Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What Default means for Greece.

" Extremely bad or extremely worse " says a citizen of Greece.  What kind of choice is that to vote yes or no on Greece austerity plan. Pray that a family never be confronted with such an in between choice of,' anvil and hammer '.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Distance from Epicentre matters most in Earthquake

I did not feel the Nepal earthquake of April measuring scale 7.8. But today the Assam Earthquake measuring 5.6 scale persisted until I agreed to walk out of the creaking abode.  I fear the southern eastern part of Bhutan would have suffered some physical damages though nothing like Pemsgatsel township that was quaked a week back by the Parliament.

The Ugly Truth ?

On European Countries resistance to refugees from third world. A lady asks." For years wretched Europeans have moved to wherever they wanted to and now how can they resist wretched people of other countries wanting to move to Europe ? How could capital be moved and yet deny people following the capital ? "

A brief history in case you fail to see the ugly truth expressed by the lady. America was populated by Europeans who faced religious persecutions at home and those looking for better life prospects. Many African and Asian Countries were colonised by European Countries and their national resources looted to enrich European Countries.

A New Protest Theme.

An Armenian citizen says aloud what many citizens may want to state, " We want the Government to think of citizens not always about themselves ".  A week long protests has been going on in Armenia against electricity rate hike. The Government has now agreed to half the rate but protesters mainly the younger generation continues to protest seeking ways  to make the Government think more of citizen welfare instead of their own. A wake up call for all.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Concentration of Constitutional mandate among few individuals is detrimental to true nature of Democracy.

I sometimes wonder about the wisdom of gift of democracy. Maybe the man on the street spoke the honest reality when it was said, " Democracy was too early ". The actual difference between that of absolute rulers and Democracy is that source of governing power differs. In absolute rule,  power is concentrated in one or few individuals and in democracy, the source of power is supposed to originate from the general people the voters.

When the Constitution of Bhutan was drafted and later approved, this consternation of possible absolute rule of the King being replaced by a kind of enlarged triumvirate body or few key individuals scooping away the powers of people based democracy was well displayed. And so appropriate measures were built into the Constitution to offset any such inclination to erode away the will of the majority people by a small closely knitted group. 

Let's look into the built in democracy principle pillars incorporated in the Bhutanese Constitution.

1. The King must abdicate at the age of 65 years and other citizens cannot stand for elective posts after the age of 65 years.

2, The same Prime Minister can only have two terms consecutive or otherwise if elected.

3.  The Chief Justice of Supreme Court, the Chiefs of Election and Anti-Corruption Commissions, the Auditor General , the Attorney General , the Chairman of Royal Civil Service Commission and that of Privacy Council  all  limited to a single 5 years term of service.

There are also this rule of single 5 years term limit for other high and powerful posts like Government Secretaries. In most cases the Rules have not been firmly implemented nor the rules removed or amended. Till date this constitutional provision for a single term of 5 years has been only implemented in the case of the Chief Justice of Supreme Court and the Attorney General.

My point is that there were very sound and valid reasons in the institution of the single term 5 year duration for high and powerful posts. In retrospection, it is a wisdom that may have been gifted by Pelden Drukpai ChhoeChhang as a soul of enduring constitutional monarchy system under which the voice of people will be heard and attended to. And a means to prevent the same few ruling the masses.

Now the Constitutional provision of the single 5 year term is headed for amendment with the Parliament passing a draft Bill to award a second 5 years term to constitutional post holders.  Democracy as envisioned by the Monarchs of Bhutan may come to an end  on the day this draft Bill receives royal assent and takes the form of a law.

The pretext of the Parliament in introducing this dubious constitutional amendment is that good and experienced people for constitution posts are hard to come by and it is unfair to retire post holders after 5 years service. This stand is ludicrous. In a nutshell the politically inclined National Council has opened the door for a political selection and  reservation of constitution posts for a decade And political National Assembly jumped in to seal the deal. If you choose not to look at the starry sky, it is not possible to see the stars. Likewise if you chose not to appoint able and impartial candidates to Constitution posts, the number of experienced political supporters would naturally be limited.

