The Grass is Greener in China

Shigatse-born Tashi Phuntsok was the winner of the 2017 “Sing! China” singing competition. He is just one of the examples that Tibetans in China are given opportunities to realise their dreams.

The opinion piece below was sent to dorjeshugden.com for publication. We accept submissions from the public, please send in your articles to [email protected].

 


 

By: Ame Nielsen

India and China share a 2,521 mile-long border which almost doubles if you include the sandwiched countries of Nepal and Bhutan. In comparison, the border between Mexico and the United States is 1,954 miles long and we all know of US President Donald Trump’s proposal to construct a wall there because Mexicans have and continue to move to the Unites States in the hundreds of thousands to seek better economic and other opportunities.

Both these geographical examples highlight the universal truth that, given the chance, human beings will always migrate from a location with poorer relative opportunity to one of higher relative opportunity to better their lives.

In a market-driven economy, the meaning of a better life certainly includes access to jobs, health, education, goods and services. The underlying factors to this are transport infrastructure, communications, utilities, access to markets, law and order, and more.

So today, if one were to place oneself in any of the Indian border states of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh or Sikkim for example, it would be clear where the proverbial greener grass grows — on China’s side. According to Claude Arpi, a China-India relations expert, this is because,

China is fast developing its frontiers, trying to woo the Tibetan locals, often akin to the Indian populations on the other side of the border.

Mr. Arpi was commenting on current China-India relations in his article “China’s inroads near the Indian borders”, published in The Pioneer on Thursday, 29 March 2018. According to Mr. Arpi, during the recently concluded China’s National People’s Congress, it was decided that the richer Chinese provinces would help less prosperous locations. For example, Hunan, Hubei and Anhui will help prefecture-level cities like Lhoka in the southeastern Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) “make the dramatic transition from poor border villages to prosperous ones with electricity, first rate access roads, irrigation systems and potable water.

Mr. Arpi also cites a March 4, 2018 Xinhua announcement that,

“Tibet will strive to make highways reach all townships and administrative villages by 2020 in a bid to boost rural development. …By 2020, all townships which meet necessary conditions and 80% of administrative villages would have access to bus service.”

He also cites a senior TAR transport official saying, “road construction will help the region reduce poverty and increase the income of farmers and herders.”

Contrast all this development and higher relative economic opportunity to the Indian side of things where development is very poor and access to markets is limited. Foreign tourists are not even permitted to visit many of these border states without a “Protected Area Permit”, thereby limiting economic opportunities in the tourism sector. In addition, there is also the “Inner line” permit system for Indian nationals which again limits mobility in and out of these areas.

Mr. Arpi’s article and evidence clearly contrasts the relative development and economic opportunities on both sides of the India-China border and he hastens India to do something about this huge gap.

However, for the Tibetans living in these border areas, perhaps it is too little too late for their lives in India. It is these Tibetans who are generally forced to seek a living using less-than-legitimate means, and for whom such a restrictive existence will grow tiresome after 60 years. And so it is clear where the push and pull factors come from. China, where family members are still living; China, where well-paying jobs are aplenty; China, where the infrastructure is improving with the government’s assistance; China, where religion is now easily accessible and people can practice openly; China, where the grass is greener, and there is no doubt about this.

 

China’s Inroads Near the Indian Borders

Click to enlarge. (Source: http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/edit/chinas-inroads-near-the-indian-borders.html)

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  1. Supreme Court of India JUSTICE Mr. MARKANDEY KATJU (RETD) writes that Tibet is much better under the Chinese than it was under the lamas who only wanted to make the populace slaves. It was feudal and it will never return to the backwardness again.

