Tuesday, May 21, 2019

War drums once again in Middle East.

United States have issued ultimatum to Iran and the British Government has once again blindly sided with United States as she did in conducting the Iraq war upon  the fabricated allegation of Iraq possessing Weapon of Mass Destruction. And Israel the spearhead of American war column and Policeman in Middle East must be rearing to receive the goahead to bombard Iran.

For sure a super power United States  can destroy a regime in Iran. But at what cost? United States interests and her allies in Middle East too will suffer in proportion. Israeli and American forces can inflict maximum damages upon Iran but still the nation Iran will survive though the regime would not. Regimes have been toppled along with thousands of citizens  killed and precious national assets and infrastructures destroyed.  But despite suffering unimaginable devastations, nations like Iraq and Libya still stand. In like manner so will stand Iran. And Americans and Israelis will never be free of survival anxiety.

American multinational corporations may be making money out of oil fields in Iraq and Libya but American people in general have not benefitted. Instead they lost their sons in the battle fields of Middle East. In case of Iran too, the shale oil companies of America would benefit from wider world market if Iranian oil export is frozen by American imposed sanctions.

But illgotten wealth will not end American woes. Because wealth and dream of better life attracts deprived and the destitute. Already both Western Europe and United States are facing unprecedented invasion by refugees. There are more than 500,000 people gathered at the border of United States and Mexico struggling to get into the richest and most powerful nation of the world. Unlike refugees swarming Western Europe, these people may not be direct result of wars.  But for sure all regions of the world are affected in mostly adverse ways when parts of the world forever up  in inferno all the time because of American hegemonic conquests.

If America continues to raise hell in other countries, America herself will be inundated with more hungry and distraught people seeking sanctuary. Rich and the powerful can never enjoy their life in peace unless and until the minimum needs of less fortunate are met.

I hope America and her allies will not make it impossible for Iranians to survive  in their own nation. The source of refugees and origins of diehards are created when circumstances make it uttertly difficult to live a normal life in a particular social and political environment. And ripple effects from Iran war will multiply disasters in different regions of the world. Even United States, Britain and Israel will not be celebrating victories they initial would win.

Wars will lead to more wars.  What Israel and America  should realise is that there is no war to end all wars. No religion that can supersede all other beliefs and no race ointed to rule all other races.

There is only peace to end all wars. And harmony to counter all unrests.

Monday, May 20, 2019

General Election of India.

Whoever comes to power in India, the fundamental policy of India towards Bhutan will not change. Our Kingdom will be treated as a " Protectorate " though less aggressively by non-Congress Indian government. It is up to Bhutanese leadership to define our national priority in our national sovereign interest. 

Yes, Doklam transgression under a non- congress Indian government is fresh on my mind. But no Indian government will repeat the ill advised Doklam blunder again. In the Indian mis-venture, Bhutan suffered deeply partly because we had our share of misplaced faith in India. It is never ok to presume that our national interests aligns with that of another nation including India.

Who comes to power in India is not as important to Bhutanese as how our own leaders proceed, hereafter. It is for Bhutan to have our own " Jinnah " Wangchuck who can lead the Kingdom to  develop and preserve our nation as a proactive relevant  buffer state  between India and China and have sovereign relationship with both of our south and north neighbours.

The exit polls in India shows BJP back in power. I guess it was kind of foregone conclusion though the win may not be as solid as predicted. I remember calling Amit Shah an election wizard. He has not lost his magic.  Modi is King Arthur and Amit Shah is Merlin the genius wizard. I am just wondering what would  Amit Shah's portfolio be in the 2nd inning. Will he be Deputy Prime Minister cum Party President or Deputy PM with Home Ministry portfolio. Will Jaitley be ousted? Not important to an outsider but just playing a game of speculation.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

A Distress Call to Education Ministry.

1. Rule was there regarding minimum age for PP admission. One reason for the rule was pressure of admission in government schools prior to Private School comings. Another reason was young children demanded more attention therefore more teachers which government schools could not afford. But now Private schools charge the fees and provide the needed care in PP classes.

2. The former Cabinets, education Mimisters and Secretaries did not strictly enforce  the rule on PP admission age for valid reasons and circumstances. Thus  restriction rather than complete ban was exercised.

3. What proven exercises and practices  made education ministry decide that the children of 5 years age are unfit for PP standard?  I think it is based on old fashion thoughts. The children of today are far more savy at 5 years age than we were at age 8 during those feudal rural era in Bhutan. Are we referring to international standards?  Well there was an incident in an  American school where a gun wielding 13 year student shot down several colleagues. That is the product of the most  developed nation's schooling standard. Bhutan can do without such standards.

