The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Child Labor

Children at work
26 October 2009

For some children, working brings money and dignity. For others, it brings deprivation and shame. Kuenzang C Choden finds out why the concept of child labour is country-specific.

Sonam, a 15-year-old girl from Mongar, has been babysitting for three years. She earns a monthly wage of Nu 1000. She prefers babysitting to working in her village. So she chose the former. “I am happy doing what I do,” she says.
Kavita, 13, from Doban in Sarpang earns Nu 1,500 a month looking after her relative’s child. Her wage is directly sent to her single mother in the village. Her father died when she was eight. So she took up babysitting to support her mother. “I am not happy because I cannot go back home,” she says. Two children at work for different reasons.
What is child labour? The Labour and Employment Act of Bhutan 2007 defines child labour according to the nature of work a child below 18 is subjected to. However, children between the ages of 13 and 17 can be employed under certain defined areas, working terms and conditions, and payment. But there is a thin line between child labour and child employment.
According to the Labour Force Survey 2009, 3,414 children between the ages of 13 and 17 worked for more than a week. Out of them, 1,328 were paid and 2,086, unpaid. Child Labour: The issue in Bhutan The issue of child rights and working age limit cannot be relevant in Bhutanese traditional context, at least for sometime, because working children are considered as additional family asset rather than violation of their rights to develop both physically and emotionally, argues Lham Dorji, a senior researcher with the Centre for Buddhist Studies, in his study Youth of Bhutan: Education, Employment, Development.
An anonymous writer on Opposition Leader Tshering Tobgay’s blog says the western world’s idea that child labour is evil is not relevant to the Asian societies simply because our value systems are different.
S/he argues that the western societies have moved away from the traditional way of thinking while we still value and take pride in family participation. According to him, children in the western societies do not have the safety, freedom, opportunities or environment in which they can safely work and earn. Their environment has become so dangerous that children can no longer work. “It works in the environment in which we work and live so we follow what is ideal for us and should not be cowed down by the western concept. When we arrive at the point where they are now, we may need to re-adjust our thinking,” he says.
According to Lham Dorji, the emerging trend of school-going children doing manual works during the vacation cannot be considered child exploitation. Rather, it can have pedagogical advantages. “We must remember that these children who work are not completely forced. It is their economic condition that drives them to take up such employment,” said a BO source.
Another reason for working children, according to Lham Dorji, is due to outcome of increasing development activities, deterioration of traditional system of labour mobilization, increased mammalian pests and rural-urban migration, and shortage of farm labourers. This has made the farmers turn to their children as an extra hand.
The issue in Asia and the west
The term child labour emerged from the Laissez-faire (refers to various economic philosophies which seek to minimize or eliminate aspects of government intervention) capitalist society. It gained impetus during the industrial revolution where factory managers wanted to produce more at a low cost which became the backbone of mass production. Until the late 18th century, children were termed as non-productive consumers.
It was before philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau’s theories of childhood came forth. Austrian economist Ludwig Von Mises in his Human Action says that in Asia, children are destitute and starving of low wages compared to America or western European standards. “If the parents are too poor to feed their children adequately, prohibition of child labour condemns the children to starvation,” he says. “The best way to starve people in a Third World nation is to have their government ratify laws forbidding child labour,” says a blogger on the Paleo Blog.

NO to Constituency Development Fund:Bhutan election commission

Election Commission’s dissenting note

CEC writes to PM advising revocation of grant
Constituency Development Grant 29 October, 2009 - Even as National Assembly members prepare plans and projects for the controversial constituency development grant (CDG), the chief election commissioner has written to the prime minister asking the government to revoke CDG.

In the letter he sent earlier this month to Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley, the chief election commissioner, Dasho Kunzang Wangdi, said that the CDG will compromise the conduct of free and fair elections.

“We know the government is a responsible one and will consider our request,” said Dasho Kunzang Wangdi. He refused to elaborate on what course of action ECB would take if the government refused their request, but said that ECB is ‘keeping an optimistic view’ for now.

The chief election commissioner also raised the objection in a special presentation made during the international democracy conference in Paro recently. The letter was sent to the government just before his presentation to the conference.

“The total amount of Nu 2m per constituency per year is a substantial amount and would definitely influence the outcome of future elections,” he said. “This undermines the core intent of the Bhutanese democratic polity, which is to uphold a system that ensures free and fair elections and a level playing field.”

He said that spending Nu 2m per year by the sitting MP in his or her constituency can be construed as conducting an election campaign.

Election campaign under normal circumstances can take place only when the term of MPs or a political party is over.

The CEC also says that members of national assembly exercising total control over the approval process in the disbursement of state funds for special projects in their constituencies would constitute an office of profit in violation of laws. The ‘office of profit’ is a violation of the Election Act since MPs are not allowed to have an office of profit once they are elected.

“The election commission also has the greatest concern on CDG as it engages the lawmakers with the responsibility of directly managing state funds,” he said in his presentation. The CEC also said that the direct involvement of members of the National Assembly in local government activities is liable to render LG institutions insignificant and may slow down the process of institution building as envisaged in the constitution.

The opposition leader Tshering Tobgay, who also got a copy of the letter said, “The ECB in its letter has said that CDG would compromise their constitutional duty to conduct free and fair elections, that it is an office of profit, can be construed as campaigning, undermines local government and is an infringement on executive authority.”

Also, the National Council, in the last parliament session, had decided that the CDG was unconstitutional, failed in many countries, against the principle of free and fair elections, was vulnerable to mismanagement and by unanimous vote, sent the matter for further guidance to His Majesty the King.

However, the home minister Lyonpo Minjur Dorji defended the government’s decision to go ahead with CDG. He said, “In CDG, the money goes to the dzongkhags and has to be spent, based on what the local government wants and, in my case, the three gewogs, I represent have already divided the Nu 2 million per year among themselves with plans,” he said,

“In a democracy, the elected government must at least have a few rights like CDG as in other democratic countries, otherwise if it is too rigid then democracy itself is at stake,” he added.

CDG is a Nu 2m per year allocated to every national assembly member that was approved by the cabinet in April 2009 as part of the budget.

The funds can only be spent once the intended program has the approval of the gewog tshogde (GT) and the national assembly member concerned.

The works are to be implemented directly by the GT, NGO or a community, with the gup submitting a periodic progress report to the dzongdag, with a copy to the concerned national assembly member. The project will have to benefit a minimum of ten households, fund at least ten activities over a period of five years and be used by activities, not covered by normal budgets.

By Tenzing Lamsang, Kuensel

The rise and fall of cardamom

Attacked by viral and fungal infections, Tendu plantations bear crops for only 3 years

WEALTHY AND VULNERABLE : A cash crop that is especially susceptible to disease

29 October, 2009 - When former soldier Dawa Tshering moved from Trashiyangtse in eastern Bhutan to Tendu, Samtse, he pinned his future on cardamom plantations.

It has been four decades among cardamom plantations for the 62-year-old and in that time he has seen the crop flourish and then give in to diseases, crushing the hopes of many Tendu farmers.

“Cardamom had become the main cash crop in this area since 1977. Plantations began to increase from 1985 onwards,” he said. “But that same year, deadly diseases began affecting the plantation.”

Tendu farmers explained that foorkey (bushy dwarf) and another wilt and blight disease caused by an insect took all the hopes of cardamom planters. “Foorkey is a bush of small weeds that appears within the root of the cardamom plant, while the wilt is seen with lots of insect eggs along the leaf of the plant,” according to Dawa Tshering.

A study on cardamom diseases has classified the foorkey as a viral disease and the wilt cum blight as a fungal disease.

According to Dawa’s observations, the plants die the next year after the appearance of foorkey and, within three years, it spreads to the whole plantation.

The blight disease spreads within a year and also takes around three years to kill the whole plantation. “The blight kills the leaf in the first year and gradually reaches the root, killing whole plantations within three years, but any plant that has the foorkey bears no produce and does not survive the next year,” he said.

From his 90 decimal plantation area, Dawa harvested about 560 kg of cardamom last year and sold it for Nu 7,000 a mon (40 kg).

This year the price has reached Nu 11,000 a mon and Dawa is hoping it touches Nu 12,000. “I’ve about 10 mons left and my son wants me to wait and sell it when it touches Nu 12,000,” he said.

Nar Bahadur, 65, also said that every year about half the production gets lost to diseases. “We’ve informed the agriculture officers and they did their best, but the plants couldn’t be protected from this diseases,” he said.

According to Dawa, the plant takes two years to bear fruit. That is when foorkey also starts to appear in one or two plants. “We get just three years to harvest in decreasing yields and, by sixth and seventh years, the plantation has to be cleaned and re-planted,” he said.

By Samten Yeshi, Kuensel

Civil Society Organisations in limbo

Mitra Raj
The Civil Society Organization (CSO) Act was enacted during the 87th session of the National Assembly two years ago and the budget approved but much remains to be done as far as the functioning of the authority is concerned.

