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Tibetan Refugees

The Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre is one of the oldest refugee centres in the Tibetan Diaspora. © Sudeep Basu

The Indian town of Darjeeling is host to one of the oldest refugee centres in the Tibetan Diaspora. This collection of photos focuses on the work of Darjeeling's Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre.

Established in October 1959, the Tibetan Refugee Self Help Centre (TRSHC) has become one of the most powerful symbols of resilience of the Tibetan community in exile. Unlike the rehabilitation strategy for the permanent agricultural settlements in Southern India, which were built at the behest of Tibetan Government-in-exile in Dharamsala and the Government of India, the TRSHC began with the idea that no refugee could ever be rehabilitated in the fullest sense of the word without "Self-Help".

The TRSHC realized that this "vital element could only come from within the community from within one's self". Guided by the ethic of "Self-Help", the self-settled Tibetan refugees in Darjeeling town have achieved better integration into a multi-ethnic host society despite the perils of living in protracted exile.

The photographs in this collection were originally published in the article 'Organizing for exile! "Self-Help" among Tibetan refugees in an Indian town' by Sudeep Basu, Assistant Professor at the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion, National Law School of India University.


All photographs © Sudeep Basu, 2006.

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Last updated Jun 09, 2011