Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The world in the eyes of Phuntsho, a dog from Shingkhar.

This is me, Phuntsho. 
This is how my relative looks in the dog pound.

When it comes to explicit expression of my thoughts, I look little disoriented because I am a dog from rural Bhutan. I am also little uncomfortable introducing myself in this public forum, because I have a very bad phobia of facing the crowd or being read by public. With this, there are imminent possibilities that I might miss some lines in between. So I humbly beg your pardon for all the wrongs I might say in due course of time.

Well, to begin with, my name is Phuntsho and I am form Bumthang, Ura, Shingkhar. Stressing my male status, people often call me Phuntsho La. I don’t know which scientific and biological breed I belong to, but the very fact that I dwell in the mountains of Shingkhar; along with the yaks, people have the tendency of referring to me as bjob-khee; roughly meaning, a dog form a highland.

 Having lived in the luxury and comfort of this beautiful land for so many years, I feel the dogs and people in Shingkhar share a very symbiotic relationship. This relationship among the dogs and humans are the most unique in our animal kingdom. Therefore it deserves a second closer look. The historical references today show that humans and dogs shared a bond based on trust and mutual benefit.  Humans feed the dogs and dogs in return protected people from intruders,-both animals and humans.  The dogs not also acts like an alarm to alert people from the approaching dangers but was also once revered to for possessing a prophetic instinct of foreseeing future events.

As a dog, the traits like ferocity and aggressiveness are something people most often sought after. As a result, our dogliness are sometime gauged on the basis of fear and terror our presence created. There was once a saying that ‘even after its death, the presence of a good dog will be felt for three long years,  where as a presence of a good human, after his death will only be felt for only three short nights’. Such was the importance and privilege dogs enjoyed in human society.

Today things have changed both in dog world and human world. Except for few tiny upsoos and ludicrous looking dogs, the regard and respect we as a species have for each other seem to have fallen to the lowest unimaginable grade in the history of this civilization. Some say this is to be credited for a force called development and progress, while there are also others who say, it is because of the ever compounding human greed human anxiety.

Unlike my relatives who dwell in the streets of urban towns, I am a very happily fed dog, because I have a very loving and caring owner. Having lived in the pristine mountains in the company of rich milking yaks, I did not have to face the harsh realities of this dog world like them. For I was least affected, the news of famine, malnourished, mange and poverty that claimed the lives of my relatives on daily basis did little to bother me.

Of late, my loving owner has fallen sick. I believe his disease is more of a natural one that comes along with old age. His weak body withered by the hardship and privation of his life and age looks shrunken and wilted. Therefore, even though his recovery is a promising possibility, his return to the mountains with us remains a very grim prospect.   

Today I am a very busy dog. I have virtually become a migratory dog on daily basis. I spend my days travelling between the mountains and my owner’s residence.  I do this because I have my tradition to preserve as the proud Bjob-Khee in the mountain with yaks. And in similar manner I frequent my owner’s residence to meet my ailing owner, who treated me at par with his own kids. It’s through this movement I get myself more exposed to both human world and dog world.

Development has not only brought progress to the human world but has also created a wide gap between us. With ever widening gap, it’s a sad reality that we, the dogs are considered worthless animals known only for howling and other nuisances. Human world tend to forget that howling is our birth right and that it was once our way of reciprocating the love and care of our ancestral owners bestowed us.

 Human world at the dizzy height of its advancement and development, they look all the more confusing. Once a fun loving human have today become slave to their desires and dreams. Their lives have become so scheduled that they have no time even for their loved ones. When they have no time for their aged parents and toddling young ones, how can they find time for dogs like us?

I was told that my relatives somewhere in the west have failed to use family planning and therefore resulted in a population explosion.  Humans thought this was unacceptable and hence resorted to down seizing the population. Apart from the sterilization process, few heartless humans have also resorted to inhuman slaughtering of my fellow being by way of mass poisoning. They have also dumped many of my fellow beings alive in freezing water with all the limbs and legs tied with ropes.

