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   Spoiling Tibet
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
28 Feb 2014

Mind the roof top

If current geological estimations are any indication, there are 80 million tonnes of copper, 2000 tonnes of gold and 30 million tonnes of lead and zinc extractable from the Tibetan plateau. The cumulative value of recoverable metals is worth US$ 420 billion. To imagine that the Chinese would have ripped apart the rooftop to the world in search of the embedded fortune is far from true because, as things stand, the region is cold, its air is perilously thin, its people are unwelcoming and it is poor in infrastructure.

But all this is going to change as China’s 12th Five-Year Plan, ending in 2015, calls for massive investment in copper, gold, silver, chromium and molybdenum mining in the region. With an aim to achieve 30 per cent self-sufficiency in copper production by the end of the plan period, a state-driven agglomeration of the entire Chinese copper industry will be sufficiently capitalized to finance major expansions in Tibet, which is fast becoming China's new copper production base. The Tibetan plateau - almost six percent of the entire global landscape - will be the object for intensive and potentially devastating mining and extraction projects in the years ahead. The signs are ominous!

Without doubt, Gabriel Lafitte has profound knowledge about the landscape, its people and their cultural resistance to the winds of change aimed at destroying the inner strengths of the Tibetans, cultivated in solitude in the mountains. Given the ecological fragility of the region, mining activities in the watersheds of major rivers, most of which are trans boundary, will have serious impact on hundreds of millions of people downstream in South and South East Asia. China's track record on environmental concerns evokes little confidence, though.

Spoiling Tibet is a timely warning to the world on China's hunger for mineral wealth of Tibet, and the unscrupulous manner in which this wealth will get extracted. In the Chinese growth agenda the political economy of mining plays a major role, one that will silence the feeble voices of resistance by increasing the non-Tibetan population in the region through mass tourism. But given its global implications, should the world permit unilateral desecration of the roof top!

Spoiling Tibet
by Gabriel Lafitte
Zed Books, UK
Extent: 204, Price: $29.95


 
 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
 
A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

The Kingdom at the Centre of the World
Posting Date: 02 Jan 2014

 
Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

Lead View
People, Partition and the Pain
By Rina Mukherji
15 Aug 2013

Dr Jayanti Basu's book analyzes the complex feelings of hatred and longing for the homeland that have contributed to shaping the personalities of a generation of people who were forced to ..
Book Shelf

Yamuna Manifesto

A Journey in the Future of Water

Spoiling Tibet

On Western Terrorism
Commentators
Devinder Sharma
Carmen Miranda
Pandurang Hegde
Sudhirendar Sharma
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