poverty in Tibet

Despite political tensions, Tibet has seen marked improvements in everyday life for its average citizens. The central government in Beijing and other nations may have ulterior motives behind their funding, but the result is the same: a more prosperous Tibet. Aid is flowing in from the Chinese government, the United Nations Development Project (UNDP) and Nepal, to name a few.

According to the regional authority, over the course of the past five years, over 530,000 people have escaped poverty in Tibet. It comes as no surprise that with a falling poverty rate, there is a rise in registered capital. Currently, the number stands at over $162 billion, a 39.4 percent increase from the previous year.

Tibetan Politics: A Delicate Situation

Tibet and China have been in a tense struggle over Tibet’s autonomy since the 1950s. Many Tibetans wish for independence, and in the past, the Chinese government has acted forcefully.

The most notable example of this is the situation with the current Dalai Lama who has been living in exile in India since the Tibetan Rebellion. Despite the Dalai Lama’s tension with Beijing, it seems even he believes that remaining with China is in Tibet’s best interest. Couple that with the many development projects China has enacted in Tibet, and it appears that their relationship is looking up.

China Tries to Tackle Poverty in Tibet

The government in Beijing gives the impression that its best path to quieting Tibetan independence talks is to tackle the region’s poverty problem. One such project that China has funded is in Amdo County, where once-nomadic herders who lived in adobe huts are now receiving homes paid for by the government with a market rate of approximately $47,000.

The Shopko family, one of the recipients of these homes, have gone on the record to express their heartfelt thanks for their new home. Their old hut sat at 16,000 feet with no heating or roads to connect them to the nearby villages.

To help with the move, the Chinese government is giving migrants jobs at local tourism centers, hotels and car washes. It follows up on this guarantee with monthly bonuses for locals who manage and protect the essential grasslands, as well as 5,000 yuan a year to residents who enroll in university.

While the Shopkos serve as an ideal for how the government attempts to tackle poverty in Tibet, the program has only reached 121 families so far, but in the previous five years, the government has spent more than $9 billion to try to alleviate poverty in Tibet. Seemingly, Beijing is looking for answers to its political issues.

Foreign Aid to Tibet

Foreign countries are investing in Tibet as well. The Nepalese government has been distancing itself from its neighbor, India, in favor of China. This political posturing could be for a host of reasons; however, the projects Nepal is planning in Tibet are apolitical for the Tibetan people.

Gobinda Karkee is a Nepalese diplomat who oversees development projects with China. The most famous of these is the Friendship Bridge, which was renovated in 2016. The plans are not all symbolic, though. By 2020, Nepal plans on finishing a rail network that will connect with Tibet and lessen its reliance on using Indian ports. The $226 million project is jointly funded by Nepal and China. Along this rail line will be multiple trading points and border checks. The two nations hope the plan will boost the local economy and help rebuild much of the infrastructure that was destroyed in the 2015 earthquake.

Poverty in Tibet has often gone unnoticed in the media because when the region is in the news, it is being celebrated for its rich culture and history. The UNDP sought to take advantage of this by building tourism infrastructure in rural areas, which in turn provides higher paying jobs for the impoverished people in the Tibetan Steppe.

Much like the Chinese government’s program, UNDP has put a heavy focus on preserving the local ecology and economy. The bulk of the project focuses on Old Lhasa City. The city is famous for its courtyards, which UNDP is mapping, landscaping and organizing the foundation of to make Lhasa a tourist destination. Old Lhasa has become an exemplary case of the economic and cultural benefits of the UNDP program.

Tibet rests in a political hotbed in South Asia, and the effects of the decisions made by its neighbors can have unintended consequences on the proud region. Throughout the religious and diplomatic dilemmas, poverty in Tibet has long been a debilitating issue. Thanks to organizations like the UNDP, this problem is now being dealt with and has already improved the lives of half a million people.

– David Jaques

Photo: Flickr

Facts about the Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, writes in his book The Joy of Living and Dying in Peace, “the more we care for the welfare of the majority, the more we work for social welfare, the greater will be our own peace and happiness. Just as the citizens of a particular country have certain obligations as well as enjoy certain benefits, our obligation as followers of the Buddha and bodhisattvas is to benefit all sentient beings.” The Dalai Lama is a pivotal figure on the topic of spiritualism, politics and the oppressed people of the world. Learn more facts about the Dalai Lama.