Apart from being accused for our careless reproduction ways, we are also blamed for bringing in fleas and scabies in summer. It is believed in the human world that seasonal ailments like scabies have today become a life threatening. By virtue of being a dog, I know we are species susceptible to skin diseases like mange. And I will not be surprised if the mange in dog world is caused by climate change, for which Homo sapiens –humans- themselves are to be blamed.

Today, we are even hated more for being responsible in the spread of deadly disease called rabies. Researches in the human world have found out that we are very dangerous animals. They think and believe they have all the data to prove their claims. But these days, I am very skeptical about the human way of doing research, because some humans think a mere flipping of pages, occasional Googeling and reading is a research for them. I am very afraid because humans will soon consider reading news papers on weekends as research!

I thought every dog born in Bhutan are the luckiest and most fortunate dog on this planet. I also thought that it is due to the positive karmic merits that we were all born in the country that stresses more on happiness than on material wealth.  But recently with the ever growing and expanding of tourism industry in the country, our luck and fortune seem to have run out fast. Those tourists have extensively complained about our tradition of howling and barking in the nights. To the amazement of dog world, few locals have even started believing in the foreign idea of quite night. Isn’t this idea very strange? To be very honest, humans have themselves become more nocturnal than us!

What those nagging tourist and few locals do not understand is that, in Bhutan we have very less noise pollution compared to their metro and sonorous homes. The noise in the air by our lone national carrier, the Drukair and the noise from our small and compact traffic are so minimal that people often mistake the most urban city like Thimphu to a small monastery and a village. In this light, their protest is nothing but a human exaggeration of the societal norm.

Sadly, in response to all the rumbling complaints, humans have today chosen to build a prison for us in the name of dog pound. Humans call it a home for needy dogs and some even say its good place for dogs to be. But for a dog world, it’s the most dreaded place on earth. It’s a jail where dogs are imprisoned for life. It’s the price every dog will pay for disturbing the otherwise snoring humans, because barking and howling have now become a criminal offence and as per human definition, it’s treated at par with a felony of first degree.

To add fuel on already burning fire, not realizing their own problem under their own nose, there are also some humans who think dogs have become uncontrollable. They have even gone to an extent of teaching authorities, the ways to affectively deal with dog problems. It’s very alarming to know that they want our species wiped off completely. They are planning genocide against the dog world. God save the dogs!

Amidst all this chilling news, I can see a glimmer of hope in a distant horizon. I heard that few humans have now formed an association to protect destitute animals like us. I also heard that the association is being chaired and supported by none other than a god like lama and other humans too. I hope and pray that this association prevails for eternity like our species.

For now, I have to heed back to mountains of Shingkhar, because I have a business there. I will be there so long as the metabolism in my body fights the freezing temperatures caused by cold and dry winds. When I am old, I hope to resign like my predecessors, late Woogpala, late Domchung and late Lingkala. I wish to live a very peaceful retired life with my owner circumbulating Shingkhar lhakhang. I will wish and pray the entire humans and dogs, a very harmonious coexistence for the countless centuries to come.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Once upon a time when I was jobless and broke.

Picture Courtesy: Google
After graduation, a decent job that earns a decent pay check is something that every college going students dream of. But most often than not and as the theory goes, many have to bear the burns and blaze of realities like cut-throat competition for jobs. The cruel competition for ever shrinking job opportunities invariably keeps, -so called the fresh graduates in period of jobless limbo. Being jobless hurts and hurts even more when limbo prolongs. Since the sole purpose of education is perceived as finding a job at the end, an affair of being jobless is often considered as the most nervous, helpless and anxious moment in one’s life.

Having said those lines, I have had my own share of jobless limbo too. But contrary to what has been described, my jobless limbo has rather been adventurous and fun. Seemingly done with my busy student life, I felt that was the most memorable time I spent as a young man.

Precisely, my limbo went on at stretch for 12 months, during which I had the pleasure of witnessing some of the most fascinating events in my life.