Do not think our 5 years old are too young or retarded to begin PP standard. Wake up! We have as elected MPs and Cabinet Ministers who are just few year old graduates. Please repay in same terms that trust and confidence you received from your country men to our 5 year old children to qualify them for PP standard.

Dear Education Minister and Secretary,  in what standard would our beloved Gyalsey be upon completion of 6 years of age. In PP? I read private tutoring began at three and half. Apart from man made social and political hierachy differences, inborn natural talent is not differenciated by birth. We are all human whether born a  prince or a pauper.

4. Please conduct a field study/  research of student progress in the past years. How have these supposed early PP students fared in schools ( primary, junior and high schools) . Study Police delinquency records and examine if any at all among early PP students are among the lists of Primary, Junior, High or even college delinquents. It is very unlikely that such early PP students  had brush with laws in their academic years.

In fact this stupid blind sighted education policy of age 6 and above only  admissions in PP have caused mainly over aged poor children into the goonda culture . This sick education policy is responsible for most of the ill  fates of many of our have-not-youth population today.

5. At one time,  it was a necessity to administer institutions based on adhoc rules. But now such rules based on presumptions, assumptions, temporary respite, anti- poor, whims and arbitarial idea must give way to substantive reasoning and public need basis.

This Education Ministry is into appointing teacher teams set to sexually abuse  students and Inspector teams to victimise PP students already at home in their education environment. Pray what is it that make you people at Education Ministry act so violently towards your wards?

National social crisis highlighted recently by Kuensel needs patient study and through examination and corrective institutional overhaul.

1. The culture of Police Terrorism of students.

A class XI student was terrorised by police team to the extent of being driven to hang himself to death. It seems that the young student tried to escape a follow up ( repeated )  interrogations by running away from the room he was detained in.  But he was chased by Police and others into the forest nearby the school which probably caused him to hang himself as the only way to escape his tormenters. How horrifying!

The Police Chief and the Authority above him ( Home Minister/ Prime Minister even  the Supreme Commander of RBP )  may already have  noted that the Police Team had  over- reacted beyond all measures and necessities. The triangle relationship between the School Principal- the Canteen Woman- Police OC seems very firm. Otherwise the physically absent  Principal who issued directives to his Deputy or the Police OC could have contained the incident within reasonable limit.

i) According to Kuensel, the case was an attempted theft from a school canteen. The purported thief/ thieves stole nothing but left behind a bag and a footwear. The bag suggests the intent was to steal some edibles by some hungry person/ persons. By all accounts, it was a minor incident that was blown out of proportion by what seems to be a well connected influential woman who was the canteen owner.

ii) The ( very influential) canteen woman had the school management take attendance of all students in the hostel in the dead of the night after the incident. All students were found present.

iii) Then in the morning, she had the Police people round up all students from Classes IX to XII. Must have been over thousand students who were humilated and terrified by the Police for a purported incident that had caused no material loss and no personnel injury. Highly uncalled for aggravated response from law enforcement Police Body.

iv) Next, further interrogations of selected possible suspect students one by one. Then narrowed down to further interrogations of two students.  Such terrorising by Police of innocent fragible minds finally caused the fatal act of  suicide.

My God! It was a minor incident of a failed attempt to steal some edibles from a school canteen. It was not an act of terrorism that Police Team was called upon to deal.

Why such heavy handling by law officers?

All I can conclude is that the Police Chief must have received more graphic detailed report from his Crime Division. The case was hushed up until it was out there in the social media. Only then it seems Police shared it with Kuensel. Sad Kingdom.

Please note our high school students may look tall and strong but they are very young in age of 13-15 years old  and at  susceptible immature stage. They cannot mentally survive without suffering fatal damage such Police Terrorism Interrogation methods.

2. The other social crisis is the sex scandal in a college run by a monk Director. The unnerving  fear is that this could be happening in several colleges and even in few Central Schools. The education culture and system has been guinea pigs for political managers for quite sometime. 

The immediate identified culprits are very bad but the education environment seems to have turned into an evil nest.  Too many high flying official visits and loud and varied  lectures on Tsawa Sum disciplines and no meaningful educational contributions. Varieties of culture activities and "Chadies" ( VIP welcome arrangements) have led to excessive  physical and social interactions among students and teaching staffs which results in unhealthy intimacy. And often the Directors of such education Institutions are engaged in other out of institute activities or responsibilities.

