Mr Phuntsog Wangyal
Phuntsog Wangyal is the chairman of Tibet Foundation, a UK charity that has made a significant contribution towards education, health-care and economic and spiritual development amongst the Tibetan communities across Asia.
Born in 1944, Mr Wangyal became a monk and studied Buddhism in Tibet at a young age. In 1959 he escaped amid an arduous journey to India, where he was educated at St Joseph’s College and later at Delhi and Jawaharlal Universities, graduating with an MA and MPhil in Politics and International Relations. Following this he became the Assistant Director of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala established by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
In 1973 he came to London where he conducted research on the life of 13th Dalai Lama and the concept of reincarnation, and taught Tibetan language at SOAS. For many years he served the Tibetan community as a council member and later as its chairman. In 1980 he returned to Tibet as a member of a pivotal delegation sent at the request of His Holiness the Dalai Lama as part of a fact-finding delegation, followed by interviews and accounts of his visit including the BBC documentary series ‘The World About Us’. In 1981 he was appointed the London Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and the Office of Tibet was established.
Mr Phuntsog Wangyal, Honorary Doctorate, 2014 Graduation
In 1985 Mr Wangyal founded Tibet Foundation, which has since become one of the most highly respected Tibetan charities to date, offering practical, long-term support to Tibetans living both inside Tibet as well as India and Nepal.
He has also catalysed support for Mongolians in the revival of their Buddhist tradition and practice across Mongolia. In July 2009 he was awarded the “Friendship Medal” by the Mongolian President for the Foundation’s significant contribution to the development of cooperation between Mongolia and the United Kingdom, in recognition of efforts to restore its traditional culture and spiritual heritage.
Mr Wangyal has travelled internationally and written many articles on Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism, including ‘The Influence of Religion on Tibetan Politics’, The Tibet Journal 1975; ‘The Tibetans: two perspectives on Tibetan-Chinese Relations’, Minority Rights Group 1983; ‘Tibet and Development’, Tibet Foundation Newsletter 2004; ‘Tibetan Buddhism’, Encyclopaedia of Peace 2008.