To begin with, here is how it goes. Being born in rural village, I had to travel to capital city more in the interest of keeping myself abreast with the information of employment and job which are mostly confined to only capital city. The cost of living in city was surely a bad blow for the economy of my farming parents but we felt the cost was worth bearing.

Once in City, my presence not only added another number to the lengthy list of young job seekers but also added another burden to my relatives who lived there. Since I had few cousins, it was rather a cousinly burden I created for them to bear. I was an anomaly TV watcher then. With my little nephews and niece, I remember settling mostly with Tom and Jerry programs and other programs on cartoon network. In other words their choice prevailed most of the time. With this they were nothing but an annoying piece of little creatures. But surprisingly we had one common program to watch; we all enjoyed the Wrestling program on Tensports! I would often treat them with ice creams and chocolates when I felt happy and satisfied.

Then in day time, it used to be a business as usual. It was the time for birds of same feather to flock together. I joined my friends in rambling which mostly took place in the main city. We wandered among the shops and restaurants. Initially with enough pocket money, I recollect how we fondly lunched in restaurants that sold sikkam paa (Pork) and shakam paa (dry beef) with red rice. When those provisions ran out, there were times I either stopped appearing in the city completely or made an in invited guest in one of my friend’s cousin’s, uncle’s aunt’s and sibling’s house.

Those were indeed the most defining period in my life. I learnt a great deal about the expected norms of being guest, (invited or uninvited) starting form general behavior to ways one eats, drinks and talks to the host. As much as it was my privilege to have come across good hosts that acknowledged my presence with tea followed by meals, it has also been my sad fortune to have been disregarded as guest on different occasions too. There is a famous saying: “treat your overnight guest at par with god”.  With this, I thought to myself that some people got it right and some, not so right.

As a guest, I truly did not like sticking to one place all the time.  To give my host some breathing space and most deserving privacy, I often went out for a night or two along with my friends. Young, and easy, I enjoyed those nights like no other. I normally slept in the living room (known more as sting room in Bhutan) on sofas, but there were instances where, sometimes my host honored me as “future Officer” and offered me a bed in the altar room.

Amidst all this events, there was also one thing which got my attention and still lingers afresh in my mind. There was this notion that: “if you are a man then act like one”. Even though my provisions were barely enough to sustain my daily wandering, I firmly remember visiting not only bars but also the gambling hubs.

By nature, I was not a boozer but in the company of friends who booze, it was as simple as saying “when in Rome, be a Roman”. This act of being Roman often resulted in a nasty situation; I got hit or hit the person in the process. The otherwise good looking bartender (mostly Ladies) who welcomed us with smiling face would have lots to complain afterwards.

Coming back to gambling hub, it was all a coincidence. The bar I frequented not only catered booze to drinkers but also provided a safe haven to gamblers deep inside. As the gamblers took their gambling positions, I remember seeing their glittering faces . They were mostly ladies who had lips clad in glossy lip sticks and nails, polished and well nurtured. Their carefully threaded eye brows decorated with black mendi, looked all the more appealing and attractive. The otherwise drowsy bar soon became alive with the scent of their imported perfumes.

Later, on my closer association with the bartender, I came to know that they were mostly from business background. “Some are actually the wives of our ‘Dashos’” .He whispered to me. As the gambling progressed inside, I could sense some smoking profusely. The bartender frequented the room to attend their needs like booze and beers along with salad and meat. There were rumors that some even lost their expensive cars in course of gambling!

If being man was something than acting like one has even been more interesting. As an unemployed young man, my future was still very far from considering it as secured one. With unsecured future, the question of having a girlfriend was not only self restricting affair but was also an unaffordable business too. So to exercise my manly franchise, all I did was frequented my lady friends either for a cup of coffee or for a prolonged discourse on various topics.

As a popular saying goes: what goes around must come around. I often went back to my village in between to brief my parents about the progress of my job search. I remember briefing them with all the positivity in my endeavor. But my unconvinced nephew in the village had other preconceived notions. He thought that I was more of a liability to my parents and that I actually did not have a place to stay on this earth.