A sad nation we have become  in so many aspects with Police terrorising fragible minds to suicide and teachers and students seducing each other for fringe benefits of sexual favours  for teachers and possibly  pocket money plus exam question paper for students. Those involved individuals are bad but the system and top administrators are worse for causing the  creation of such vile environment.  Time to examine our self conscience.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The politics of hydro projects and etcs. between Bhutan and India.

1. For over a year back,  it was said that India will be electrical power surplus. And Bhutanese hydro power projects will not have assurred future market in India.

2. This time it is being said that energy requirement in India is huge. And co-operation between Bhutan and India in hydroprojects is " win-win " ( courtesy Kuensel article on  formalisation of GOI assistance to Bhutanese12th Plan ).

3. The undeniable fact is that India is a huge developing nation with several metropolitan regions under clouds of smog.

4. India,  therefore, needs clean  hydro-electricity energy like a desert needing water.

5. However,  if India had succeeding in her endeavour to woo Nepal away from China by offering generous hydro project deals, Bhutan was not worth the attention.

6. Fortunately for Bhutan, Nepal whilst very interested in  preserving the ties with India, had moved forward in expanding geo-political and economic relationship with China including hydro projects, military and transit investments.

7. India is unable to stop Sino- Nepal hydro projects etcs because of geography.  But India has put an end to pipeline dream of Bangla- Druk hydroproject because of geographical advantage India enjoys.

8. Ofcourse if India wants to screw Bhutan which she does in many different ways, she can easily forgo electricity import from Bhutan and carry out another Doklam type military transgession. This time in Southern Bhutan under the pretext of securing her national security interest. The same ludicrous reason for stopping Southern Bhutan Highway.

9. What stops India from cornering Bhutan to the ulitimate edge of the ledge is that successive Indian Administrations at New Delhi have been haunted by the inscrutable genes of the 3rd King of Bhutan.

10. I do not think that India will ever forget HM King Jigme Dorji Wangchhuk because of the Royal no nonsense demand for UN Membership of Bhutan and recognition of Bangladesh as a sovereign nation before India did. And His Majesty the King never ever under valued the priceless gem of China  factor for Bhutanese sovereignty.

11. The respect and wariness of India for the 3rd King was such that PM Indira Gandhi of India was able to issue the ultimum to the Choegyal of Sikkim only after the sudden death of the King of Bhutan. Bhutan did not suffer the same fate of Sikkim perhaps because of the same priceless China factor that the Great far sighted 3rd King had nourished.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Foreign Minister's take on Pay Commission proposal ( courtesy Kuensel ).

The Cabinet spokesperson has confirmed that the government would look into this pay commission package  and make changes where deemed essential within the parameters. Overall the position expressed by the Foreign Minister is encouraging.

I do not wish to comment on pay raises and percentages because whether fair or not, there is an increase. But the cruel joke on mileage makes all else appear a heavy handed top heavy soelrey from Pay Commission.

If national harmony ( gaa kyi ) and equitable welfare ( kidu )  is to have a chance to survive in the long run, it is advisable to limit short changing the masses. Regardless of any pretext, there is no excuse other than harrassment and belittling the contributions of mid level officers in nation building by reducing the mileage rate from NU: 16 to Nu:10 when cost of fuel, maintenance and car price rises every year. I guess those getting Nu: 7 mileage would be happy with the increase to Nu:10. They will still be taking more days to travel because bus would be their mode of transportation.

Foreign Minister and his cabinet colleagues must realise that pool vehicle is limitted and lower rank officers in P level must wait out their turn to avail pool vehicle. This translates to postphoning  field trips thus delay in project monitoring  that leads to project completion delay and sub standard. And worse that results in under performance in annual individual performance rating.  A double edge sword that wounds officers both ways.  And hiring of vehicle  is far more expensive than Nu:16 per Kms. rate unless ofcourse there is a group of officers  travelling to the same destination from the same office ( this is already in practice ).  Local mileage or halting charges must be paid for hired vehicle.

It is not at all proper to demand or expect officers to travel together in one car owned by one of the officers. Such situation leads to I owe you cases and even avoidable intimacy. With today's worldly characters,  even same sex sharing a private car can be a fertile opportunity for sexual harrassment. Further, safety wise, it is not advisable to travel together unless it is a pool vehicle or office hired car driven by a professional driver whose sole duty is to drive the car. 

