Washington: Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai
Lama was honoured here with the prestigious Democracy Service
Medal today in recognition of his commitment to advancing the
principles of democracy and human dignity.
Receiving the award at the Library of Congress on the
Capitol Hill, the exiled Buddhist leader praised India`s
Citing several examples of his interaction with Indian
leaders, the Dalai Lama said, in India there is space for
everyone to express their political views, which is very
The award instituted by the National Endowment for
Democracy (NED) was conferred on the Tibetan spiritual leader
during his visit to the United States that has sparked a
political row between Beijing and Washington.
In his acceptance speech, the Dalai Lama reiterated his
personal commitment towards promotion of human values and
democratic rights of the people world over.
"Change must come through people. Protection of
individual human rights is very important for the development
of the society," he observed.
Referring to democracy in India, the Tibetan leader said,
"there was a big difference between Nehru and Acharya
Kriplanai on the Tibetan issue." Then Prime Minister
Jawaharlal Nehru was against raising the Tibetan issue at
United Nations, he said.
"I found big difference between Indian and Chinese
parliament. In Chinese parliament there is too much silence
and in Indian Parliament there is too much noise," he said.
The Dalai Lama said education is key to the success of
democracy in any country. As such all the energy and resources
of the Tibetan Government in exile is spend on education, he
Presenting the award, NED President Carl Gershman
said, "The struggle of the Tibetan people to preserve their
culture is world renowned. What is little known, however, is
that the Dalai Lama, even before leaving Tibet, sought to
implement significant reforms in the system of government."
"Only in exile was the Dalai Lama able to implement
those reforms. Today, the Tibetan community in exile operates
under a democratic constitution, with an elected National
Assembly and a Supreme Court, with day-to-day powers vested in
an elected prime minister," he said.
"The Dalai Lama himself has often said that it is not
enough to oppose Chinese totalitarianism, but that it is
necessary to offer a democratic alternative," Gershman said.
Among those present on the occasion were Hollywood
actor Richard Gere who is the Chairman of the Washington-based
International Campaign for Tibet.
President Barack Obama met the Tibetan spiritual leader
ignoring strong Chinese objections and commended his
"middle way approach" in resolving the vexed Tibetan issue.
After his meeting with Obama, the Dalai Lama said he
wanted a "meaningful, sort of, autonomy so that we can
preserve Tibetan unique culture and heritage, including our
China has voiced strong protest over the meeting.