Top 15 facts About the Dalai Lama

  1. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was born on July 6, 1935, and was originally named Lhamo Dhondup. He was one of five children born to a peasant family in Taktser, a village northeast of Tibet.
  2. Gyatso grew up in Tibet’s ancient Potala Palace in Lhasa after being found at age two to be the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama. In 1939, he took the throne in Potala, and two years later, at the age of six, he became a monk.
  3. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. Dalai Lamas are the reincarnations of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, who chose to reincarnate in order to serve people.
  4. Dalai Lama means Ocean of Wisdom. This was put to the test for Tenzin Gyatso, as in 1950, the Dalai Lama was asked to assume full political power as Head of the Tibetan Government while the country was being threatened by China.
  5. One of the more unique facts about the Dalai Lama is that he was forced into exile in 1959 following China’s military occupation of Tibet. His official residence was moved to Dharamsala in northern India. Dharamsala is now the seat of the Tibetan Government.
  6. In 1987, the Dalai Lama presented a five-point peace plan at the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in Washington, D.C., as a first step toward resolving the future status of Tibet. This plan called to designate a Tibetan zone of peace, end the massive influx of Chinese into Tibet, restore fundamental human rights, end China’s dumping of nuclear waste in the country and urge negotiation on the relations between Tibetan and Chinese people.
  7. Of the 15 facts about the Dalai Lama, his dedication to preserving the lives of his people is perhaps the most recognized. On Dec. 11, 1989, the Dalai Lama gave his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize due to his ceaseless goodwill and desire for communication with China as opposed to conflict, as well as his humanitarian work.
  8. The institution of the Dalai Lama is relatively young. There have been thirteen previous Dalai Lamas, and the first two were given their titles posthumously. Buddhists believe the first reincarnation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion was Gedun Drub, who lived from 1391 to 1474.
  9. Following the death of a Dalai Lama, it has traditionally been the responsibility of the High Lamas and the Tibetan government to find the reincarnation. The search for the 14th Dalai Lama took four years.
  10. The current Dalai Lama is extremely interested in the sciences. He has a particular fondness for ecology and believes that working toward the preservation of the planet embodies the ideals of Buddha.
  11. The fourteenth Dalai Lama is unique in that he is the first Dalai Lama to have visited the U.S. and traveled the western world.
  12. He is also unique in that he has suggested the line of reincarnation may cease entirely. In 2015, he made comments to the New York Times to that effect, fearing that the Chinese government will use the issue of succession to split Tibetan Buddhism, with one successor named by the exiles and one by the Chinese government.
  13. China regards the Dalai Lama as a dangerous separatist. Chinese police in Tibet urge locals to report suspected supporters of the Dalai Lama and his “evil forces” in Tibet. China has become increasingly worried about how Tibet is portrayed throughout the world and are attempting to dissolve Tibetan culture. Tashi Wangchuk, an activist, could face 15 years in jail for promoting the use of the Tibetan language in schools.
  14. Mercedes-Benz issued an apology to Chinese consumers on Feb. 6, 2018 for an Instagram post showing one of its luxury cars along with a quote from the Dalai Lama. The quote: “Look at the situations from all angles, and you will become more open.” Instagram has been blocked in China since 2014.
  15. In 1995, the Dalai Lama named a boy in Tibet as the reincarnation of the previous Panchen Lama. The Panchen Lama is the second highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism. Upon learning this, China put the boy under house arrest and installed another in his place.

These 15 facts about the Dalai Lama showcase the plight of Tibet and the tenacious tenderness of its spiritual leader. Tenzin Gyatso is the only Dalai Lama to have been exiled from his own country. He is no longer allowed to freely visit his own place of birth. Even though the people of Tibet support him and would gladly start an uprising to take back their country, he has urged them not to in order to maintain peace and preserve the lives of his people. He holds true to his teachings of openness and communication, as well as his dedication as a follower of the Buddha to benefit all sentient beings.

– Sam Bramlett

Photo: Flickr

Preserving Tibet
For many centuries, Tibet lay peacefully on the Tibetan Plateau, its people cultivating a sense of community that lived a life of peace with their leader, the Dalai Lama. However, with increased globalization and pressure for development, their migratory way of life and secluded nature no longer seemed feasible in the grand scheme of things, and their neighbor China invaded them. This invasion forced several Tibetan people to seek refuge in the village of Dharamsala, a small part of northern India. It became home to the Dalai Lama and his followers, but several Tibetans still attempt to live on the Tibetan plateau and are constantly fighting the arrest and destruction that China has thrust upon them.