    Time has come to acknowledge that Tibet has vastly improved under Chinese rule
    JUSTICE MARKANDEY KATJU (RETD) | 12 August, 2018
    From a terribly poor state hinged on a feudal system, Tibet has modernised and grows faster than the rest of China
    This article has been prompted by Jyoti Malhotra’s article in ThePrint ‘Tibetan government quietly changed its PM’s designation. India won’t be unhappy about it‘.
    China’s annexation of Tibet in 1959, ousting the Dalai Lama, had attracted it worldwide criticism. The Dalai Lama fled and was granted asylum in India, where he set up a government-in-exile with its headquarters in Dharamshala.
    The Chinese claim Tibet on the grounds that it has been part of the country since the Yuan dynasty of the 13th century, which is disputed by the government-in-exile. But let us leave this that matter aside.
    The more important question is whether Chinese rule has benefited Tibet.
    The answer is that it undoubtedly has. As the Reuters’ Ben Blanchard writes: “Today Tibet is richer and more developed than it has ever been, its people healthier, more literate, better dressed and fed”.
    Although Ben goes on to argue that this development masks “a deep sense of unhappiness among many Tibetans”, I will disagree. How can anyone be unhappy if s/he is healthier, better fed and better clothed?
    Under the rule of the Dalai Lamas (Buddhist priests), the people of Tibet were terribly poor, almost entirely illiterate, and lived like feudal serfs.
    Today, Tibet presents a totally different picture. The illiteracy rate in Tibet has gone down from 95 per cent in the 1950s to 42 per cent in 2000. It has modern schools, universities, engineering and medical colleges, modern hospitals, freeways, supermarkets, fast food restaurants, mobile stores and apartment buildings. The capital Lhasa is like any other modern city.
    While the economic growth in the rest of China has slowed down to about 7 per cent, Tibet has had a 10 per cent growth rate in the last two decades.
    Tibet has huge mineral wealth, which was only awaiting Chinese technology to be tapped. Nowadays, it has numerous hydro and solar power plants and industries running with Chinese help.
    Tibetan literature is flourishing, contrary to claims that the Chinese want to crush Tibetan culture.
    Of course, now the lamas cannot treat their people as slaves.
    The so-called ‘government-in-exile’, of which Lobsang Sangay claims to be the President, is a fake organisation, funded by foreign countries. They only want to restore the feudal Tibet, ruled by the reactionary lamas, something which will never happen.
    The writer is a former judge of the Supreme Court of India
    https://theprint.in/opinion/time-has-come-to-acknowledge-that-tibet-has-vastly-improved-under-chinese-rule/97172/

  2. China is developing very fast, one of their goals is to reduce poverty in the country. They have implemented many programs and initiative to achieve this goal. Some of the strategies include building better infrastructure to encourage trading activity and develop tourism industry.

    China is promoting tourism industry in Tibet. By attracting more tourists to Tibet, the income of the locals and government will increase too. They also build new houses, roads and public transport to improve the standard of living of the people.

    In China, everyone is given the same opportunity regardless of their ethnic group or religion. In contrary, the CTA discriminates its own people by their faith, nothing much has been done to improve the living standard. The CTA is not able to ‘produce’ outstanding Tibetans in exile, maybe they do it on purpose. If Tibetans are highly educated, they might go against the CTA and it will be difficult for the CTA to manage.