Without any working space or staff, several non-government organisations eager to register with the CSO authority are still waiting for it to become operational.

“We were informed that the CSO authority was established and so we prepared our by-laws and other documents to register with them. But now, forget the registration, the authority doesn’t even have an office,” said Sonam, a member of a three-year-old charitable organization based in Thimphu.

The reason for the delay in establishment of the authority by nearly two years was because the Act did not specify which ministry should spearhead it. However, the government on March 20 this year gave that responsibility to the Home and Cultural Affairs Ministry. And in accordance with the Act, three members from the Finance Ministry, Home and Cultural Affairs Ministry and the Office of the Attorney General were nominated from the government.

But even that hasn’t moved things forward yet.

“As mentioned in the Act, a separate office manned by the civil servants is supposed to be established. So we can hire an office only after the staff is identified by the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC),” said CSO member-secretary from the Home and Cultural Affairs Ministry, Kinchho Norbu.

“We had submitted manpower requirements to the RCSC in April this year,” he said.

In response, the commission informed them in July that a separate directive from the government was required for the establishment of the authority and the working office.

But, member of the cabinet, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba, said that the Act being passed in the National Assembly itself was a go ahead from the government.

“Civil societies are very much a part of the democratic system. And whether it is the RCSC or the home ministry, they should follow the Act,” the Works and Human Settlement minister said.

Even with the government allocating a budget of Nu 800,000 and Danida committing to provide Nu 3.5 million for the establishment, the member-secretary said they have not been able to open up a working office because the staffing factor is still awaiting government approval.

Meanwhile, there are more than 40 applicants listed with the authority waiting to be registered and two interim members from among them. The authority, apart from ensuring transparency and accountability, is expected to help CSOs through donor assistance and build human resource and capacity.

“It would become much easier for us to raise funds if we are registered,” said Sonam Palden who works for a charitable trust that looks after children.

Another member of the authority from the Office of the Attorney General, Sonam Tashi, said, once the applicants are registered, they will be provided with certification and that will give them recognition as a legal entity.

On the other hand, the authority met twice with the stakeholders at two separate meetings in March and September this year. The first meeting was to discuss the formation of the authority and the second, to discuss the draft document on the rules and regulation prepared by a consultant from Vietnam.

“There is nothing much we can do without the office although we have a work plan. Once the office is established we can start our operations,” said Kinchho Norbu.

The Chief Justice, Lyonpo Sonam Tobgye, along with judiciary officials had drafted the Act in order to specify the roles and responsibilities of the various non-government organisations.

According to the Act, any CSO applying for registration has to submit to the authority details including its objectives, scope of activity, funding sources and geographical area of operation. Once accredited by the authority, the CSO will have to submit its annual report, including audited financial statements for its operation in the country.

CSOs refer to associations, societies, foundations, charitable trusts, non-profit organisations or other entities that are not part of government and do not distribute any income or profits to their members, founders, donors, directors or trustees.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

School Back After 19 Years with One Teacher

A one man show
For the last four months, he has been single-handedly running a school of 63 students. And all this while, he has been multi-tasking as the bell-ringer, gardener, administrator, supervisor, and teacher in-charge of the school.

D.B. Tamang is the only teacher of Gong Community Primary School (GCPS) under Jigmechoeling gewog in Sarpang dzongkhag.

GCPS has 63 students studying in two sections in Pre-primary level and these students will be the first batch to study in the first standard next year. Of the 63 students 25 are boys and 38 are girls, most of them between six and 14 years of age.

D.B Tamang’s first task was that of the administrator. He started by buying files, furniture and other necessary requirements for the school. He had to then enroll students, talking to parents about the benefits of education.

After the school started, D.B Tamang got another job responsibility- that of the peon. He would rush to ring the bell so that classes could be divided into periods and to give a feel that it is indeed a school like any other with a bell.

However, he has been lucky enough to get help from the non-formal education (NFE) teacher to teach dzongkha and EVS (environmental studies) to the students. The NFE teacher also teaches dzongkha to the villagers after school.

GCPS was shut down for 19 years because of the 90’s anti-national problem. It was reopened in June this year.

GCPS can accommodate 361 students but this year only 63 students were enrolled. About 50 students come from far off villages; most of them have to walk for more than two hours to reach the school.

Some of the students who come from far flung places stay near the school on their own expenses and under the supervision of the teacher in-charge.

Jigmechoeling gewog is the biggest gewog in Sarpang and the farthest from both the dzongkhag and dungkhag office. Although it has 515 households, the pre-primary enrollment is as low as 40.7%.

The Jigmechoeling Gup said the reopening of the school has helped the Gong community a lot. The GCSP is the third community school in the gewog.

Jigmechoeling has three primary schools, Jigmechoeling Primary School, Reti Community Primary School and Gong community primary school.

Gong is two days walk from Jigmechoeling and it was difficult for the villagers to admit their children to school. “Even if the school is run by one teacher the benefit is huge,” the gup said.

GCPS is not the only school in Jigmechoeling gewog where students are taught by few teachers. Reti Community Primary School has 64 students studying in classes PP to six and has only three teachers (a little better off).

The teachers in Reti Community Primary School do multi-grade teaching where two classes are clubbed together. For instance, the school teaches classes one and six together. The sixth standard students help first standard students.

“It is easier to teach where the higher grade students help students from the lower grade,” said the assistant dzongkhag education officer, Tshering Lhendup.

The education ministry is planning to send two more teachers to GCPS next year so that D.B Tamang can be the principal of the school.

That is a consolation of sorts, but until then, he will have to carry on with his multi-tasking job.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Himalayan glaciers' melting poses threat to not only Bhutan, but entire South Asia

Turkmenistan News.Net
Friday 23rd October, 2009 (ANI)
London, October 23 : Reports indicate that the melting of the Himalayan glaciers is threatening the kingdom of Bhutan, the impacts of which will adversely affect the entire South Asian region.

According to a report in Nature News, glaciers in the Himalayas are retreating faster than in any other part of the world and they could disappear completely by 2035.

This puts the mountainous nation of Bhutan at a special risk.

In an area smaller than Switzerland, it has 983 glaciers and 2,794 glacial lakes, some of which have burst to produce deadly glacial lake floods.

As a poor nation without even its own helicopter, Bhutan lacks the resources to combat global warming.

It is carrying out the work at Thorthormi glacier with the help of money from various international donors.

As the first nation to get adaptation money from the Least Developed Countries Fund, Bhutan is something of a pioneer among developing nations in their quest to adapt to a warmer future, and the struggles at Thorthormi glacier illustrate the enormous obstacles that adaptation efforts still face.

It is only within the past decade that researchers realized that Thorthormi could pose a threat.

Thorthormi's ponds were expanding and merging to form larger bodies of water. The changes have been dramatic even in the past few months.

"Just before we started our work here in July this year, that part of the lake was water," said Karma Toeb, the project's glaciologist and team leader, pointing down to a number of icebergs. "The ice blocks have been breaking off the mother glacier upstream," he added.

According to Thinley Namgyel, the deputy chief environment officer at the National Environment Commission in Thimphu, "A few decades down the line, the glaciers will retreat and we are not sure what impact it will have on the economy."

But, the impacts of the melting of the Himalayan glaciers will reach far beyond Bhutan's borders.

The glacier-fed rivers that flow south from the Himalayas are the arteries of south Asia.

It is estimated that the retreat of glaciers will affect the water supply of roughly 750 million people across South Asia and China, according to Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Across Asia, there are countless cases like Thorthormi, where the needs are great and the resources scarce.

Regarding the effects of climate change and their costs, "every single estimate that people have come up with has been exceeded by reality", said Pachauri.

"The impacts of climate change are clearly turning out to be much worse than what we had anticipated earlier," he added.

Spill from the first Private news paper.

Troubled Bhutan Times

Irreconcilable differences with management lead to editorial staff resignations
23 October, 2009 - More than two weeks after the weekly Bhutan Times (BT), the first privately owned newspaper in Bhutan, declared a loss of Nu 5.39 million and underwent a change of management, its editor and six of its 12 reporters resigned yesterday, citing “persistent editorial interference from the management”.

“We’re resigning primarily to protect independent journalism in Bhutan and live up to our professional principles and values,” said editor Gopilal Acharya. He refused to elaborate further. The editor, chief reporter and five reporters submitted a joint resignation letter at 4.10 pm yesterday. The reporters refused to comment.

The resignation letter reads, “Following persistent editorial interference by the management, the following newsroom staff hereby submit our resignation. This is to be taken as a month’s notice from our side, however, our resignation is effective from today.”

The CEO and new chairman of BT, who took over management on October 1, Wangcha Sangey, said they terminated their services themselves, so BT did not have a choice but to comply with their decision. “They were actually conspiring to bring down the company, through which they earned their livelihood for the past three years and got trained,” he said.