The mileage paid is point to point ( example Thimphu Lungtenzampa to Paro Town ) and does not cover local usage like driving to Kichu or Drugyel Dzong area or halting charges for the night.  Also in case of accidental damage enroute, the necessary repair is not done at office cost.  There is always an element of the risk factor when performing official duty driving self owned car.

At Nu: 10 per Kms mileage, no one will use self car. Maybe scooter or bike.  It just does not pay to risk driving self car from Thimphu to Paro for Nu: 560 ( a distance of 56 kms.) and no local mileage claim unlike hired vehicle nor halt charges.   When you force officers to travel by bus or taxi for economic reasons, the output too would be minimum from an exhausted and harrassed traveller. Further tour days will naturally increase. For example a person could drive early from Thimphu  and attend a meeting in Paro the whole day and return late in the evening and report  next day to office for duty if pool vehicle or self car is used. But with Nu: 10 mileage, private car will not be used and other transportation will not be so convenient. Thus for one day Paro meeting, 3 days will be foregone.

A Pay Commission comprising of elites who are entitled to duty vehicle with driver has  recommended  Nu: 10,000 per month award to red scarfs and reduced mileage rate by 40% for mid level officers. With such heavy handed elite group determining national policies, DNT formed government would be hard pressed to close any gap. In fact no elected government can serve the interest of the masses when throttled by such elite biased constitutional agencies.

Nevertheless, I hope the Cabinet is able to look into this ludicrous proposal of Pay Commission and other issues with both insight and foresights.  It may not be possible to please every individual with the pay package but most do recognise genuine attempts at fairness. As for red scarfs, there will be money for Nu: 10000 monthly treat. Afterall this is the Bhutanese way " pour water where there is rain " and let small fish wriggle by the wayside.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Pay Commission Proposal.

Looks like the Cabinet has looked it over and found it satisfactory. The civil servants would find it much better deal than the last pay raise under PDP Cabinet. But many should at least credit PDP Cabinet for the 20% house rent that was not there for most civil servants and tax exemption enhanced to Nu: 200,000 and further waiving off tax on fixed deposits to encourage savings for retirement. These PDP initiatives  have far reaching livelihood enhancement impacts. 

1. The proposal by this Pay Commission for annual increment of 5%  for " civil servants " seems rational. But why be coy and not mention others like elected people and constitutional appointees? After all they will get heftier increases as per set  precedents.

2. What can be defined as Pay Commission's absolute hypocrisy is in recommending over 30% hike in MP's allowances for driver, fuel and maintenance ( reasoning must be inflation ) and reducing mileage claim to Nu.10 from Nu:16 per kms. It could make some rational  sense if the reduction is applicable only to MPs ( presume not at all agreeable  to MPs ) and not for civil servants who get nothing in terms of driver, fuel and maintenance. 

For record, I do not disagree with increase in MP allowances. They deserve more. After all they too faced election rigours just like the cabinet Ministers and unlike those appointed to constitutional posts who too, enjoy duty vehicle with driver. Thus MPs such allowances are comparatively much lower.

What a shame in increasing perks for some and hammering the real lead workers ( civil servants in P grade ) by reducing mileage rate drastically by 40% instead of increasing the same ). A typical demonstration of oppressive administration by the elite group.

There cannot be cost saving by this rediculous and insensitive bullying reduction  because hired cars will cost more than Nu:16 per kms. And civil servants will be compelled to either wait  their turn to  use scarce  Pool vehicle or hire vehicle for official travel away from station. This will affect quality of service to the people and the nation. Why did Pay Commission envy a little income of civil servants from mileage?

I hope MPs can stand up against such economic bullying and disparity. Looks like all Pay Commission members enjoy duty vehicles with drivers. So mileage rate does not bother them. Bullied  civil servants in mid grade cannot do much but MPs can. Good Luck if you all have the courage.

3. I wish to thank the Prime Minister for declaring that Pensions will not be taxed. It must be a huge relief to Pensioners not just in terms of financial relief but also the hazzle of PIT filing. Few years back,  I had written about the need to waive off taxes on  Pensions. I felt it would be a genuine thank you to those retirees who helped  build the nation. Just for the few who think everything is for personal benefit, I am not a Pensioner and will never be one. 