Thus the Parliament of Bhutan has opened a path for consolidating an Oligarchy System of Governance. In the not so far future this political decision will bring an end to the Constitutional democratic monarchy system. There will be more political agendas and less developmental activities. Whatever maybe, I pray that at the least the Bhutanese nation continuous to have peace and stability under any type of governance.

The end result China Bhutan Road to Russia Football Match- 6 goals favour the Red Dragon.

If only Bhutan had retained the Bhutanese Coach it would have been a real credit to this national performance. Under a Bhutanese Coach the results with Hong Kong and China  could not have been more disappointing. And the Bhutanese nation could have set an international trend in fielding a pure national ( Bhutanese ) wholesome team.

Well played China. Hard luck Bhutan. And thank you ChhoeChang and Monks. From the TV screen the Fans were great. Hope it was so on the ground. A small nation with a great heart of Host. Thank you China Fans for visiting Bhutan. Have great Memories!

Football contest between the Ancient and Upstart Dragons.

Today football teams of China and Bhutan face each other on the ground of Chang-ling-mi-thang stadium in Thimphu. The path to Moscow World Cup 2018 is a temptation that must be drawn with skill and sportsmanship courage. It is not a shouting match for barbaric hooligans who rely on racial slurs and derogatory behaviours to assuage their small man ego.

Winning and Losing matters in a game where the ambition is to win not lose. However, it is a sporting game not a battle of bloody death or sovereignty shame. Luck matters but mostly skill will dominate.

Bhutan is the true underdog this time but Bhutanese fans must keep in mind that Bhutanese are the Host. There is no call to behave disgracefully. Cheering is for encouraging national team to take away the game not to abuse the opponent. Win or lose, national grace must win the hearts around the world.

Bhutan is a late entrant to World Cup Football but Bhutanese played football long before Communist China revolution in October1949 or Indian Independence in August 1947. Students from centuries old sovereign Bhutan were playing football on the school grounds of British India Empire long before the Second World War.   So please forget portraying Bhutan as a late football ignorant and other lame duck excuses of population size and whatnots. Only 11 players in the field make the difference.

True that today most nations are better skilled and equipped than Bhutan. So the goal must be to work harder to catch up quickly  There is no call to make historical excuses for the present situation. And there certainly is shame in abusing the opponent for simply playing a superior game.

I do not think there will be other players than Mongolian - looking faces in the China Team today. But if it turns out otherwise, Bhutanese fans need to refrain from shamefully flouting self ignorance as in the case with the Hong Kong Team. For all the decades of free education in the international language medium ' English ' ; the exposure to mass communication including TVs and Internet ;  most Bhutanese fans dabbling on FB were ignorant about today's world of multiracial nations including Bhutan herself. That is a troubling display of education humiliation.

True colours of knowledge, social dignity and national characteristic comes forth under challenging circumstances especially when the going is tough and daunting. Try not to lose both pant and shirt in public.

Bhutan Football Team has huge united national fans and seemingly many countless well wishers around the world. Today is a day to build a nation in and off the football field. The nation must not be found lacking in team endeavour and fan decency. Good luck to the small but hardy Bhutan Police Force in ensuring an enjoyable public environment of world football game.

I wish good health to China Team. Go! Go! Go! Bhutan Team ! Put your heart and sweat into this game . Do the nation and yourself proud. You have already placed us in the hearts of football lovers worldwide. Keep demonstrating there is promising future through skill and sportsmanship calibre. GOOD LUCK !!!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Two Sides of a Coin are Never the Same.

1. According to Indian media the Indian Army Special Forces entered Myanmar bordering Manipur and Nagaland and killed Indian militants at two Camps. This was in retaliation to the recent terribly successful militant attack upon an Indian military commando convoy in Manipur killing 18 Commandos and injuring many.

2. The Indian Army General who broke the news on the counter attack was tight lipped about the casualty inflicted on the militants and the actual area where the operation had taken place. But the Indian media came out with a confusing statistics  of militant casualty ranging from 15 to 100. What is a fact is that there is no body count and no known militant leaders were killed in the counter attack that was supposed to have been a 45 minutes operation.

