Children Displaced: Deinstitutionalisation of Child Care Institutions in Tibetan Exile Settlements in Dharamshala, India

Pradeep Nair - Institutionalised Children Explorations and Beyond


This study assesses the present situation of the deinstitutionalisation and alternative care arrangements in exile settlements concerning various cultural and socio-structural factors. It explores how elements of social structure and culture operate to transform the residential care institutions to community-based alternative care arrangements for 10,000 young Tibetans uprooted from Tibet and presently settled in India. Their day-to-day problems of repatriation and resettlement in an unfamiliar demography with distinct ethnic values are pushing them to the margins. The dependence of these children on their exile government, the host community and the uncertainty of going back to their country makes them depressed, dependent and vulnerable to trauma and negligence. The study uses cross-sectional, descriptive, exploratory and qualitative methods. Primary data were collected through in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Open-ended questions were used for interviews in order to gain in-depth information from the respondents. Twenty-five informants were selected on a purposive basis to facilitate a focus on information-rich cases that illuminate the research questions. The selection criteria of informants apply to their professional experience of deinstitutionalisation in Tibetan settlements, professionals having experience of heading care institutions, officials of the Central Tibetan Administration, people from non-government organisations, development agencies and government officials who were a part of the interventions. Respondents from both state and non-state agencies were selected for the study to avoid bias.

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This article is part of the special issue of the Institutionalised Children Explorations and Beyond journal.