For those few remaining souls, life can be very difficult as they face increasing pressure to either join China, be arrested, or flee to Dharamsala, leaving their homes and families behind. The main reason these individuals must make a decision is because they have very limited means of supporting themselves. After living in a migratory way for the majority of their lives, adapting to the new landscape, which includes a train that goes directly to China, has become very difficult. Some Tibetans are attempting to preserve their culture by acting as tour guides and performers, but with limited access, this is becoming a job that only few can hold. Luckily, there is an NGO that is willing to help.

The Bridge Fund (TBF) is an organization that is “working to improve the lives of Tibetan communities in China through locally driven, integrated development programs and overarching initiatives. The program supports education, health care, cultural heritage preservation, environmental conservation and business development. TBF exists to literally bridge resources technical, financial and advisory for Tibetan communities so they can meet their own economic, social, cultural and environmental needs.”

TBF allows local Tibetans to produce goods that can be sold in stores throughout the world. It also strives to preserve Tibetan heritage and has recently launched a music and mural preservation initiative that has proven to be very successful. By providing business education to Tibetans young and old, The Bridge Fund is succeeding in making Tibetans more independent as they face hardships imposed by China. By providing counsel and connections, the organization is effectively creating business-savvy individuals who will be able to compete on the global market while simultaneously preserving their own culture.

Several other Tibet-based NGOs have come into effect and have been working alongside The Bridge Fund to help the Tibetan people preserve and protect what is rightfully theirs. While it is understandable that China may want to push their borders further west in order to accommodate a growing population, it is imperative to understand the importance of preserving a nation that is home to a rich cultural background. As the Dalai Lama once said, “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you cannot help them, at least do not hurt them.” This is a prime opportunity to help people who, at the present moment, are struggling to help themselves.

Sumita Tellakat

Sources: The Bridge Fund, International Campaign for Tibet
Photo: Karmapa

Tibetans have long been among the poorest people in Asia, and despite some improvements over the past decade, poverty remains widespread. Poverty in Tibet has a high rating in China, where 34 percent of the population live in extreme poverty. The poorest villagers live on only $100 per year.

The Chinese government has spent millions of dollars in its efforts to develop Tibet and lift people out of poverty. The government in Beijing has been eager to highlight its successes, and to its credit, it has helped to raise the living standards for many Tibetans. It has also significantly improved access to medical care, raised life expectancies and reduced child mortality rates.

But of course all of this has come at a heavy price. The Chinese annexation of Tibet was well documented for its brutality, and human rights violations remain widespread. Periodic protests and crackdowns continue. Millions of Han Chinese have settled in Tibet and dominate the local government and economy. Ethnic Tibetans are now a minority by many counts.

The Chinese government has recently claimed that it has reduced poverty amongst Tibetans by half over a three year period. According to government figures, the poverty rate fell from 34 percent to 18 percent between 2010 and 2013. It attributes this success to pension programs aimed at supplementing income and a housing relocation program.

But many are skeptical of the government’s claims and the housing relocation program has attracted a lot of outside criticism. More than two thirds of the Tibetan population has been forcibly resettled and provided with a government subsidy to build a new house. But in many cases the amount of money provided was not enough to pay for the construction and many impoverished Tibetans have been forced to go deep into debt to cover the cost.

Many resettled farmers have lost their source of livelihood and are struggling to find other ways to earn a living. A lot of Tibetans are now completely dependent on government subsidies.

There is still a long way to go in the fight to end poverty and improve the human rights situation in Tibet. But there has definitely been progress and even the Dalai Lama admits this. In fact, the Dalai Lama has backtracked on his demands for Tibetan independence and, recognizing China’s resources to develop Tibet and improve living conditions, says he believes Tibet will be better off staying with China. His main wish is for the government to improve the human rights situation and respect Tibetan culture and autonomy.

– Matt Lesso

Sources: CNTV, Financial Times, Ref World, Tibetan Review 1, Tibetan Review 2,
Photo: Flickr


Learn about education in Tibet


His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama made a recent visit to Princeton University to discuss the second half of the school’s informal motto “…in the service of all nations” a motto coined by former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. During the Dalai Lama’s talk, he centered on the idea that there is a universal need for compassion. He believes that at the center of both service and scholarship is compassion. The compass to your life, he urged, can be guided and the answers will always appear clear when “your intentions matter, develop your heart, be honest with yourself, work very hard at these things, and let them direct your efforts.” He stressed these points to Princeton University students and faculty as they were looking for ways to increase their community service in the area. The Dalai Lama believes that any action of compassion has to be preceded with an external action of service for it to be sincere and maintainable.

