Saturday, November 28, 2015

International Politics: NATO versus Russia.

Turkey shot down a Russian bomber which was an easy and unsuspecting target for US supplied Fighter planes. Turkey said it gave warnings 10 times in a time span of 5 minutes and also admitted that the Russian plane transgressed Turkey air space just for 17 seconds. It had to be considered a miraculous feat  to be able to give 10 warnings over 5 minutes time span during a 17 second air space intrusion.

The warnings must have been pre- recorded with the 2 airborne Turkish F16s waiting for the Russian bomber plane to approach Turkish border.  The Bomber crashed. The 2 crew of pilot and navigator managed to bail out. However, they were shot at whilst parachuting down by Turkey sponsored Extremist group. The pilot was killed and his body yet to be recovered. The navigator survived and he denied encroaching into Turkey air space or getting any warnings. So it turns out that the Turkey Extremist group was under orders to eliminate the 2 Russian air borne crews for good to prevent facts from surfacing. That's why they were shooting at the two parachuting crews. Normally the crews would be more valuable alive as bargaining chips but here the stake was higher.

Turkey now says that had they known it was a Russian plane the , " warning would have been different ". It looks like a planned attack probably with American knowledge as it had the flight plans of the Russian bomber. Turkey had to have the advance knowledge of the flight plans of the Russian bombers to have instantly fired when the planes were closest to their border. Otherwise the Russian ground monitoring team would have noticed the threat and responded.

Since Russian entry in the Syrian conflict, two major incidents have occurred. A bomb was placed in a Russian Passenger plane from an airport of Egypt which is militarily funded by America and Saudi Arabia. Egypt a Muslim Country would have ISIS sympathisers aplenty who would act once allowed to be out of security radar by Egyptian Authorities.  And then Turkey a NATO member executed a surprise attack to down the Russian plane.

President Erdogan of Turkey defiantly calls on Russia ," Not to play with fire ". Many, however, think that Erdogan has ignited a  flame too large for Turkey to control. Russia was never a threat to Turkey. She has been a very close and vital economic friend of Turkey. And Russia does not betray friends as proved in her solid backing of Syrian Government in the face of over whelming odds. Russian lives are being sacrificed for Syrian friendship. And Russia certainly will not lie " calm " against " back stabbers "

Now what is to happen? Russian vulnerability has been demonstrated possibly to make Russia wary of venturing beyond Ukraine. But most nations including America is exposed to such flank attacks. So such subversive attacks can very well be played by both sides to disastrous effects.

NATO has hastily called for " calm ". But can the victim remain calm? That's too much to ask Russia to calm down in the aftermath of her passenger plane with all Russian passengers blown to pieces and now her bomber shot down by an undeclared enemy from amongst neutral group,  on an questionable pretext of supposed 17 seconds air space violation. Provocation is writ large. The consequence yet to fathom for all the participants and world politics in general.

America was quick to declare that she had nothing to do with Turkish attack on the Russian plane. NATO seems internally divided. France may view Turkey action a sabotage to her effort to build a united front including Russia against ISIS after the Paris massacres. Britain is not even involved in the Syrian conflict. So why did Turkey shoot down the Russian plane? Is it a sign of over confidence of the Turkish President who won a thumping reelection very recently? Is it Turkey armed forces signalling divisive factors with civilian authority ?

The President of Turkey is a seasoned Leader who did not need any such ego boosting drama like shooting down a non threatening plane in a conflict zone for a supposed mere overflight of 17 seconds duration. He had to know the hostile consequences as well as the economic mathematics of friendly ties with Russia. And now why is he trying so hard to get a one to one meeting with Putin ?

The real story may not be shared in public  for quite sometime to come. However, in private, maybe, some honest explanations would be forthcoming during the proposed meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Russia and Turkey. One agenda of the Meeting would be of course the recovery of the body of the Russian pilot from the Turkey funded Extremist group in Syria. And next would be what Turkey achieved out of the hostile act and what is Russia obliged to respond as a nation which had been attacked by a NATO member.

Warsaw Pact is no more so Russia stands alone against NATO. Historically the Russian Bear have withstood whatever the challenges thrown up by rest of Europe. Does an American backed Europe think that it will have better fortune than Napoleon and Hitler. I have lot of doubts about American Europe's capability to physically overpower Russia. Its not a media game of more Newspapers,Television channels and well cushioned news anchors displaying macho flairs from studios.   Its bullet and bombs and human lives of real Russian, European and American. Not a proxy war with other nation soldiers and civilian populations' lives on the alter.