  3. The cracks in Tibetan society are starting to show, and it is now coming to the attention of local Indians who have all but identified the Tibetan leadership as the source of the divisions. According to this author, disunity amongst the Tibetans is now creating problems for Indian law enforcement agencies, and this disunity may culminate in young Tibetans holding silent grudges against their host country. It is incredible that after six decades of generosity from India, Indians are now facing the very real possibility Tibetans can be ungrateful towards India. The Tibetan leadership totally failed to impart positive values upon their exiled community, like gratitude for those kindest to them and the need to repay these kindnesses with real, tangible results. It’s also very unlikely that the Tibetan leadership will now start to do this, after six decades of failing to do so. Indians need to realise this, and see that there is no benefit for their nation to align themselves with the Tibetan leadership, and there never will be.
    Tibetan disunity not in India’s interest
    John S. Shilshi
    Updated: August 7, 2018, 11:00 AM
    India is home to the Dalai Lama and an estimated 120,000 Tibetan refugees. Though this humanitarian gesture on India’s part comes at the cost of risking New Delhi’s relations with China, India has never wavered in ensuring that Tibetans live with dignity and respect. Notified settlements across the country were made available so that they can live as independently as possible and practice Tibetan religion and culture. They are also allowed to establish centres of higher learning in Tibetan Buddhism. As a result, several reputed Buddhist institutes came up in Karnataka, and in the Indian Himalayan belt. In what may be termed as a gesture well reciprocated, and because of the respect and influence His Holiness the Dalai Lama commands, the Tibetan diaspora also lived as a peaceful community, rarely creating problems for India’s law enforcement agencies.
    The situation, however, changed from 2000 onwards when unity amongst Tibetans suffered some setback due to developments like the Karmapa succession controversy and the controversy over worshiping of Dorje Shugden. In a unique case of politics getting the better of religion, two senior monks of the Karma kargyue sect of Tibetan Buddhism, Tai Situ Rinpoche and late Shamar Rinpoche, developed serious differences after the demise of Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, the 16th Karmapa, in 1981. This animosity ultimately led to emergence of two 17th Karmapa candidates in the early nineties. While Tai Situ Rinpoche identified and recognised UghyanThinley Dorje, late Shamar Rinpoche anointed Thinley Thaye Dorje as his Karmapa candidate. Enthronement of their respective protégés at the Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim, the supreme seat of the Karma Kargue linage, being their primary objective, both started indulging in activities monks normally are expected to, and bitterness spewed against each other.
    The bitter rivalry assumed a new dimension when UghyenThinley Dorje suddenly appeared in India in January 2000. The competition became fiercer and hectic political lobbying, never known in the history of Tibetan Buddhism on Indian soil, became common place. Apart from pulling strings at their disposal in Sikkim as well as in the power corridors of New Delhi, these senior monks spat against each other with allegations and counter allegations, widening the gaps between their supporters. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, choosing to favour one of the candidates—a decision many Tibet watchers felt was ill-timed—had also limited possible scope of rapprochement. Hence, the Karma Kargyue followers are now vertically divided, while the camps are dragged into a long drawn legal battle.
    Another development that unfortunately split the Tibetans is the controversy over Shugden worshipping, which again is an internal matter of the Gelugpa sect, to which the Dalai Lama belongs. It erupted as a result of the Dalai Lama urging Tibetans to refrain from worshiping Dorje Shugden, a deity believed to be a protector, according to Tibetan legend. Shugden practitioners, who felt offended by the call, describe it as an attack on freedom of religion, a right, which Dalai Lama himself tirelessly fought for. On the other hand, die hard Dalai Lama followers perceived the questioning of the decision as one challenging the wisdom of the Dalai Lama and mounted massive pressure on Dorje Shugden practitioners to relent, with some even demolishing the statues of the deity. The rivalry ultimately led to split in two Gelug monasteries in Karnataka, and Serpom and Shar Garden monasteries in Bylakupe and Mundgod respectively came under the control of Shugden followers. The bitterness associated with the split is exemplified by the fact that till today, members of these monasteries are treated as some sort of outcasts by the others. Thus, for the first time, the Tibetan diaspora in India gave birth to sections opposed to the Dalai Lama, with spillover effects in Tibet and elsewhere.
    For India, with a fragile internal security profile, a divided Tibetan population on its soil is not good news. It has several long-term implications. It is common knowledge that China considers Dalai Lama as a secessionist, one plotting to divide their country. The latter’s claim of “all that Tibetans were asking for, was a status of genuine autonomy within the Constitution of the Peoples’ Republic of China”, had fallen into deaf ears. China also considers him as someone who plays to the Indian tune to tickle China. Therefore, at a time when China has successfully shrunk the Dalai Lama’s space internationally, India continuing to extend the usual space for him is viewed as complicity. Sharp reaction from China when he was allowed to visit Arunachal Pradesh in April 2017, is a recent example. Such being the delicate nature of India-China relations on matters and issues concerning Tibetans, India can hardly afford to ignore the division within the diaspora. Past experience of dubious elements from Tibet having succeeded in infiltrating the Central Tibetan Administration, including the security wing, should be a warning.
    It is also time India understands the reason behind Tibetans seeking Indian passports, despite an existing arrangement for issue of Identity Certificates, which is passport equivalent. Some had even successfully taken recourse to legal remedy on the issue, and left the government of India red-faced. These changing moods should not be viewed as desires by Tibetans to become Indian citizens. They are triggered by the pathetic state of affairs associated with issuing of Identity Certificates, where delays in most cases are anything between six months to one year. Early streamlining of the process will drastically reduce their desire to hold Indian passport. It will also remove the wrongly perceived notion among some educated Tibetan youth, that the cumbersome process was a ploy by India to confine them in this country. While India should not shy from requesting the Dalai Lama to use his good offices to end all differences within the community in the interest of India’s internal security, it will also be necessary to ensure that young Tibetans do not nurse a silent grudge against the very country they called their second home.
    https://www.sundayguardianlive.com/opinion/tibetan-disunity-not-indias-interest

  4. Although the Dalai Lama has offered an apology, the Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) still expressed their disappointment over his controversial comment on Nehru, the Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC). Dalai Lama called Nehru self-centred.

    The Congress said Dalai Lama being a foreigner should shun and refrain from interfering in the internal as well as external affairs of India.