3. A young union minister of state Rathore the former Indian Army officer of Olympic rifle marksman repute took the opportunity to warn all Countries of similar invasion of their territories through such Indian military special forces. Close neighbour Pakistan reacted strongly to this threat whilst Bangladesh and Bhutan remained mute.  Meanwhile an experienced serving Indian General came on record to sensibly declare that there was no relation between the counter attack against militants in Myanmar India border area with situation at Line of Control. Thus exposing the inexperienced political brashness of Rathore and also soothing over unnecessary irritation at international border points.

4. Myanmar issued a strong statement of denial of any Indian special forces entering Myanmar and killing militants. The operation according to Myanmar was limited to Indian side of Myanmar India border and it was verified by their army battalion on the ground.

The fact is that an Indian army counter militant operation did occur and it may have been conducted within the border of Myanmar but with Myanmar military knowledge whose ground battalion also ensured that no unnecessary excess encroachment incurred. The Indian media reports that Indian national security team will be visiting Myanmar for future joint militant strategy. Both India and Myanmar have their own share of militants or insurgency groups and with a porous Indo-Myanmar border, it makes sense to cooperate but not too publicly for other political and sovereignty image reasons.

It is possible that the Indian special forces counter attack was not able to achieve the desired strategic result though media publicity was good for the public image of the Army and the Government. The militants had to have expected counter attacks after they had managed to inflict such a devastatingly humiliating blow upon the Indian Army. So in all probability the targeted militant camps could have been evacuated. They had adequate time since the counter attack was not immediate. That maybe the reason why the special forces could not claim killing any known militant leaders because they just were not in the camps.

The Indian political leaders described the militant attack on its commando convoy as ' cowardly '. Actually it can be anything but cowardly because in military terms it was a bold well planned successful attack. Taking upon a commando convoy cannot be cowardly. It could have been suicidal if the Commandos had been able to react and militarily engage the attackers.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Election Commission of Bhutan suffers from a moral and legal ethic sub standard. Is this Corruption?

The National Council good governance committee has reported that census transfer of a serving elected officer from one constituency/geog to that of another is in breach of provisions of the Constitution and Election Act. And yet the Election Commission had had taken an extra ordinary decision to issue a specific localised order to sanctify the census transfer without requiring that individual to forfeit his elective post he still holds in the constituency that he chose to abandon.

The fundamental requirement for a Bhutanese to participate for any political/ elective post is the validity of his/her census in that particular constituency/geog which the individual desires to represent. This applies to all elective posts from that of Tsokpa, Gup to MPs. A Tsokpa must lose his right to remain in the elective post if he/ she transfers the census away from the village or villages that he/she represented. Likewise a Gup should resign from the post of Gup of that particular geog if he/she transfers the census to another geog before the completion of tenure.  Likewise a Thrompon or an MP should be required to forfeit the elective right to remain in the elected post if the census is transferred to another Thromdey or Constituency.

A Bhutanese has the right to transfer his/her census within Bhutan provided prescribed formalities are followed. That is governed by Immigration and Census rules under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Why did the Election Commission even find the necessity to issue a notification sanctifying the census transfer of serving Drametse Gup to Ngatshang geog ? The breach of law is not caused by the act of transferring one's census.  It is holding on to the elective post when the fundamental rule that requires the census of that particular post holder to be in that constituency / geog has been breached.

The question the Parliament or the Judiciary of Bhutan must decide is whether a Bhutanese can still serve in the elected post if he/ she chooses to become a foreign citizen after winning an election ? Can a King of Bhutan continue to be the King if he chooses to marry a foreigner after ascending on the Throne ? Should the Home Ministry have required the Drametse Gup to resign from his Drametse elected post  before transferring his census to another geog? Should the Election Commission of Bhutan have required the Drametse Gup to forfeit his Drametse Gup post upon transfer of his census to Ngatshang geog ? A uniform rule of law applies to all political/elective posts from prince to pauper. If a Gup is not required to respect this fundamental rule then how can the Nation expect a Minister or anyone above to adhere to the most crucial and main tenet of Election Law that mandates that only a Bhutanese not any Bhutanese but a census registered Bhutanese of that geog/ constituency has the right to represent that Geog / constituency ? The Parliament must now decide to either fully respect the prevailing provisions of the Constitution/ Election Act or amend the same. But the Constitution and Election Act of  Democracy cannot be left unattended wounded or in limbo.