However, I felt that the oft repeated phrase by so many Speakers " our forefathers built this nation " should have some tangible meaning not just empty rhetorics. And one substantive way would be doing away with tax on Pension and also in freeing our seniors from the insolent attitude of our young tax officers at Regional Revenue offices. By the way, to all those who think and state aloud in social media that senior people are senile and should be shoved off in hermitage of  wilderness corners,  your family elders including your unfortunate parents dead or living have my sympathy and respects.

4.This thing of Nu: 10,000 per month for serving red scarf officers. I have no hard and  fast views. Red Scarf is a royal prerogative and is a novelty but not a noble service. As for "noble service " the nation has medals for both military and civilians. I have observed that starting from the 3rd King; our successive Wangchuck Kings have adopted different goals in exercising this royal prerogative. 

HM the 3rd King, used it to boost the confidence and authority of Bhutanese administrators who took over from Indian administrators. In instituting the orange scarf, the King was also endowing to a limitted but in a purposeful way  the royal aura to the Lhengyes. The 4th King used it to build an efficient and well educated coterie of national administrators. And the 5th King seems to be converting all other  coloured scarfs  to post entitlement and   elevating the red scarf as pure honorary royal title to confer upon royal chosen ones.

I do not know about the monetary value of red, blue and green scarf or that of lumar or orange scarfs. I think the nominal allowance of Nu:100  was for meeting cost of the kamni and.maintaining its colour. Those days, pay too was nominal. Many in the past were awarded orange scarf after the red scarf. So if tradition has any value in present context, orange is above red.  Red scarf was for nykem ( 1st class officer rank ) and orange for Lhengye Wongma ( Deputy Minister )  and orange scarf with folds for Lyengye Gongma ( Minister ). In the Central Monastic body the same traditional  ranking is still observed.

Whatever the fate of past practice about colour Kamnis,  I do not think it is fair to assume that the Pay Commission Chairman is responsible  for this red scarf fee proposal. I do not believe that Dasho Penjor a red scarf officer and Governor of Royal Monetary Authority would take advantage of his chairmanship of Pay Commission to reward himself. He is a far better person. The proposal cannot be his initiative. It is too crude a way for such a cultured personality who was even Dasho Zimpon not so long ago.  Anyway such  fee seems more appropriate  as a kind of welfare consideration for such honoured persons upon retirement from active service  to supplement their pension. That way no red scarf officer need to struggle for livelihood like commoners during the  retirement years. The present highly honoured and highly  paid Dashos  could do without the additional  subsistance monthly payment whilst on active service.

Any way, apart from the PBI ( performance based incentive ) and mileage reduction cases,  all other proposals could sail through the Parliament including the fee for red scarf.  The Prime Minister has expressed some genuine reservation on implementation of PBI. And MPs would be worthless if they cannot collectively prevent being bullied  along with P category civil servants by the mileage taunt.

The Valley of Haa.

Haa is blessed as so connoted by the name itself. There is the huge towering Tsebarme mountain range rising from Korey hill at Haa Tserphel under Eusu geog and finally sinking  at Bji geog  where the geog office is located. If you happen to view the Tsebarme mountain range from the summit of Chelela, you would be  awe struck. The range itself has many folds. What I have described above is the inner most fold facing the Haa river. The outer most range  perhaps runs from north international border of Sino-Bhutan to India crossing the tri-junction at Doklam. And within the holds of this inner fold  of Tsebarme range are the three pyramid shaped  hills of Risum Goenpos ' Jampelyang, Chenrenzi and Chhana Dorji  and land mark spiritual centres of  Jangphu Gompa, Sheykar Dra, Taakchu Gompa, Drana Gompa. And ofcourse the twin black and white  temples of Lhakhang Nagpo and Karpo.

Haa Lhakhang Karpo though publicly  known as Ap Chhundu Densa, the main auspicious spiritual aura is the statue of Tsebarme. If a Bhutanese visit Lhakhang Karpo, it would most probably be  to pray to Ap Chhundu the famous Deity of Haa. And if you happen to seek guidance in the future through dice prediction, the number 7 is the most sought out. However, you should be overjoyed if the number happens to be 10. You have guardian Tsebarme and Risum Goenpos looking after your affairs.  Then about 700 metres above Lhakhang Karpo, is the Lhakhang Nagpo built on a hidden lake. The Deity is Dra-dho-chen and main spiritual statue is Jho. There is also the Tsomin of the hidden lake.  But the central spirituality  of Lhakhang Nagpo is the Goenkhang. Thus the forbidding grey colour of the Temple. In here those who are knowledgeable of the essence, come to pray to Pel Yeshey Goenpo and Palden Lhamo. And if you are granted the dice number 9, your troubles are over and path cleared of all obstacles. Lhakhang Karpo did not have a GoenKhang because it is at the twin Lhakhang Nagpo. Since the renovation of Lhakhang Karpo, I have noticed a small window size chamber for GoenKhang.  In my view, an unnecessary duplication that separates rather than compliments the spiritual oneness of the Twin black and white Temples. Thimphu Changangkha has a real duplication of Lhakhang Karpo and Nagpo. The structures are separate but at the same place. The grey temple houses the Goenkhang and the larger white structure houses the Chhathong Chenthong with other Buddhism guardians and local deity. 

