Monday, July 23, 2018

Buzzed up by IWP

Saturday is supposed to be my off day. But somehow I landed up in my office. I was preparing to submit my self-evaluated IWP for 2017-2018 period. Earlier it was called PE. It is the shortened version for Performance Evaluation. Those were good old days. Irrespective of your output, it wasn’t difficult for any civil servants to achieve 3.9 out of 4.

Coming back to IWP, I was running through files and was trying to recall all the activities I have undertaken in my recent past. At one time I felt lost not because I was indolent, but because I had too much to document in the eleventh hour. Like it or not, today we have system before us, which demands us to spend more time on documentation than working. Few days ago, I informed all my colleagues to submit their IWPs along with evidences and justifications. But few of them looked at me as if I boxed on their face. Interestingly, I have some friends who still think that Max Online system is some kind of exotic snack.

In their past few years, our HRD people in their attempt to simplify things, they have doubly complicated the system. A good reform should come gradually. If it doesn’t benefit, it shouldn’t do any harm. These are basic attributes of a reform. Conversely, most of the reforms before us are rather imposed! Overall, it did more harm than good. So called the moderation exercises and forced ranking created rift between colleagues. In the first ever moderation exercise, there were news of brawling chiefs. It could be a joke but I heard how some chiefs got hold of each other’s neck. Should anybody fail to follow the reform notifications, they are threatened. Some dreadful notifications said ‘Your promotions would be withheld’ while others said, ‘Individual would be barred from availing training opportunities’.

Amidst countless reforms initiated by present group of HRD experts, I wonder whether there is anything left to be reformed by next set of people who would soon replace them. Some of their reforms are so confusing that you need a brain like whatever to understand them.  When they said ‘S’ level officials would get a promotion every 5 years (in place of normal 4 years), the sky fell on thousands of families across the country. Some families are still struggling to recover from the shock of having to lose their precious extra year for a promotion. Affected officials were swift to declare a war of words on the battlegrounds of social media. Sadly, as expected we didn’t see them win. they ought to remember this: 'Bosses always win and are always right'. In the name of developing specialized professionals, people in the education and finance are forever chained in their redundant professions. Some say this is another classic case of breach of Constitution. But for now let the matter rest with legal minds.

Later, a high profile HRD official visited our office to shed light on their well-intended reforms. As expected there weren’t much good news. In a hushed up meeting, poor teachers were briefed by DEOs to keep their mouth shut. But here is what I understood. Those affected officials would draw more benefits when they retire loo. While their good intention cannot be discounted, economically speaking, this is a tragic affair. In the long run we are all dead!  Why should we sacrifice our beautiful present for unforeseen bleak future?

If my memory serves us well, this is what happened few years ago. Much talked PCS came with a big bang, but remorsefully, it soon disappeared into the obscurity like a vague echo. We have now system called “Super Structure” (SS) supported by a grand pillar called IWP. Thanks to the grandeur of IWP, in two years we have more perplexed people in civil service than ever. In a desperate attempt to submit his IWP, one colleague of mine rushed in my office. He said, “Sir, my duty is to stand and guard the gate at the indo-Bhutan Border. How should I justify my output?”. After a long pause, when nothing came to my mind I told him to go back and take a good picture of himself standing at the gate and upload it.

I wonder whether IWP is a total invention or a borrowed idea. Whatever it may be, we have a reason to worry about the goodness it will do to our system. May god bless goodly intended SS system and may it bring immeasurable glory to sons and daughters of Pelden Drukpa who put in heart and soul to in service  to Tsa-wa-sum.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Just my Thoughts

Finally, after more than a decade, Project DANTAK cryingly completed the construction of much hyped Chukha-Damche bypass road. Like many other Bhutanese commuters, I am excited too about shortened distance and prospect of cost saving on ever expensive fuel.  In an opening ceremony, our Prime Minister said, the road would remain as a symbol of Indo-Bhutan friendship. But I have other feelings. That patch of road would remain as a symbol of Project DANTAK’s unceasing love for constructing (so called the best) roads for us. They have been building roads for us far too long and I think it’s about time they allow us to do it for ourselves. We thank them for all their love and support and they should now rest. Today we have our own national builders who are technically more equipped. We have work force who possess skills and experience in building our own roads and bridges, if not hydro powers. But it’s the irony of the century that we still depend so much on some of the substandard foreign builders. Long time ago, I once met an official from DANTAK. I asked him whether the bypass would actually see the lights of completion days. I made a reference to India-China competition and told him that elsewhere in China, they are building 78 km of roads per night. But here you are taking ages to build just 29 KM road. Unable to tolerate my mild criticism, the official got mad and left the place.