Wangcha Sangey said the reason for their resignations was not true at all. “Since I joined, I made one request to them that, while freedom of speech is very important, we shouldn’t forget that we’re Bhutanese and that you can slur a ministry if it’s wrong but not Bhutan as a nation. We shouldn’t be promoting personal agenda.”

Wangcha Sangey showed written commitments by the reporters to give their full support in working towards salvaging the company. The written commitments were given this week, following a meeting between the management and the editorial team.

When asked whether a court case would follow, as the employees had contracts with the company, Wangcha Sangey said, “I don’t have time to dwell on the contracts and the legality involved.”

Over Nu 900,000 of BT’s money is with the employees in the form of loans, said Wangcha Sangey, adding that those, who had submitted resignations, also owed the company.

Since Wangcha Sangey took over the management, he said that he worked for the interest of the company and the shareholders, with emphasis on improving the financial condition of the company. “We managed to bring down the bank overdraft to less than a million.” BT owes Nu 3m in overdraft loan to the bank of Bhutan.

“What happened was not morally correct and they should have supported the new CEO,” said Bhutan Today’s managing director Tenzin Dorji, adding that it was not true that BT reporters were joining his paper.

The Bhutan Observer editor, Nidup Zangpo, said that this would definitely affect the media scenario in Bhutan. “My immediate reaction was it’s doubtful whether the Sunday issue would come out,” he said.

Wangcha Sangey said that BT won’t disappoint its readers and that it will come out with the Sunday issue. “Even if they feel that they don’t have any obligation to the readers, BT has obligations so I’ll make sure that the issue comes out as scheduled.”

“They didn’t walk out on me but the company. We had too little time to know each other well. They might be planning to come out with a paper of their own, so I wish them luck,” he said.

BT is the only public limited private media company that started on April 30, 2006. Bhutan Observer and Bhutan Today are sole proprietorships. BT has 288 shareholders as of last year, with major shareholders holding 82.26 percent of shares and the remaining 17.74 percent by individual investors.

By Kinga Dema

Bhutan Times in crisis

October 22: Bhutan Times, one of the private newspapers, is going through a crisis.

In the latest development, six of its reporters and an editor have submitted their resignation citing persistent interference in the editorial decisions by the management as their reason.

They submitted their resignation late this afternoon.

Bhutan Times editor Gopilal Acharya said their main reason is to protect the independence of journalism in the country and live up to the professional journalistic principles and values.
Bhutan Observer

BT news team walk out
23 October 2009

Six reporters and the editor of Bhutan Times walked out on the new management yesterday afternoon after tendering their resignation. Gopilal Acharya, the editor, said the editorial team was resigning en masse because of persistent editorial interference from the management. “We are resigning primarily to protect independent journalism in Bhutan and to live up to our professional principles and values,” he said.
However, the paper’s chief executive officer, Wangcha Sangey, who took over the company only a few weeks ago, said, “This is a conspiracy to close the company down.” He said that this week’s issue of the paper would be brought out in spite of a virtually empty newsroom. With seven of the editorial staff having walked out, the paper is left with six reporters, out of which three are undergoing studies in Thailand. With one reporter in the paper’s Trashigang bureau, the newsroom at the headquarters now has only two reporters.
“The company has survived. Just because a section of the company is down doesn’t mean that we have to shut down,” Wangcha Sangey said. According to an outgoing reporter, after the new CEO took over the paper, press releases came to the editor only through the CEO. The CEO also started attending conferences that are more relevant to the editorial staff. “This is the management’s interference in the editorial,” she said.
However, Wangcha Sangey said he “just mentioned to the reporters that they shouldn’t slur the nation”. “If they are not ashamed, I certainly do not have to feel sorry about the decision they have taken,” he said.
The turmoil started when the former managing director of the paper, Tenzin Rigden, was immediately relieved after he applied for a six-month extraordinary leave to the board of directors.
Bhutan Times started as a weekly paper on April 30, 2006, by Bhutan Media Services with Tenzin Rigden as its founding managing director and Tashi P Wangdi as the editor-in-chief. It officially started operating as a public limited company from January 1, 2007.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Former King of Darjelling, Subash Ghising, in Exile in Bhutan

गोर्खाल्यान्डको मिति पर

पर्वत पोर्तेल/दार्जीलिङ
सन् २०१० मार्च १० सम्ममा गोर्खाल्यान्ड प्राप्त गरछिाड्ने गोर्खा जनमुक्ति मोर्चाको योजना केही समय पछि धकेलिएको छ । गोर्खाल्यान्डको मुद्दामा भारतीय जनता पार्टीले सघाउने सम्बन्धमा एक वर्षअघि सहमति भएको थियो । तर, लोकसभा चुनावमा भाजपाको प्रदर्शन निराशाजनक भएकाले गोर्खाल्यान्ड मुद्दा प्रभावित बनेको छ ।

"भाजपाको सरकार गठन हुन नसक्नु नै हाम्रो दुर्भाग्य भयो," गोर्खा जनमुक्ति मोर्चाका महासचिव रोशन गिरी भन्छन्, "नत्र पूर्वघोषित समयावधिमा गोर्खाल्यान्ड घोषणाको पहल सुरु भइसक्थ्यो ।" तर, गोजमुमोका अध्यक्ष्ा विमल गुरुङले दार्जीलिङमा हालै आयोजित एक कार्यक्रममा सन् २०१० अगावै गोर्खाल्यान्ड घोषणा गर्न सक्ने चेतावनी दिए । गोजमुमोको दोस्रो स्थापना दिवसमा बोल्दै गुरुङले भने, "चाहेँ भने म आजको आजै गोर्खाल्यान्ड घोषणा गरििदन्छु ।" बंगाल र केन्द्र सरकारप्रति इंगित गर्दै उनी भन्दै थिए, "बेलैमा बुद्धि पुर्‍याउनूस् है !" उनको यो अभिव्यक्ति चेतावनी मात्रै पनि छोइन, आफ्ना कार्यकर्ता एवं समर्थकलाई थप हौस्याउने रणनीति पनि हो । "जनतालाई विचलित हुन नदिन उहाँले आश्वस्त पार्न खोज्नुभएको हुन सक्छ," गोजमुमोका सहसचिव एवं प्रचारप्रसार प्रमुख विनय तामाङ भन्छन्, "तर, २०१० अगावै गोर्खाल्यान्ड स्थापना गर्ने सम्भावना न्यून छ ।"

सन् १९८६ देखि सुवास घिसिङको नेतृत्वमा चर्किएको गोर्खाल्यान्ड आन्दोलनले त्यसताका दार्जीलिङ गोर्खा पार्वत्य परष्िाद्को सीमित उपलब्धिमै चित्त बुझाउन पुग्ोेको थियो । तर, गोर्खा जनमुक्ति मोर्चाले पार्टी स्थापनाको छोटो समयमै उपलब्धि हात पार्दैछ । त्यसको पछिल्लो कडी बनेको छ, छैटौँ अनुसूची र गोर्खा पार्वतीय परष्िाद् खारेजी । भारत सरकार र गोजमुमोको नेतृत्वबीच नयाँदिल्लीमा डेढ महिनाअघि भएको तेस्रो त्रिपक्ष्ाीय वार्ताले छैटौँ अनुसूची र घिसिङले २१ वर्षअघि सहमति जनाएको दार्जीलिङ गोर्खा पार्वतीय परष्िाद् खारेज गर्ने सहमति भइसकेको छ ।

दिल्लीस्िथत इन्डिया इन्टरनेसनल सेन्टरमा सम्पन्न वार्तामा छुट्टै राज्य गोर्खाल्यान्डको मागसहित आन्दोलनरत गोर्खा जनमुक्ति मोर्चाले राज्य सरकार र केन्द्र सरकारलाई दबाब दिँदै अनुसूची र परष्िाद् खारेज गर्न भारतलाई दबाब सिर्जना गरेको थियो । छैटौँ अनुसूची हालसम्म भारतीय संसद्को तल्लो सदन लोकसभामा विचाराधीन थियो भने परष्िाद्लाई खारेज गरनिुपर्ने मोर्चाको सुरुदेखिको माग थियो । यी दुवै माग खारेज भएपछि गोर्खाल्यान्डका समर्थकहरूमा गोर्खाल्यान्ड प्राप्तिको आशा थप पलाएको छ । "२१ वर्षसम्म घिसिङले के गरे र दुई वर्ष पनि पुग्दा नपुग्दा हामीले के गरसिक्यौँ, त्यो जनताले मूल्यांकन गर्नुपर्छ," गुरुङ भन्छन् ।