There are different stories surrounding the
black and white twin temples of Haa. At one time in recent Bhutan, some officials for whatever reasons tried to bring forward the the establishment years of the black and white twin temples. Now there is a trend of dating them to the times of King Sortsen Goenpo at par with Paro Kichu Lhakhang and Jamba Lhakhang in Bumthang. It is possible that statues of Tsebarme and Jho were installed during Sortsen Goenpo time possibly after enlarging the existing  structures. However, both Ap Chhundu and Dra-dho-chen are Bon Deities and predates Buddhism in Bhutan and Tibet. So it is quite clear that the location of spiritual establishment at the sites of present twin temples were much before Kichu and Jamba temples. 

The main original abode of Ap Chhundu is the Mount Chhundu Gang in the extreme north of Haa Valley near the international borders of Bhutan and China. Ap Chhundu was born in Tibet. At one time many Tibetans made annual visit to Haa to make offering and seek protection from Ap Chhundu. Today only people from Paro come to pay their annual respects.The legend of Ap Chhundu is preserved in the ballad cum dance known as Chhundu Gongshey once  performed by Khendums and passed down ages is still enacted by ladies dressed as Khendums. There is also the much revered Ap Chhundu temple known as GyeChhu Lhakhang under Bji geog.  Then again under Bji geog, at the extreme headof Talung Village Valley the base of which is Jangkakha plateau lies the original abode of Dra-dho-chen and his consort Tsomin. The huge dark cliff that towers over the landscape rises from the half hidden and half visible lake.

Guru Rinpoche is supposed to have visited Haa. Juney Dra, Sheyka Dra and the famous cave nye under Sombay geog are attributed to Guru visits.  Juney Dra temple has one footprint of Khendro Yeshey Tsogyel whilst the print of the other foot is at Paro Taktsang.  

On the opposite side of Risum pyramid hills are the three magical high ridges that branch out into Haa valley from the high mountain range that divide the valleys of Paro and Haa. And  in between their folds the two villages of Wangtsa and Katsho are nestled. The northern ridge known as Drachen Gang drops down to the bridge above Haa town. I rever it as the abode of Chhoe Gyalpo the Lord of Death. At the rocky base is the huge natural image of Chhoe Gyalpo. The real one whose mask image bless you at every Tsechu festivals.  Then in the centre dropping down to Sinchu- pang directly in front of Haa town and Ugyen Dorji School is Dra Gang the rocky hill. I rever it as the abode of Tandin the ferocious form of Chenrezi. It is quite easy to distinguish the horse head shape. Next is the Tok- Kha ridge. Legend had it that the summit  of this ridge is shaped in the form of mystical snow lion the Singye Karm. The Singye Karm faces the DumChho village on the other side of the river. And in that village there is said to be the rock bowl the container of milk offering to the mystical snow lion. Singye Karm is the ride of Namsey and Tserim. My beloved birth village Wangtsa is in between the Dragang the rocky hill Tandin shape and Tok Kha ridge of Namsey Tserim Singye Karm. If so blessed comprehensively, I should live long and wisely contended. Each of us have our own little dreams that guide our individual life. Such is mine.

Haa has many lakes especially in the high mountains of the north. But most famous is Nob Tsona Patra towards the south. So many legends of Nob Lang, golden pillar, the priceless cymbal and Terton Lama and beautiful  khendum from Tendu Thang who took refuge at another lake Tselung Tsokha from our very own Ap Wang Drugyel alike Ap Luni Tshering Dorji. In addition there are prophesied hidden lakes as in black and white lakes in the form of locations of Katsho village and Naktso village under Katsho geog. There are no  lakes as such visible to the naked eye. But the abundance of water in these two villages stand testimony to existence of hidden lakes within the towering hills. 

