Home Contact Us  
   

India & the World - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#3716, 7 September 2012
 
Tibet and the Pursuit of Happiness
Bhavna Singh
Research Officer, CRP, IPCS
email: bhavna@ipcs.org
 

In a most unabashed mockery of the abysmal state of people in Tibet, China Central Television (CCTV) recently announced in its ‘Economic Survey list of China’s happiest cities’ that Lhasa bags this honour with highest claims. More surprisingly, this is not the first time that the city has been conferred the title, rather it has won this accolade for the fifth time in a row. This article explores whether the cited-indices in the survey can be construed as credible pointers of happiness in this far-western city of the PRC? Are the trails of self-immolations for no reason then? Or is the state deliberately trying to project a happy Tibet as counter-propaganda to the Tibetans?

Why China thinks Tibet is Happy
The assertions made in the survey are primarily based on the centre-led economic development in the Tibet Autonomous Region. Followed by Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province, Hefei, capital of Anhui province, Tianjin municipality, Changsha, capital of Hunan province, and Hohhot, capital of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region in the survey, Lhasa has been declared as the city which provides its citizens with the most amount of leisure time, constituted mostly by web-surfing and time for watching Television. This is not withstanding the fact that only 100, 000 households had been polled for the survey. Nor has the survey identified the nature of the programs that are most-watched (which could most probably be the ones that provide them a window to the outside world) which the local TRPs could easily determine.

According to official figures, Lhasa’s GDP reached 22.21 billion Yuan (US$ 3.52 billion) in 2011, a year-on-year increase of 14.6 per cent and the rural residents' average annual per-capita income reached 6,019 Yuan (US$ 958.53) in 2011, up by 20 per cent over 2010. The state stresses that it has created maximum opportunities for employment and better living standard through the policy of ‘three inclusions’ - free food, accommodation and free compulsory education for farmer’s and herder’s children. The average employment rate of Tibetan college students reached 84 per cent between 2006 and 2010. Furthermore, while housing prices have soared in most Chinese cities in recent years, the state has endeavoured to keep them relatively stable in Lhasa. However, the basic assumption of the state that economic progress and leisure time alone speak for the progress of people is fundamentally skewed. The oft-quoted debate on progress versus sustainability could easily make a case for the reverse.

The conspicuous absence of cities from the Yangtze River Delta or Pearl River Delta regions is being attributed to the fact that though people in these regions may have higher incomes, but they have little or no leisure time for cultural and spiritual interests. This claim is also highly debatable and at the most superfluous.

Why Tibet thinks it is Repressed

Contrary to the state’s claims, several reports (Radio Free Asia) point out that the declaration of Lhasa as the happiest city was simultaneously followed by a heavy security clampdown in several counties of Tibet, especially Driru County of Nagchu Prefecture in northern Tibet. The state has poured in huge amount of police forces, set up checkpoints with airport-style body scanners in busy downtown areas and closely scanned all Tibetans traversing from one region to another, giving the city and the neighbouring regions almost a prison-like appearance.

The Chinese authorities have also reportedly detained more than 1,000 Tibetans in one county of Tibet Autonomous Region since March 2012 for their involvement in the revival, promotion or assertion of their Tibetan cultural identity. In other instances, Tibetans have been arrested for alleged rights information leaks to the US and even for singing songs which demonstrate the hardships faced by Tibetans under Chinese rule or even those showcasing reverence to the Dalai Lama. A recent protest by Tibetans on the reopening of the environmentally destructive mine in Markham County of Chamdo Prefecture also met severe repression by the authorities. In general also, the non-Tibetans Chinese are allowed free access to most places which reveals the Chinese state’s discriminative practices between Hans and the Tibetans.

Reality check?
The ground reality certainly does not replicate the picture of prosperity and contentedness posited by the Chinese authorities. The survey is indubitably flawed on many accounts. First, there is no mention of categories like civil rights, rights to religious freedom and individual human rights which are essential for any kind of reconcilement between the state and the anti-state elements/sentiments in the region and that are constitutionally guaranteed but not implemented. Second, there is neither a substantive change in perceptions among the Hans or the Tibetans, nor is there an attempt by the state to bring these two together. A people-to-people approach of constructive engagement is evidently missing as far as the efforts by the state are concerned.  
 
Moreover, the development projects initiated and implemented by the government have only done more to infuriate the locals even further instead of helping them to harmonise with the aims and visions of the centre. The undeterred activities of the central authorities only reinforce the traditional attitudes and local loyalties given the severe immediate impact of their policies. For instance, the recently conducted anti-terror exercise at the Lhasa Gongar airport and at the Lhasa station of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway caused much inconvenience to the local people.

Keeping in mind the incessant tussle between the Tibetans and the state authorities, which often takes extreme forms like the resort to self-immolations, it would be in the best interests of the state to find lasting and effective solutions to the problems on the ground instead of faking an image of prosperity of its people in the autonomous regions.  

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 
Related Articles
Bhavna Singh,
"Self-Immolations in Tibet-III: Altruism, Fatalism or Anomie?," 23 August 2012
Bhavna Singh,
"Self-Immolations in Tibet-II: The ‘Neutral Stance’ on a Political Instrument," 12 July 2012
Chok Tsering,
"Tibetan Community-in-Exile: The Generation ‘Y’," 12 December 2011
Jigme Yeshe Lama,
"Reincarnation of Living Buddhas: A Zone of Sino-Tibetan Conflict," 26 September 2011

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Toying with China’s Demons: The Dos and the Don’ts

Religious Radicalisation in Xinjiang: Is China’s Game-plan to Blame?

China in the US Presidential Debate: The Return of Protectionism?

China and the Arctic: The Next ‘Strategic’ Frontline?

Self-Immolations in Tibet-III: Altruism, Fatalism or Anomie?

China’s London Dreams: ‘The Beats of China, Move the World’

Self-Immolations in Tibet-II: The ‘Neutral Stance’ on a Political Instrument

China’s Political Transition 2012: Seize, Snap or Smoothen?

China's Modernization Rush: Kashgar At Crossroads

China: The Red Weddings

Self-immolations in Tibet-I: Wider Implications

Will China have an Anna Hazare?

Xinjiang’s July Syndrome: Terrorism or Misgovernance?

China’s Nepal Focus

Kung Fu Panda: American Invasion of Chinese Culture?

Pre-election Flare-ups for the Tibetan Community: Allegations and Rebuttal

Sino-Tajik Border: Settlement or Entrapment?

Myanmar Elections 2010 – IV: China and the Charade

East China Sea Disputes: Will Economic Cooperation Alone Suffice?

Turkistan Islamic Party: Chasing a Relinquished Dream?

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.