of the Article: The Afterthought
Written by Helen Schary Motro
Summary by Dr.V.S.Gopalakrishnan
This article recently appeared in the IHT. The writer paid a visit to Tibet two months ago. The ultimate verdict she wants to pass is that the Tibetans have become second class citizens in their own land which has been occupied by the Chinese. The Chinese areas have swanky residences, restaurants, good roads etc whereas the Tibetans live in mud huts in slum-like areas. The higher governmental jobs have been taken over by the Chinese whereas the Tibetans are given menial jobs in the Government. The ancient monasteries are crumbling and are being deserted or closed down.
We all sympathise with the Tibetans. They are very different from the Chinese. The Tibetan language is based on the simple Brahmi script. Chinese Mandarin is so different with 40000 characters, and difficult because of the tonal variations. But one should have a look at the brief history of Tibet. The various kingdoms got united in the 7th Century into one kingdom. The Bon religion (shamanistic) gave place to Buddhism that came from India in the 8th Century. The Mongols invaded Tibet in 1207 AD and occupied it for a few centuries. The Chinese built relations with Tibet. The British attacked Tibet in 1988 and held it for many years to prevent Russian influence. Then the Chinese took over Tibet in 1909. There were some truces thereafter and again the Chinese took it over in 1951.
Actually, the above is a very brief outline. The real long history has been complex with great internal struggles and wars with neighbours due to invasions. But the real point is that western nations who had a bad imperialistic history, should now stop shedding tears over Tibet. During the last 10 years, its per capita income has risen at more than 10 percent annually, reaching more than 1000 dollars a year now. That is vastly superior to that of Nepal and Bangladesh. The Chinese have improved the communications vastly in the Tibetan Autonomous Region as it is called. Tibetans will go global at this rate. Yes, no doubt, it would be criminal to destroy their culture and religion. Talibans have been playing havoc with huge Buddhist monuments that are world heritage sites, and yet the west is silent. Then why should they shed so much tears over alleged Chinese intrusion into Tbetan way of life and culture.
Tibet may be a big area. However its population is negligible, a mere 3 million or so, even less than the population of Pune city in India. If the 1.3 billion Chinese citizens have to closely bond with the Tibetans, why not we let it be so ?
By Dr.V.S.Gopalakrishnan Ph.D., IAS Rtd.