सन् २००७ अक्टोबर ७ तारखिका दिन स्थापित मोर्चाले हालै आफ्नो दोस्रो वर्षगाँठ मनायो । छोटो समयमा यसले हासिल गरेको राजनीतिक उपलब्धिप्रति दार्जीलिङे जनता बढी आशावादी बनेका छन् । तेस्राे चरणको वार्तापछि जनता बढी आशावादी बनेको मोर्चाका सल्लाहकार हर्क क्ष्ाेत्री बताउँछन् । भन्छन्, "अब गोर्खाल्यान्ड हुनेमा धेरै सम्भावना बढेको छ ।" दार्जीलिङलाई छैटौँ अनुसूचीमा गाभ्ने प्रस्तावसहितको विधेयक भारत सरकारले यसअघि नै लोकसभामा पेस गरेको थियो । गोजमुमोले आगामी डिसेम्बरमा हुने चौथो चरणको त्रिपक्षीय वार्तालाई महत्त्वका साथ हेरेको छ । दिल्लीमा सम्पन्न तेस्रो चरणको वार्ताले चौथो चरणको वार्ता दार्जीलिङमै गर्ने सहमति गरे अनुरूप आगामी डिसेम्बर २१ मा वार्ता हुँदैछ । "यो वार्ता महत्त्वपूर्ण हुन सक्छ," गोर्खाल्यान्ड आन्दोलनका विश्लेषक पी अर्जुन भन्छन्, "यसले केही न केही नयाँ उपलब्धि हासिल गर्ने आशा छ ।" दार्जीलिङमै वार्ता हुने कारणले पनि धेरै अर्थ राख्ने अर्जुनको विश्लेषण छ । भन्छन्, "आफ्नै आँगनका आएको मौका चुकाउनु हँुदैन ।"

कहाँ छन् घिसिङ ?

सन् २००७ को इन्डियन आइडलमा प्रशान्त तामाङको पक्ष्ामा लाग्नु नै गोर्खा जनमुक्ति मोर्चाको उदयको कारण बन्यो भने प्रशान्तलाई सहयोग नगर्नु घिसिङको पतनको अर्को कारण बन्यो । "प्रशान्तलाई सघाएको भए घिसिङको यस्तो दुर्गति हुने थिएन," प्रशान्तको पक्षमा जनमत बनाउन भूमिका निर्वाह गरेका ज्ञानेन्द्र अर्याल भन्छन्, "घिसिङले त्यसैबेलादेखि जनसमर्थन गुमाए ।"

प्रशान्त आइडल बनेको वर्षदिन बित्न नपाउँदै सत्ताच्यूत हुन पुगेका घिसिङ पछिल्लो समय पत्नीवियोगको पीडामा छन् । सत्ताच्यूतलगत्तै सिलीगुढी झरेका उनी अहिले कहाँ, के गर्दै होलान् भन्ने जिज्ञासा सबैलाई छ । त्यसो भए कहाँ छन् त उनी ? गोजमुमोको उदयसँगै आफूलाई दार्जीलिङ पहाडको राजाका रूपमा प्रस्तुत गर्ने घिसिङ अहिले भुटानतिर गएर एकान्तको जीवन बिताइरहेको चर्चा पहाडभरि सुनिन्छ । दार्जीलिङ पहाडमा २१ वर्षको शासनपछि जनताबाटै तिरस्कृत घिसिङ तनावबाट मुक्तिका लागि भुटान छिरेको अनुमान धेरैको छ ।


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monks toppled Coronation feast

20 October, 2009 - For greener pastures; 50 heads of cattle, saved from the butcher’s knife by the Jangsa animal saving trust, being moved to Rukubji, Trongsa, from Semtokha. The Trust, headed by Lam Kunzang Dorji, bought the cattle, which were on their way to Jaigaon to be butchered a month before the Coronation Ceremony of the Fifth Druk Gyalpo in November last year. The Trust also saved Nu 400,000 worth of fishes from the streets of Bangkok, Thailand.


Bhutan seeks to learn democracy 101 from RP

October 21, 2009 04:27:00, Edson C. Tandoc Jr., Philippine Daily Inquirer

PARO, BHUTAN—Ranked as one of the “happiest” countries in the world, this small, impoverished nation could pick up some serious lessons from the Philippines as it takes baby steps toward becoming a full democracy.

And those lessons include both the good and the bad, according to its leader.

“The Philippines, being an Asian country, has very interesting lessons to offer to Bhutan in terms of the good things that can happen to a democracy as well as some of the pitfalls of democracy,” Prime Minister Jigme Thinley told the Inquirer.

What is power?

If there is one thing Bhutan should avoid, Thinley said, it is the problem of “elected (officials) forgetting their responsibilities and not making themselves accountable to the people.”

“What is power?” Thinley asked in rhetoric. “Power is an illusion. It doesn’t exist. One doesn’t have power. One is given responsibility.”

Thinley addressed a conference organized here last week by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which discussed how Bhutan could learn from the experience of other free societies.

Bordered by India and China, with a land area just about a third of Luzon, the country of less than a million people ended ages of monarchic rule when it conducted its first democratic elections in March 2008.

UNDP conference

Titled “Deepening and Sustaining Democracy in Asia,” the UNDP conference gathered some 70 international delegates, including this reporter, and some 100 officials, civic leaders and scholars from the host nation.

“Democracies fail not because of inherent flaws but because they fall in the wrong hands,” Thinley said in his speech.

In an Inquirer interview, the prime minister said his countrymen faced the challenge of replicating good models of governance practiced in other countries.

Gross national happiness’

The challenge also involves sustaining “the good times we had during the reign of our fourth king,” he said.

Bhutan’s fourth king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, initiated the kingdom’s shift to democracy and spent the last 30 years of his reign ensuring a smooth transition.

The delicate shift entailed reducing the powers of his son and successor, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who ascended the throne in 2006 at age 26.

Jigme Singye is also credited by international economists for advancing the concept of “gross national happiness (GNH)” as an alternative measure of growth and quality of life, a departure from traditional market-driven indicators like the gross national product (GNP).

For Thinley, Bhutan’s path toward democracy was peculiar for being peaceful, considering that many nations experienced violence when their citizens started demanding greater freedoms.

Bhutan’s shift to democracy, he said, arose from the decision of a respected king who “believed in the collective wisdom, the right and capability of the people to shape their own destiny.”

What it did right

In his speech at the UNDP forum, Thinley noted that unlike older but still-fragile democracies, Bhutan has “no broken pieces to mend and yawning divides to bridge. No festering wounds to heal and psychological barriers to confront.”

Ajay Chhiber, UNDP’s regional director for Asia and the Pacific, said Bhutan could actually end up becoming a “role model”—and not the catch-up learner—if it could sustain its current gains.

“What Bhutan did right is that it started by educating people on democracy. Leaders went out of their way to involve people,” Chhiber told the Inquirer.

The country launched education campaigns long before the elections were held, he recalled. Leaflets were distributed, posters were put up on the streets.

Chhimi Zangmo, 22, fondly recalled catching something on TV for the first time in her life—a debate among election candidates aired on the Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS), the country’s only TV station.

Zangmo, who now works as a salesperson in a handicraft store, said she was glad to see such obvious novelties in the system. But a year after the elections, she said, nothing much had changed.

New system, new fears

Zangmo said she enjoyed exercising the right to choose local officials and members of the new parliament, but stressed that King Jigme Khesar remained in command.

A high school graduate earning just about $55 a month, the mother of one said she took part in her country’s historic elections “to help our country.”

By casting the ballot, she expressed her trust in the wisdom of the previous king, she said.

Still, Zangmo said she was apprehensive about the future: “I am afraid that after five or six years, these (elected) officials will be fighting among themselves, just like in other countries.”

She admitted somehow missing the old system, back when villagers like her never had to decide who should govern. “It was easier before,” Zangmo said. “Now we have to choose our leaders.”

Bhutan is now ruled by a parliament composed of the king, the National Council and the National Assembly.

Ceremonial king

The National Council is composed of five members nominated by the king and 20 members elected in each of Bhutan’s 20 political districts or Dzongkhags.

The National Assembly currently has 47 members representing clusters of towns or geogs. The prime minister is chosen among its members, who are elected to five-year terms. A member can serve as prime minister only for two terms.

The king is now left with mostly ceremonial duties. But according to Thinley, Jigme Khesar will continue to play a significant role in Bhutan’s everyday life.

“We’ve had great kings in the past and we have a great king now. I believe the king, in addition to his constitutional responsibilities, will always be a very important factor in Bhutanese democracy because of the moral and ethical force that he enjoys,” the prime minister said.

Bhutan’s Constitution is considered a “soelra (gift)” from the fourth king, who ordered the charter drafted as early as September 2001, or seven years before the elections.

‘Green’ Constitution

Scholars at last week’s UNDP conference praised the document for having specific provisions that protect the environment.

