Get to know Kasur Ngodup Dongchung

Leadership, Experience, and Integrity

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DECADES OF DEDICATED SERVICE AND CONTRIBUTION

Immediately after completing his university education in 1977, Kasur Ngodup Dongchung joined the service of the Central Tibetan Administration and started working at the Department of Security, which oversees the security of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and monitors the situation inside Tibet. In 1983, he undertook a clandestine visit to Tibet at the risk of his personal life to assess the situation inside Tibet and establish contacts with many Tibetans who contributed to the exile movement by providing valuable intelligence over the next few decades.

From 1991 to 2007, for a period of 16 years, Kasur Ngodup Dongchung served as Secretary of the Department of Security. For the next nine years, from 2007 to 2016, he was the Kalon (minister)—working under both Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche and Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay. He has been a special invitee to the Task Force for Sino-Tibetan Dialogue since 2005.

During four decades of his service in the Department of Security, Kasur Ngodup Dongchung displayed exceptional leadership qualities with his unquestionable integrity, humility, wonderful public relations, and the ability to bring the entire team together. Decisive in handling time-sensitive challenges, thoughtful and practical in planning and implementing the department’s programs, he had a thorough understanding of the situation inside Tibet as well as of the exile community. With unwavering commitment and determination, he worked to fulfill the vision of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and strengthen the foundation of the Central Tibetan Administration.

His work ethic, personality, and strong leadership have earned him immense respect and admiration from not only his colleagues, friends, and the general public but also from many Indian governments and other non-Tibetan officials with whom he enjoyed a strong working relationship. His lifelong dedication and service to the Tibetan people has been recognized by Switzerland based Committee for the Memorial of Tibetan Heroes with the presentation of a special award in 2017 and by the Dhomey Tibetan People Association which conferred a Gold Medal to him in 2019.

EDUCATION

Kasur Ngodup Dongchung was born in 1956 in a small village named Surtso in western Tibet. After coming into exile in 1960, he completed his secondary education at the Central Tibetan School in Dalhousie, India. He joined the reputed University of Delhi and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.

Currently, he is the representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi.

1960s

Born in Surtso, a village in Tibet bordering Nepal, Mr. Ngodup Dongchung spent his early childhood in a semi-nomadic family. In 1959, following the hundreds of Tibetans fleeing across the border, his family journeyed to Solukhumbu, Nepal. One of the first Tibetan settlements in the diaspora, Solukhumbu became the place of temporary respite as the International Red Cross Society and the Nepal government helped the newly arrived Tibetan refugees to survive and adjust.

Under the vision of the newly formed Tibetan government in exile headed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Indian government offered to set up separate Tibetan schools called Central School for Tibetans (CST). In 1963, around the age of 9-10, along with his siblings, he once again set foot and left Nepal while his parents stayed behind with the hope of returning to Tibet. On his arrival in India, he was sent to Dalhousie, a small hill station in North India where he studied at CST.

1970s

After spending 10 years as a boarding student at CST Dalhousie, Mr. Dongchung completed high school in the early 1970s. Similar to many first-generation Tibetan refugees who aspired to be the first in their families to get a university education, he left the northern Himalayan town of Dalhousie with the other graduates for the capital, New Delhi. For the next three years, he studied political science at Ramjas College in Delhi University. 

After graduating from college in 1977, and still in his early twenties, Mr. Dongchung decided to move to Dharamsala—another small town in Himachal Pradesh, where the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the Tibetan government-in-exile, had set up its base—to serve the cause of Tibet. On June 15, 1977, he was assigned to the Department of Security as an assistant office secretary, thus beginning his life as a public servant.

 1980s

Few years after the Cultural Revolution ended, the 1980s marked a period when China began to slowly open up. In 1983, under the directive of the CTA Department of Security’s then secretary, the late Mr. Jampa Kalden la, Mr. Ngodup Dongchung undertook a covert mission to Lhasa, Tibet. While living under anonymity, he met with many Tibetan underground resistance groups to collect intelligence on the situation of Tibetans inside Tibet. At a time when information across the borders was difficult to reach, he contributed to opening up new channels of communication between the CTA and Tibetans living inside Tibet. Through this mission, he and the security department also established and maintained contacts with many Tibetans who contributed to the exile movement by providing valuable intelligence over the next few decades.

