Realizing human potential in modern Tibet

15:17, March 29, 2010      

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At daybreak of March 26, the sixty-nine-year-old La Vbrug climbed a ladder and fixed a flag by himself at the roof of his house to celebrate the "Serfs Emancipation Day" two days later.

Living in Kesong Village of Nedong County, the old man who used to be a serf now is well known for being rich and helping others to get rich. "Sometimes I dream that my friends who were beaten to death by serf-owners before the emancipation could now live as happily as me," said La Vbrug pity.

Since March 28, 1959, through democratic reform, over a million serfs in Tibet mastered their own fates and started historically new lives. Through their efforts to build a new world with pride and dreams, they also improved themselves deeply.

The overall improvement of the human condition is the key feature of Tibet's progress during the last 51 years.
  

Emancipation means a life in the sunshine

With a hot sun in the sky, a group of beggars were lice hunting with their backs naked. A family with more than ten people crowded in a small tent. Some even slept directly in the open field. But not far from these tents, there stands the beautiful houses of the serf owners.

-- this the memory of a ten-year-old boy about the sacred city of Lha Sa in 1958

Skal Bzang, an orphan from a serf family who now heads the Ancient Book Research Institute of the Tibetan Social Science Academy, tells about his poor childhood. "At that time, we serfs owned nothing but endless works and taxes, we did heavy work for serf-owners year after year, generation after generation, but lived in poverty, hunger and on the margin of death," he said.

When asked about the topic of "human development," he was almost stirred, "Under such conditions, what serfs worried about is how to survive, how can we talk about development?"

No matter how many years have passed, people will be struck by the gloomy and bloody atmosphere when reading the historical facts about the feudal serfdom in Tibet before 1959.

Serf-owners considered their serfs to be like animals that could talk. The value of a serf is equal with that of a rope, according to the laws of old Tibet.

The serf-owners regarded serfs as their own property, which means they could trade them, gamble with them, or use them as a gift. The child of a serf is still a serf, and the fate will never change.

We can get the living status of Tibetan people at that time from figures: in the 1950s, the life expectancy of Tibetan people is was a little over 35 years. The death rate of newly born babies is 43 percent.

The first benefit of democratic reform in 1959 brought to Tibet is that the emancipated million serfs now can live as healthy as other people in all civilized worlds.

Since the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the central government has implemented a free health care policy toward Tibetan farmers and herders and has made great efforts to develop the health care system in Tibet. After the reform and opening of China's economic system, the financial allocations to Tibet have reached over 1.8 billion Yuan, with yearly medical subsidy towards farmers and herders over 20 million Yuan.

Now, the average longevity of Tibetan people has risen to 67, almost twice what it was a half century ago. At the end of last year, the "The Health Promotion Action Plan for Tibetan Farmers and Herders" was officially carried out, which planned to increase 1 more year of average life expectancy in future 6 years.

The Tibetan people living under the healthy sunshine make continuous world-shaking miracles. On May 25, 1960, the Tibetan mountaineer Gong bu made a new world record as the first human to climb onto the top of Mountain Everest from the northern slope. In the summer of 2007, the Tibetan Mountaineering Team became the first team that has climbed to the top of 14 mountains with an altitude of over 8,000 meters high.

Having broken the shackles of a thousand years, the Tibetan people are showing the world their power and wisdom.

High Talents spring up in the Plateau

January 2010, Padma Choling was elected chairman of the Tibet autonomous region. He is the eighth native Tibetan chairman since the establishment of the Tibet autonomous region in 1965. Born to a serf family, he has become a central figure in China's high-level political arena.

New statistics show that up to the end of last year, among the leading cadres of the Tibetan autonomous region, those with Tibetan and other minor nationalities made up over 70 percent of the total. The top leaders including the director of the People's congress, government chairman, chairman of People's political consultancy conference and directory of People's court, are all native Tibetans. Almost all of them are from serf families in the past.

It is not imaginable in the old Tibet. Under the feudal serfdom, education is the privilege of nobles and monks. At the time of peaceful liberation, over 95 percent of the Tibetan populations were illiterate or semiliterate.

To improve the quality of Tibetan people, China established the first modern education school in Tibet – Changdu Primary School in 1951. Now a modern nationality education system is in place in Tibet including child education, primary education, higher education, job education, special education, adult education, etc. Since 1985, the standard of compulsory education in Tibet has risen. In 2007, the central government waived off all the tuition and other expenses of Tibetan middle and high schools. Tibet became the first region in China to implement free compulsory education.