Bhutan is suffering from a malaise of invented not legislated rules of engagement that distorts any and every rule in the books thus illegally creatiing special and exceptional get away routes for politically favoured candidates and groups. Political Parties/ Groups and individuals would benefit through such favoured status in the short run but in the long run the whole nation stands to lose if the Keepers of Laws of Election in a Democracy and Provisions of a Nation's Constitution are swept under the carpet for reasons of political exigencies.

It seems that the Chairman of National Council clarified the position of the his  House stating that the discussion to be held on the census transfer issue ( of a serving ) elected member was not intended to target  the particular Gup but to set a right precedent. Well I cannot say the same thing. I am not a holder of a apolitical post with a political wary mind. I hold everyone the Gup, the Election Commission, the Home Ministry, the National Council, the National Assembly and the Parliament as a whole liable for dereliction of Constitutional responsibility and duty.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Worry not for the Market for Bhutan's hydro electricity in the coming years.

It was amusing to recently read in the Bhutanese assorted media questions and doubts about India being able to buy electricity from Bhutan in the future. It seems that Indian authorities had announced that India already had electricity power surplus. And that news had spooked some Bhutanese. It revealed the shallowness of knowledge or laziness in taking the trouble to think over. Maybe the nation suffers from a tendency of jumping guns just to make news and excite readers.

India is going full swing in luring Investors to invest in Make in India projects. And projects need electricity like crops need rain. India has to tell likely Investors that there is electricity power surplus in India. So do not take politics of a Nation or a marketing strategy of a Corporation at face value.

It is possible that if India marshals all her potentials she can easily do without any electricity power import from Bhutan. In Winter Bhutan imports electricity from India not export.  And this has been going on for years. So if India so chooses to discontinue import she can do so even today. There is no need to wait for the ongoing hydro projects to complete.

In my layman knowledge, electricity can be produced from hydro,thermal and nuclear methods. Hydro energy is renewable energy whilst other two are not. It is considered to be more eco friendly in the long run and cheaper in per unit production cost.. The project gestation period is much longer though.

India has all types of production facilities: hydro, thermal and nuclear. However, what India or any other nation would prefer is hydro electricity. The disadvantage of hydro electricity is the initial damage to natural habitat and displacement of population to make way for dams and water reservoirs. For hydro projects constructed in Bhutan to meet electricity demand of India, the ill effects are contained within Bhutan. India simply buys the clean and cheap energy : the hydro electricity from Bhutan. If India can replace oil, gas, coal and nuclear energy produced electricity with import of cheap and clean hydro electricity from Bhutan, she would surely do so.

And if by some Hanuman miracle, India has adequate hydro plants to produce all her clean energy needs some centuries later, Bhutan can export to Bangladesh. And if India denies power export corridor to Bangladesh then request China to buy. Do not worry about relay towers, these will come about.

China is presently funding 46 billion American dollars in Pakistan occupied Kashmir for socio- economic uplifting of the populace there versus India committing 45 billion rupees funding towards Bhutan's 11th 5 year Plan and that involves so much procedural demands to ensure that maybe only 60% could ever be utilised during the plan period and the balance committed fund will lapse. I do not imagine China quibbling about relay tower cost or paying reasonable power purchase price to Bhutan.

The above Bangladesh and China prospect scenario is simply a humour to tickle the market sceptics in Bhutan.  India will buy what power surplus Bhutan can export. Why the fuss about something that Bhutan as yet is unable to accomplish. It may be 2030 before Bhutan can even meet the 2018 set target of 10,000 MW production.

Do not worry about future market. What is dangerously worrying is the ridiculously  huge escalation in cost of construction and prolonged time taken to complete
the on- going hydro projects. Both the costs and duration seem to be heading towards doubling of money and time. Costs may even triple.  By the time these projects are completed, the 10% interests on the 70% loan component and the principal itself would have bloated to such an extent that even after every project is streamed on line, Bhutan may be forced to raise money from different sources to meet loan repayment instalments. What was envisaged to be initially white gold bank for the nation, could lead the Kingdom to a black hole of economic liability and bondage. Bhutan better be prepared to be more honest and responsible in the implementation of the hydro projects. Presently there seems to be too much politics, extensive delays and change or faults in designs and huge cost escalations. All potential signs of economic and political disaster if not addressed and attended to by full time qualified career officers instead of part time hot shots. Good Luck in production of electricity for Market is a plenty in India.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Reading and Experiencing

Today there was a mid day surprise experience at Jigme Namgyel School, Thimphu. An early finish to my chores in the town had me arriving much before the  pickup time of my ward. But pleasantly I found that I had actually come on time to share the public reading at the school.

