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Seeing and experiencing REAL Bhutan

Yes, we have deep respects for those tourists, who visit the places and observe the real festivals with the natives and enjoy them to the fullest. Such foreigners will get more out of Bhutan and their visits. In my opinion, most tourists would like to see something like that and experience real Bhutan and not the one that’s artificially created for them. They would like to spend some time interacting with our farmers. 
Our people need to maintain clean rooms and cook hygienic food. Such skills can be provided to the people in the rural villages. If only that happens we see the benefit of tourism being shared with all. Because right now only those who own big restaurants in urban centers and those who own major tour companies are the ultimate beneficiaries. That way we will have rich people getting richer while the poor will remain more or less mere spectator of this ever happening tourism sector.  We need to think of new tourist destinations. For now, almost every tour company sells a…
Recent posts

Going Beyond Elections

Women empowerment is a recent phenomenon in Bhutan. And unfortunately, many of us today have narrowed it down to having more women contest elections. Although it is true that empowered women are more likely to take part in the elections, empowering women is more than that. 
Because elections can have only so much women; at the most, we are talking about 72 women getting elected as members of the parliaments, 205 gupsmangmi and some 1,000 plus women tshogpas. But what about the others, who are not part of the process? 
It is important that we invest in educating our women and girls. Our NGO, READ Bhutan, believes education is the most critical component of women empowerment. So, all our efforts are targeted at providing opportunities for women to learn and educate them on all spheres of life. Possessing literacy skills is another element especially if someone is contesting elections in Bhutan. In Bhutan, aspiring candidates have to pass Functional Literacy Tests (FLT) to stand as cand…

Towards Thimphu Declaration

Coinciding with the International Women's Day 2017 (March 8), Bhutan hosted a three-day National Conference on Women in Governance, Leadership and Politics with a Regional dimension at Terma Linca Resort in Thimphu. It was the second conference to be organized in Bhutan; the first one was conducted in April 2014. 
The conference was organized jointly by National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) and Bhutan Network for Empowering Women (BNEW) with funding support from DPID, International IDEA, and others. The conference was attended by delegates from Nepal, Myanmar, and Bhutan.
One of the most important outcomes of the conference was drafting of Thimphu Declaration, which aims to have at least 30% women candidates fielded by the political parties in the upcoming 2018 elections and increase the number of elected women leaders by 30% using fast track measures. It also envisions increasing women executives in the civil and public service by 25%. 
It is true that qualified and empo…

A Vibrant Village

What is a vibrant village? What does it take to create one? Can a village vibrancy prevent and curb rural-urban migration?
A village is vibrant when it has happy and content people. A village is vibrant where content people help each other. A vibrant village is where everyone is involved in or concerned with building a strong community. Such a village is connected with a well-maintained road that provides farmers with access to the outside world. 
A vibrant village grows its food and has no need to import anything from outside. Such a village booms with economic activities and here farmers look beyond subsistence farming. That is not to inject greed; it is rather, to encourage hard-working people to work harder. These farmers have at their service useful and modern farming tools to ease their work on the farms. In a vibrant village, farmers have the right to harvest their crops without having to share them with wild animals. 
A vibrant village has adequate and modern day facilities. Ele…

We killed our Golden Goose

One of our most significant events this year is that of Bhutan’s exporting of eggs to India. A few years ago, we were importing them – in truckloads. This goes to show that we have the potential to grow and progress as a country, provided we put in a little more effort and work harder. Did you know, Bhutan today has 422,648 hens and produces 251,678 eggs a day? 
In July 2016, Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) banned the import of chilies from India reasoning that the laboratory tests conducted confirmed presence of pesticides. And right there was our opportunity to grow on our own. The news was like winning a lottery and it sure was a boon to many a Bhutanese chili growers, as they now had ready market san competition from cheap chilies from across the border.