Friday, June 17, 2011

My trip to Sector 29, Faridabad, India

Last November, I was nominated to undergo drug law enforcement training in Delhi. It was computer based training. The duration of the training was four days and we were four from Bhutan.

 To me, India is a place where ranks mattered everything. I have even heard stories of official differentiation based in ranks and positions. To this end, I was repeatedly advised by my colleague to inflate my rank (Asst. Customs Officer) when I go there. Even though my promotion date was still more than a month away, I took his words and got my business card printed with my next higher rank (Asst. Collector of Customs)
As a normal human being and more so as a Bhutanese official, I had a very high expectation form my overseas training. Eighty percent deduction of DSA was certainly such a sad and bad news because higher DSA, cozy free rooms, comfortable economy class travel and good foods to eat were some of the things that every officials immediately start to fantasize.
We were also initially issued our travel itinerary to Delhi via Katmandu.
At home, I was busy packing my bag when my tiny purple nokia phone rang. It was from my supposedly team leader. He sounded so uncomfortable. But he had a clear message -the initial itinerary has been cancelled and that the organizers are looking for other options. He again rang me up hours later and said that I have to take a Taxi from Paro till Bhagdora. He was to me, a father of bad news. Overseas travel in Taxi was the last thing I had envisaged.  The fear of catching cough and cold from the bumpy, dusty and perilous high way was a very much foreseeable state of affairs. Being severe sinusitis patient, the fear of having to suffer a severe nasal congestion was even worse and terrifying than the word fear itself. With multitude of thoughts gushing my psyche, I finished packing my small bag.
In the evening, I went to alter alone and lit up a butter lamp; I made a sincere and ardent prayer to the almighty god. My prayers were honest and direct. I am in no mood to take a bumpy ride in a stinking taxi at an exorbitant fare and I am not willing to empty my savings account for the trip apparently sponsored by international organization. –United Nation’s Office for Drugs and Crime.
The next day, I reached Phuntsholing, the commercial hub of Bhutan. My homely colleague there welcomed me with a grand dinner.  Weakened by the bumpy ride in the back seat of the scorpion car, I fell fast asleep in a cozy bed near his newly procured alter. I slept so well that even the fierce lone female mosquito’s attack did too little to disturb my sleep.
If my previous day’s journey had weakened me, my journey next day crippled me. The food became tasteless and my nose became use less. The difficulty of having to breathe meant that I had to use lot of nasal drops which had an adverse affect on my health.
By mid day we were in Bhagdora, eager and ready to begin our travel portion by air. We all looked very pale and exhausted. The trip reminded me of the poem by Nissim Ezekiel ‘The Enterprise’ where he says “trip had darkened every face”. Surely the long distance travel has taken its toll on all of us.
We had our lunch with half cooked chicken curry in a small crowded restaurant.  We were served with water directly fetched from the tap by an under aged waiter.
Lunch served! It was time for us to head to airport to catch our flight.  In the gate, our air tickets were checked by a man who claimed to be the security official. Moments later we were inside the crowded terminal building where passengers scurried everywhere. We got our bags weighed and we checked in.
Suddenly someone announced delay of three hours for our flight. It wasn’t a pleasant thing to hear. There were passengers grumbling and sleeping. The people from the air line frequently came to update the information.