Yesterday evening, I was watching some news on CNN and NDTV channels. Most of the contents are as disappointing as it can get. Americans are scratching their heads while their President continue to wreak havoc in political spectrum. Historically, it’s astonishing to see American President honeymooning with Russian President in a closed door room and later admitting that he fumbled with a simple word ‘Would’.  

In India, mob lynching and raping it seems have become the order of the day. On the other hand, BJP is obsessively fearful about the dynastic Congress and Muslim vote bank. But let’s be honest, what is not so dynastic in Indian Politics? Besides Gandhis, Look at the Lalus and Sinhas of Bihar, the Yadavs  and Yogis of UP, The Abdullahs and Muktis of J&K, Solankis and Patels of Gujarat,  Jogis and Shuklas of Chhattisgarh. The list will go on. Now with Modi in the center, there is an emergence of strong man politics and the world is Namo there. In brief, there is nothing great to learn from oldest and biggest democracies of the world at the moment.

There is this jolly guy called Richard Quest who says, the racial harmony is a cord yet to be struck in America. And in the similar line, I thought religious harmony in a secular India is another cord yet to be struck.

In my office, world cup fever is yet to subside. Some won and many lost their bets.  In between, wave of momo party and pizza party are happening haphazardly from the winners. For the last two days, I was busy moving between the groups, eating momo, drinking tea and munching slices of pizza. The slim advantage of being a senior in the office is that you get multiple invitation and in the end you risk getting stomach disorder.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Plight of Being a Monkey Personality

Once a friend of mine asked me my date of birth. I said, I was born sometime in 1980. "Oh! You are a Monkey personality then". I said yes. "You know what?” He continued. As per the astrological facts, monkey personalities will not have an easy life. He also said that Monkey personalities may toil extra in life but their efforts may never yield fitting appreciations. 'Is it?' I replied. As a matter of fact, life wasn’t easy. For that matter, I think life isn’t easy for anyone. Starting from a minute ant to a giant elephant, I see life as a constant source of struggle. I see life as an ongoing enterprise to survive. 

Especially, in Buddhist astrology there is widespread believe among the people that a person born in the year of monkey and who bear unique birthmark called Mewa Nye Nak  are doomed to prosper less in life. It’s a disappointing remark. But such are words monkey personality get to hear on a daily basis. These are worst prophecies to have been foretold ever. Based on these insights, I thought maybe I should do some personal reflection on my Monkey personality. 

Well, I was born and brought up in a very remote village. I did not  know about the conditions of other households in my village then, but in my case, eating rice meal (any rice) was a luxury! Provisions were as scarce as it can get. A humble fish curry for a New Year celebration was equivalent to having a Meal of a King! Electricity and roads did not exist. I don’t know if that has anything to do with being a monkey personality.

When I graduated and got into Government job, I thought those were the last days of my unhappy monkey personality. As I look back thirteen years hence, it appears that my monkey personality came with me, all along.  Very recently, some HR commission rejected my promotion proposal. As a Revenue and Customs official, I thought my merit would be based on the additional revenue contributions I have made. An extra contribution of more than Nu. 33 million to our impoverished government exchequer would fetch me an early promotion. In my airport days, under my In-charge ship, I and my team made a contribution of worth more than Nu. 24 million through gold and silver seizures. Let us not forget other contribution me and my team made through the seizures of undeclared foreign currencies. The amount ran into millions! For being a man behind the action, I thought my promotion would come easily. Sadly, it was not to be.  It seems the myth of Monkey personality did the rest of the magic. Today morning, much to the delight of all our friends, one of our colleague who got promoted was offering a tea and momo party. I told them all that I would have hosted a grand lunch, if only my promotion came through.

Last month, I had a mild argument with some accounts officer in the Ministry of Finance. For some reason known only to himself, he adamantly refused to sanction travel allowance to me and my boss for an official travel we made to a place called Rangpur in Bangladesh. More than a month passed and there was no sign of our allowance coming. So I made a call. I started the conversation with all humility. I respectfully pleaded him to release the payments. But he acted more stubborn. When he did not relent, I told him that I am going to withdraw my claim altogether! Much to my annoyance, he hanged the phone before I was done talking. Two weeks later, we received our payments. A marginal deduction of 25% was made from our actual claim. Monkey or not, I thanked god. I did not die in between but survived to receive my allowance! 

Coming back to the most coveted issue of foreign travels, I feel some civil servants in our country simply live to travel abroad! In my recent time, I have realized how much of horse trading it takes to avail one travel opportunity. In my fortunate years, I have travelled and made lot of memories too. But in most cases, I returned home more broke than ever. There were times I survived on pig ear soup and stolen breakfasts. This year was not bad. I travelled thrice already. One to Bangladesh (Bumarami/Rangpur) to have a meeting with our counterparts on facilitating our trade. And two to India (both to Fulbari) to request Indian authorities to facilitate our stone export to Bangladesh. In all three cases, I travelled the perilous highways of West Bengal. Someday, when my monkey personality myth cease to be my obstacle, I wish to travel beyond India and Bangladesh too. 

Last time there was a hush talk in the town. I do not know the factual status of the story. It goes like this. Some Dasho cum Malik had coaxed an innocent girl to spend a night in Hotel with him. As per other talks in the town, it was said that after a momentous night in the hotel, the extravagant Dasho cum Malik lavishly gifted a girl with a bank cheque. The next morning, the innocent girl approached the bank to withdraw the money. Her cheque got bounced. Somebody checked her kaytse and found out that she was a monkey personality too!!! 

Times do not change

Often we think 'times's changed'
And often we say, it really did. 
But it's not.
We have four seasons.
There is sun and there is moon.
There is rain and there is shine,
There are rainbows,
There are clouds,
It's summer when its summer,
Like a running stream,
Rest of the seasons follows!
Time's not changed!
It is rather us who have evolved over much. 
We have become pernicious,
We have become venomous, 
In thought and in action. 
We say something,
And mean something else. 
We think we are never wrong,
We think we are too saint to be critiqued. 
Self gain and self glories are 
But mantras we chant.
They are the in fact the only mantra we know.
We are emotional integligence deficit,
We are Irrational, insecure beings,
We preach,
We assume,
We expect,
And we demand. 
We are the Rebels!
Risen at the expense of others.
We have no guilt for the sins. 
We are vengeful bosses,
We took the rightful seats of others. 
We are indifferent to others hard work. 
We are warring leaders,
We survive on our evil motives.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Alive in Phuentsholing

Finally, I was able to give some time to my long forgotten blog. I have changed the title (from "Memoirs and Musings" to "Life in Phuentsholing" ) and I wish to continue my passion for writing once again. 

To begin with, I turned 38 this year. Thanks to the saline waters of Phuentsholing, today I have more gray hairs on my head than my elder brother do. Thanks again to the prosperous Phuentsholing, I now weigh mighty 84 compared to fitting 73 of my Paro days. Despite the relentless heat, dust and pollution of Phuentsholing, my kids seem to like the air in Phuentsholing. They are growing up nice and big. Recently, I discovered the reason behind my shapeless slippers. Pelden, my elder daughter has been using them, the whole time!. Now I am afraid, she might as well use my brand new sneakers. I paid a fortune of Rs. 2500 to buy them! Online! She is not even thirteen and I wonder what number of shoes she will wear in days to come. My other girl, Sonam turned 10 yesterday. I was bit nostalgic for the fact that her birth took me to the most dreaded place on earth. To the police station and subsequently to the Court of law. (it's a long story still available on my blog to read) While having our breakfast, I wished her a happy birthday. She ran towards me and gave me the longest hug of her life. I asked her what gift she wanted from me. She said "CAKE". My youngest girl, Nima has changed a great deal too. From a chubby boy-looking baby, she has now become a fashion minded girl with passion for singing. On the other side, my only son, Jamtsho has been switching between Toepisa and Phuentsholing. Thanks to her granny, he was brought up in a village, -away from the metro junks. He is not even four but has a body of six! How can I not consider this as blessings? At time his obsession for trucks and trailers makes me wonder whether he is an incarnate truck driver! 

Last June, on one ominous day, I got my promotion proposal rejected. There is a charm in facing rejection, some people say, but it was difficult for me to believe the out come. In an utterly unceremonious fashion, I was handed back my mountains of documentary evidences. For now all I can do is to look back and see why things did not fare well. 

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