Demographic and migration related issues of Tibetan Refugees in India

Author Name

Sahil Verma

Author Address



Tibetan diaspora


Exodus of Tibetans to India started with the arrival of HH Dalai Lama with his followers in 1959. Approximately 94000 Tibetan refugees are living in 37 settlements widely distributed across India. Most of the refugees in initial phase settled in plain areas of South India especially in Karnataka and worked in agricultural fields to generate means of livelihood. Even though, majority of Tibetan refugees were farmers but hot and humid forested land in south India was very different from climatic conditions to which they were accustomed. Most of them adopted gradually in the allotted areas and survived successfully. As population increased in the agricultural settlements over the period of time, many Tibetans moved into small towns of mountainous areas of north India. These areas were favourable for them in terms of climate and physical conditions. Tibetans adopted well in urban settling and diversified their occupations. The main objective of this paper is to analyse the role played by demographic factors in the economic adjustment of Tibetans in India and to see how they have adopted successfully with population growth among Tibetans. Another objective is to look into the pattern of migration within Tibetans settlements in India and the reasons of migration. The analysis has been done by dividing all Tibetans settlements into 4 regions: north, south, north-east and central. The database of study is Tibetan Demographic Survey, 1998 and 2009. The results of the study reveal that rapid population growth due to natural growth and inward movement of new refugees in the settlements and insignificant rise of land in the settlements has compelled many to move out of the settlements to generate source of livelihood. Most of them preferred to move in the urban areas where economic opportunities are more. Young and educated Tibetans are more migratory. 


International Conference on Migration, Diaspora and Development
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