After three long hours, we finally boarded the flight only to hear that our flight being delayed again by another sixty long minutes.
Having waited for almost four long and grueling hours, the plane finally took off. The Flight was scheduled to Delhi via Gauhati. It turned out to be the longest journey for me. The half cooked chicken very well did its job of upsetting my stomach.
Never the less, at around midnight our group landed in Delhi safe and sound. A man named Om Prakash was there to receive us with his toyota indica car. He drove us through the dusty roads and bustling streets of Delhi. After taking many twists and turns, we finally reached to a place where our training was scheduled to take place -The Sector 29 in Faridabad city. The signboard at the gate read “National Academy of Customs, Excise and Narcotics”. I saw few people waiting for us and when our car stopped, two young men came and helped us in unloading the bags from the car.
To my surprise and disbelief, an elderly man led two of us to a different room, some hundred meters away from our friends –The Manda kini apartments. The building looked very old in the midnight street light and there were visible signs of water leakage all around the lobby.
He gave us the key and disappeared instantly. As I opened the door, I found the room no better than the hostel where I stayed during my college days. There was a fourteen inch TV with no cable connection, empty but noisy old refrigerator, broken side table with no doors, wardrobe fitted in the wall with old news papers in it, small water boiler and a small quarter plate with few fresh banana and imported apples. Of all, the toilet appeared most pathetic. The lid of the pot was broken beyond repair, the dust on the window panes have become like a solid rock. With this brief inspection, I went to bed thinking that my rank inflation magic has served no purpose.
Soon I was awakened by my friend next door. He had all sort of ideas to protest. I soon followed his suit because we had all gone there in capacity of officials representing different departments and not as assistants and junior officers. This differentiation was too much to believe so we decided to immediately shift our belongings to other colleague’s room.

Next morning, two of us protested but it fell on the deaf ears. We were neither given new room nor being given the refund. It was Sherpa Dhaju’s delicious food in the mess that kept us going for the entire training session.
Back in the room, we made the best use of all the facilities available in our colleague’s room. We ate all the fresh fruits and biscuits in the quarter plate, emptied the tea stuffs, and used toothpaste and soaps to its exhaustion point. I realized that it was one good experience.
Every evening we went out either to shop or to dine. We sometimes got lost in the middle of seemingly law less city. I remember an incident where an auto operator mistakenly dropped us in sector 19 when we were supposed to go to sector 29.
I think this is how a normal Bhutanese official tells his overseas travel story.
Well, I will  tell my story about the knowledge I gained from the training at later stage, if I remember it rightly.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I was declared the Talker.

Courtesy: RCSC, Bhutan
Finally my interview results are out. I am selected for the course I have applied for. Believe it or not, I topped in viva voce !

Soon I will be leaving for my studies in the most sacred land where Buddha attained enlightenment  (India) I feel very fortunate because I made it through without any competition. I came out clean and first.

But I am still doubtful as to why I was marked Zero in the  orange column. As far as I am concern, I am a "select graduate of RCSC"  in Financial cadre as per BCSR 2006 version.  During our time (in 2004) the concept of BCSE did not exist and marking us on the basis of something that did not exist is strange. Nevertheless, I am so happy and grateful Government of India for assisting our Government in human resource development.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Interview and more interviews; that’s how life is

picture courtesy: Google
I am not an ambitious man but I am certainly a big dreamer. I like dreaming big because as a young man, I often saw it coming true. Of the many dreams I dreamt, those that came true were the ones when I passed my tenth grade with distinction marks in the year 1999. The other was when I qualified for my B. Com (Honors) course in 2001 to the (then only) college in our country, known more as Sherubtse College.

But there were often times when dreaming alone wasn’t enough.  The greener pastures in life calls for more efforts and competitions and one such way of competition was through interviews. Interviews were expected to promote transparency, Justice and equality but often those interviews came with varying purposes and with varying motives.

 There were times when unofficial terms called ‘Bosses candidate’ and ‘pre selected candidates’ ruled the entire show of interview. And there were also times when interview were called for ‘formality sake’. Things like that were considered rumors but it disheartened many on real term.

Having said that, I have been through many such interviews in my life. I succeeded in some but failed in many. There were times when I attended the interview for the sake of getting more exposure and experience. There were also times where I attended the interview just to attend tea-snacks session and walk away with the bottle of mineral served on my table.

Just as life, there were good interview times and bad interview times. Goods ones brought me immense joy and bad ones; the unbearable pangs. Life is such that we can have just one. Today I will just take my friends and readers back to my interview days.