The Constitution, for example, requires the government to maintain 60 percent of Bhutan’s forest cover at all times “to conserve the country’s natural resources and to prevent degradation of the ecosystem.”

But while its political system may be charting new directions, Bhutan remains saddled with one old problem: What to do with the flood of refugees fleeing neighboring Nepal.


Bhutan refuses to bestow citizenship on the refugees, and many reports told of local officials forcibly driving them back, resulting in violent clashes.

Thinley said his country’s shift to democracy would not change its policy toward the refugees, but that he hoped that talks with politically unstable Nepal would resume.

“The reality is that the problem of the people in the refugee camps is a problem for which Nepal has an equal responsibility to find solutions,” he said.

INQUIRER Politics:

Tensions rise as Bhutan refugees leave Nepal

By Claire Cozens (AFP)

BELDANGI REFUGEE CAMP, Nepal — Seventeen years ago, Narad Muni Sanyasi was forced to flee his native Bhutan in the middle of the night, leaving his home and all his possessions behind.
Sanyasi was one of more than 100,000 Bhutanese who fled the country when ethnic tensions flared in the early 1990s and who ended up in eastern Nepal, where they have lived ever since in camps run by the UN refugee agency.
Now, the 65-year-old former member of Bhutan's parliament is once again facing threats -- this time apparently from within his own community.
Last month Sanyasi's name appeared on pamphlets distributed by an anonymous group in the Beldangi refugee camp where he works as camp secretary, threatening him and eight other community leaders with death.
The pamphlets accused Sanyasi of supporting the resettlement of the refugees in Western countries and turning his back on the fight for their repatriation in Bhutan -- a charge he strongly denies.
"I am neither against repatriation nor against resettlement. But I was accused of sending my family members to be resettled in a third country," he told AFP in the small bamboo hut that functions as his office.
"No one is so brave they would not be afraid of a death threat. But where can I go? I am responsible for the people in this camp."
The anonymous threats have exposed bitter divisions within the Bhutanese refugee community over a UN scheme under which more than 20,000 of the exiles have resettled in third countries, the majority in the United States.
The ethnic Nepali refugees fled Bhutan, claiming ethnic and political persecution, after the Buddhist kingdom made national dress compulsory and banned the Nepalese language.
Bhutan's government says the people who left were either illegal immigrants or went voluntarily. The refugees, who have no legal right to work or own land in Nepal, insist they are Bhutanese citizens.
Numerous rounds of high-level talks between Nepal and Bhutan have failed to reach an agreement on repatriation.
Police in the nearby town of Damak say they have increased security at Beldangi, the largest of seven refugee camps in eastern Nepal, after a 45-year-old male refugee was murdered there last month.
No one has yet been convicted over the murder, but police say they believe it was linked to the resettlement issue, and they are also providing protection to the eight community leaders whose lives have been threatened.
But with the refugees allowed to move freely in and out of the camps during the day, police say there is a limit to what they can do to protect people.
"Tensions are increasing day by day. We have 50 armed police stationed at the camp, but there are 40,000 refugees there and it is not enough," Damak police inspector Navin Karki told AFP.
Gandhivraj Syangtam, head of the armed police unit at Beldangi, said the murder had exacerbated tensions, but cautioned that not all reported threats were genuine.
"People have been afraid for a long time, that's the nature of refugee camps," he said.
"Those who are threatened will receive protection help from us. But there are also those who claim to be threatened in order to be given priority for resettlement. We have to be very thorough in our investigations."
The UN refugee agency UNHCR points out that the situation has stabilised since resettlement began in 2007, when buses belonging to the International Organisation for Migration were bombed and one refugee died in a scuffle with police.
"Overall the security situation is pretty good. It is very different from two years ago when resettlement started because that created a big debate in the camps," said Mads Madsen, the UNHCR's local field safety adviser.
"Many people were in favour, but there were some who were aggressively opposed, and there were threats and even physical attacks against those who supported resettlement."
Facing little prospect of being allowed to return to Bhutan or settle permanently in Nepal, most of the refugees in the camps have now asked to be resettled, and applications continue to pour in.
"There is no work and no future in the camps, and anyway we don't feel safe here," said Milan Kumar Rana, 22, who hopes to go to Australia with his family.
But there are those who say they will only leave Nepal if it is to return to Bhutan -- and some are prepared to fight to achieve their aim.
Ramesh Chettri fled Bhutan aged just nine, after his family heard reports of what he calls ethnic cleansing.
Now 27, he says he and a group of fellow refugees are preparing a "violent political movement" to fight for democracy in Bhutan, but fear resettlement will weaken their case.
"If the refugees are resettled we will not be able to achieve our goal of returning and fighting for democracy. It will weaken us and strengthen the tyrannical government of Bhutan," he told AFP.
"I understand the temptation to leave the camps. But I am convinced that one day I will return to Bhutan, so I have no difficulty staying here."


Monday, October 19, 2009

Bhutan struggle to adjust to Canada

Most immigrants find established communities to ease their transition to Canada, but others, like the Kattels, must find their own way

Bhutanese journey: Refugees to pioneers
Family's journey to Canada started years ago

Vancouver — From Saturday's Globe and Mail

On a hot, sunny day last July, three fully clothed kids waded into the surf off Vancouver's Spanish Banks beach, squealing as the cold sea water rose above their knees. Born and raised in a Nepalese refugee camp, Prakash, 14, Menuka, 12, and Ganesh, 8, had arrived in Canada 10 days earlier. They had never seen an ocean.

They didn't own swimsuits and didn't seem to care. Their mother, Bishnu Maya Kattel, followed behind, laughing as she gathered the folds of her sari around her thighs.

The family – also including the children's father, Bhim Lal, and grandmother, Pabi Maya – had been in the country just over a week, when, out of the blue, a Nepalese-Canadian cultural group invited the Kattels to its annual picnic.

“The day of the picnic, it was the first time I felt okay,” Ms. Kattel recalled recently during an interview with a Nepalese translator. “I thought: ‘I'm not the only lonely person here. There are other people like me in Canada.'”

But there aren't that many. About 5,000 Bhutanese refugees are expected to arrive in Canada over the next five years in one of the largest government-sponsored refugee programs in recent memory. Approximately 150 were expected to come to British Columbia this year, but so far only 28 have arrived.

And the Bhutanese face other challenges. Unlike most immigrants and refugees, the government-sponsored Bhutanese don't have the safety net of an already established community to ease their culture shock and offer support. That lack of a support group has prompted questions about how they will assimilate in their new country. Their backgrounds don't lend themselves to easy adaptation. They have spent 17 years in refugee camps and most of the adults have never held full-time jobs.

And, in the future, far more of these high-need refugees are expected to arrive in the country. Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act was amended seven years ago to give a higher priority to refugees in need of immediate protection. That group tends to include people fleeing war, famine and displacement. Many arrive in Canada with post-traumatic stress disorder and other medical needs. In short, they aren't people in a position to apply for jobs tomorrow.

John Lehmann/Globe and MailBishnu Maya Kattel, left along with her daughter Menuka, 12, ride the SkyTrain in Vancouver.
So how have the Kattels navigated their transition from refugee camp dwellers to West Coast suburbanites? Their first months in Canada have seen both triumphs and setbacks, frustration and serendipity.

The Globe and Mail first interviewed the Kattel family last June in the teeming Goldhap refugee camp in eastern Nepal, two weeks before they departed for Canada. They knew little about their new country except that it was freezing cold. The first thing Mr. Kattel asked a Canadian visitor was: Are there jobs in British Columbia?

When the family of six arrived at Vancouver Airport in July, they were wild-eyed and jet-lagged. Despite a July heat wave they were clad in thick woollen sweaters. For the next three months, the Globe tracked the family's progress in B.C., after they moved into their new apartment in the suburban of municipality of Coquitlam.

The children found the transition particularly difficult. They were shocked at how hard school was. Eight-year-old Ganesh cried every day for the first week, telling his mother he couldn't understand a word the teachers said to him.

The family lives on social assistance – paid by the federal government for one year – and money is tight. They go to endless lengths to cut household costs. Internet and cable are luxuries beyond their means. They get food from the food bank and go to Value Village for winter clothes. At night, they sit in the dark rather than waste electricity.

Mr. Kattel's thin résumé weighs on his mind. Next July, the federal-funded monthly welfare cheques will stop. By then, he will need to find full-time work. He has already applied to enroll in a trades training program.

“I'm all alone in this. It all comes down to me. I have to find a job and support this family. There is a lot of pressure on me. I will do whatever it takes.”

But the Kattels still consider themselves fortunate.

They're amazed their apartment has running water, plus plumbing and electricity. In Nepal, Menuka rose at dawn every morning to fetch water and Ms. Kattel cooked meals in a fire pit in the corner of their bamboo hut.

And, for the first time in 17 years, Mr. Kattel possesses a document – in the form of his Canadian permanent residence card – that gives him the right to work.

