Wednesday January 24, 2018

Over the claim of Panda, new debate ensues between Tibet and China

From 1642 until the 1950's, the Tibetan Government was led by the Dalai Lama which administered almost the whole of the Tibetan Plateau

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Gyantse Town in China. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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  • Tibetans were forced to flee to India to seek safety after the 1959 Tibetan uprising
  • Central Tibetan Administration represents the people of Tibet in India and works towards their well-being
  • Human Rights Watch questions the manner in which authority is meted out to Tibetans living in Tibet

“Pandas are from Tibet, not China. China must leave Tibet, restore freedom”, tweets @Tibetans, a Twitter account handled a Tibetan activist, in addition to similar tweets that portray protest against the occupation of the Tibetan region by The People’s republic of China.

Although this twitter handle claims that the common belief that pandas are native to China is a misconception, experts believe that pandas mostly came from South China, and a few from Kham, a historic region of Tibet. A number of pages have made their presence on social media, like @tibettruth on Twitter and Pandas are from Tibet on Facebook who fearlessly take jabs at the Chinese Government.

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Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), or Exile Tibetan People’s Administration is an organization (also considered as the government in exile) functions from McLeod Ganj, a suburb of Dharamsala. It is based with the stated goal of “rehabilitating Tibetan refugees and restoring freedom and happiness in Tibet”. While the goal asserts that it will give back Tibetan refugees their homes, this organization has no intentions of assuming the role of the ruling body in the Tibetan area. Once freedom is achieved, a new ruling body will be formed based on people’s sentiment and opinions.

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Sera Monastery. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The 1959 Tibetan Uprising, which was a period of mass bloodshed, saw the destruction of 60,000 monasteries spread across the plateau. Monasteries of Sera, Ganden, and Drepung, which were  which were damaged beyond repair owing to incessant shelling by the Chinese army. Around 87,000 people lost their lives, along with immense psychological and cultural damage.

From 1642 until the 1950’s, the Tibetan Government was led by the Dalai Lama which administered almost the whole of the Tibetan Plateau. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatzo, fled Tibet to settle in India as a refugee after the 1959 Tibetan Uprising, an internal revolt against the People’s Republic of China. Following his lead, around 150,000 Tibetans have since settled Dharamsala over the years, aided by the Indian government.

Today, the Indian government has set up a number of institutions to make life easier for the Tibetan Diaspora, like special schools that provide free education and reservation of a few seats in the medical field and civil engineering.

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Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy of human rights, has documented and reported the human rights violations that unfurl frequently in Tibet since 1987. While it does not support any political arrangement in the plateau, the organization promotes the rights of the Tibetan population to exercise religious freedom and express their views regarding the political situation, no matter what they are.

The Government of China has, on numerous occasions, breached the recognized international human rights laws, which is why it is crucial to exert international political pressure upon China to put an end to these cruelties.

Among the abundant cases that Human Rights Watch has documented through the years, which include the brutal beating of a man in public for trying to raise a Tibetan Flag, to ruthless and torturous executions for minor offences, surfaces the story of the struggle of a young man, which assumed a more iconic and definitive form than other accounts of cruelty.

The man, who was discontent with the fact that even in his community’s minority institute, study material and courses were forced to be delivered in Chinese rather than the native Tibetan language; a move that would undoubtedly undermine the creativity and intelligence of Tibetan students, himself authored a piece in his language. After it received attention from the Chinese authorities, he was barred from entering further classes, and eventually the institute. As the situation grew worse, he was forced to flee his own country to live his life as a refugee in India. This particular case highlights how any form of expression was strictly suppressed.

-written by Saurabh Bodas, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @saurabhbodas96

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Indian ‘Spy’ Explorer: 12 Facts About Nain Singh Rawat

An Indian 'spy' explorer who worked for the British changed the exploration game

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Nain Singh Rawat was a spy explorer for the Britishers. Pixabay
Nain Singh Rawat was a spy explorer for the Britishers. Pixabay

Nain Singh Rawat, one of the first of 19th century Indian explorers, explored the Himalayas for the British. He determined the location and altitude of Lhasa, mapped the trade route through Nepal to Tibet, also a large section of the Brahmaputra. On 27th June 2004, commemorating his role in the Great Trigonometric Survey, an Indian postage stamp was issued featuring Nain Singh.

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Here are 12 facts about him you may not have known before:

1. He was born in a Shauka village, which is located in the valley of Johar in Kumaon Hills. The valley is famous for its ‘Bhotia explorers’ from the British Era.

2. Nain Singh used to help his father, visiting different centres in Tibet. He learned the Tibetan language, comprehended the customs practiced by the local people. All of it proved to be beneficial in the years that followed.

3. In 1855, he was recruited by the Schlagintweit brothers (German geographers), they had approached the office of Survey of India, which allowed them to proceed with their survey.

4. Afterwards, Nain Singh along with three family members went on his first exploration trip, travelling to Manasarovar and Rakas Tal, and even further to Gartok and Ladakh.

He changed the exploration game, which was mostly dominated by Europeans, by his work in Tibet. Pixabay
He changed the exploration game, which was mostly dominated by Europeans, by his work in Tibet. Pixabay

5. After working with the German brothers, Nain Singh Rawat was appointed as the headmaster of a government vernacular school in his village.

6. In 1963, Nain Singh Rawat and Mani Singh Rawat (his cousin), after being selected, went to the Great Trigonometrical Survery office in Dehradun. They underwent training for two years. They learned to use scientific instruments and ingenious ways of measuring and recording, and also, the art of disguise.

7. He was exceptionally intelligent. He quickly learned the correct use of scientific instruments like the sextant and compass, he could easily recognize all the major stars and different constellations.

8. He had donned the guise of a Tibetan Monk, as a part of the secret ‘spy’ exploration mission, to walk from his home region of Kumaon to places as far as Kathmandu, Lhasa, and Tawang.

9. He collected intelligence under the most testing conditions. Travelling closely with the local population in caravans, Nain Singh mapped the vast expanses of Tibet and its river systems.

Nain Singh met the Dalai Lama in 1865. Pixabay
Nain Singh met the Dalai Lama in 1865. Pixabay

10. He left the Trigonometrical Survey in 1865 to head out for Nepal with his cousin. Though his cousin returned, he went on to explore Tashihunpo, where he met the Panchen Lama, and later in Lhasa, he met the Dalai Lama.

11. While on his second voyage in 1867, he was exploring western Tibet. Nain Singh stumbled across the gold mines of Thok Jalung. He was awestruck by the humility of workers who only dug near the surface for gold. They believed that digging deeper was a crime against the Earth and would deprive it of its fertility.

12. In his last and greatest journey, he traveled from Leh in Kashmir to Lhasa. This journey was complete between 1873 and 1875.

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Nain Singh Rawat was honoured with a land-grant of two villages, in recognition of his fabulous achievements.  According to Colonel Henry Yule, “his explorations had added a larger amount of important knowledge to the map of Asia than any other living man”.