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US Congress Continues To Back the Tibetan Cause

The Barack Obama administration’s policy of playing down the issue of the alleged violation of the human rights of the Tibetans in China has not had any impact on the US Congress. The Tibetan cause continues to receive the same support from both Houses of the Congress, despite their being dominated by the Democratic Party, as it was receiving during the administration of George Bush. This continuing Congressional support for the Tibetan cause on the same scale as during the previous administration is reflected in the budgetary allocations for the fiscal year 2009 and in the access enjoyed by various Tibetan non-governmental organizations to leading members of the two Houses, belonging to both the Democratic and the Republican Parties.

2. The budget for fiscal 2009 has allocated US $ 17 million for various Tibetan causes. The break-ups available are as follows:

(a). Funds for educational and cultural programmes inside Tibet —US $ 7.3 million.

(b). Funds for Tibetan language broadcasts by Radio Free Asia and the Voice of America—- US $ 3.3 million.

( c ).Funds for Tibetan refugee programmes such as medicare, education of Tibetan children, transit assistance etc —- US $ 2.5 million.

(d). Funds for running the office of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues in the US State Department—US $ one million.

(e). Funds for a Tibetan Section in the US Embassy in Beijing to monitor developments in Tibet till the US is able to establish a consulate in Lhasa—US $ one million.

(f). Funds for Fulbright scholarships for Tibetan students for their higher education —US $ 750,000.

(g).Funds to provide academic and cultural exchange opportunities to Tibetans—US $ 650,00.

(h). Funds for the Tibetan programmes of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)—US $ 250,000.

3. The Congress has presently under consideration a new project meant to protect Tibetan identity, language, culture and religion. Funding for this project has not yet been approved.

( The writer, Mr B.Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )

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