For Mr. Kattel, that stamp of status has meant the world. After years as an outcast in Nepal, he had braced for more struggles in Canada. He thought he would have to fight to enroll his children in school. Instead, a Nepali-speaking counsellor from the Coquitlam school board helped enroll all three children in school. Last August, just days after they moved into their apartment, a counsellor from the Vancouver-based Immigrant Services Society helped sign the kids up for a summer camp for immigrant kids.

John Lehmann/Globe and MailMenuka Kattel , 12, rides the Wave Swinger at Vancouver's PNE in Vancouver.
Mr. Kattel was floored. “They came and found us and took our kids to summer camp,” Mr. Kattel said. “I never expected the government would treat us like regular citizens, giving us respect. In Nepal we weren't given the same rights.”

The Kattels' journey to Canada actually began in the early 1990s when the former king of Bhutan expelled more than 100,000 Nepali-speaking Bhutanese from the small Himalayan country. The expelled Bhutanese fled to Nepal, where they were corralled into refugee camps on the eastern border with India. After years of talks between Bhutan and Nepal ended in stalemate, seven Western nations agreed to accept the Bhutanese. Most – about 60,000 – will go to the United States.

The family has also been able to rely upon the kindness of strangers.

In fact, from the day the Nepalese cultural group invited the refugees to its beach picnic, scores of other people – from school counsellors to local volunteers – have knocked on the Kattels' door, offering help.

Their greatest support so far has come from an unlikely couple – two health-care professionals – who live in nearby Port Moody. Brian Wolfe and Pauline Sheppard saw a newspaper ad last spring looking for Canadians to sponsor Bhutanese families. The couple, who once lived abroad in Asia, remembered the culture shock and loneliness of the ex-pat life and signed up to sponsor the Kattels.

Since July, they have spent hours helping the family navigate Canadian life, taking them sightseeing, grocery shopping and translating the never-ending letters the children bring home from school. They visit two or three times a week and rarely arrive empty-handed. The Kattel apartment is now equipped with a television set, computer, DVD player and mountain bike. Prakash told his dad that he believes the family now lives better than the prime minister of Nepal.

“We will never forget what [Mr. Wolfe and Ms. Sheppard] have done for us,” Mr. Kattel said.

For his part, Mr. Wolfe said meeting the Kattels has been humbling. Watching the kids blossom has been a joy.

“They have these rich personal lives,” Mr. Wolfe said. “And you see what our culture is missing. They are not materialistic people. You see what we have given up for materialistic things.”

Despite their worries, the Kattels are grateful for the help they received. And now they are in the position to offer some help in return. Last weekend, Mr. Kattel gathered his brood, boarded the SkyTrain and brought them to the same downtown hostel where his family spent their first two weeks in Canada. Another Bhutanese family from Nepal had just arrived in Vancouver and the Kattels had come to offer advice and support. “This is our culture. We help each other.”

Princess Diaries

By Wannapa Phetdee
Published on October 19, 2009

Bhutanese Princess Yiwang Pindarica, 21, leads a simple life in Thailand...

Years ago, when Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Nam-gyel Wangchuck - the fifth Dragon King of Bhutan - visited the Kingdom, Thais expressed great admiration for him. But how many people know that his lovely cousin, Her Highness Princess Yiwang Pindarica, is a student in Thailand?

The 21-year-old Princess has been studying at Webster University Thailand in Hua Hin for the past two-and-a-half years, while her twin sister Her Highness Princess Namsay Kumutha is a student at the University of British Columbia, Canada.

"Thailand is like a second home to me," Princess Yiwang Pindarica told Daily Xpress and other Thai media during a recent interview. "I chose Thai-land because I'm quite familiar with the country and Thailand is not very far from Bhutan."

Makes up her own room

Being in such an exalted position as a princess, ordinary folks may think the Bhutanese Princess stays in a luxurious residence with many attendants ready to serve her. But she usually makes up her room herself and uses just a two-row passenger truck when she goes shopping. She lives a simple life. Also, her lecturer says the Princess does everything at the university herself and is treated the same as other students.

Loves Som Tam

The Princess savours Thai food, with Som Tam (spicy papaya salad) being her favourite dish. In fact, she has also cooked Som Tam and Bhutanese food on a television programme.

She likes playing badminton, basketball and volleyball, and is a fan of Manchester United, with her favourite player being Rio Ferdinand. She also loves to read and sometimes watches movies.

Since she studies Media Communications, which focusses on advertising, the Princess's goal after graduation is to improve the media in Bhutan.

"We are a democratic constitutional monarchy and the media is treated with much more leniency than before. I can help improve our media using the knowledge I gain here."

The Princess aims to promote her country's scenery, rich culture and traditions, as Bhutanese people are very welcoming, friendly and - like Thais - love their King.

She said that after gaining working experience for a few years she would probably come back to study for a master degree in Media Commu-nications.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Climate change: coping the change happily

On the auspicious of “Blog Action Day” 2009

Climate change: coping the change happily

Climate change has shocked people concerned about the future: - the future of the earth and the future of the man kind. With the rise in the atmospheric temperature globally, speculations are that the snow white Mountain peaks become slim, snowline move peak-wards, the ice on the poles thin out and vegetation moves pole-wards. A lot of places close to, at or below the sea level will suffocate under water. The temperature will rise changing the adaptation. A lot of predicted and unpredicted catastrophes will hit different parts of the earth.

We cannot make the emission of carbon dioxide; methane, aerosols, nitrous oxides etc and all the man made causes for the disaster, come to a complete halt. But our attempt is to reduce their release into the atmosphere to minimum possible level.

There are other factors that are not under our control that lead to the global warming like the systemic moment of the earth and its geomagnetic axis. These factors may contribute either to the global warming, ice age or change in the climatic pattern of the globe. While the research on the future of the globe is still in its infancy to predict tomorrow’s lunch; for sure and certain the uncontrolled pollutants and gases released into the atmosphere are catalyzing the process of our aging and that of the living beings on the earth.

For a short term solution, research on crops that tolerate submergence, cold, drought and salinity is necessary, while controlling the release of the “should not be released” gases. The increase in the atmospheric temperature and CO2 will be beneficial to increase the rate of photosynthesis and food production by plants. Such foods may contain more carbon and less nitrogen which will increase the insect pest attack on the crops. More animals become carnivorous and people resort to cannibalism.

The green belt of vegetation will move towards the peaks of mountains and poles. The new land thus acclaimed may partially compensate the lands lost to the water but nothing can compensate the lives and resources thus lost. Many countries have worked well and many more are working towards securing a clean green future to the coming generation. Other countries need our support and the support of those successful countries. All people should be aware of the cause and consequences and feel it as individual’s responsibilities to the cause.

We can do many things, but we don’t need to do all by ourselves. We can do that by doing a few things.
1. Educate, Educate, Educate.
2. Practice what we preach.
Let’s live in harmony with the living and non living entities of the earth today and leave behind precedence.

India to drive its train into Bhutan

India vies with China, plans 6 Nepal rly links Srinand Jha, Hindustan Times

To counter China’s great push to build railway links in South Asia, the Indian Railways has come up with a plan to build links with Nepal and Bhutan.

A senior Railways Ministry official said on condition of anonymity that Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) had been commissioned to conduct feasibility studies on six railway links with Nepal and three with Bhutan.

China, at Nepal Prime Minister Madhav Nepal’s invitation, has already drawn up plans to extend its 1,956-km-long railway line, connecting Qinghai province and Tibet across the Tibetan plateau, to Kathmandu.

China also pitched in with proposals to build an internal railway network in Nepal, news reports from Kathmandu said. What’s more, reports from Beijing indicated that China would construct a link to Pakistan through the Karakoram Highway, besides linking with Bangladesh via Myanmar.

Over the past few months, India stepped up diplomatic initiatives to neutralise China’s advantage in the region. India’s Ambassador to Nepal Shiv Shankar Mukherjee told reporters in Kathmandu last July: “To forge better connectivity between Kathmandu and Delhi, India is considering bringing railway lines into Nepal.”

The Indo-Nepal routes being surveyed include six lines — from Raxaul, Jogbani and Jayanagar in Bihar to Birgunj, Biratnagar and Bardibas; Nautanwa and Nepalgunj Road in Uttar Pradesh to Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj, and New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal to Kakarbhitta.

There exists only one rail link between India and Nepal, between Jayanagar and Janakpur.

“Some of these alignment surveys have been completed, while others are at an advanced stage,” said RITES MD V K Agarwal.

