Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Kingdom so full of crisis in the mode of the Constitution.

I just wonder how and why there are such strong forces to chip away the formative rock of Constitution of Bhutanese democracy ?

In a span of a week this month, two mighty institutions the RCSC and the Ecclesiastical Body have probed the spine of democracy.

1. The Chairman of Royal Civil Service Commission ( RCSC) has called upon the Law Makers to soon frame a law to outlaw for 3 years the participation in democratic election process by those civil servants and office bearers of apolitical offices after their resignation from such Posts.

This is deliberately aimed at subverting participation in democratic process by those experienced and well known personalities. Such anti democracy laws if enacted would ensure that Political Parties would always remain weak not just financially as is the present situation  but also in future remain much weaker in terms of able human resources.  ( refer Kuensel issue of 9th May,2015 under article on Cooling Off period ).

2. The highly regarded and respected Ecclesiastical Central Monastic Body has opposed the Slaughter and Meat Processing Project undertaken by the Government to meet the demand of quality meat products of beef, pork, chicken and fish. The objection is based on Buddhist religion and sentiments.

As a Buddhist , it is just not conscientiously possible to fault the demand of the Central Monastic Body. Therefore with due respect I shall simply present the other side of outlook from the point of livelihood and economic sustainability and constitution aspects.

1. This is not the first slaughter house project in the Buddhist Kingdom.  Many years back, a slaughter house for supply of beef was established in Phuentsholing. It died a commercial death within a short duration. The slaughter house could not compete in price with the beef supply from butcher shops that got their beef supplies directly from India.

The irony is that in the later years the Central Monastic Body had constructed a huge complex in what used to be a market area for vegetable vendors and butcher shops in Phuentsholing town. And few of the tenants were butcher shopkeepers selling beef, pork, chicken and fish.

Bhutan imports a huge quantity of raw meat and processed meat products from India and other Countries. This huge import cost is a drain on the scarce foreign currencies especially Indian Rupees. The slaughter and meat processing product project does hurt the national Buddhist sentiment. A Buddhist cannot defend this project without casting the eyes down upon the feet in moral  and spiritual shame. And for me who have worshipped the ecclesiastical body so deeply and truly, it is doubly heart wrenching.

But what about national economic sustainability goal, the need to develop agro industries and create jobs in construction, on farms, in manufacturing, packaging, transport and transportation, marketing and retailing ? Today the numerous egg farms in Bhutan have reduced dependence on imported eggs and so would the meat processing plant if the same is accepted.

Bhutanese have traditionally lived off the land and domestic animals. Slaughtering animal for basic dietary requirement is not a new present day trend. This existed along with practice of Bon and Buddhism Beliefs. Only in the last several years ,the culture of Tsethar was so forcefully propagated
to the detriment of the livelihood of the yak herders. In the near future , yak herding will be a story of the past thanks to the stigma imposed by narrow tsether minds.

Monks and laymen have harmoniously lived not just side by side but mingled interdependently for so many centuries in understanding tolerance of each others livelihood needs and spiritual essence. Must transgressions and dominance be promoted in this present age?

The Constitution of Bhutan states that Bhutan is a Secular Kingdom. Many voices appealed for the nation to preserve Buddhism as the State Religion during the public consultation of the draft constitution. I submitted a written appeal to the Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee in addition to making a public appeal to His Majesty during consultation in Haa Dzongkhag.

I submitted that international community would understand and accept for a known Buddhist Kingdom the right to preserve its age old tradition of Buddhism as state religion even under constitutional monarchy democratic system. The new system need only to permit religious freedom to those of other faiths. I also appealed for preservation of traditional political participatory role of the Central Monastic Body. However, the approved Constitution did away with the centuries old tradition of central monastic role in national politics and Buddhism as state religion. Monks are not even allowed to vote let alone exercise say. So how would the nation  address this appeal by the ecclesiastical body ?

Now how does the Parliament or the Government deal with the letter of appeal from the Central Monastic Body demanding the scrapping of the slaughter house project on grounds of compassion for sentient beings ?

The Government can of course scrap the project and fulfill the ecclesiastical wish of the Dratsang to whom the whole nation turn to whenever faced with national  crisis and natural calamity. The appeal letter has already warned of the wrath of the Providence. In terms of economic calculation this meat project is peanuts compared to the economic and sovereign fallouts that the nation suffers from the scrapping of the South Bhutan Highways.

Maybe the constitutional democratic leaderships of Bhutan can close both their eyes to the principles of the Constitution and national sovereignty. And if the intent of RCSC Chairman is legislated by the Parliament,the principal of democracy too will become a blind man light.



  1. "Bhutanese have traditionally lived off the land and domestic animals. Slaughtering animal for basic dietary requirement is not a new present day trend. This existed along with practice of Bon and Buddhism Beliefs" Truly agreed sir.