Then came the ‘off season’. That is when the price of chilies unreasonably shot up as high as Nu. 300-400 per kg. It was unreasonable and daylight robbery, many people protested. And then people took to the …

King Khesar is the People's King

He is a king who finds pleasure in combing every part of the country to meet his people and hear their plights. He is a king who treasures the nation’s young people and finds time to share golden moments with young graduates entering the job market. He is a king who goes out of his way to inspire our leaders with his invaluable wisdom. He is a king who is the first leader to console his people when natural disasters strike them and who takes time to share important news to his people. He is a perfect role model to the young people, a dutiful son, caring father, and a champion of “kindness, justice and equality”. Druk Gyalpo Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is the People’s King!


In his heart-warming coronation speech to the nation, His Majesty made the following promise, “Throughout my reign I will never rule you as a King. I will protect you as a parent, care for you as a brother and serve you as a son. I shall give you everything and keep nothing; I shall live such a life as a good hum…

Can we build energy-efficient houses?

Before we know it, it is winter again! Almost! 
And like all winters this winter will be unforgivingly cold. Of course, some people think winter cold is far less severe than the extreme summer heat the likes of which you experience in Phuentsholing or Gelephu. The reason they give is that while you can dress in cool and warm clothes in winter to beat the cold, the summer heat has almost no solution. Being naked does not help. Fair argument, I must say, but some people who can afford air conditioners in their homes might argue that the answer to the summer heat is in installing the equipment. 
But I think the answers to both the extreme summer heat and unbearable winter cold rest with the energy efficiency of the buildings we live in. 
Rooms in some of our apartments are unusually tall that in order to change a fused electric bulb requires you to literally climb onto two or three tall tables stacked onto each other. It takes three to four solid men or women to hold these tables in place; …

That in Other Words

Rural-urban migration is a good indicator of many things gone wrong. People just do not leave their ancestral homes without solid reasons. 
In Bhutan there is an old proverb, which goes rang yue zampai woglu inru ga (རང་གཡུས་ཟམ་པའི་འོག་ལུ་ཨིན་རུང་དགའ།) – one would love his/her village even if it is located under a bridge. And that says a lot. People just don’t abandon their homes without concrete reasons! 
And some of us blame these people as if most we are born and bred here altogether. I think when people make that big move of abandoning their ancestral homes and leave for cities, they will have thought a lot about it. People just don’t leave their homes! 
My grandmother, after spending many years in the city, with her sons, and daughters and grandchildren, two years ago, decided to go home in the village. That is where her heart really is although half her children and almost all her grandchildren are in the city! 
That goes to show how most of us are here in this so-called towns with …

We need Potholes Org

This is in continuation of my previous post where I mention that with the onset of winter the potholes on some sections of our roads "are finally giving us true pictures of how deep they are as the water in them dry up." 
Like the dust in the air, potholes are undesirable; they are nightmares for the drivers, fatal for the cars and spell danger for the pedestrians. I say dangerous because there are chances that drivers might lose control of their engines while trying to avoid these potholes and such incidences would lead to loss of human lives. 
We all know that the Department of Road (DOR) is doing an excellent job in building our roads. And the magnitude of the work they are executing everywhere, even as I type these lines, is truly impressive. Thank you, DOR for that. 
And potholes, I believe, are like wounds on a human body. If we take care of wounds from the beginning and treat them with care, they heal in time. Such wounds, when healed, leave no visible scars on our skins…

What's "Blowin' in the Wind"?

It's been a long and unforgivingly wet summer! Now, our wet roads are drying up. Our swollen rivers are subsiding. Our muddy footpaths are solidifying. Potholes are finally giving us true pictures of how deep they are as the water in them dry up. 
And our biggest fear now is the rising level of air pollution. 
Winter scares me for it brings more than cold weather; it scatters plenty of dust and pollution in the air. Why do we have so much dust in Thimphu? I think dust is in the air mostly because of so many construction sites. They dump the unrequired mud everywhere. Sands, gravels, and cement are left in the open air. While we may not be able to stop people building houses, don't you think we need stricter (assuming we have one at the moment) rules on this? 
Because we cannot see it with our eyes, we believe we live in a place devoid of pollution. At Babesa, for instance, due to numerous construction projects, our clean verandahs are laden with dust in the evenings. 
Another nega…

Second LG Elections 2016

A resounding success. Everyone agrees. Congratulations to the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) and all the hard working people behind the Second Local Government Election. Being able to select local leaders in 205 gewogs and some 1200 plus chiwogs is no small feat and yet ECB had done it with great efficiency. Kudos once again!
And another interesting feature of this year LG elections is that we managed to rope in more women candidates. By the same token, we also have more women Gups, Mangmis and tshogpas everywhere.  All this goes to show that we are slowly gaining more confidence in women leadership. Now it is for us to sustain that development in Parliamentary elections as well. We need more women everywhere. 