One such interview I attended was in December 2004. It was a selection interview for graduates who were planning to pursue a Post Graduate Certificate in Financial Management (PGCFM) in Royal Institute of Management (RIM). If successful, the candidates would be guaranteed a job in civil service, therefore the stakes were high and competition was fierce. After a weeklong written test, I finally attended the interview. The penal members were all senior bureaucrats known for their wisdom and knowledge. The sense of feeling nervousness was overwhelming but to my surprise, they asked nothing tough to answer. Few asked be about the globalization. Some told me to talk on advantages and disadvantages of Bhutan joining World Trade Organization (WTO). One panelist on seeing my culture certificate even asked me to sing!

The other interview (second latest) I attended was in 2009 and I was competing for RGoB a scholarship. If successful, I would be guaranteed a seat in one of the universities in Australia.  To be precise there were six of us who competed for 2 slots. The selection interview was held in a conference hall of RCSC and as required by rule, there were a team of 5 members to conduct the interview. I found it little funny and more crazy because the panelist appeared to have gotten the purpose wrong. Apart from my introduction, all they asked me was about the TV program I watched the night before. I was a TV freak then and I had no difficulty answering that sort of questions. I talked on and on about the soccer match in England and about the Indian dramatic serials like Kasturi, Kumkum, Kasouti, and Kahani gar gar kei. I also talked about the news I watched on CNN and BBC; of the Bin and Bush, and of the Osama and Obama. Somewhere they stopped me and said I can leave.

The last and the final interview I attended was yesterday (on 07/06/2011). I was a lone candidate, but I still had to compete with myself. It was for a scholarship from Government of India. The five panel member not only looked eager but appeared well prepared to get at me with their ‘shooting questions’ (I was ready with my flying answers nevertheless)

As I entered the room, they first demanded my introduction which I did like a running water. Second thing they asked me was about the languages (I am supposedly good at) and the advantages of knowing more language. My answer was simple. I speak Bumthap, Dzongkha, Tsangla, Kortoep, kheng, Neplai and Hindhi. The advantages it has are obvious; the number of languages one knows indicates how one can interact freely with that many people. More interaction means more knowledge sharing which is good.

Third thing they asked me was; whether I have achieved any extraordinary things in my six year service for Customs Department. Taking the ground realities into consideration (of not having a proper system of rewarding and recognizing the sincere service man) my answer was very straight forward. As such, I have no certified achievements to show but I feel I have many uncertified and recognized achievements, which are dearer to me than those certified ones.

Fourth thing they asked me was something rather strange but all the more interesting. They asked me, if I were a director of Revenue and Customs of Bhutan, then what would be my advice to someone who is joining the department for the first time. My answer was again a very straight forward one. As a director of Department of Revenue and Customs, I would advise my new recruits to use their common sense more than anything.

Since I applied for a masters course in Public Finance, Fifth thing they asked me was the definition of public finance. To know my answer, go to www.Google.com/public finance

Sixth thing they asked me was bout the current news, both national and international. The answer for this wasn’t that tough either. Crack down in Syria, mass protest in Yemen and Bahrain, flood in China, corruption in India and elections in Turkey were some my international news. Subsequently, Tobacco control rules and regulation 2011 was my national news for the jury for which they seemed little bemused.

Seventh thing they asked me was to give a little deliberation on the Tobacco control rules and regulation 2011. I am a not a legal expert, but I still acted like one and said, it’s as confusing as the Tobacco control act 2010 itself.

Eighth thing they asked me was about how masters in Public finance would help me shape my career ahead. (I am sorry; I sound little like a hypocrite) I said as I progress down the life, I may have to play a greater role than a mere customs officer. 

Ninth and the final thing they asked me to do was to translate a Dzongkha paragraph to English. I found it bit tough but nevertheless, I tried my best. The she panelist seem to have missed one thing because for translation there is always a concept called ‘Think Time’ which she did not even mention it to me.

As I came out, I saw my friends busy discussing about the pillars of Gross National Happiness. For once I thought the GNH terminology and Bhutanese have become inseparable like the water and milk. I wished them all good luck and went for a very fast lunch because our interview started late owing to a crises called 'Penal Crises'

Monday, June 6, 2011

A letter to Member of Parliament Representing Bumthang.

