Lobsang Sangay, a 43-year-old Harvard scholar, was sworn in Monday as head of the Tibetan government in exile, replacing the Dalai Lama as the movement's political leader.
In an historic shift from the dominance of Tibetan politics by religious figures, the new prime minister, who has never set foot in Tibet, will assume the duties relinquished by the Dalai Lama in May.
Although the 76-year-old monk will retain the more significant role of spiritual leader, as well as his hold on major policy-making decisions, the transition makes Sangay a far more prominent figure than his predecessor.
The Dalai Lama casts a long and iconic shadow and Sangay is little known outside the narrow confines of the exiled community, making his task a daunting one.
Sangay has publicly backed the Dalai Lama's policy of seeking "meaningful autonomy" for Tibet under Chinese rule, but his age and former membership of the pro-independence Tibetan Youth Congress has fuelled speculation that he may have a more radical agenda.
Monday's ceremony, presided over by the Dalai Lama, was held in the Tsuglagkhang Temple, the spiritual centre of the Indian hill town of Dharamshala where the government in exile is based.