Lecture by Dr. Geoff Childs, Development Approach in Rural Tibet

News item posted on: February 1st, 2009
Development Approach in Rural Tibet

By Dr. Geoff Childs, Associate Professor, Sociocultural Ph.D., Indiana University

The Tibet Center presents: Rural Tibet is in the throes of major changes. Recent research has revealed that a number of intersecting factors have prompted most farming households to employ a new economic paradigm—“going for income,” i.e., seeking non-farm income outside of the village. As a result, over the past decade the rural economy has been transformed from one heavily reliant on subsistence farming to one where 75 percent of the average a2692household’s income derives from off-farm activities. Consequently, a new rural Tibet is emerging wherein farming households are making complex cost-benefit decisions about how to employ their human and non-human resources to participate in China’s new market economy. Along with this paradigm shift, the recent reorientation of the state’s development priorities in China’s Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2006-10) is also beginning to impact rural Tibet in ways that previous five-year plans have not. The current plan calls for a new “people-first” (ch. yiren weiben) approach to development in which the state commits large sums of money not only for large infra-structure programs, as in the past, but also for programs that reach directly to village households. The purposes of this paper are to analyze how the policy shift is being operationalized, and how it is impacting the lives of rural Tibetans.

Sponsored by the East Asia Center, Religious Studies, and the Department of Anthropology