Dharamsala: Tibetans residing in India and various parts of the world today cast ballots in the primary polls to nominate candidates for the post of ‘Kalon Tripa´ (Prime Minister) and members of Tibetan Parliament-in-exile.
Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has said in a message that he will not personally endorse a candidate of his choice and will stand by a popularly elected ‘Kalon Tripa´.
Although the voter turnout may vary from place to place, thanks to campaigns initiated by various NGOs, the overall figure of registered voters is a little higher this time than that of the last general elections held in 2006, according to the Election Commission of the Central Tibetan Administration.
This time, 79,449 people have registered to vote while in the last elections in 2006, 72,776 people had registered to vote with an estimated 26.8% actually casting their vote.
The latest population census conducted by the Tibetan Planning Commission last year shows that a little over 89,000 out of 150,000 Tibetans approximately in exile are above the age of 18 and is eligible to vote.
Tibetans living in India, Nepal and Bhutan, North America, Europe and several countries across the world are casting their votes in the primary elections. The final round of elections will be held on 20 March, 2011.
Among the settlements in India where voting took place were Dharamsala,
Darjeeling, Dehradun, Delhi and Nainital. In Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in- exile, 10 polling booths were set up in different locations.
In McLeodganj, the town in Upper Dharamsala known worldwide as “little Lhasa” due to the presence of the Dalai Lama who has resided here since fleeing Tibet in 1959, hundreds lined up since early morning to cast their votes in the courtyard of the main Tibetan temple (Tsuglag-khang).
As the voting continued, the special message by the exiled leader was played into loudspeakers. The Dalai Lama applauded the progressive steps taken by Tibetan exiles towards democratic process, urging them to be prudent about the situation facing Tibet.
The 2011 general elections will decide the third directly elected Tibetan PM. It will also see the election of members who will form the 15th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile.
Nerpa nuke sub delivery further delayed till March
Moscow: Signalling further delay in the delivery of Akula-II class nuclear attack submarine to India, a senior Russian official has said that it would now be handed over in March next year.
“Russia will transfer the K-152 Nerpa attack submarine to India on a 10-year lease in March 2011,” Governor of Khabarovsk Region Vyacheslav Shport was quoted as saying by the local media in Russia’s Far East.
The Nerpa, which India has sought for long, was to be initially leased in mid-2008 under the $900 million deal signed with Moscow in 2004. Russia rescheduled the delivery of the 12,000-tonne nuclear submarine to India to June this year, but that deadline too could not be met as further trials of the vessel were required.
“The vessel has been commissioned. In accordance with the agreement, it will be transferred to India in March of next year,” Vyacheslav Shport was quoted as saying by far eastern edition of Kommersant daily.
The nuclear submarine, which has been formally transferred to Russian Navy’s ownership by the Amur Shipyard in Khabarovsk region, is said to be currently undergoing sea trials with the India crew on board.
In November 2008, 21 crew members and technical staff were killed onboard the submarine shortly after the start of sea trials in Sea of Japan following the accidental leak of toxic Freon gas from the automatic fire suppressing system.
The Indian naval sources in Moscow have declined to comment on the Khabarovsk governor’s latest statement, saying the preparations are proceeding as per schedule.
The issue could be taken up at the Indo-Russian intergovernmental military-technical commission’s meeting in New Delhi on 7 October, during Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov’s India visit next week.
India hopes to train its personnel on board the Nerpa, to be rechristened INS Chakra, as it expects to operate three indigenously developed nuclear-powered vessels in the next five years. It had last July launched nuclear-powered INS Arihant, which is at present under construction in Visakhapatnam and is expected to join the fleet in about two years.
Indian Navy has already sent its first set of crew to get trained on Nerpa in Russian waters and to sail it to India once it is handed over at a port in Russia.
At present Indian Navy has no nuclear-powered vessel in operation, though it had operated a Charlie class nuclear submarine between 1988 and 1991 mainly gaining experience in its operations.
The Charlie class submarine was leased out to India by Russia and was rechristened INS Chakra. Upon expiry of the lease period, India returned the submarine to Russia, where the vessel joined its Pacific Fleet.