1991-2007

His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Security

  • Undertakes responsibility for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s personal security, in the station, and while on domestic travels.
  • Liaisons in advance with local Indian authorities to prepare for safe and secure facilities at different locations.
  • Maintains security protocols through in-service training of officers.
  • Organizes proper screenings and identifications at required venues.
  • Recruits temporary local Tibetan volunteers to gain on-ground insight and counsel at different sites.
  • Upgrades the 24-hour personal security in Dharamsala.

 Rehabilitation of Refugees 

  • DOS started the reception center for newly arrived Tibetans from Tibet in Dharamsala in the 1980s with branch offices in Delhi and Kathmandu and maintains its staff and facilities.
  • Provides logistical and legal support as well as any immediate public health needs at the reception center. 
  • Since 2005, created a special entry permit program to allow Tibetans to gain legal entry and get RC on arrival in India.
  • Works in cooperation with institutions such as monasteries and schools to facilitate new opportunities in exile.
  • Coordinates with UNHCR, the Nepalese government and the Indian government.
  • Initiated an adult educational school called Sherab Gatseling in the early 90s, which is now under the DOE.

 Registration Certificate and Dharamshala Branch Office 

  • Registration Certificate (RC) is equivalent to a conditional resident card that allows Tibetans to legally live in India. Any Tibetans over the age of 16 are required to make one.
  • Handles the bureaucratic and administrative hurdles refugees face by assisting them with RC registration and renewal processes.
  • Liaisons with the Foreign Registration Office (FRO) of Dharamshala Police to facilitate legal processes such as Exit Permit (required for Tibetans to leave India) and Return Visa.
  • Organizes and coordinates His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s public audience with foreigners and the Himalayan community in Dharamsala. 

 Research and Analysis Center

  • The center was created by the Department of Security in the 1970s, when information from Tibet and China was scarce.
  • Translated necessary information and communicated with CTA as well as the public through English and Tibetan-language publications.
  • In the 1980s, with a staff of 14-15 people, the center sourced and transcribed Tibetan and Chinese-language news from daily radio broadcasts.
  • In 2011, the center was changed to the Tibet Policy Institute (TPI), a CTA-wide think tank open to outside researchers.

Outside of administrative duties, he helped to expand the intelligence infrastructure of DOS by establishing contacts in Tibet as well as maintaining cooperation with concerned Indian government offices.

Political Prisoners Rehabilitation Program

In the early 90s, following a visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Australia, the government agreed to take in Tibetan refugees under the Special Humanitarian Program.

Kasur Ngodup Dongchung, then the secretary of the security department, took leadership and responsibility over this program, through which hundreds of former Tibetan political prisoners and their families were able to resettle in Australia. 

In the beginning, 30-50 people were sent each year. The number has now grown to 100-150 people per year. As of today, more than 1,000 Tibetans have been resettled in Australia.

There is a growing diasporic community of Tibetans living in Australia. This program ensures long-term security and stability for families who had sacrificed for the collective cause.

2007-2016

In 2007, after working for 30 years as a bureaucrat, he was nominated and elected as the Security Kalon in Professor Samdhong Rinpoche’s cabinet. In 2011, he served a second term as Kalon in the cabinet of SIkyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay. In both cases, a huge majority at the Tibetan parliament supported his nomination.

Under Samdhong Rinpoche’s cabinet, he proposed and developed an extension of RC policy from one to every five years. In 2012, this policy was greenlit by the Indian government and executed during Sikyong Lobsang Sangay’s first term. 

In coordination with the Indian government, he worked to launch an online RC registration system that would eliminate the need for Tibetans to return to their place of registration for renewal purposes. This policy was later launched in 2018. 

2016 – Present

Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
New Delhi, India

As His Holiness’s representative, he periodically meets and maintains relations with central Indian government officials, diplomats from various foreign embassies, as well as heads of different non-governmental organizations.

The Bureau also provides Identity Certificate services, i.e., the registration and extension of the travel document issued to Tibetans living in India.

Lastly, the Bureau facilitates both domestic and international travels of His Holiness and also organizes many Tibet-related events in Delhi.