Mar 10, 2012

A Crisis is brewing


They came in scores to do their last transactions  
As reported in the media today, thousands of Indians swarmed the local banks the other day. In order to address the IC crunch had ordered all the banks to close the accounts held by non-residential Indians. Thousands of Indian businessmen applied to close their accounts in the banks and withdrew the amount in Indian Rupee. There was a huge rush everywhere as the Central Bank announced in their directives that accounts (savings, CD, FDR, RD, etc.), which are closed on before 9th March may be settled in Indian Rupee. Therefore, there was so much hustle and bustle in the banks, especially in the border towns.  Indians came in scores and took their money worth millions (almost emptying the banks).

Seriously, this is a crisis in the making.

With the closure of accounts and settlement of account balances held by Indian nationals is a short-term solution. How would it ease the rupee crunch? I am not a financial expert, but my layman’s understanding tells me that with this decision, now more than ever we would have more demand for Indian currencies because until now only major construction companies had the need to pay their business counterparts in INR. But now even a pan-shop owner will need to make payments in Indian currency. That will have direct bearing on the number of Bhutanese who require rupee. 

Now the business transactions across the border town will be limited to Indian currencies only. And Bhutanese shoppers will continue to buy goods from the border towns (as any sensible people would).
And soon I won’t be surprised if the prices of essential commodities shoot up. The cost of living will go up. Rents will skyrocket. Driving will be more expensive. Less and less people will be able to construct houses, adding fuel to housing crunch we already have. That’s when I see further inflation creeping in.

We are already feeling the pinch. Just to update you today Indian shopkeepers have started demanding payments to be made only in rupee. This way now even someone in the street, who earlier no need whatsoever to possess Indian currency, will now have more need for rupee. And that ultimately have direct bearing on the crunch.

Tomorrow is a new day and we pray something dramatic happen to rescue us all. 

Mar 9, 2012

We might publish them after all ...


This has been my one dream project. My friend and classmate Sonam Wangdue was kind enough to help me with the cover design. And then I lost all hopes. I stopped writing fictions and turned to blogging. Now I realized that does not bear much fruit either. I am one lazy blogger. 

However, thanks to Ugyen Gyeltshen and Kinzang Tshering, finally I am gaining some confidence. Thank you both. 

So, if everything goes well, Then I Saw Her Face might see the light of the day after all. Hope you will keep a close tab of this. 

And I am extremely delighted to inform you that Ugyen Gyeltshen (Tukuli as he is popularly known as on Writers Association of Bhutan blog) is soon publishing his first novel The Letter from the Mountain (tentative title). Congratulations to him. That will be one more refreshing addition to the limited Bhutanese book market. 

I am really excited. It is a touching story and a really good one at that. Please don't forget to get your copies soon.

Mar 7, 2012

If you Stone Sherubtse College


The Gateway to the Peak of Learning
I have been following Kesang Choden, an emerging women activist, on her quest to dig out the fathers of the children born out of wedlock especially in the east. It is a serious issue, one that merits the national attention. If we don’t start now, it will be too late. People who have “planted the wild seeds” (to borrow the phrase from the activists) must be taught a lesson. And for the same reason, I have volunteered to be the first Sherubtsean to test my DNA for the coming up of a DNA Bank and I am ever willing to support the activists for this noble social cause.
 
For the last so many years, these mothers have suffered in silence. Now it is time to finally reveal the identities of those hiding “fathers”. This can be the Judgment Day. Unidentified fathers have come thus far without a tinge of guilt whatsoever.  

And especially having gone through this experience of never having a man to call a “father” I can easily connect with those children out there. I understand their feelings inside out. I don’t know how it feels to have someone called father at my side. I have tried through fiction, but so far my attempt at fiction writing is without much result.

I understand many Sherubtse graduates must have left their legacies in the villages. Some may have done it deliberately while others may have committed the blunders without realizing that they might have fathered some children in the locality.

The point is to get at those people who have shunned their moral responsibility. I agree when the activists talked of identifying fathers and asking them to pay money for the years that they have neglected their children. It is a good way to apologize the mistake.

But Sherubtse is an institution. Lyonchhen does not own it neither does it belong to Home Minister. It is not handed down to the Education Minister through his ancestral heritage. For that matter Sherubtse is the not the property of the Members of the Parliament or government or ruling or opposition party or National Council. And over the years it has produced finest human beings who today excel in all spheres of life. It is sad that the college authority failed to respond to this threat. 

As an alumnus I will not feel comfortable sitting back and watching people throw stones at College Gate.  This is to plead people behind the campaign to refrain from carrying out such a stupid act. Otherwise we will be forced to sue whoever dares and bring responsible people to justice. As some people pointed out, the activists should come up with some sensible ways to deal with the matter.

There is no point in throwing stones at the monkeys when the bear has eaten the maize. Aim at the right target!

Mar 2, 2012

Five days a week, please


Photo: http://www.dailymail.co.uk
Unlike in the past this year His Majesty’s 32nd Birth Anniversary (February 21 – 23, 2012) and Losar of Water Male Dragon Year (February 22-23, 2012) coincided. It was nice that two happy occasions happened to fall on the same day. Realizing that the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan declared “24th February, 2012 as a public holiday.”

And unfortunately the day fell on Friday. For civil servants, Saturday is a day off. But not for many corporate and private employees- even teachers (although civil servants fall in this group!) Many, including me, felt that public holiday on February 24, 2012 was declared solely for civil servants in mind and with no consideration what so ever for the “others”.

Everywhere, teaching is considered a very noble profession, but the statement is debatable when we talk of it in Bhutan. Here, it is a profession, which many opt out of choice-less choice. No offense to our teachers! Of course you are right, there are many teachers out there, who have opted for teaching out of sheer love of teaching and educating children. And there are others who initially join the profession with no interest, but later loved to teach. So, why is teaching no more noble, at least in Bhutan?

Well, I don’t know how our teachers feel about this, but I am uncomfortable with the fact that our teachers fall under the purview of RCSC. Let’s leave the reason why teachers should be independent of RSCC is a topic for another post. And unlike their cousins in the ministries or dzongkhag administrations, our teachers work half days even on Saturdays.

Now we our schools open as early as February 15 in the year. Back then it used to be March 10. And this is what I think it should be. Since we start schools early now, we should even think of having a day off on Saturdays. But the day off should not be thought as an idle time.
Photo: From Penstar collection

I see schools around the country using this time for the promotion of games and sports; it is time when our children are encouraged to do what they do best – music, writing, reading, carry out acting classes, art, photography, designing, singing, dancing – all these skills that would earn them rice later; this is when our teachers can have time to teach our children creative writings, which is something that never happens in Bhutanese schools; this is the best time for our children to engage in political, social, religious, etc. debates. And it is also good time for our children voluntarily carry out some socially beneficial projects. 

This way our children have a complete and undisturbed rest on Sundays. When we start early, I don't see why we cannot meet the instructional days of 180. Schools in the west do well with just five days a week and Saturdays are dedicated for such aforementioned activities. 

And what about those corporate employees, don't they deserve a day off on Saturdays too?