Compassion, the Dalai Lama pointed out, must be coupled with hard work. During his talk he recognizes that he did not easily become the 14th Dalai Lama easily. As a testament to his self-discipline, he wakes up every morning 3 a.m. and begins his rituals, including three hours of meditation. Although his rituals seem extreme, he pointed out that people should not be commanded to service, forced against their will into spiritual discipline or compassionate acts. True compassion arises from a sincere affection for the other.

Another element that he focused on was the real mover of all things is love. The Dalai Lama often says that American universities are adroit in developing the mind, but not the heart. How often do people do service work intentionally and focused on developing the capacity for love? There must be a correlation, he stressed, drawn between academic excellence and kindheartedness in order for schools to be more compassionate in their actions.

Speaking through his interpreter, the Dalai Lama said: “When we talk about human connection and compassion, the focus is the person, not their culture… the primary emotion at a basic human level is that of love; the secondary level is differences; that’s where complex emotions like jealousy and competitiveness arise.” Anything that you project outward once began and came from inward. In order to give compassion you must cultivate it within yourself. Doing community service is not robot work, it takes real thoughtful actions, care and connections. Just like Newton’s law for every action there is an equal or opposite reaction, the source of compassionate action must be love.

The Dalai Lama encouraged the students at Princeton to make the world a much more peaceful place by aligning their positive energies and having a deep commitment to service.

Charisma Thapa

Sources: Huffington Post, Princeton University
Photo: Flickr

quotes about humanity
War. Poverty. Crime. Hunger. With all of the injustices that exist in today’s world, it can be easy to lose faith in humanity. We may ask ourselves, “Why should we care if no one else does? Nothing ever seems to change or get any better, so we might as well accept the world as it is.”

Although it is important to acknowledge the existing injustices and view them as serious issues that need to be resolved, it is equally important for us to realize our own part in seeing those solutions become part of reality. The following quotes about humanity may explain and hopefully inspire us:

  1. “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” – Mahatma Gandhi
  2. “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” – Nelson Mandela
  3. “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” – Dalai Lama
  4. “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
  5. “What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other’s folly – that is the first law of nature.” – Voltaire
  6. “World belongs to humanity, not this leader, that leader or that king or prince or religious leader. World belongs to humanity.” – Dalai Lama
  7. “When freedom does not have a purpose, when it does not wish to know anything about the rule of law engraved in the hearts of men and women, when it does not listen to the voice of conscience, it turns against humanity and society.” – Pope John Paul II
  8. “One way or another, we all have to find what best fosters the flowering of our humanity in this contemporary life, and dedicate ourselves to that.” – Joseph Campbell
  9. “The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.” – Leo Tolstoy
  10. “During bad circumstances, which is the human inheritance, you must decide not to be reduced. You have your humanity, and you must not allow anything to reduce that. We are obliged to know we are global citizens. Disasters remind us we are world citizens, whether we like it or not.” – Maya Angelou
  11. “The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” – Albert Schweitzer
  12. “The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but in being humane.” – Mahatma Gandhi

As these quotes about humanity reveal, it can be difficult to explain human nature, but that does not mean we should lose faith or hope in ourselves or others. The Borgen Project promotes the idea that we each have the power within ourselves to change the world, which is one of the most beautiful abilities of humanity.

– Meghan Orner

Sources: Brainy Quote, Good Reads
Photo: Flickr

The 14th Dalai Lama is a man with great wisdom and high morality. He is looked at in times of great need, times of compassion and times of guidance. He has given hundreds of words of advice, through speeches, books and interviews that people are able to reference for inspiration. Below are ten wise quotes from the Dali Lama that will bring clarity to the world around us.


