Tibet’s political leader. Though he has long intimated that this would happen, shocks have still spread through the Tibetan community-in-exile. The Dalai Lama has long been a figurehead of the Tibetan people and cause, to the point where he and Tibet are indistinguishable in the minds of many. What this means for the future of the Tibetan independence movement, and who will ultimately step in to take his place, remains to be seen.

The Hindustan Times reports:

Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader Dalai Lama on Thursday announced giving up his “political” role in the Tibetan government-in-exile, but reaffirmed his commitment to the Tibetan cause. Tenzing Gyatso the 14th reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, who is also the temporal head of the Tibetans, will delegate his political responsibilities to the Kalon Tripa or prime minister of Tibet-in-exile, who is directly elected by Tibetan exiles. “From as early as the 1960s, I have repeatedly stressed that the Tibetans need a leader elected freely by the Tibetan people to whom I can devolve power. Now, we have reached the time to put this into effect,” said Dalai Lama, in his address to the Tibetans, who gathered to mark the 52nd anniversary of the Tibetan uprising at Mcleodganj.

The Dalai Lama would formally propose for amending the Tibetan charter, allowing him to delegate powers to the elected leadership, when the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile meets for the budget session on March 14. The Tibetan diaspora will elect their new leader on March 20. Three contenders include Harvard University researcher Lobsang Sangey and two former bureaucrats Tashi Wangdi and Tenzing Thehong Namgyal.

Two-time directly elected Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche has made an appeal to the Dalai Lama to reconsider his decision.

Dalai Lama, who would turn 76 in June, said,”I am committed to playing my part in the just cause of Tibet.”

His decision has stirred Tibetan polity.

What do you think—what does this mean for world history?

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