For Bhutan, the railways conducted internal surveys of three links – from Pathshala and Kokrajhar in Assam to Nanglam and Gelephu and Hashimara in West Bengal to Phunt Sholing. The cost of these projects is estimated at Rs 1,000 crore

Hottest head of the State: Monarch JKNW is second runner up

भुटानमा उस्तै

आईपी अधिकारी
- शासक उही हुन् अनि शासित पनि, परिवर्तन आयो त केवल सरकार बनाउने तरिकामा । हालै जर्मनीबाट भुटान भ्रमणमा आएका संविधानविदसँग प्रधानमन्त्री जिग्मे थिन्लेले स्वीकार गरेझैं वास्तवमा भुटानको परिवर्तन देख्नका लागिमात्र छ । शासकमा मानसिक रूपमा परिवर्तन नआएसम्म सर्वसाधारणले परिवर्तनको महसुस गर्ने लालसा दिवास्वप्ना हुनसक्छ । काम गर्ने शैली हिजो जस्तो थियो, आज पनि उस्तै छ । सन् १९९१ देखि सुरु भएको दमनकारी कर्मचारी र सैनिक/प्रहरी अधिकृतलाई प्रोत्साहन दिने क्रम आज पनि रोकिएको छैन । पछिल्लो उदाहरण बनेका छन्- प्रहरी प्रमुख किप्चु नाम्ग्येल ।

प्रजातन्त्र आए पनि कार्यकारी अधिकार राजाले नै प्रयोग गरिरहेका छन् । खासगरी दमन र मानवअधिकार हननका लागि हिजो ज-जसले काम गरेका थिए, आज राजाले तिनैलाई निणर्ायक तहमा पुर्‍याएका छन् । जुलुस निकालेर वा पत्रिकामा लेखेरै विरोध गर्ने क्षमता त्यहाँका वासिन्दाले अहिलेसम्म गर्नसकेका छैनन् । यद्यपि यस्तो परिपाटीले विस्तारै निर्वाचित सरकार र राजपरिवारप्रतिको आस्थामा कमी आउने निश्चित छ ।

राजा जिग्मे खेसरले प्रहरी प्रमुख किप्चु नाम्ग्येलको पदोन्नति गरेर बि्रगेडियर बनाएका छन् । यो ओहदा पाउने किप्चु नाम्ग्येल पहिलो प्रहरी अधिकृत हुन् । यस अघिका सबै प्रहरी प्रमुखले कर्णेल पदमात्र पाएका थिए । किप्चु नाम्ग्येलको पदोन्नति सरकारको निर्णय नभई राजाको निगाह हो । देशका सबै सुरक्षा अंगका प्रमुख रहेका राजाले आफूखुसी प्रहरी, सैनिक र राजकीय सुरक्षा गार्डको बढुवा गर्छन् ।

किप्चु नाम्ग्येलको पदोन्नति प्रक्रिया कानुनका हिसाबले जति विवादित देखिन्छ, उनी व्यक्तिगत हिसाबमा त्यति नै विवादित छन् । पश्चिम-उत्तर भुटान पारोमा जन्मिएका किप्चु नाम्ग्येल राजपरिवारका अति नजिकका र घनिष्ट सहयोगी मानिन्छन् । खासगरी यिनले पूर्वराजा जिग्मे सिंगेका काका नाम्ग्येल वाङछुकमार्फत दरबारबाट पाउने सम्पूर्ण सुविधा र फाइदा लिएका छन् । सन् १९८० को सुरुतिर प्रहरी सेवामा प्रवेश गरेका किप्चु नाम्ग्येलको आधारभूत तालिम दक्षिण भुटानको सर्भाङ -हाल नाम परिवर्तन गरी सर्पाङ बनाइएको) जिल्लामा सम्पन्न भएको थियो । तालिमको सिलसिलामा र तालिमपछि केही समय दक्षिणी जिल्लामा बसेर यिनले त्यहाँका मानिसमात्र चिनेनन्, भूगोलको पनि सूक्ष्म अध्ययन गरे । कालान्तरमा यो अध्ययन उनका लागि राजपरिवारको इच्छाअनुसार काम गर्न फलदायी भयो । दक्षिण भुटानको जानकार भएकै कारण तत्कालीन सरकारले सन् १९९० को दमनमा किप्चु नाम्ग्येलको भरमग्दुर प्रयोग गर्‍यो । किप्चु नाम्ग्येलले पनि आफ्नो स्वार्थका लागि आफूसँग भएको खुबी राम्रैसँग प्रयोग गर्ने मौका पाए ।

सन् १९९० ताका नेपाली मूलका मुख्य व्यक्तिहरू पक्रने अनि तिनलाई दिइने सजाय पनि आफैं तोक्ने मौका पाएका किप्चु नाम्ग्येलको दरबारसितको सम्बन्ध यसै समयदेखि बढेको हो । राजाका तत्कालीन सल्लाहकार टेकनाथ रिजालले आफूमाथि भ्रष्टाचार गरेको अभियोगसहितको प्रतिवेदन राजालाई बुझाएपछि रुष्ट नाम्ग्येल वाङछुकले किप्चु नाम्ग्येलमा त्यसको बदला लिने राम्रो मित्र भेट्टाए । दमनको सिलसिला सुरु भएको केही महिनामै उनी मेजर पदमा बढुवा भए ।

सन् १९९० देखि १९९२ सम्म यिनले गरेको हत्कण्डाको कथा जान्नेहरू यिनलाई मानव मान्दैनन्, केवल मानव स्वरूपमात्र मान्छन् । यसबीच उनी पटक-पटक थिम्पु र दक्षिण भुटानबीच ओहोर-दोहोर गरिरहे । दक्षिण भुटानबाट मानिस पक्राउ गर्ने र थिम्पुका जेलमा लगेर चरम यातना दिने काममा यिनको नेतृत्वदायी भूमिका छ । नयाँ-नयाँ यातना र दमनका शैली अपनाउन सक्ने खुबी भएको थाहा पाएपछि राजाले उनलाई गुप्तचर विभाग प्रमुखको जिम्मेवारी दिए । उनको बढुवासँगै जेलका बन्दीमाथि हुने यातना र अमानवीय व्यवहारमा दिन दुई गुणा, रात चौगुणाले वृद्धि भयो । भुटानको जेलमा १० वर्षको कठोर जीवन बिताएका नेता टेकनाथ रिजालले पनि उनको पछिल्लो पुस्तक 'टर्चर ः किलिङ मि सफ्टली'मा किप्चु नाम्ग्येलका कुकृत्यका बारे थोरै चर्चा गरेका छन् । किप्चुको मुख्य कार्य क्षेत्र थिम्पु र रबुना जेलका बन्दीलाई यातना दिनु र जबर्जस्ती थोपारिएको आरोप स्वीकार गर्न लगाउनु थियो ।

किप्चु नाम्ग्येलले यहाँका अधिकांश बन्दीहरूलाई उच्च प्रहरी र सैनिक अधिकृतका घरमा काम गर्न पठाउँथे । यसबापत उनले खुबै स्यावासीमात्र होइन, यातनाका कुनै पनि तरिका अपनाउने अधिकार पाए ।

बन्दीलाई आरोप स्वीकार गर्न लगाउन उनी खप्पिस थिए । उदाहरणका लागि लामीडाँडाका ठकबहादुर राईले अदालतमा सरकारी आरोप अस्वीकार गरेपछि किप्चु नाम्ग्येलले राईका बाबुलाई पक्रेर अदालत पुर्‍याए, जहाँ बाबुले छोरो सानैदेखि खुब बदमास थियो भनी गवाही दिएका थिए । अदालतमा जति पनि बन्दीका मुद्दा दर्ता हुन्थे, ती सबै किप्चु नाम्ग्येलमार्फत हुन्थे भने अदालतमा बहसका क्रममा प्रहरीका तर्फबाट प्रमाण पेस गर्ने अधिकारी उनै हुन्थे । कतिपय बन्दीका मुद्दाहरूमा यिनले राजाको आदेश भनेर अदालतलाई निर्णय गर्न नदिई आफूखुसी गरेका छन् ।

यस्ता विवादित व्यक्तिको पदोन्नति प्रक्रिया त्रुटिपूर्ण छ । संसदको पछिल्लो अधिवेशनले पारित गरेको प्रहरी ऐनअनुसार प्रहरी गृह मन्त्रालय अन्तर्गत रहनेछ । यसको परिचालन र रेखदेख सरकारले गर्छ । उता संविधानले भने प्रहरीको सर्वोच्च कमाण्डर राजालाई तोकेको छ । यसले प्रहरी सरकार अन्तर्गत हो वा राजपरिवार अन्तर्गत भन्ने अन्योल बढाएको छ । सरकारको दैनिक कामकाजमा सघाउने प्रहरीमा राजाबाट किप्चु नाम्ग्येलजस्ता आफूप्रति वफादारलाई मात्र प्रोत्साहन दिएपछि प्रहरी नेतृत्व सरकार र जनताप्रति भन्दा पनि राजाप्रति बढी नजिक रहने भयो । यसले सरकारलाई शान्तिसुरक्षा स्थापनामा असहयोग त हुने नै भयो, त्यसभन्दा पनि बढ्ता निर्वाचित र कार्यकारी भनिएको सरकार कति अधिकारसम्पन्न छ भनेर पनि प्रस्ट पार्‍यो ।