So far none have matched the sacrifice and courage of Russians. Remember Russia lost more men than Allied combined during the WWII. And it was Russia that broke the backbone of Nazi war machineries. It was Russian forces that marched into Berlin first. The Allied Forces under British and American leadership were more anxious of Russian Might than defeating Hitler towards the end game.

Since Ukraine, many American war hawks have been calling upon NATO to declare  war against Russia. Turkey could have been prodded to fire the first salvo.  Now is NATO going to come out in the open? Seems unlikely with NATO key European members playing hide and seek game with America. Germany did not even support wholeheartedly the American led sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. Britain had voted No to American request to join Syrian war and now France the yes man of America in Europe wants to fight ISIS not Russia. And America alone or combined with Allies like Japan and Australia and reluctant Europe does not have the financial, human or material resources to start a war with Russia and contain China at the same time.

So President Erdogan of the great nation of Turks will find himself alone in the midst of the flame of the Russian plane that he ordered to be fired upon. Sooner or later the people of Turkey will realise that the missile attack on the Russian plane had very little to do with Turkish nationalism. The initial emotional fire of sovereignty will give way to being played a pawn in a larger game of a Super Power. Erdogan may be confronted with an election sooner than he ever planned.

Friday, November 27, 2015

A hope fulfilled.

Yesterday at 2PM, I had posted in fb my status of thoughts on Thromdey Politics. By then I felt frustrated with the ongoing political wrangling preventing the right national thing.

However, Pelden Drukpa has miraculous ways. I expressed my thoughts at 2PM wondering if the Parliament had the capacity to move beyond the murky visions of Party Politics. And then by Evening what I hoped came through. The Joint Committee and its Chairman had come through to recoup national interests. Denchi where so much national investment had already been made was approved as Pema Gatsel Thromdey. And Paro Jabana finally got its much deserved Yenlag Thromdey.

Thank you Parliament especially the Joint Committee. The sensible decision of this Parliament Winter session is as welcome as the first snowfall of a year.  And it is more so beautiful because you have decided to re-view the golden autumn beauty of Paro once again. Maybe,the Queen of Beauty gets an extended life span.

Political differences will go on. However, united hearts will build the nation. Hail Pelden Drukpa?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Different kind of Anxieties on Bilateral or Multilateral Agreements.

The proposed ratification of BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement by Bhutan resulted in a faux incident.  It was passed and then deemed not passed as the constitutionally required votes was not there to legitimise ratification.

There is no doubt that Bhutan will have to ratify the 4 nation Agreement because India wants it to be passed. However, do not think this BBIN Agreement can prevent India from blocking transit facilities if she so wants to as in the present blockade of Nepal. Like Bhutan, Nepal, too, has free trade and transit Agreement with India and what good has it done ?

This proposed ratification of BBIN has caused a lot of cries of foul in the Bhutanese social medias. Those against the Agreement were of the opinion that such an Agreement between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal would drastically increase the number of foreign registered vehicles on the Bhutanese roads and  negatively affect both environment and transport business of Bhutanese. The concerns though valid are quite late and futile because Bhutan already has similar arrangements with India. And with Bangladesh, the transit issue through India is a stumbling block otherwise Bhutanese and Bangladesh Trucks would already be ferrying goods to each other Countries. 

I, on the other hand, have a very different perspective. My own concern for any Bilateral and Multilateral Agreement is more to do with the ability or more specifically the inability of a small nation to hold the larger and more powerful Signatories to the terms of the Agreement.

The two major recent incidents in South Asia demonstrated that the terms and conditions of any Bilateral and Multilateral Agreement is only a noose around the smaller and weaker Signatories and any favourable advantage is ultimately subject to the whims of the more powerful and geographically superior Signatories. Therefore, Agreements and Treaties with powerful Co- Signatories does not provide actual reliefs to small nations as a matter of rights under the terms of such Agreement or Treaties.

Both India and Nepal are members of WTO. And yet in all reality this did not stop India from imposing a trade and transit embargo against land locked Nepal. And worse most of the powerful members of WTO are silent as a ghost to Nepal's right of free trade and transit both as a land locked nation and a member of WTO.

India and Nepal had executed a Bilateral Fuel Supply Agreement. India agreed to supply all of Nepal fuel needs and Nepal was not to procure any type of fuel from any third  source. In keeping with the terms of the Agreement, Nepal had not explored any third supply source. Thus  when India unilaterally stopped fuel supply, Nepal was left frustratingly helpless. No fuel and no ability to hold powerful and geographically superbly advantaged  India accountable for breaching the terms of the Bilateral Agreement on Fuel Supply as well as the Agreement on Free Trade and Transit executed between India and Nepal.