Jigme Namgyel has so many sections in classes VI , VII and VIII. The reading was being done by one student from each section of a class. Class VI reading was going on. The storey was about a boy called Einstein and three friends going to Arizona to find a dream catcher that entraps bad dreams on its kind of spider web like net. I kind of liked the imaginative narrative of imagining fierce dream like a tiger turning to orange kitten. The voices were sweet and the flow flawless.

Next was Class VII and the storey about a young man and his childhood friend and playmate dog called Ivan. The child had grown up to a young man of 20 years age and the dog about to breathe his last breath at age 14. In such a short passage so much varied kind and level of emotions were reflected. The mother trying to ease the pain of her son and the son confronted with the imminent approaching death of Ivan and perhaps a sense of guilt in having passed by that childhood intensity of affection between Ivan and himself but still loving the dog deeply. Then there was the feeling of rejection felt by Kate his girl friend who does not recall of ever hearing about Ivan and now all of a sudden her boy friend cancelling their movie date that they had long been planning, on the pretext of a dog called Ivan.

Next and last was class VIII the senior most.  Jigme Namgyel School has classes from PP to VIII. The school complex is quite congested with about 1300 students. But it is quite an organised world unto itself. The flow comes gradually upon a frequent visitor like me

The storey being read is on separation and tears. It is of a younger sister returning to her village home to attend to the sad affairs of managing the funeral rites for her only sister. Upon approaching the village Chorten, memories of last and only farewell scene between her and her sister floods on. She was then an innocent young girl going off to Thimphu to work as a baby sitter. Her sister had advised her to be responsible and gentle with the baby and respectful and honest with the master and mistress. An advice that helped her to chalk out a decent life of her own and now she had returned with her husband by her side to bid her sister a final goodbye and take over the responsibility of educating the young son left behind by her sister.

It was amazing to hear different age level and voice level read through the different emotion level and experience level stories. The carefree and imagination run wild joyful storey read by class six students followed by the first heart burn adolescent storey read by class seven students and finally the reality of life and its pain plus success storey of grown ups read by class eight students.

Reading in a way is also experiencing. And reading aloud to a congregation of over thousand students plus teachers and judges elevates the readers to a higher level of awareness and discipline. There is no better way to mould young hearts to learning and experiencing. Congratulations to Jigme Namgyel Teaching Faculty and all dear students. You are treading the right path in education in actively participating in the Reading Year.

Wangcha Sangey dtd 06/06/2015 Thimphu.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Should Anti Corruption Commission be totally independent ?

I wish to appeal to all stake holders and Appeal Courts that the decision of yes or no should not at all be only based on a simple fact that 52 employees left the service from ACC during its near 10 years existence.

People are not robots. Employees will leave a particular service for variety of reasons and working atmosphere is only one such reason and even then it could be to do with colleagues or bosses attitude rather than the palatability of the actual job itself. I suppose in the last 10 years even Royal Audit Authority had quite a number leaving the service. I recall DHI making a hue and cry about loosing good people as a part of a campaign to fend against Public deemed disproportionate executive level salaries at DHI.

The ACC Chief confirmed at BBS interview that among the 52, several were sent out by the Commission. They did not resign or seek transfer on their own.

There has not been a real effort to analyse the reasons the balance among the total 52 numbers who had not been pushed by the Commission to the exit door but left anyway.  Few among the 52 may have superannuated upon reaching retirement age. I have not seen one interview or written statement from any of the 52 as to the reasons for leaving ACC. But I am told of few who left for better pastures and that is natural for any employee in any organisation. If you get job especially in an international organisation or as a Superior rather than present subordinate why not.  It is in human nature to opt to fresh love, more money,more power and status or just a change over. It does not mean that the old job or love was unbearable. Also what has been the employee strength of ACC over the years. Has it increased or did it actually decrease.

