The Tibetan civilization started as a kingdom and eventually had a theocracy in place, the latter functioning smoothly because of the Tibetan’s strong adherence to Buddhism. This form of theocratic state was broken and seeds of democracy were sown when Tibetans had to flee the Chinese invasion eventually along with the Dalai Lama, thousands of Tibetans sought refuge in India, in 1959, reported Tibet Press.
This chaotic time where Tibetans now did not have a country of their own for the first time in its history took this opportunity to embrace democracy.
It was on 2nd September 1960 after much deliberation that Tibetans who were able to escape the clutches of Communist China voted for specific individuals as representatives who took their oath from the Dalai Lama at Bodh Gaya that very day. This became the first legislative body of the central Tibetan governing body and laid the strong foundation of democracy.
With time the Charter of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile (TGiE) was formulated thereby indicating how democracy now was gradually seeping into the consciousness of Tibetans. This charter which is titled the ‘Charter of the Tibetans-in-Exile’ represents a veiled Constitution of TGiE, which is not a formally recognized constitution because Tibetans are currently occupied by China, reported Tibet Press.
It was in 2001, that the executive branch of the TGiE known as Kashag (cabinet) whose head, the Kalon Tripa (leader of ministers) for the first time was directly elected by the Tibetans in exile and hence saw the highest political body being elected by the masses for the first time in Tibetan history. This development saw the roots of democracy in Tibet breaking the soil and ushering in a new era.
The gradual flow of democracy all culminated in 2011 when the Dalai Lama formally devolved his political/temporal power and completely rested the mantle of political leadership to the popularly elected KalonTripa (now known as Sikyong) by the Tibetan masses. This saw a six-century-old religious entity headed by the Dalai Lamas dissolving his political power to allow the flourishing of democracy in the Tibetan community, which escaped the direct governance from Beijing.