Saturday, May 31, 2014

Pay Revision and My Indifference

In one of my earlier post, I remember writing that I am Customs officer by profession. I also wrote myself being a blogger and reader by passion. Didn't I ? I think I did so. But of late, with smuggling rate shooting up, I am getting bogged down with writing various reports, preparing exhibits, gathering evidence and handing over the people to the Police.

Thanks to such events, I have now discovered a new writing skill. Its called writing the "Chronology of Event". Mind you, it is totally different form of writing from what I normally do. My superiors, friend and colleagues,  big and small keep telling me that its a serious business. So I need to be cent percent conscious.

And here is another thing that is keeping me on my knees and toes. -writing meeting minutes. Sometime I get the feeling that I am becoming a professional minute keeper.

Yesterday, to the happiness of all the Bhutanese civil servants, the National Assembly of Bhutan has finally announced the much awaited (upward) pay revision. Its long over due, but the delay is understandable. Our exchequer, according to talk of the town has gone high and dry on resources. Seriously, when our current Government promised pay hike along with the housing allowance, I really did not believe. For once, I thought that our much talked about pay revision is any thing but a grim possibility even with the presence of Buddha and his blessing. With all sorts of austerity measures in place, our present government, who otherwise promised power and change to the people are rumored to have played the "pay revision politics".

Whatever may be, civil servants will earn more starting this July. So Big Thank you to our Government. Temporary and volatile it may be, it is a cause for celebration. Vehicle quota seems gone, but who cares, there is handy Nu. 160,000 coming. DSA has gone up Nu.1000 per day. Mileage is up too. Nu 6 for low ranks and Nu 16 for high ranks looks ridiculous though. But again, who cares. Let me not go further. But as a Revenue and Customs official I am bit nervous and worried. Because this calls for us to collect more from our tax payers. To make affairs such as these sustainable, it calls for Revenue and Customs people to sweat more, shed more tears, take in more criticisms, and face more allegations.  Interestingly, not many seem to know this.

There are few things that I am not able to understand about the recent pay revision. First. For civil servants, revision percentage is descending as we move up. Second. What  is the rationale behind revision for MPs by more than 50%. I am sorry but this reminds me of a Book called "Animal farm" by George Orwell (where it says only Pigs deserves to drink milk, but I am not saying our MPs are pigs)  Third. Why our PM is begging not to take the proposed hike. Fourth. There is no mention of my department and many other uniformed departments when it comes to uniform allowance. I can go on. But we all know, how pleasing everyone is perpetual impossibility in democratic society.

Now here is the reason why I am saying its a temporary and volatile affair. With pay hike, civil servants will even pay more too. As such house owners have already revised their rental charges. With this revision, it gives them the motivation to do it one more time. Shopkeepers and vegetable vendors are seen celebrating. Prices of meat have gone up and so would the prices of other commodities in coming days.

On many occasions, I bought goods on credit because my bank balance ran low.  I did not respond to those miss calls because my voucher ran low too. Some other time, my family just enough to see the month end and not more. Today am happily managing with just one pair of shoes. And happily I tell people that I am somehow managing to keep my pot boiling. I have sailed across a high and rough inflationary tides and I survived. I don't know whether the proposed hike of 21% would actually cover the inflation. But I have now come to agree that living is no easy business but can be made even without the hike in pay. So I think Pay revision is not the solution at this age but our frugality is. Therefore I am bit indifferent to this revision.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Celebrating Modi's Win

Sometime ago in 2012 I met a Modi fanatic in one of my flights to Ahmadabad. I was a student of Gujarat University then. We fell into a conversation. In a while we suddenly landed with a topic "Modi". I don't know what spurred him, but he asked me as to how popular Mr. Modi is in Bhutan. I lied to him. I told him that he is so so popular even in Bhutan. I lied more. I told him than Bhutanese people think that he might become the next PM of India. His eyes brimmed with satisfaction, he started sharing my words with rest of the passenger on board. Prophetically Modi is India's PM now. He is surely going to become famous in Bhutan. I am afraid many people think I am lying. 

Whatever may be, Mr. Modi is the 15th Prime Minister of India. His swearing in ceremony was attended by the leaders of the SAARC countries and  their won politicians who all fought a bitter campaign against each other. All the rivals of BJP, including Sonia Gandhi and Raul Gandhi showed up for the ceremony and I am amazed! This shows the maturity of India's Politics and Politicians. Seeing our very own Prime Minister on silver screen I couldn't hold myself on my seat. With my poor eye sight, I once mistook him for BJP's Uma Bharti in orange saffron.  Forgive me! 

Jokes aside, I hope our Prime Minister had a good time there. In a days time, as expected by the Bhutanese people, our Prime Minister should share his New Delhi experience. Personally, I would love to hear about the political lessons he learnt there.

With BJP's win, I have a great news for my mom too. Her favorite actress, Tulsi has now become Minister in India. Although people in the opposition are questing on her academic affidavit, it won't matter a bit for my mother, who cried  and laughed with Tulsi in "Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi". Hey, I have another incident to share here. I first saw Mrs Smriti Irani in person in 2012. It was in Gujarat. I thought she is Modi's wife! 