It is rather disturbing when a Member of Parliament justifies independence of ACC on the floor of the Parliament just on the bare unanalysed reason of 52 employees having left ACC in the 10 years of its existence. Now if one or two of the Commissioners had resigned on grounds of working mandate inadequacy, that the Parliament should then worry about. In ACC case,  the Commissioners have near doubled their constitution mandated single term of 5 years. So they the commissioners could not have been unhappy with their power or perks and it is in their hands to make the environment comfortable for those that work under them.

ACC has the independence of investigating what it feel warrants investigation. It can demand for any information or record and have suspects suspended from service. The Commission can have OAG prosecute their Charges or even take up prosecution on its own. This is true independence.

Constitution prescribed independence cannot extend to limitless money to spend and employ whoever one chooses and pay whatever one feels like and imprison whoever is suspected. We live in a society with limited resources . There can not be too many princely authorities in a small Kingdom. Whether it is ACC, Election Commission , DHI or any other heavy weight Agencies,  there has to be a set parameter for independent powers because the rest of the nation also has a stake in the Kingdom.

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Way Forward to Justice.

Just went through new Attorney General interview with Kuensel. Glad to note a meeting of mind point. The Attorney General stated to quote," the OAG shall not seek conviction. Our pursuit will be for justice".

This satisfies my SMS sent to him when I heard of his appointment. The message dtd 22nd May was to quote ," Dear Dasho Congratulations ! May you leave a footprint of justice."

I did not get an acknowledgement of receipt of my SMS. Even if he read it, I am sure it did not influence him. But I always felt that all those involved in judicial Trial Processes be they  prosecution, defence or Court,  should uphold justice as their priority number one. I am glad that such an intent has been publicly expressed by the new Attorney General. I suppose others before him could have been also guided by such a noble principle.

I came to know Dasho Sherab Lhendup only after he became a private citizen. I first met him at the office of former Kuensel Managing Director by chance.  I liked him. I hope he will be able to fulfill the goals he had set for OAG.

I have heard MPs debate on the tenure of the Attorney General as well as opinions of individuals in the social media. I have not yet looked into the constitutional responsibility of the Attorney General and the Government of the day so no personal opinion of my own. The fact seems to be that Attorney General is chosen by the Prime Minister and therefore it is different from other constitutional Appointees.

He said in the interview that he is, " answerable to the King as well."
I suppose everyone in Bhutan is answerable to the King one way or the other. Bhutan is a living Kingdom not a museum of past royalty tradition like England or few other European nations with titular Royal State Heads.  So such a statement is kind of run of the mill applicable to every Bhutanese citizen. The telltale would be whose order is OAG suppose to take. In many Countries it is quite clear but in Bhutan the line of authority gets blurred.

In my personal view, I found the Constitution itself a contradiction in a fundamental  way.  The Constitution kind of endorses the process of democracy and almost everyone who have some authority agrees that Constitution is the Mother of Laws. In fact the Bhutanese word for Constitution ( TSA Thrim ) literally means Foundation of Laws. So it is the Mother of Laws.

However, no one can seek refuge of the Constitution through its interpretation by the Supreme Court unless the King deems the grievance of a citizen or institution warrants the Supreme Court to take up the case. This procedure is as per the Constitution. Possibly the Constitution Drafting Committee had been wary of a complete ways of Democracy and like most Bhutanese trusted the King to weigh the validity of a supposed constitutional case.

In a way,  this constitutional stricture appears to place the onus of deciding whether a case of constitutional infringement has occurred or not upon the King rather than the Supreme Court. Likewise when the Attorney General says he is answerable to the King , I just wonder where that leaves the Government of the day. OAG presently may be only taking up criminal cases forwarded by the  Police or Anti Corruption Commission but OAG is also the prosecuting arm of the Government for any legal case the Government decides to take to the Court. So how effective a Cabinet decision would be to prosecute if the Head of its legal arm is not totally under its authority ?  I suppose the Office of Attorney General like all newly instituted bodies of Democracy will  evolve as Bhutan learn the ways to give true voice to the people in general.