In 2009, the education level in Tibet has continued to improve, and the campaign to wipe out illiteracy is completed. The government waived off the tuition and accommodation fee of job education students who come from farmer and herder family. Free education is implemented in normal universities and such majors as geology, mineral resources and agriculture.

A great educator who opens dozens of Hope Schools, a singer well known both in China and overseas, a famous doctor who relieved numerous patients of their pains, a general who leads a big army, a billionaire who create the rich legend, an artist who sell works to the whole world, a journalist who gets the national gold prize in the Olympic Games, scientist who get international achievements in climate change and wild animal protection. These are examples of high talents that continually spring up, which marks the great leap forward of the quality of Tibetan people.

Rdo rje is currently busy with presiding over the "Find the family property" project of mineral resources in Tibet. He was very excited with the decision brought up by the fifth Tibetan working meeting of the central authority that would make Tibet become an important Strategic Resource Storage Base. This dark-skinned, strong Tibetan man is well known on the plateau because he is the first Tibetan academician in the history of Chinese Academy of Engineering.

In 1953, Rdo rje was born in a farmer family in some remote village of the Lho kha area. Starting as a technician, he gradually grew up to be an international specialist in the field of terrestrial heat exploration and development. During the 1980s, he studied in Europe and then the United States. At that time, some scholars were moved by the inquisitive minds and rigorous scientific attitudes of the Tibetan youth and invited him to stay abroad, but he refused. Talking about this, Rdo rje repeated the word "Thanks" to journalist. "Without the democratic reform, I could not go to school, and it would be a far away dream to be an academician. My root is in China, on the plateau", he said.


Embrace the world with an open mind, stick to the traditional root in modern civilization

Standing 6 feet high, with a strong body and a red face tanned by the plateau sun, Ban jue sheng has a northern Tibetan manly look, but a pair of near-sighted glasses also makes him scholarly.

In 2001, based on his visit to over 800 families in 3 Tibetan counties, he published an article named "Situation of Birth and Birth control in Tibetan Villages" in some international magazines, which disproved the claims made by some western scholars that "China controls the population in Tibet and other Tibetan-living areas by sterilization and induced abortion". The article clearly reduces the attacks on "human rights in Tibet" with the excuse of birth control by facts and stats.
Three years later, he wrote about an investigation report on Tibetan class inland, which refutes the fallacy by the Dalai group saying that the Tibetan class inland will destroy the Tibetan culture". The report received intensive response across the world.

At the time of the interview, he had just returned from an investigation in Northern Tibet grassland, which aimed to inspect the status of Tibetan woman from a global view. He was among one of the first groups of Tibetan students sent to study abroad by the government after the reform. He talked about his experiences in the United States in 1980s, "I was excited but also somewhat at a loss. Not comfortable with the time difference. Used to miss the place because I overslept."

Now the anthropologist is active in the international academic arena. He said, "The academic environment in China is no worse than that of others, we can communicate with the world at zero distance by means of Internet. What I want to do most is to tell world the true Tibet with my own experiences."

With the reform and opening of the door between China and the world, more and more Tibetan begin to embrace the world with an open mind. But at the same time, Tibetan people not only stuck to their cultural roots, but also made the Tibetan traditional culture more colorful in various modern ways.

The 39-years-old Norchi Pu qiong jie is well known for his translation of "Harry Potter" into the Tibetan language. Since 2003, the editor from a newspaper in Lhasa translated 3 books of "Harry Potter." He cleverly translated "Potter" into "Podder", which means "brave" and "live by fortune" in the Tibetan language.

At the Spring festival gala of China Central Television (CCTV) in 2007, the farmer art troupe of Lhaze County in Tibet got the attention from both domestic and overseas with their traditional music dance named "Flying string to welcome the spring." Since then, the traditional Tibetan village dance "Duixian," with a history of over a thousand years, was put into market. Pu qiong, the 36-years-old farmer actor said, "Every Tibetan was born to have talents in singing and dancing. Our happiest thing is to sing and dance. Now we can make money in the happiness."

Combined with classic and modern ideas, having both happiness and wisdom, distinctively and colorful, this is today's Tibet people in the period of historical development in Tibet.

By People's Daily Online
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