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REIMAGINING DOEGULING TIBETAN SETTLEMENT

posted Jan 23, 2014, 5:06 PM by The Tibetan Political Review
By Tsewang Namgyal

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MISSION 

Doeguling Tibetan Settlement (“The Institution”) in Mundgod, Karnataka State (India) will become a leading international Buddhist institution. The Institution is rooted in the Nalanda tradition of ancient India, which flourished under the rule of the Gupta, Kannauj and Pala kings from the fifth to the twelfth century AD, and is the major influence on Tibetan Buddhism as practiced today. The Institution will incorporate retirement homes based on the principles of loving kindness (Tibetan: Jampa) and compassion (Tibetan: Nying je), Tibetan traditional medical centres, Tibetan theme hotels, and centres for Tibetan culture (music, art, dance and handicraft). 

                                                   
 

VISION

“World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not just mere absence of violence. Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama

The ultimate goal of the Institution is to help contribute to world peace by becoming a repository of knowledge to teach techniques to develop individual happiness. In addition, the Institution will help revitalize the Tibetan settlement and enable the monasteries to become financially self-sufficient. 

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OPPORTUNITY

  • Global interest in His Holiness the Dalai Lama as reflected by 8.2 million plus twitter followers and 7 million plus Facebook likes as of January 2014
  • Sympathetic Karnataka State government and Indian Central government towards His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan community in exile
  • Growing interest in Buddhist meditation techniques by the scientific community as reflected by the development of organizations such as Mind and Life Institute and Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science
  • Interest by influential and high net worth individuals in the preservation of Tibet's unique heritage 
  • Opportunity to target retirees from the affluent Tibetan, Indian and foreign community. Senior housing industry worldwide is a $25 billion market 
  • Growing global health and wellness market sales expected to reach one trillion dollars by 2017 
  • The Institution is approximately 50 km (one hour by road) from the City of Hubli-Dharwad which is well connected by modern air, road and rail facilities. The settlement lies just off the four-lane Pune-Bangalore NH4 Highway 



The author and his parents attended His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Lamrim teachings in Ganden monastery (Mundgod) in December 2012

CURRENT STATUS

  • The Tibetan settlement was founded in 1966 and comprises 4,000 acres (16 square kilometres) 
  • Largest concentration of Tibetan refugees in the world, exceeding thirteen thousand persons
  • Foreign visitors needs a special annual permit. For the special pass, it would take approximately 2 to 3 months to get approval
  • The 11 villages are scattered over different locations. The distance between one village and another on average is 4 – 6 km
  • A Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the overall head of the settlement. Each village has its own elected leader who takes all major decisions relating to his village
  • Ganden and Drepung monasteries incorporate other smaller monasteries and colleges: Ganden Jangtse, Ganden Shartse, Nyingma, Drepung Loseling, Drepung Gomang, Ratoe and Kagyu Monastry. There are total of over 8,000 monks and nuns
  • The Tibetan settlement includes a high school, a hospital, a Tibetan Medical and Astro institute, Old homes and a Co-operative
  • The altitude at the Institution is approximately 1800 ft. above sea level and the temperature ranges between 78 degree to 90 degree Fahrenheit with an average rainfall of 42" to 45" annually. The monasteries are accessible over all four seasons. 


RISKS

  • Getting the required government approvals to develop / expand the settlement area 
  • Legal risks in removing the restricted area designation and allowing foreigners to have residence in the settlements
  • Stakeholders concern in the commercialization needed to help reduce subsidies / donation seeking method
  • Confusion among the stakeholders on the mission and vision of the Institution
  • Construction and Operation risks
  • Political risk with the local Indian community by not able to impress on them that they will benefit from the economic development of the Tibetan community
  • Concern among Tibetans and supporters that development would lead to dilution of the Tibetan culture
  • Raising appropriate financing
  • Market risk in raising interest and generating traffic among visitors and clientele


REVENUE GENERATING BUSINESS

  • Retirement homes: Upfront sale of retirement homes / senior living homes and monthly management fees
  • Tibetan Medical Center and Spas: Integrative medical and wellness clinics where integrative health is practiced in a spa-like environment
  • Tibetan Buddhism classes: Introductory courses on Tibetan Buddhism and Culture
  • Tibetan “Broadway” Show: Tibetan art performance 
  • Tour guides
  • Hotel Tibet: Providing excellent Tibetan hospitality 
  • Product Line: The Institute will produce a proprietary product line based on the herbal medicine of Tibet. The product line will include dietary supplements, teas and infusions and skin care products. 


DEVELOPMENT BENEFITS

  • Profit sharing with the monasteries and nunneries to help subsidize cost of the monks and nuns studies
  • The development of the infrastructure in the region will increase job opportunities both during the construction and operating phase for the Tibetan settlement residents and local Indian population
  • Allows Tibetans an opportunity to create a sustainable economy leveraging on their competitive strength and become a template for a future free Tibet
  • Revival of the Tibetan settlements in south India 
  • Tibetan architecture and art development. The interior design and architecture of these facilities will reflect Tibetan art and culture with brightly colored, symbolic painting and artwork and artifacts throughout the facilities
  • Increase tax revenues for local government
  • Raise Karnataka State profile internationally


PHASES

The development process can be broken down in to the following stages:

  • Phase I: Pre-feasibility study - First assessment of the potential project primarily focused on fatal flaws 
  • Phase II: Feasibility study - Significant more detailed assessment of all aspects of the project
  • Phase III: Development - Involves moving the project forward on a number of fronts including outline design and selection of contractors
  • Phase IV: Construction - The physical construction of the necessary expansion


COMPETITIVE ENVIRONMENT

  • With the exception of the Tibetan monasteries, there are currently no universities in India or the world that have the same curriculum as the great Nalanda University of ancient India
  • Existing retirement / senior living homes 
  • Non-Tibetan spa and integrative health businesses
  • Tibetan-oriented spa and integrative health businesses (some small, focused local businesses exist that specifically embrace the Tibetan approach to wellness) 


SUMMARY

The large and rapidly growing market for compassionate retirement homes and spa services and the demand for holistic wellness services offers a viable and significant opportunity for the Institution. A unique value proposition of real ties to Nalanda traditions and Tibet, services and products rooted in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy with long proven success in bringing happiness will enable the Institution to help create a happier individual and foundation to achieving world peace. In addition, the Institution will help play a critical role to make the Tibetan community in India more economically sustainable and alleviate poverty within the local Indian population. 

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The author is an MBA graduate (Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society member) from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and works in the Investment Banking field in New York City. Tsewang currently serves on the Board of The Tibet Fund. Feedback on the Concept paper is welcomed at densang123@yahoo.com



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