Picture Courtesy: Google


 By profession,  I am a Customs officer working in Paro International airport. And today I write this epistle to you NOT as a civil servant, but as a concern citizen form your constituency; - Bumthang, Ura, Shingkhar.

Of the many agencies involved in successful implementation of the recent Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan 2010, my department has always been in the forefront.  Successful implementation of the act to some extent depended on the initiatives and resoluteness of our team as well. Today we are in the 6th month of its implementation and strangely the act has come under a sharp criticism not only from our own citizens but also from the foreigners too.

However, I am not here to give justification on their behalf. Rather I am here to share my own opinion with you as suggested by our Excellency Prime Minister. With this I am also hopeful that interaction like this will have positive impact and will go a long way in the history of consultative law making in our peaceful country.

Personally speaking, I am a non smoker. Therefore I have a devilish allergy to the smokes especially of the tobacco. It is no doubt that so many people are falling victim to this evil addiction and that there was a genuine need for the state to curb it. It was indeed a very noble initiative for our Parliament to have come with such a timely act. I am a pro Tobacco control act and as a citizen, sincerely salute our Parliament for the concern.

I am a firm believer in Buddhism too.  But my endeavor to regard tobacco as against it has yielded no results yet. Considering the pains and sufferings it brought to those innocent addicts, I still consider it as an ill product that deserves to be kept at bay forever.  It’s a genuine fight and that we need to fight it collectively and responsibly.

 A thing of fight against tobacco has become a worldwide phenomenon and that we are not alone fighting this war. Many countries in the world are today fighting the same war. This is nothing unprecedented and that it requires dedication, time and patience. Worldwide experience shows that Countries who came out victorious are the ones who fought the war with extra care and diligence. 

But, here we are, stuck somewhere in the middle of the war. With the coming of noble intended act, rampant criminalization of its citizens has thus ensued. We seem to have gotten our war strategy wrong, because the otherwise godly intended act has been marred by atrocious penalties it contained.

If I am not wrong, our Dzongkhag was the first Dzongkhag to have banned the sale and distribution of any tobacco products. Befitting to numerous sacred relics, places and monasteries in the locality, the decision was supported by the majority of people. But sadly the failure to uphold the decision was not only poor but was lamentingly disastrous. The black market thrived.

 Taking these facts into consideration, you should have been the first person to have voiced about the consequences besides wider varieties of alternatives like education, counseling, awareness and other tobacco cessation programmes. Little more consultation (if done) with people would have also helped you contribute substance to the act when it was being debated in the house.

The recent ‘Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan 2010’ failed to live up to the expectations of common citizens. Most think its "draconian" and illogical. No act/law in the History has ever imprisoned its citizens like it did and today citizens are calling for the immediate amendment.  Amendment, I think is being called for because we realize something is not really right. This is not only a failure by the law makers but failure of all the citizens too. As a Nation we are equally responsible!

In saying, let the bygone be bygone, let us not forget that if a Nation building is a journey then let us take each single step together with extra care and diligence. With this let us also learn to fall back when we know the way ahead is rough and slippery.

So, I am urging you as my representative to revisit the act once again and do the necessary amendments (if possible) within the earliest possible date. I am saying this because other then the detention centers and prisons; more schools, more hospitals, clean water, continuous power and good roads are something we pressingly need at the moment. I believe our Government is working on it, day and night and more still needs to be done.

With respect,

Kuenzang Thinley
Bumthang, Ura, Shingkhar

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A thing of scholarships, further studies and IELTS/TOEFL.

picture courtesy: Google
In the name and the interest of human resource development, so many people, both from government and private sector are leaving abroad for higher studies. Their posts are left vacant and so are their chairs. Some (most spouse) find going abroad very irresistible that they even retire from their job. This has not only created an acute shortage of man power in the organization but has also over burdened the ones left behind.

