Kingto Tashi was only a nine year old boy when Dalai Lama fled from Lhasa. His parents were serfs to nobles and Tashi had never worn a full cloth till then. Tashi, a more or less well-off farmer now with enough land to sustain not only his family but also his dreams, compared pre-1959 days with now with a Tibetan saying:" It was like little finger then, now it is like a thumb". In more popular translation it would be like 'hell and heaven'.
Tashi and all of his fellow neighbors in Gaba, a village in the outskirts of Lhasa have land, though differing in quantity. Earlier they used to cultivate as a commune. After 1984, under Land Contract system the lands were distributed to them. Income level of most of the villagers ranges from 20 to 27 thousand yuan per annum, which according to their own estimates is 'middle level'. The oilseeds, maize, corns and particularly the glasshouse farming have brought the village into life. Tashi was forthright in his opinion about Dalai Lama and the controversies surrounding him." The central Government has offered him extraordinary opportunities. He made a wrong choice. He is welcome if he agrees with the central governments' position, otherwise not," said Tashi.
It was almost the same response from Loshang Champa, one of the so called 'Great Living Buddha". The traditional ritual of Living Buddhas as "reincarnations" is still prevalent in Tibetan Buddhism and they are widely revered .Dalai Lamas are themselves regarded as a reincarnation of "Avolokiteswara" for ages. Theocratic-political rule of the monasteries are over for fifty years now, but the deep sense of religiosity and the corresponding customs are still prevalent in Tibet. There are 1,700 religious sites with 46 thousand monks in Tibetan Autonomous Region. As a section of the monks were involved in the riots in Lhasa streets on March 14, burning shops, torching schools, even killing brutally, the question of their "loyalty" to the 14th Dalai Lama has again come into fore.
"Tibetan Buddhism has five major sects. Though Dalai represents the Gelupa or the yellow sect, all sects followed Dalai before he fled. After that, he has ceased to be a religious authority, he is regarded as a political activist now," says Loshang Champa. With a smile on his face, he adds "Dalai Lama is welcome only if he supports the policy of central government. But it seems till now he has no intention in doing so."
Awang Dongje, the head of historical Drepong monastery, one of the biggest in Tibet, asserted that only a small number of monks took part in the riot. "Violence is not only illegal, it goes against the teachings of Buddism," says he. A leader of the Gelupa sect himself Awang has no doubt that Dalai Lama has a direct link with the violence. "Tibet is an integral part of China. Dalai Lama should respect this historical fact and unity of the country," he maintained. And yes, there was not even a single word of welcome for Dalai from this hugely influential religious leader.
Nor from the monks of Sera monastery, one of the most-revered institutions of learning in Tibetan Buddhism. Standing in front of the grand statues of "Three Buddhas" -- past, present and the future, the seniors among the 550 monks categorically rejected any role for 14th Dalai Lama in the affairs of Tibet. Interestingly, following traditional rituals the monks from Sera searched and found an intelligent boy Lhamo Toinzhub as the reincarnation as the 14th and present Dalai Lama. No monk from Sera has participated in the violence in March.
Dalai Lama is seen in the streets of Lhasa more as a West-sponsored conspirator than an embodiment of age-old institution of Tibetan people. Particularly after the renewal of disturbances in March, different sections of the Tibetan society are increasingly doubtful of his propagation of "peace". The attacks on schools stunned the people. Still shivering from the horror, Tachi Xoga, the Head mistress of the No. 2 Middle School in Lhasa recalled the incident of attack on March 14th: "We heard huge shouts at around 12 PM while the children were in class, and then saw burning torches being thrown over the wall and onto the roof of the school building." The school has 842 students, 80 percent of whom are Tibetan. The charred roofs and ceilings, burnt desks, chairs and books scattered in corridors, stands testimony to the violence. "We closed the gates and sheltered the frightened children into a safe area in the school," she said. Another Primary school with 1,480 students, all of whom are Tibetans, was also attacked with same ferocity. Yang Sun, the Head Mistress termed the attack as "an indiscriminate violence to create a sense of terror and chaos". Some of the attackers raised the slogan of "independence" of Tibet, she recalled.
The issue, for most common people, however is development. For last fifty years, and more specifically in the last thirty years of reform, Tibet has been transformed from a remote, backward hinterland to a rapidly progressing modern economy. The population figure rose from 1.14 million in 1951, the year of peaceful liberation to 2.84 million in 2007.To be precise, 95% of the population is Tibetan. This is being mentioned as there is a consorted propaganda by Dalai Lama and his international friends that Han migration has deformed the balance in original Tibetan habitation.
Abject poverty, hunger and lack of medical facilities were reflected by the life expectancy of only 35.5 years in 1951. It has since rose to 67 years now. Under Dalai Lama and the theocratic-political rule, 90% of the population never learnt to read and write. The scenario has changed amazingly now, with 98.2% children going to school. The development of agriculture and animal husbandry and the onset of modern industries have remarkably contributed to the economic growth of Tibet. In 2007 the GDP of Tibet crossed 34 billion yuan, an increase of 14 per cent over 2006.The total retail sales of consumer goods reached to 11 billion yuan in 2007.The social expenditure by the state and the social consumption by the people both increased with wide margins in the recent years. However, with very difficult natural conditions Tibet is still lagging in many areas. The planning by the Central Government includes not only huge expenditure support, it has initiated special mobilization of funds and technical skills from the developed areas of China .Thus, counties and prefectures in Tibet are been directly helped by the provinces like Guangdong and Fujian.