10 Inspirational Quotes by the Dalai Lama


  1. “I consider human rights work or activism to be a kind of spiritual practice. By defending those people who persecuted for their race, religion, ethnicity, or ideology, you are actually contributing to guiding our human family to peace, justice, and dignity.”
  2. “Human rights are of universal interest because it is the inherent nature of all human beings to yearn for freedom, equality, and dignity and they have the right to achieve it.”
  3. “Rich or Poor, educated or uneducated, belonging to one nation or another, to one religion or another, adhering to this ideology or that, ultimately each of us is just a human being like everyone else. We all desire happiness and do not want suffering.”
  4. “We need to address the issue of the gap between the rich and poor, both globally and nationally. This inequality, with some sections of the human community having abundance and others on the same planet going hungry or even dying of starvation, is not only morally wrong, but practically also a source of problems.”
  5. “Even though they will lose money in the short term, large multi-national corporations must curtail their exploitations of poor nations. Tapping the few precious resources such countries possess simply to fuel consumerism in the developed world is disastrous; if it continues unchecked, eventually we shall all suffer. Strengthening weak, undiversified economies is a far wiser policy for promoting both political and economic stability.”
  6. “To me, it is clear: a genuine sense of responsibility can result only if we develop compassion. Only a spontaneous feeling of empathy for others can really motivate us to act on their behalf.”
  7. “Wherever it occurs, poverty is a significant contributor to social disharmony, ill health, suffering and armed conflict. If we continue along our present path, the situation could become irreparable. This constantly increasing gap between the haves and halve not’s, creates suffering for everyone.”
  8. “It is not enough to be compassionate we must act.”
  9. “Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone dying of hunger or cold. It will not remove the pain of torture inflicted on a prisoner of conscience. I t does not comfort those who have lost their homes in floods caused by senseless deforestation in neighboring countries. Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.”
  10. “We must recognize that the suffering of one person or one nation is the suffering of humanity.”

Hopefully, these ten inspiring quotes will bring peace and guidance to the world around. The eradication of global poverty, world, suffering, and senseless destruction of humanity is the core vision of the 14th Dali Lama.

– Amy Robinson

Sources: (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), Dalai Lama Quotes (1), Dalai Lama Quotes (2), Dalai Lama Quotes (3)
Photo: Oregon Herald

Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama is a holy figure within Tibetan Buddhism and an ardent advocate for Tibetan independence from China. Discussed below are interesting facts about the current Dalai Lama and his life.

Top 5 Facts About the Dalai Lama


  1. The Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso was born Lhamo Dhondup on July 6, 1935 to a peasant family in northeastern Tibet. He was found by Tibetan monks at age two and passed all tests and had the physical traits of the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama. He took the throne at age 4 at an enthronement ceremony in Lhasa, Tibet and became a monk at age 6.
  2. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his work advocating nonviolent means to free Tibet from China. He has lived in India in exile since 1959 when the Chinese Army eliminated an uprising in Tibet.
  3. He has a variety of hobbies. His favorite activities include meditating, gardening, and repairing watches.
  4. He is said to be a manifestation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion who has chosen to reincarnate to serve the people. The current Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso is is the 74th manifestation of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva. Tibetans refer to him as Yeshe Norbu, the Wish-fulfilling Gem, or Kundun, meaning The Presence.
  5. He has continuously emphasized his desire to see Tibet democratized. He has publicly declared that once the Tibetans are capable of achieving independence from the Chinese government, he will not hold political office, choosing instead to remain as a purely religious figure despite his current status as the Tibetan Head of State and Government. He wishes to continue to travel and spread his message of religious and cultural tolerance and peace.

– Caitlin Zusy

Sources: US News, CNN
Photo: Vagabond

On April 18, the Dalai Lama took part in a Peace Walk on the Serpentine Pedestrian Peace Bridge in Derry, Ireland. The 70 year-old Dalai Lama was invited by Richard Moore, founder of Children In Crossfire, to partake in a major UK City of Culture celebration. Moore invited the Dalai Lama to speak at the event attended by 2,500 people and to walk across the peace bridge in order to reiterate to people worldwide that peace is the only path for the future. Moore invited the Tibetan spiritual leader to return to Derry in order to signify how far the city had come in the last decade and how it will continue to flourish. Moore said that the Peace Bridge was not the only symbol of a positive future, but the youth as well.

Accompanying the the Nobel Peace Laureate as he walked across the bridge were 300 school children singing Peace is Flowing like a River, the leaders of the Catholic and Church of Ireland dioceses, Monsignor Eamonn Martin, Bishop Ken Good and Richard Moore.

After crossing the Peace Bridge, the Dalai Lama addressed the crowds gathered at an old British army site, the Venue Arts Center. “This century should be the century of dialogue. The last century was the century of violence…Whenever you face problems, try to solve them through dialogue and talk,” said the Dalai Lama. Among his thoughts on peace and compassion, he also reiterated that it is not only political leaders, but every person’s responsibility to be accepting, compassionate and open-minded towards one another to ensure true and lasting peace.

– Kira Maixner

Source: Belfast Telegraph


Read more interesting facts about the Dalai Lama