Tibetans refugees started arriving in Bylakuppe, about 220 kms from Bangalore, in early 1960s. Over the years, new settlements have emerged at Hunsur and Kollegal in southern Karnataka and Mundgod near Hubli in north Karnataka. These refugees are no longer restricting their occupation to agriculture and handicrafts. They have expanded to healthcare (Tibetan medicine as an alternative to allopathy), hospitality, eateries and the sunrise sectors of ITES (IT-enabled services) and BPO as well. “In Bangalore, you will find our youth making it to BPOs and software companies. We are no longer restricting our employment to farming or sale of woollen sweaters and blankets,” said Thuptan, head of the local chapter of Tibetan Youth Congress, the largest NGO of refugees.
Tenzin Tsundue, a vocal Tibetan activist and general secretary of Friends of Tibet, who breached the security during the visit of Chinese PM Wen Jiabao to the state Capital in April 2005, concurred with Thuptan. “That's right. They are making it big in catering (many run Chinese restaurants in the state Capital), though a majority are farmers or weavers of carpets and sweaters.” He made it to the front page of all newspapers when he appeared at the top of a building in the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), where Wen Jiabao and his team of scientists were in talks with their Indian counterparts,and raised “Free Tibet” slogans.
Of all the Tibetan settlements, Bylakuppe stands out because of “Lugsum Samdupling” (a township established in 1961) and “Dickyi Larsoe” (established in 1969), with a number of monasteries, nunneries and temples. Most notable among them are the large educational monastic institution, Sera, the smaller Tashilunpo monastery and Namdroling monastery.