It is also equally encouraging to learn that this time, we had fewer issues reported. There were not many complaints from the polling booths and we have not heard of violations of rules by the candidates, which also demonstrates people's increased understanding of polici…

Driving with a 'Horn'

A certain senior Bhutanese government official, we were told, was on a state visit to a neighboring country. It was also his first visit to India. And back in those days traveling that far was really far from one’s home and our way of life. The official could only read Dzongkha and not English or Hindi. He could not read those fancy messages that big trucks carried on them as they were driving from the airport to the hotel.
Unable to decode anything, the official asked his driver, “What is written on that?” pointing to a truck in front of them. 
“It says phir milinge in Hindi and it means See you again,” his driver explained. And then as they continued their journey they spotted another truck carrying, this time, an assortment of different alphabets. 
“So what does that say?” the official asked, curious again.  “It says ‘Blow Horn’ in English,” the driver told him but had no time to explain what it meant.
Once the meeting was over, the Prime Minister and his ministers were biding thei…

CBB Magazine in the offing

We had this idea since the conception of Community of Bhutanese Bloggers (CBB) a year ago. But we failed to breathe life into it so far. I am really happy that we got an opportunity to talk about Annual CBB Magazine (finally) during the recent Bhutanese Bloggers Meet. 
A Committee is working on this. We are currently in the process of selecting the articles from the members' blogs. We are also encouraging the fellow Bloggers to help us identify what they feel is their best blog entries. 
The birth of Gyalsey is one of the most important themes of our first CBB magazine and the equally important is the celebration of the fifth Royal Weeding Anniversary of His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Gyaltsun. 
We will also be exploring "Blogging" in Bhutan in this maiden issue. 
Unlike other magazines, we have the content ready on our blogs; we just need to do a careful selection of our blog entries. We also have bloggers, who can design magazines and have an excellent colle…

Thriving Middlemen

Just like any other Bhutanese, I too feel helpless at this time of national crisis. Bhutan is battling with the forces of nature. And in the last few days, it is been hectic. I join the Bhutanese people in thanking our His Majesty for personally leading and monitoring the rescue work and demonstrating exemplary leadership. 
We are also thankful and appreciative of Prime Minister's role in all these. 
We were told that the trucks carrying fuel are on their way to the capital today. It is a great relief and highly reassuring to all Bhutanese to know this. I pray and hope that this is the end of our ordeals. Thimphu finally saw some sunshine today (Thursday, July 28) . 
This year's Monsoon brings us more than natural disasters. It was a window through which we saw many dark possibilities and drive home some lessons. We have seen our people line up to refuel their cars in the middle of the night, blocking traffic. We have also heard of taxi drivers charging exorbitant fares to the…

Narrowing the Danger Zone

Our fellow blogger Riku Dhan Subba, who recently traveled to Trongsa, reports, "The road condition is very very bad. Muddy and slippery, all vehicles skid along." And he adds "Often, there are falling boulders and soil from right above the road. Since road widening project is going on, most cliffs are freshly cut and very fragile." 
This made me go through my old files to find something I had written about Monsoon and our road widening, way back in August 2011. Nothing much has changed even now.  
There were about two-dozen vehicles, big and small, ahead of us, all waiting for any likely help. The officials and laborers had gone home after yet another tiring day at work. I am sure the team did not even enter through the threshold of their houses when this happened. Once again and on the same location! Now they were totally exhausted. And with that, our hope of crossing the site on the same day was gradually dying. As the clouds were darkening our worries of being str…