    Dalai Lama should abstain from imparting controversial information to students: Arunachal Congress
    Dalai Lama should know that a spiritual leader like him is shouldering great expectation: APCC
    | DAMIEN LEPCHA | ITANAGAR | August 12, 2018 9:58 pm
    disappointment over the recent statement made by Tibetan Spiritual Leader the 14th Dalai Lama in which he called Jawaharlal Nehru, the former Prime Minister of India as “self-centered” and the one responsible for parting India and Pakistan.
    “Although Dalai Lama expressed regret over his controversial comment, the APCC is extremely thwarted by it. A Tibetan spiritual leader calling names to an Indian leader who sweated most to keep him and his followers safe from Chinese aggression is simply not acceptable. Today, India is home to lakhs of Tibetan refugees who are living in 37 settlements and 70 scattered communities across different states of India,” APCC vice-president Minkir Lollen said in a statement on Sunday.
    “Dalai Lama may have forgotten that India provided a beam of light and hope to Tibetans remaining in Chinese-dominated Tibet and in the neighbouring Chinese provinces politically cut off from the Tibetan heart land. All these happened only because India has great leaders like Gandhi and Nehru who took the responsibility of social burden to shelter thousands of persecuted Tibetans then in 1959,” Lollen added.
    Minkir said Dalai Lama should know that a spiritual leader like him is shouldering great expectation, hope and trust of millions on record and the same are watching his contribution towards the mankind.
    “In such circumstances, Dalai Lama should abstain from imparting partial and controversial information to the students who are the torch bearer of the nation,” the Congress said.
    Further stating that the statement of the spiritual leader could be a politically motivated one and made with an effort to approach Prime Minister Narendra Modi for survival of his continuation in the country, the Congress said Dalai Lama being a foreigner should shun and refrain from interfering in the internal as well as external affairs of India.
    https://nenow.in/north-east-news/dalai-lama-should-abstain-from-imparting-controversial-information.html

  5. It is bewildering that His Holiness the Dalai Lama mentioned that he had known of sexual abuse by Buddhist teachers since the 1990s, yet nothing was done to reprimand these Buddhist teachers. After all, such abuses inflict substantial damage to the reputation of Tibetan Buddhism as a whole as compared to smaller issues like Dorje Shugden.

    The Central Tibetan Administration was fervent in executing the Dorje Shugden ban, launching a documentary film, books, expelling monks, splitting monasteries and denying access to hospitals, clinics, schools, retail shops and so forth down to even publishing a hit list of Shugden activists in order to encourage violence and lynch mob. Yet, the damage done to Tibetan Buddhism by these lamas seems to be ignored and hushed. Why is the Central Tibetan Administration not doing more to warn the public about these sex offenders like posting a warning list on their website?

    Dalai Lama knew sex abuse by Buddhist teachers; it’s ‘nothing new’
    Agence France-Presse
    THE HAGUE, Netherlands – The Dalai Lama said Saturday that he had known of sexual abuse by Buddhist teachers since the 1990s and that such allegations were “nothing new.”
    The Tibetan spiritual leader, revered by millions of Buddhists around the world, made the admission during a four-day visit to the Netherlands, where he met on Friday with victims of sexual abuse allegedly committed by Buddhist teachers.
    He was responding to a call from a dozen of the victims who had launched a petition asking to meet him during his trip, part of a tour of Europe.
    “We found refuge in Buddhism with an open mind and heart, until we were raped in its name,” the victims said in their petition.
    “I already did know these things, nothing new,” the Dalai Lama said in response on Dutch public television NOS late Saturday.
    “Twenty-five years ago… someone mentioned about a problem of sexual allegations” at a conference for western Buddhist teachers in Dharamshala, a hill town in northern India, he added.
    The Dalai Lama, 83, lives in exile in Dharamshala.
    People who commit sexual abuse “don’t care about the Buddha’s teaching. So now that everything has been made public, people may concern about their shame,” he said, speaking in English.
    Tseten Samdup Chhoekyapa, a representative of the Tibetan spiritual leader in Europe, said Friday that the Dalai Lama “has consistently denounced such irresponsible and unethical behavior”.
    Tibetan spiritual leaders are due to meet in Dharamshala in November.
    “At that time they should talk about it,” the Dalai Lama said in his televised comments Saturday. “I think the religious leaders should pay more attention.”
    https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1032920/dalai-lama-knew-sex-abuse-by-buddhist-teachers-its-nothing-new/amp

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.…Instead of turning away people who practise Dorje Shugden, we should be kind to them. Give them logic and wisdom without fear, then in time they give up the ‘wrong’ practice. Actually Shugden practitioners are not doing anything wrong. But hypothetically, if they are, wouldn’t it be more Buddhistic to be accepting? So those who have views against Dorje Shugden should contemplate this. Those practicing Dorje Shugden should forbear with extreme patience, fortitude and keep your commitments. The time will come as predicted that Dorje Shugden’s practice and it’s terrific quick benefits will be embraced by the world and it will be a practice of many beings.

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