His Holiness the Dalai Lama is 76 today. Happy returns of the day Your Holiness.
2. The day passed off without any incident in the so-called Tibet autonomous region of China, in the Sichuan province and other Tibetan-inhabited areas.
3. In the past, the Tibetan followers of the Dalai Lama used to close their shops and other establishments on his birthday as a mark of respect to him. The Chinese did not interfere with this.
4. However, for the last few years, they have made it illegal for anyone to observe the birthday of His Holiness. As a result, people are forced to observe it in the privacy of their homes. Reports received from the Tibetan areas of China indicate that they did so this year too. In addition, Tibetan monks in monasteries held special prayers on the occasion.
5. The Dalai Lama’s 76th birthday was preceded by anti-China protests in the Kardze and Ngaba prefectures in recent weeks. The local official newspaper “Ganzi Daily” reported on July 5 that Liu Daoping, the party chief in Kardze, had called for harsh measures against any “secessionist activities.”
6. On July 5, the Government-controlled Xinhua news agency disseminated extracts of a special commentary carried by the Party-controlled “People’s Daily” on His Holiness. The Xinhua despatch said:
“The People's Daily, flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China (CPC), ran a commentary on Tuesday, saying the retirement of Dalai Lama will not save the Dalai "clique" from failure.
“The commentary said that no matter what objectives the Dalai Lama pursues, whether "Tibetan Independence" or the "Middle Way Approach," and no matter how he acts on stage or controls his puppets from backstage, he will fail.
"No matter who heads the 'exiled Tibetan government,'" its illegal nature will not be altered," according to the commentary.
“For the future of Dalai Lama himself, there is no other option for him than to abandon all secessionist acts and speeches and meet the central government's demands, added the commentary.
"The past 60 years since the peaceful liberation of Tibet witnessed serfdom being replaced by a socialist system, the rapid development of Tibet, a remarkable improvement of the Tibetan people's lives, and closer inter-connections between Tibet and other parts of China, and people of all ethnic groups have developed a deeper understanding of the reactionary nature of the 'clique'," said the commentary.
“The Dalai Lama announced his plan to step down as the political head of the "exiled Tibetan government" on March 10.
“The year 2011 marks the 60th anniversary of the peaceful liberation of Tibet.”
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org .Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )