Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Understanding a little of our vibrant entertainment industry.

I should not be writing again today. But then it's holiday time and some events just spark their own vibes. So here goes again.

You have no way to realise how hard some really work and plough their way to recognition. Maybe one thinks that Tandin Bidha the scintillating Bhutanese actress can smile her way into any goal or producer/ director Pem Tshering is immune to movie success. One cannot be more wrong and last night at BNFA award, it was a moment of truth ( courtesy BBS live telecast).

Tandin Bidha was so emotional about finally making it to the best actress of the year after " ten long years of hard work ". Congratulations!  And Pem Tshering after 21 years in the movie making business was thrilled that his movie was one of the selected  three top films that also received BICMA's  cash price of Nu:1 million each.

I am very proud and appreciative about the incredible progresses achieved by collective efforts of so many artists in Bhutanese movies and music. But I confess,  I know so little about the artists and particularly their depth of endeavour in the success stories. My interaction with almost all is through BBS telecast except for very few.

I knew Dasho Gem Dorji. After he became an MP, I told him not to remain a stranger to his acting profession as it was his very own. Glad he is at it. Never met Tandin Bidha and only had one brief talk with producer Pem Tshering wherein he told me he was into movies. The one actress I followed with some interest was Lhaki Dolma. I did not meet her but I know her Dad and her brother ( not venerable Tsula Lopen but the engineer brother). This lady  can sing, dance and act well. I have met the Beauty Queen and actress Tshokey Tsomo Karchung. Always impressed with her personal humility and professional successes. Another top dynamo of ceaseless hard workers in our entertainment industries.

The one pioneer movie and music personality  that I came to know a little is Ngedrup Dorji. I think of him as an adventurer and explorer who shows the way but maybe like all explorers in history books, he, too, does not reap rich monetary harvest. But abilities he is all of it. I wonder who first came into rigsar?  Aum Dechen Pem or Ngedrup?  Presently Ugyen Pandey seems to be ruling the young roost of rigsar professionals.  

All in all,  there is no shortage of composers, singers, musicians, actors and audience if numbers of Bhutanese films and TV song competition programmes are our measuring yardsticks. And altogether the entertainment industries provides one nation binding venue that enables social integration and highlight the Bhutanese ways in all spheres of national life and progressive culture.

Thank you and congratulations to President of BNFA Mila Tobgay and his fellow colleague Organisers for the 16th Award Show. Congratulations to Award Winners, Nominees and all Participants in  Films and Musical industries. It was a great night graced by the honourable Prime Minister. The national commitment to build cinema halls is great for films and live shows. I feel entertainment halls will prove to be  the real concrete contribution towards promoting the entertainment Industries of Bhutan. .    

The hosts: Kuenga, Lhaki and Gem " You three steered and entertained superbly". Great Showmanship in Live Performance!

With reverence to all artists from a person who cannot sing, dance or act. Nevertheless, in my youth, I could skip a meal to save money  for a good movie. My first noble possession was a tape recorder cum radio to listen to news and music. 

Facts about Bhutanese Politics.

Editor Tenzing Lamsang recently wrote in The Bhutanese that Local Government officials supported PDP in 2008 and DPT in 2013.. And both Political Parties lost when supported by local officials. I believe he got it right. But I would not consider such support as  jinx.

I think the influence of Gups and Tsokpas in Primary or General Election is more of an illusion rather than real.The fact that most of the former Gups lost their re- election in 2016  is a good indication of their lack of lasting political clout.

They have one influence and that is getting the public to attend political campaign gatherings. They understand the line of communication to let the public know when and where such is held.  However, they are in no position to assure votes.

The most influential people who can influence public votes are civil servants and corporate and other educated employees . They have strong influence within their extended families and communities and even beyond their constituencies.

And in education institutions and defence forces, word of mouth is a big factor as group belief prevails in such conditioned social environments. And beyond all factors of influence, the most reliable is the art of money politics. I think in all nations, money have effective influencing roles. Political Parties and candidates have to have adequate finance at their disposal. What Election Commission provide is just the startup fund in national Election. You need money to cover all nooks and creeks; to put up impressive road shows; to hire locals to guide and advice and to put ads in TV and sponsor radio talks. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Ignorance is not a bliss when Ignorance rules the roost.

Schools have tracksuits as sports uniform. The defence forces, Dessung, Forest officials, Revenue and Custom officials, Security firm Officials, Football Teams and Olympic Teams etc. all have uniforms. And all those wearing uniforms stand proudly in attention and sing along as and when the  national anthem is sung.

Today BBS Televion shared a News about Pemagatsel Dzongkhag Tsogdue decrying students in sportswear paying respects to the national flag and anthem in their Schools.

It seems the local government officials of Pemagstsel  Dzongkhag wear their respect for the nation on sleeves of their gho and tego. Perhaps such elected officials realised how important the outer facade is in their line of duty. Well good luck to such Bhutanese including those at Culture Department if the proposed Culture Bill is of such nature. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

What Democracy is and what it entails.

Today is the 3rd Phase of State Election in Uttar Pradesh the largest State in Indian Union. Election in Uttar Pradesh State is being conducted in 4 Phases.

Today the 3rd Phase is being  conducted in 12 Districts with 24 million voters. And it  involves 69 Seats with over 800 candidates in the fray.

Just learning to imagine the vastness of the largest world democracy when an election in 1/4 section of a State is so gigantic. 

Foot note:

It is said that this Uttar Pradesh State Election will determine the effect on BJP of the demonitisation policy of Prime Minister Modi Government. But for me,  I am just waiting to see the impact on SP and Congress alliance and the family feud in SP of a rising healthy son versus the aging frail father. How do the voters of Uttar Pradesh view family feud for power and political alliance of temporary convenience ?

Friday, February 17, 2017

The issue of stunting in Bhutan.

Both Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk and Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji reiterates that today Bhutan has a stunting status as 28% in the West to 40% in the East. Under advice of Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji, I Googled and found the same information. I just wonder who provided that statistic.

If under K5, this is the status, then in 1972 when K4 came on the Throne, stunting must be 56% in the West and 80% in the East. Afterall Bhutan has developed leaps and bounds since then. And yet throughout the last 40 years I have not come across such number of stunted adults. Does stunting effect wear off as one gets older? Or is there a different definition of stunting.

Could I, Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk and Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji be categorised as adults who suffered stunted growth during our childhoods? We are physically healthy but not tall. If so, only then the present statistic of 28% and 40% are believable.  On the average Bhutanese youths even today are not tall  like those in the West. . Otherwise someone played a game of manipulation for some purposes.

I recall an incident ( in 1980s) in a meeting where I expressed my disbelief with Bhutan population figure of 1.2 million. Dasho Dorji Tenzin was very annoyed with me.  How could I contradict his figure when he was the Director General of Immigration and Census, he demanded. Few years later the population figure came down from 1.3 million to around 500,000.

At that time,  I just could not imagine how we got such a population when the whole nation including the capital city was so scarcely populated. and  And today I am in disbelief with the stunting statistic figures because I have not seen such proportion in the villages and schools I came across. Please understand this is not to say children do not need nutritious meals. And we do need more world height basket ball players.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Is DANTAK an integral part of Bhutan?

The ball is in the Court of the sacred institution that guard the sovereignty of Bhutan. 

The Chief of DANTAK ( DANTAK is part of Border Road Organisation of India)  Brigadier PKG Mishra declared to Kuensel the main National Newspaper of Bhutan that:

To quote Kuensel, " DANTAK  considers itself as an integral part of this Country." Unquote.

KPG Mishra is reported to have told Kuensel that Bhutanese Media should ignore the concerns of Bhutanese people about DANTAK putting  Sign Boards welcoming visitors to the Kingdom of Bhutan.

He further went on to say that he himself  had not bothered to even respond to the letter sent to him (more than 10 months ago )  by the Secretary of the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement regarding the gate that welcomes visitors to Bhutan by DANTAK at Paro Bondey where Bhutan's only International Airport is located. In all essence, the Brigadier has declared that DANTAK has every sovereign right to do as it damn pleases in Bhutan.

Every Bhutanese citizen may want our Government to respond in kind to:

1. How did Border Road Organisation and it's branch DANTAK of India become integral part of Bhutan?

2. Why does the Royal Government of Bhutan find it alright to be ignored by Brigadier PKG Mishra of DANTAK in the matter of letter sent by the Government Secretary to DANTAK. Why did Bhutanese authority fail to take that gate down? What happened to that Patang and Kamni responsibility? Only for subjugation of powerless Bhutanese or for post decoration?

I thank Brigadier PKG Mishra for making  his declaration through the main National Newspaper Paper " Kuensel ". The Boarder Roads Organisation of India  has put the Tsawa Sum of Bhutan on Notice not just the Cabinet of Bhutan. And he has a point in saying that the Media should ignore the concerns of the Bhutanese people. Afterall we have our King and Prime Minister to address national concerns of such magnitude. The crystal ball of DANTAK is now in the Courts of our deeply respected and beloved Leaders.

PS.    Read the front page article titled  " Paro locals question Project DANTAK welcome sign " in  Kuensel issue of today the 11th of Feburary, 2017.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The 2 holy Buddhist Teachers who.must take rebirth only in Buddha Heaven.

There are so many Khenpo, Khentse and Trulku Rimpoches. I suppose all will die and many reborn again. But the two Lams of Kuensel Phodrong Buddha complex and Takila Guru complex should be reborn in Buddha Land.  Not again in this or another world.

Venerable Lam Karpo has died recently and may the Lam gain Buddhahood. Venerable Lam Tshering Wangdi is in good health still endeavouring to devote much energy to Kuensel Phodrong. And when the Lam dies, may he gain Buddha hood. 

