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The Carpets and Karma: the resilient story of the Tibetan people in two settlements in India and Nepal


This paper is about the Tibetan people in two settlements, mainly in Nepal and India. Tibetan ref-ugees started crossing the Himalayan range in April 1959, in the wake of the Dalai Lama’s flight into exile and landed mostly in Nepal and India. Tibetans around the world do not know their fu-ture nor do they appear unduly worried. Most of them appear resilient and hopeful to see a ‘free Tibet’ a dream closer to their hearts, someday in the future. In this paper, we delve at their deep association between their philosophy of life based on the principles of ‘karma’ and their everyday economic avocation of weaving ‘carpets’. We find that these people weave their lives around kar-ma and the carpets. Karma embodies their philosophical and spiritual outlook while carpets, mats and paintings symbolise their day-to-day struggles, enterprises to cope, survive, thrive and flour-ish. The ‘karma carpet’ symbolises their journey into the future. The Tibetans although a refugee group do not have the same rights and privileges comparable to other refugees living in the world decreed under the United Nations Conventions. In this paper, we present the socio-economic situ-ation of these refugees, their enterprise and their work ethic that makes them who they are in the Nepalese and in Indian societies. For this research, we have triangulated both desk studies and personal narratives from focus groups and interviews to present a discussion centred on the Ti-betan struggle for human rights and their entrepreneurship through the carpet industry mainly in Nepal and India.


Tibetan refugees, Karma, Tibetan resilience


Author Biography

Venkat Rao Pulla

Senior Lecturer, the School Social Sciences

Kanchan Prasad Kharel

Masters in Development Studies


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