Disciplining Statelessness: Fragmentary Outcomes of the Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy in India

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Tibetan settlements in India house the largest population of Tibetan exiles and are crucial repositories of Tibetan culture and nationalism in the political struggle for Tibet. The settlements privilege the moral narrative of statelessness as an integral part of the Tibetan struggle. However, given the precarity of land tenure, these settlements are steadily hollowing out, with an increasing number of Tibetans choosing to migrate out of India. In response, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and the Indian government have jointly framed the Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy (TRP) to consolidate the Tibetan population in India. The TRP functions as a disciplinary regime that is delivered through a centralised process for creating secure land tenure for Tibetan settlements, and aims to retain the Tibetans as a stateless population in India. Using three case studies of Tibetan settlements across India, we demonstrate that Tibetans are resisting this moral injunction of statelessness by opting out of the disciplinary logic of the TRP. This resistance includes processes of outmigration and pursuing citizen-like claims in India. These forms of resistance reflect the fragmentation within the exile community over the political value of statelessness, with many Tibetans exploring new ways to imagine their struggle as rooted in citizenship claims.




Balasubramaniam, M., & Gupta, S. (2022). Disciplining Statelessness: Fragmentary Outcomes of the Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy in India. Asian Studies Review, 46(1), 74–92. https://doi.org/10.1080/10357823.2021.1931030

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