The legend of lakes Katsho and Naktso  originates with the Sinchu-Pang seasonal stream at Lhayulkha ( paradise ) village now major part of Haa township. The water of Sinchu chu is warm in Winter and cold in Summer. And the stream dries up for about 4 months beginning Spring season. Legend has it that the stream Tsomin goes to Paro to receive blessings from Paro Guru Thongdrel. This stream is said to be the same seasonal brook above Taaju village in Paro that appears during the Spring season. I have not been able to check physically the occurrence at Paro. But I am familar with the natural behaviour of Sinchu chu in Haa. Legend has it that   a golden and a silver colour birds were supposed to have flown from the huge poplar tree popularly known as Sinchu Kashi  at the Sinchu chu source. Where the gold colour bird nested a white lake was formed and where the silver colour bird nested a black lake was formed.

When people of Haa say prayers for Haa, they often recite the main Valley shape as from north Gyechukha to south Dhorithasa. However, Haa jurisdiction once stretched from Sino- Bhutan border in the north till south the Samtse Dzongkhag on the Indo- Bhutan border.  During Shabdrung time in Bhutan, Haa and Jabana known as Haa Jabana where Ap Chhundu archery range is located  were not under Shabdrung rule. Thats why Ap Chhundu the main Deity of Haa was not included in the offerings that  the Central Monk Body regularly made to other Deities. The Bon Lamas exercised administrative power over Haa and Haa Jabana. Later in history, today's Dzongkhags of Haa, Paro, Chukha and Samtse were under Paro Penlop after the period of Shabdrung rule. The change  probably took place during the time of the all powerful Penlop Haap  who was the Paro Penlop from Haa.  After the establishment of Wangchuck dynasty, the administrative jurisdiction of Haa was granted to the Family of hon'ble  Kazi Ugyen Dorji who also looked after the administration of the whole of Southern Belt of Bhutan. Traditionally, Haa provided the vital trade route for Bhutanese traders with  India and Tibet. Today Haa remains cut off from Tibet and denied the commercial prominence as the main trade route to both India and China Tibet. In addition to being a trade route, Haa also was the centre of modern education in Bhutan. All that were in the past.

Yet everything  is not lost. In the last 25 years or so, the people of Haa has been blessed by the spiritual powers and benevolence of His Holiness the 70th Je Khenpo. The Chhundu Tsokpa had built a solid bridge of love, affection and reverence between His Holiness and all ages of Haa people. And with blessings of Haa ChhoeChangs and Deities, His Holiness began the 1st Moelom Chhenmo at Haa. Since then, all 20 Dzongkhags have introduced the annual Moenlom Chhenmo. Thus the traditional central role of trade, commerce and education have been replaced by pivotal spiritual and cultural role.   May the fortune of Haa flourish and may His Holiness Je khenpo Trulku Jigme Choedra enjoy long life and good health.

For the people of Haa, I have this simple message. Haa has always looked after herself and have selflessly stood up for our beloved Druk Yul. We have played our immense contributory roles in the shaping of the Dratsang and the national civil administration over several centuries. Haa respects the dual system. In my lifetime, three Wangchuck Kings have thanked the people of Haa for our unwavering loyalties to the King, Druk Yul and Bhutanese society. We also have a inborn natural instinct to preserve the identity of Haa.

There is a very strong presence of Indian Army in Haa and the physical heart  of Haa Valley land lies under IMTRAT establishment. But our spirit is free and powerful. The sovereign dignity of Haa Valley is indispensable part of the sovereign dignity of Druk Yul. This is the reason why Haa must remain free and courageous despite overehelming pressure of occupation often facilitated by Royal Bhutan Army which actually should be defending the right of Haa Valley and help  people to stand free of foreign army yoke. The Royal Bhutan Army ( RBA )  has been hogging up territorities that once were recreational  and grazing areas  of local communities lying in the periphery of Haa Wangchuck Lo- Dzong that houses Imtrat Head Quarter. And then surrendering the same for Indian Army use and control. Thus Royal Bhutan Army has become the conduit for silent takeover in Haa by Indian Army. This trend has got to stop.

I observed a physical change at Imtrat establishment at Haa on the eve of 2017 National Day celebration. It was a pleasant surprise last year at the time of National Day when I saw HM portrait inplace of that huge Imtrat Army Training poster.   For me the sight of  the HM portrait transformed the whole outlook of what was the superior dominant Indian colony into  a foreign settlement but still subject to the Laws of the Kingdom of Bhutan.