भुटानमा मानवअधिकार रक्षाका कुनै अंग छैनन् भने यसबारे बोल्ने कुनै संस्थाहरू पनि छैनन् । जसको फलस्वरूप मानवअधिकार उल्लंघनमा संलग्न किप्चु जस्ताको पदोन्नति हुँदासम्म सब चुपचाप छन् । अन्य देशमा मानवअधिकारको खुब वकालत गर्ने संयुक्त राष्ट्रसंघ पनि मूकदर्शक बनेर बसेको छ । प्रजातन्त्रपछि भुटान मानवअधिकारका सवालमा एक कदम पनि अघि बढेन, बरु मानवअधिकार हननमा मुछिएकालाई बढुवा गरेर दण्डहीनतालाई थप प्रश्रय दिइरहेकोे छ । समयमै निर्वाचित सरकारले ध्यान दिएन भने कालान्तरमा भुटानको छविलाई यस्ता घटनाले धुमिल्याउनेछन् ।


Monday, October 12, 2009

Bhutanese thangka hangs in Texas

Written by Sonam Pelvar

A hand-sewn Bhutanese thangka (Buddhist banner or tapestry) has been added to the collection of Bhutanese artifacts at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Sonam Wangmo, a Bhutanese student currently a first semester student in the university brought the thangka from Bhutan. It was sent to UTEP as a gift because of the relationship the university had built with Bhutan. The ‘Thuenpa-Puen-Zhi (four harmonious friends)’ thangka depicts a popular folk tale of a partridge, a rabbit, a monkey and elephant, who worked together toward the common goal of obtaining fruits from a tree.
The thangka measures 23 feet in length, 16 feet wide at the bottom and 15 feet wide at the top, and it hangs on the wall above the Bhutanese altar at the University Library's lobby.
The El Paso university of Texas is world famous for its Bhutanese architecture.


About 9,000 seekers for 287 jobs

“By the end of January 2010, about 20,217 youth will be seeking jobs”
7th National Job Fair 12 October, 2009 - Of the 91 graduates, who applied for the posts of assistant manager in the food corporation of Bhutan (FCB), two were selected on the spot in the seventh national job fair held yesterday in Thimphu. There were about 9,000 youth looking for jobs.

There were about 9,000 youth looking for jobs.

On offer were 287 job opportunities, in which 21 private companies, six government agencies and 14 corporations participated.

“For the first time, government agencies like the royal university of Bhutan (RUB), royal civil service commission and department of human resources participated in the fair,” said the chief program officer of department of employment (DoE), Tandin Dorji. The agencies are mostly there to provide information and counsel job seekers.

For the employers, the one-day job fair was a great chance. “This is an opportunity for us to select the best,” said FCB’s administrative officer, Pema Wangchuk.

Labour minister, Lyonpo Dorji Wangdi, who inaugurated the fair, said Bhutan’s unemployment rate of 4 percent was a major concern for the government. “By the end of January 2010, about 20,217 youth will be seeking jobs,” he said.

There are 12,900 unemployed youth today and about 70 percent of them are between 15 to 24 years, of which twice as many are female.

“The government is committed in creating sufficient job opportunities for all,” the labour minister said, adding, “We don’t believe in providing jobs for the sake of employment but to provide productive and gainful employment.”

The government plans to create at least 75,000 jobs in the next several years. They will be created in tourism, information and technology, hydropower, construction, financial services, horticulture and manufacturing.

Lyonpo Dorji Wangdi also encouraged job seekers to take temporary employment to gain experiences and make a better-informed choice for long-term employment.

By Tashi Dema

Two RBA soldiers injured in Sarpang blast

Kuensel Reports:
Breaking News: 12 October, 2009 - Two Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) soldiers were injured after an improvised explosive device planted in a bunker in Gaden village, Umling, Sarpang, exploded around 6:40 am today.

The bunker is manned only during the day from the RBA outpost at Umling said a RBA spokesperson. He said the explosive device could have been planted at night.
Villagers saw some men running towards the border after the explosion. The militants took away two rifles carried by the soldiers according to the RBA spokesperson.

“The attack is suspected to be carried out by Maoist militants from the camps in Nepal,” said the spokesperson.

The two injured RBA soldiers are receiving treatment at the Gelephu hospital.


RBA bunker attacked, 12 October 2009

On October 12 2009 at 6:40 am two RBA soldiers were injuried when and improvised explosive device planted in a bunker ezploded at Gaden village under Umling gewog in Sarpang Dzongkhag. the militants also took tow rifles carried by the RBA soldiers.The bukker is manned only during the day from the RBA outpost at Umling. tyhe militants had planted the explosive device at Night. the villagers saw some men running towards the border after explosion. the tow injuried RBA soldiers are being tr4eatd in Gelephu Hospital.A Spokesman of the Royal Bhutan Army said that the attack on the RBA soldiers is suspected to be carried out by the Maiost militants from, the camps in Nepal

Two RBA soldiers injured in an explosion in Sarpang

October 12: (BREAKING NEWS) Early this morning, two Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) soldiers were injured in an explosion at Gaden village under Umling Geog in Sarpang.

According to a news release from the RBA, the improvised explosive device which was planted in a bunker went off at around 6.40 am.

The bunker is manned only during the day by personnel from the RBA outpost at Umling. The militants had planted the explosive device at night.

The militants who planted the device have taken away two rifles.

Villagers had seen some men running away towards the border after the explosion. The two injured RBA soldiers are being treated in the Gelephu hospital.

A spokesman from the Royal Bhutan Army said the attack is suspected to be carried out by Maoist militants from the camps in Nepal.

The new economics of the environment

Besides funds for past conservation efforts, end-users may pay for ecological resources
12 October, 2009 - In the not too distant future, Bhutan could get rewards in the form of funds from international environment organisations for protecting its forests and water.

Inside Bhutan, that idea is being stoked around and officials are already warming up to the practicality of collecting funds from end users of environment resources like hydropower projects. The ultimate plan is to plough back the funds into the source of these resources, like watershed and bio-diversity, so that they become sustainable in the long run.

As regards international funds: in the past, it was only through clean development mechanism, which was essentially employment of clean technology to restrict emission, under which a country could earn carbon points and thus the funding for its conservation efforts.

Carbon points were not given for preservation of environment or forests under the Kyoto protocol, said a food and agricultural organisation (FAO) official, who is in Bhutan to study ‘payment for environment services’ (PES) with the ministry of agriculture’s watershed division.

But that could very well change in the coming months.

“Bhutan’s strongest potential in getting carbon points is its existing forests because, in the upcoming climate change talks in Copenhagen, there will definitely be an international agreement to reward countries for protecting existing forests,” said FAO consultant and environmental scientist, Bernardete Vitorino Das Neves. This, she added, will be possible under REDD or reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation framework supported by UNDP and UNEP.

The Copenhagen climate change meeting from December 6-18 will decide on the next set of targets for countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Kyoto protocol, which set the first emission reduction targets, will end shortly.

“The storage of carbon by the forests is a service in itself since, by not cutting down the trees, the country or the local farmers are losing out on timber and food crops,” said Bernardete Vitorino Das Neves.

Under the PES system, Bhutan could get funds from carbon trading for watershed management, conserving Bhutan’s forest and biodiversity and improving food security. PES views environment as provider of services like clean water, air, food, fuel, recreation, natural disaster protection, and hydropower. It is also of the opinion that there has to be some kind of voluntary payment made for environmental protection so that these services remain sustainable.

For instance, under PES, Tala and Chukha hydro projects can pay to protect their watershed areas so that there is less sedimentation, or people of Thimphu can pay to conserve their drinking water sources so that taps don’t run dry. However, the plan is that the entire PES plan be voluntary.

“Environmental services like fresh water are not free and also depend on watershed conservation of water sources by farmers living upstream and so, if the end users like hydroprojects and people can pay, then the farmers will get benefits and have an incentive to protect the source,” said chief forest officer, Karma Tshering. He added that donors funded most of Bhutan’s environmental programs, which was not sustainable in the long run.

Eco-tourism is another area whereby tourists can pay more for new trekking routes and improved services and infrastructure, and the money would go to preserving the environment under PES.

“An important component of eco tourism will be where local communities will be able to benefit for the eco services in ensuring better protection of the environment and also equitable distribution of the benefits of eco-tourism,” said FAO’s Bernardete Vitorino Das Neves.

Another area is biodiversity conservation, she said: “An example here is human-wildlife conflict whereby payments could be sued to compensate farmers or help them to come up with defenses so that wildlife remain protected and farmers can have a good income.”

By Tenzing Lamsang
Source: (Kuensel)