By the way, after having lived among the lovely Gujarati people for 2 years, I have a deep love and reverence for the people there. At times, it makes me feel that I am a Gujarati too. So at the moment, like my Gujarati friends, I am also busy celebrating Modi's win. Join me friends!  

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My Thoughts on Indian Election and Modi's Leadership

For now with the win for BJP led NDA, the election process in India have come to an end. BJP has won the fight by a landslide margin and it has left the political analysts everywhere stunned. Congress party led UPA has conceded the worst election defeat in the history of Independent India. And this must have equally left people speechless.

Indian elections are always an affair closely watched by the Bhutanese people. This is because the decisive leadership in New Delhi has a far reaching effect on us too. With this, it is time for our political leaders, who are so used to dealing with Congress to devise new ways to deal with new set of people in New Delhi. It’s time for our leaders to further convince the new leadership in India as to why they should give us the fund their previous government have committed and see half built bridges and half paved roads their completion.

With India, our leaders in Thimphu have more home works to do. They should now deal like the leaders of the sovereign independent nation and not like pawns. At the same time, there is a need from us to reaffirm our friendship that transcends mere politics and Economic gains. Although at an infant stage, we are democratic country just like India. Hence, it should be made clear that India as big brother do not influence our internal affairs. 

Elsewhere, lot of things are being said and predicted about the future of the Indian subcontinent. With Narendra Modi at the helm of power, many people in India believe that they will be able to come out of the economic doldrums they are presently in. In a very strange circumstance, USA said Modi will be accorded a Visa as an Indian Prime Minister! 

India voted for a change. With time Indians will come to know whether Modi and his associates had a real substance to transform snake charmers into an IT freaks. It is for Modi to prove that Muslims or Hindu; they are one and the same Indian citizen. In time he will also come to know that there are more than 18000 villages in his own state which are lacking basic economic provisions. This is a figure taken from a book titled "Churning the earth" by two Indian authors Aseem and Kothari.  You see, 'Modi'fied cabinets have a long way to go. Only time will tell what future have in store for India.

At the moment, many people in India are running out of word extolling Modi and BJP. Its hard to believe but many say Modi is the cleanest politician ever in India. Another person said Modi is a "one man soldier". and Indians need to be very careful because "one man soldiers" have invariably produced dictators like Mao Tse Tung, Hitler and Stalin and many more. For now Modi and his group have a solid term to prove to the world that they are otherwise. 

I wish all Indian best of everything 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Time Builds and Destroys; Nymezampa Chortens

Few days ago, the old picture of Paro Tsongdue Lhakhang stole my heart. Today I found another picture that made me wordless. It is from the book called "Myth & Memory" by Tshering Tashi.  I suppose the picture was taken somewhere in 1900s. 

Nymezampa Chortens Then in 1900s? 
Look at the total serenity and  tranquility around the Chortens of Nymezampa then. Long time ago, when people described Bhutan as the Last Shanrgila, they must have meant a place like the one shown in the picture. Grazing ponies, resting adults and playful children shows the beauty and innocence of Bhutanese. Look how some of them are taking shade below the chorten! Does it not look like a spiritual sanctuaries described in the Buddhist legands? Could we not call it as a heavenly sight?  I am just wondering!

Below is is picture of the same old chortens in 2007. In my nine years (in Paro) I have witnessed how those chortens withstood the forces of change and modernization. Enough willow trees has been planted in the surroundings. Although  their wilted yellow leaves creates a mess in autumn and winter, it gives a lush green look in the spring and summer.
Nymezampa Chortens in 2007
In 2007, I was told that some devoted business family in Paro, voluntarily took the initiative of building two Mani Dungkhor. I personally thought the idea was noble. With two additional giant Mani Dungkhor, the area would truly become like a religious sanctuary. But just before the completion, the work came to a sudden halt. I don't know what went wrong. Few days later I saw new structures being removed piece by piece. Finally two giant Mani Dungkhor disappeared without a trace.  

Now this is what it has become. Otherwise religious sanctuary and a shangrila like place has now become a giant parking area. Some call it development. Few call it as a sign of  progress we humans have made. Many call it a modernization.  But honestly, I don't know what to call it. 
Nymezampa Chortens now, 2014

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Wonderlust Rates Paro Airport

Recently, one hour delay in flight gave me an opportunity to come across an angry foreigner. Like me, I thought he was angry with the kind of the tea, coffee and snacks that are available in restaurants and tea shops in airport. But I was wrong. He was furious firstly for not being able to fly on time. Secondly, he was more enraged with the way facilities are managed in the airport.

Friday, May 2, 2014

One Constant Ruin in Changing Paro

I came to Paro in 1999. I was a high school boy then. En route to my School, somewhere in Shaba, I saw a ruin by the road side. Already abandoned, I saw how a traditional Bhutanese mud house is helplessly succumbing to the forces of nature and time.

Since then, I grew up seeing the same ruin over and over again. I must have seen it thousand times already and I am sure there aren't many Bhutanese who missed this site. Located few meters away from the road, it has a provision of a fertile vegetable garden and a play ground with good water source. Any rational owner today would have made a fortune out it. I am wondering why the owner is shying away from the lifetime opportunity.

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