 For many, the ultimate goal of joining the service is to get oneself certified with higher qualification. Here in Bhutan, if not for our regular office chores, one thing that keeps the office goers busy and preoccupied is the thing called the ‘further studies’ in developed countries. Evidently this is also one thing that keeps the organization like RCSC busy and buzzing all the time. By looking at the sheer number of people leaving for studies, one can very well draw an educated guess that the offices in our country will soon be flooded with highly qualified people.  

Critically speaking, a thing of scholarship and further studies are as complex and as confusing as the procedure itself. The predicaments need no further discussion because a thing of IELTS and TOEFL requirement explains it all. However RGoB and GoI scholarship seem to enjoy the exception to this rule.

By being Bhutanese, we are all English educated people, yet we are granted no exception when it comes to language requirements called IELTS and TOEFL certificates. This makes our higher education a very cumbersome process for it involves lot of preparation time and money.

Some people in the middle surely seem to be profiting from our needs. To cite an example, those language tests are being conducted in our country twice a year. Most of the people who take the tests out of their necessity are charged an exorbitant and non refundable fee of Nu.7000/- per tests. That is a lot of money for the tests which in the first place is needless. Secondly, the test never guarantees one an admission to the university and a scholarship. Thirdly, some even fail and are never granted their deserving second chance. The funniest of all is that the test certificates are validity defined. That certificate apparently tells us that the language is also like technology which is subject to getting obsolete with passing time. This is an act of insanity at its worst!

This is an unfair act of commercializing education and many innocent people have today fallen in the traps of those greedy people. They are indeed robbing our friends in the middle of broad day light, right under the nose of our sleeping / passive authorities. We know very well that those people mean nothing more, nothing less but business. If that is the case then what is the amount that they have contributed to our Government as tax? (For giving them an atmosphere, very conducive for business with readymade customers)

If people going to Australia and India (under the auspices RGoB and GoI scholarships respectively) are able to pursue their studies with ease without the language certificates then why do the other people (form the same background) need those senseless certificates? In fact, we already know that we are already a nation that is too much into English. Official correspondence and business deals in English, poetry lines for lovers and letters neatly written in English to our illiterate parents are some of the authentication to prove the statement here.

The concern authorities have clearly neglected the case for a good number of years and it’s high time that they boot up their initiatives to stop that rampant robbers. This will not only have positive impact for our human resource development but will also positive impact for the lives of those young, energetic and knowledge thirsty people in their quest for knowledge and skills in the long run.

(Note: If I am wrong, please right me)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Yes; June is here once again.

  "Growing Tree is a Symbol of Living Nation".
 "Growing Tree is a Symbol of Living Nation".
"Growing Tree is a Symbol of Living Nation".

Let us get the history right. In the past 2nd June was considered holy and auspicious because it was on that fateful day that our fourth King was crowned. The crowning of our beloved king not only symbolized more prosperity and peace but also brought the nation together like a  family.

To make it even more memorable, later the day was declared as public holiday on which people across the nation committed their time and energy in planting trees. It was Known as the Social forestry day. This had a very deep meaning indeed because people believed that "growing tree is not only a symbol of living nation but is a symbol of thriving nation" 

But sadly somewhere down the line, some hypocrites decided to slash away that holiday from the list of our national holiday. Except the schools kids, so many people in the nation are today denied their right to plant a tree in loving memory of our beloved king. So many still feel that they are denied their participation in realizing the Gross National Happiness. 

But let us not mourn for a lost of one holiday, but wish our country a very prosperous year ahead. Let us all go home early from office (on 2nd June) and plant a tree to celebrate the auspicious day in its deserving way. 

Log live our beloved fourth King and May god bless us all. 

I Dream of Becoming Photographer Too. Part One

Dochu la stupas in the early morning sun, 2009

Dochula pass with all the newly stups and old stupas, 2009

Last snow fall in Paro. 2007

Neyzergang Zangdo Pelri in 2005

Lhakhang in Dochula Pass, 2008
Note: all the pictures (Except Neyzergang Zangdopelri) are taken with my 7.2 mega pixel digital camera. Unfortunately and sadly I lost my camera on 24th April 2011 in Trongsa.

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