Holy projects like Takila Guru and Kuensel Phodrong Buddha are never meant to be completed in one or two lifetimes. Progressive establishments can never ever be really completed. There is a beginning  but no end to growth of goodness.

I have only seen videos of Takila Guru complex  but visited Kuensel Phodrong complex few times. I wondered how on earth did the two venerable Lams ever imagined the Holy Projects. Did they see in dreams the shapes of the complex they ventured to build? How did they gather so much faith in Providence and what kind of rays of light energised their indomitable spirit? Such lungtenchen disciples of 1st and 2nd Buddha and so totally and originally Bhutanese in blood and spirit. The Buddhist Kingdom is very much still the Land of living Buddhas.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Can democracy function free of money power influence?

I have immense insatiable curiosity about democratic governance in nations  like the United States. Just awaiting how national polity in America is shaping up with Justice Department appealing a Federal Judge  suspending the  " Travel Ban " imposed by the American Executive Branch.

Apart from self affected communities the world over,  the main forces within United States with  substantial political clouts opposing the  "travel ban"  are the Democratic Party and the high tech companies. The Democratic Party has been wounded deeply by Trump victory and so would want to oppose the President anyhow. The super duper rich high tech corporations which thrive on highly skilled but cheaper and more docile foreign human resources are naturally unhappy.  The travel ban gravely affects the pool of labour through whose services  the Tech companies reap high profits. The opposition from high tech companies is purely based on money matters " company profit ". Nothing to to with race or religion or freedom of movement although maybe disguised as such. 

If democratic way of governance  is to work then each compartment of national governance ( legislative, judiciary and executive) must uphold strictly their sovereign responsibilities without fear or greed of encroachment. Here the so  called " travel ban "  only applies to entry into United States by several categories of foreign citizens for a short period of time. It has nothing to do with American citizens' freedom of travel which the Courts must defend and preserve. 

Therefore, the Executive Order banning entry into United States by citizens of several countries for a certain period of time to allow introduction of improved vetting procedures falls under the  domain of the Executive Branch of governance. Thus I feel that the ruling by a Federal Court temporarily suspending the " travel ban " will have to be lifted by the same judge after due considerations  or overturned by an Appeal Court. If Executive Branch is prevented from exercising power in domain that is Executive in nature and essence then democratic franchise exercised by voters fails.

I think it is futile to debate on ethics of travel ban because before any definitive conclusions can be reached the travel ban will expire on its own within few months time. However, the effect on principle of power separation is far reaching. Thus my particular interest on the outcome of the appeal.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A true national joyous celebration.

An authentic national euphoria of celebration for young Bhutanese souls on the occassion of the 1st Birth Anniversary of HRH the Crown Prince would have been:

A commitment by Education Ministry to endeavour to provide PP seats to all who have completed 5 Years of age on 1st March, 2017.

Instead Education Ministry chose to freeze the occassion in the minds of the students by mandating that Schools open early in the cold weather from 3rd February, 2017. 

The way our Crown Prince is growing, HRH would be in Class I or II certainly not  in PP by the 5th Birth Anniversary. Such visible physical growth progress of Bhutanese children in this era should convince the Education Ministry that the mandatory completion of 6th birth anniversary for admission into PP is simply not in the interest of growth of young minds. Unless ofcourse we believe in cold storaging growth by forcing schooling in wintry months. 

Taxation structures of Bhutan and India.

The Indian taxation structure is very favourable to lower income population than Bhutanese taxation structure. In India upto Personal income of Rs.3 lakhs is tax free. In Bhutan it is only Nu: 2 lakhs. That too courtesy PDP Government.

And in India the tax is only 5% for those with personal income between 3 lakhs to 5 lakhs. In Bhutan it is 15%. Living cost in Bhutan is far higher in Bhutan than in India.

Businesses in Bhutan pay 30% income tax. In India about 96% of business entities pay 25% income tax.

The PDP Government has enhanced tax exemption amount  from 1 lakh to 2 lakh ngultrums for PIT purpose. And also had done away with tax on Fixed Deposit though concerned Banks have not been notified by the Finance Ministry through RMA.

The next Bhutanese Government should be able to enhance PIT  tax exemption amount upto Nu: 3 lakhs. And also reduce to 5% the tax on personsl income of 3- 5 lakhs ngultrums.

The Government should ensure proper collection of taxes on imported taxable products at the border entry points. Also ensure better royalty collections. And identify individuals and business entities that should be paying taxes. All these three areas of tax avenues need better monitoribg and enfircement. That way even if taxes are lowered for lower income population, the revenue from tax collections will increase by collecting due taxes that must be paid. 

Bhutanese authorities have to be more tax friendly towards vast majority of lower income group of population. Presently the rich and business class enjoy tax breaks in numerous ways. And low income salaried employees are taxed comprehensively on their total personal income after allowing for minimum income  exemptions.