  2. Since many has not read my article. I would like to post it here. Inconvenience regretted for those who read my article already.
    . Not to Slaughterhouse appeal
    The main reason for such cruel way of making money as we have been told is because of economic reasons. Let me put my case here on different grounds.
    The animal slaughterhouse will not create any job or minimal jobs (if any) because like any industries in Bhutan or Nepal the people who will be working will be Indians. Mostly Indian Muslims.Bhutanese will not work for such jobs. Therefore the money flows to India again.
    The animal farms will need huge quantity of grains to feed them. As per many researches in west, animal farm needs more grains than we normally eat if we directly ate plants. Now the question arises, where will we bring all the grains? From India to flow out Rupees? Or are we going to plant in Bhutan by replacing already insufficient vegetable and rice fields? Bhutan has only 6% arable land, mind that. This means we want to grow meat and import more vegetables and rice. Do we want vegetable prices to shoot up and meat price to go down?. Does it solve problem of economy? Not at all.
    I wonder what is our National Environment Commission doing. NEC makes sure our climate harmful projects do not get through. If NEC has done a smallest homework, they will know animal farms emit more Green House Gas than all the vehicles combined. On one hand NEC very strict on our industries and on other hand it's ok to relaxed rule implementation. Just google it. Some countries in the west have policies to reduce consumption of meat. For example check policies in Germany and some Europe. They are correcting their mistake and here we are making mistake knowingly. NEC wake up please. NEC should propose green tax on meat. Methane depletes ozone more than cars.
    Our own dratshang Lhentshok is supposed to spread compassion and the teachings or Lord Buddha. Buddha's statue is seen as a symbol of peace and non violence and we see even in non buddhist houses. I heard our Dratshang Lhengtshok is writing a letter of plea to our leaders. I hope it has already been written to stop this cruel business. I hope our leaders are listening.
    There are multiple negative impact of meat. If we are seriously wanting to tackle the problem of high meat import, tax it. Vehicle tax did not work because people have no viable alternative. That is why people still bought cars. Our public transport is horrible and electric cars is seen not viable. But meat can be taxed because there is a viable alternative vegetables. Till date because of higher meat price, people do not eat much meat except for well off people. Go to villages, meat is only served for special occasions. Their normal diet is vegetables. So the point is if meat is expensive, the consumption will reduce. That is simple economics. The elasticity of meat is high. But if you put animal farms and kill more, people will eat more and more. Like in the west, Bhutanese will be eating meat more than vegetables. Is that what Government wants? US is one third overweight with numerious lifestyle dieseases. U.S. Pays a lot on their health. Cancers is linked to red meat. Please think in long term.
    Taxing meat wil also bring more resources in government's budget. To curb import of meat, Gvoernment can promote vegetarian foods. Encourage different recipes of vegetarians.
    I urge government not to take easy and short sighted steps to ease problem we are facing. Think farsightedly like our kings. Lets suffer a bit if we have to for our brighter future. But lets not chicken out and resort into cheap solutions. Bhutan has always done differently. We didnt kill our dogs when we had street dog problem. We did Bhutanese way and we solved that. So please please we beg you la.

  3. This is not the time for dividing vegetarian and non vegetarian. This is the time for both to come together and not let our government to make our country into a Sinpoiyul from Choedhengyi Gyelkhap. Before Guru Rimpoche came to Bhutan, Bhutan was practicing bon tradition of sacrifice and eating meats. Through Guru's blessing, Bhutan was turned into a cultured Buddhist country. They say even Doma was introduced to reduce meat eating. Lets not undo what Guru Rimpoche has done in Bhutan.

    Anyway there are more non veg against slaughterhouse than veg. And it is very good. This shows deep down in non veg also there is a guilt which is actually priceless. This guilt in us is actually compassion in manifestation. Without that compassion that guilt wouldn't have arisen. So this value is important for our peace. If we lose this guilt, which will happen if killing is acceptable practice in Bhutanese culture, Bhutanese will not hesitate to kill any animal. And that guiltless quality will not mind killing humans also. So we must preserve that guilt. Nothing better if we groom that guilt and act on it. Anyway, what is economy if we do not have the basic peace in our country? For economy to grow, the first and foremost is the peace in the country. Only if we have peace, economy can grow. So lets not shake that strong foundation our forefathers have put in our system. And for those who are supporting the government wihtout thinking much, know you are causing big bad karma on yourself by becoming the cause of killing lakhs of animals. It is not different to yourself killing those animals. So please lets be careful before we say anything.

  4. To the last two Anons:

    You miss the point completely. I do not have time to engage you at the moment ... I will do so as I get time. In the meantime, here is something for you to chew on:

    Think of Tibet and think of where the road of religion and the doctrine of middle path has landed it.

  5. Lets us stop eating meats and see the change . Have a compassion to those animal as well.