I thought the Indian Army had put up the King's portrait to show reverence for the sovereign dignity of their host nation. But it was not so. The Haa Dzongdag with credible foresight and wisdom had tactfully got it done. I thank him for his sincerity and intent. This royal portrait which  Dasho Dzongdag Kinzang Dorji had the wisdom and tact to install at the entrance to Imtrat establishment somehow dominates over what was absolutely a distinct Indian Army domain  in the heart of Haa Valley. The civil administration in Haa endeavours to preserve the dominance of Haaps over the Valley of Haa. However, such well intented objectives can be easily washed away if more territiories in Haa are engulfed by the Indian Army in the name of Royal Bhutan Army. I hope the love and dedication  of His Majesty the King for Haa and her people will  prevent further encroachment and in fact gradually reduce such foreign presence.

By the grace of our Deities, the benevolence of the King, the prayers of His Holiness Je Khenpo Trulku Jigme Choedra  and by our own inspirations of birth, may the Valley of Haa and the Haaps enjoy peace and prosperity in happiness and in solidarity. May Risum Goenpos prevail under the graceful watch of Goen Tsebarme. 



Saturday, April 6, 2019

Why we Bhutanese are never self sufficient even though we are better off?

1. We rather talk of what others have instead of what our own needs are.

2. How many of us drive a car of over 200,000 kms old even if we can afford a new car? 

3. How many of us change our place of residence from urban to rural setting because its more affordable and our income can be  stretched further?

4. How many of us are contended  with the attitude  " Oh! I do not know how that fellow is far better off. We hold the same type of jobs. Ahm!  He must be corrupted ".  We never examine how differently we live our life style and never bother to realise how much some work harder to do better.

5. We think life is like " provident fund composition " i.e.  50% our contribution and 50 % from somebody else. It is not.

For most people " Self Sufficiency " is 100% your own effort and 100% care in spending on  what you must absolutely have. As hard as we work to earn, we need to try even harder not to spend on things we can do without. Not renting a bigger apartment because you can afford it. Not buying a new and bigger car because you got a raise.  And certainly not upgrading your lifestyle because you are promoted to the next grade.

Today I came across a CNN interview of Mr.Emilio Estevez actor/ director/ writer son of Martin Sheen. He drives himself and thinks nothing of 4 hours drive. And he said he enjoyed driving his 280,000 Kms old car. He had moved to Cincinnati because "  it is more affordable than HollyWood and New York ". He stuck to the original family name " Estevez " and not his father's filmy surname " Sheen " because he wanted to strike on his own ( this last part I googled because I wanted to find out why the differing surname ? ).

" Success " and " Sufficiency " is measured by different people in varying ways. For me " success is having family members including relatives on talking and dealing terms at both  good and bad times ". And " sufficiency is development of self ability to live within means and feel gratification with hard work of past years and contend with the present age ".  I felt self sufficient and successful even as a barefoot patched "gho " farm boy walking to school in Summer and collecting firewood along with herding cows in Winter. And ofcourse collecting water from the near by stream was an every evening chore for all boys and girls of all ages. Only the sizes of containers varied to strength and age. I was like any other village child. Happy, hardworking and contend and these qualities never left me. Not sorry that I do not envy you..

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Bhutanese Czars of Plastic and culture.

Bhutanese official minions love stretching powers to the extreme? Or they are under secretive orders?

1. In late 1980s, Dzongkhag officials in the South took culural aspiration to the extreme by intruding into the homes of southerners to penalise/ harrass anyone not wearing gho and kira. Thus in the process created a conducive environment for anti- monarchy sentiment.  

2. Today in 2019, Phuentsholing Thromde and Police started confisticating plastic carry on bags in the month of March,  much ahead of 1st April the government declared effective day for ban on plastic bags. 

3. And come April now the officials are snooping into shops including refrigerators sniffing out plastic to harass business enterprises. Seems such police and Thromde vigilante teams  are partly out to settle past personal scores/ grievances or they are under different directive?

Cannot welcome another social unrest. But such things here and there coupled with many other things could end the peacefulness of this Druk Yul. Please DNT governnent, why this DISTRACTION ? Can be costly in more ways than imagined. Do not take away the all important feeling of secured harmony within the Bhutanese society.

Let us preserve and promote our culture. Let us tackle this plastic pollution. But why the extreme measures to disrupt and destroy social harmony and harrass the society at the slightest pretext?