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Tibet:Chinese Invasion

The burning demand


Tibetan protests against China can prove to be self-destructive
SAYAN GHOSH | Issue Dated: December 9, 2012, New Delhi
Tags : Tibetan exile | Hu Jintao's India visit | Self immolation | Violence | Protest | Demonstration |

Self-immolation, violence, protests, demonstrations and marches have marked  the Tibetan stand in their eff ort to end the Chinese occupation of their land. Since the end of February 2009, 78 Tibetans have died to self-immolation within Tibet. Five of their compatriots have self-immolated outside the country since April 1998: three in Delhi, one in Mumbai and another one in Kathmandu, Nepal. So much so, that 11 women par¬ticipated in the self-immolation drive. Ten in the expiry roster are monks (at Kirti monastery in Ngaba). It is speculated that nine of these monks were barred from the monastery by the Chinese authorities over their effusive confrontationist approach. Self-immolations were oft en combined with sit-ins and protests that claimed 64 lives in the same period. The dysfunctional relationship between the Tibetans and the Chinese government has enveloped students in Tibet as they are found. A Tibetan exile sets himself on ? re to protestagainst Hu Jintao's upcoming visit to India protesting ferociously against the ethnic injustice in the hinterland.

Some Tibetans have however, ques-tioned the very motives of these protests. Apart from broadening their appeal and deriving public sympathy from foreign players, they ask, are there other benefi ts that the protesters are trying to derive? In fact, the crippling effect of their economy demands a calm pragmatism instead of a violent revolution. A worsening economy should work as a cohesive force and give impetus to peace rather than political and military confrontation.

Despite claims by the Chinese authori-ties that they are planting seeds of devel¬opment by augmenting public spending in Tibet, the development is mostly con¬fined to state sectors and communist party administration. Th e progressive waves of reforms have  bypassed vital sec¬tors like agriculture, mining and industry in which most of the Tibetans are em¬ployed. The Tibetans, therefore, are ex¬cluded from the political process and lack the negotiating muscles required for the economic development of the autono-mous region. Experts say Tibet can take cue from Taiwan, which faces Chinese wrath too, but has taken the ground realities in their stride and have built a live example of a truly progressive state with path-breaking economic reforms. The razzmatazz of Taiwan and the com¬paratively mundane Tibet is refl ected in the contrasting prosperity level. Tibet is languishing with per capita nominal GDP of $ 2,558 (2011), Taiwan is light years ahead with $ 21,592 (2011). Taiwan’s ad¬vancement is further characterised by only 5.2 per cent of the population en¬gaged in agriculture, whereas in Tibet overwhelming majority is employed in that sector. In short, Taiwan has been re¬alistic and reformist while Tibet is, still, regressive and has failed to embrace the new changes.

The wrangling with the Chinese is making Tibetans pay a hefty price. Th us, they have to choose between the land they love and its economic future that can only come through leveraging neutrality with China. The changing world-order demands an altogether new approach to the age-old problem which has strangled Tibet's progress for too long.


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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017