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Tibetans encouraged to have more children: Lobsang Sangay (Interview)

Posted on Feb 10, 09:32PM | IANS

By Prashant Sood, New Delhi, Feb 10 : The Tibetan government-in-exile is encouraging Tibetans to have more children in the wake of "identity challenge" faced by the community and is considering giving incentives to couples who go for a third child, their political leader Lobsang Sangay has said.

Sangay said his 'government' - which no country yet recognises - was discussing the modalities and financial implication of the incentive.

He said the Tibetan population in exile numbers around six million of which 90,000 live in India and 60,000 in other parts of the world.

"We do not have a policy. We do encourage Tibetans to have more children... We also think that to expect a third child should be encouraged. This has been talked about for some time. Now we are analysing how feasible it is," Sangay told IANS in an interview.

"In fact we are also considering to give some incentive- health related, education related. We have not decided (on the kind of incentive). The discussion is on in case of a third child, shall we give them free schooling and scholarship or heath care or subsidized schooling and healthcare," Sangay, a Harvard-educated scholar, added.

He said the incentive, if approved, would be applicable mainly to Tibetans living in India, Nepal and Bhutan. This is quite in contrast to China's one-child policy and disincentives for people to have more children.

"It is important to have Tibetans in numbers," he said. Sangay said the Tibetan civilization was almost 2,000 years old and people took pride in it.

"What we are facing is identity challenge," he said and added that a mindset sets in when you are in exile.

"Maintaining our identity and dignity as Tibetans is important," he said.

Sangay said Tibetans generally get married within the community but there was no official encouragement to the practice.

"It is the practice, socially. Even inside Tibet, Tibetans generally marry Tibetans," he said.

Sangay, who took over political responsibilities from the Dalai Lama in 2011, said there were some Tibetans who were married to Indians or people from the West but their number was in hundreds.

"We maintain that preserving one's language, culture is very important and we also respect those who have married in other communities," he said, and added that some Tibetan activists came from mixed marriages and were very active in the Tibetan struggle.

"As for me, I say Tibetan consciousness is the most important component. We welcome anyone who wants to feel Tibetan," Sangay said.

(Prashant Sood can be contacted at prashant.s@ians.in)