The 1948 Indo- Bhutan Treaty was renegotiated in 2006 specifically to do away with Indian Guidance in the External Affairs of Bhutan. In return Bhutan also agreed to the deletion of the Annuity Clause that in essence records that historically the Duars region of India was Bhutanese territory at one time. But the reality turned out to be a more humiliating renegotiated Indo- Bhutan Treaty of 2006. The political crisis in 2013 demonstrated that Bhutan lost her historical claims on Duars region and India did not recognise Bhutanese right to conduct even a " Handshake " with a foreign power without Indian consent. The incident also proved that India can exploit powerful friends among Bhutanese who are most willing to compromise national sovereignty for short time  political gains of personal nature.

Thus any solace or deemed advantage provided under the terms and conditions of Bilateral and Multilateral Agreements or Treaties are just fringe benefits to small and land locked weak nations and these can be denied at any time for any imaginative reasons by the powerful Co- Signatories. This is not to say that Bhutan should not be a Signatory to Bilatetial or Multilateral Treaties. But optimism should be measured with reality.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Bhutan and Happiness survey.

It seems that the national survey found educated people more happy than uneducated. It makes one to wonder the methodology used for several reasons:

1. If the result of the survey is authentic than citizens of industrialised world who are both more educated and wealthy to a large extent should be happy. Is it so?.

2. If the result is correct then the Gross National Product is the valid indicator of social happiness. GNH is not the trusted indicator because the survey confirms that literacy and money which drive productivity are the two  pillars of happiness. Therefore, GDP and GNP which are products of literacy and wealth have been proven to be the true indicators of national social contentment status. 

3. Compared to developed Countries, Bhutanese literacy and wealth figures are rather low. But the survey has shown that almost all Bhutanese are happy. Does it mean that almost all people in the world are happy since Bhutan a Least Developed Country is almost 100% happy ?

4. According to the happiness survey of Bhutan,  literacy and wealth rule the roost of happiness. In such a scenario democracy, culture, stability and peace which have no direct relations to money and education,  have no impact on happiness and unhappiness of an individual or family or community. Can this really be so?

No wonder there is so much corruption in the country because everyone wants to be happy in the GNH nation and money is the secret of Happiness according to the Bhutanese national happiness survey.

5. If 99% of Bhutanese are happy already then it is confirmed that social problems of drug issues, unemployment, increased figures of communicable and non communicable diseases , death and sickness have no impact to an individual's status of happiness or unhappiness. Could Bhutanese  have been turned to robots?

Conclusion :  Looks like the national survey on happiness was structured to achieve an artificial goal :  The utopian status of Bhutanese in the year of the 60th Birth Anniversary of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo. Is that an insult or adulation or what ?

Now Bhutan must work out the secret recipe of Longevity since we have found the recipe of Happiness. Bhutan's highly educated and wealthy top of the national social and political pyramid have so much reasons to smile. There is a chance of living forever in happiness. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

The new political scene in India.

Bihar is known as the poorest State in Indian Union but these days India politics is centred in Bihar. Today Nitish Kumar swearing in ceremony had almost all Indian Political parties represented. Its kind of new dawn in politicking. BJP was slain in Bihar and India's much acclaimed Prime Minister Narenda Modi lost out to Chief Minister of impoverished state of Bihar. The choice was between lavish development money by Modi and integrity and quite credentials of Nitesh Kumar. The poor voters of Bihar chose honesty and integrity over vociferous handouts of money and caste Politics. The Coalition headed by Nitesh Kumar was given a thumping majority. It was an ugly earth quake for BJP confidence and RSS caste politics.  And it was  an unimaginable  personal humiliation to Narenda Modi who campaigned extensively and brutally in the Bihar Election.

The big question now is,  Can Bihar formula work in other parts of India? The huge gathering of political figures of various political parties at the Swearing- in- Ceremony of Bihar Chief Minister and his Cabinet suggest that Bihar kind of Politics may be the trend that could suit voter moods elsewhere in India.

I follow Bihar Politics only for my interest in the RJD Chief Mr. Lalu Yadav Prasad. A colourful character in simple attire and blunt talks. Ever since he turned around the commercially money losing infamous Indian Railways into a profitable and customer friendly service giant as UPA I Railway Union Minister, I kept tag of him. Since then his Party was almost wiped out and he was imprisoned on corruption charges relating to fodder scam . He is on bail and not permitted to sit for election. And yet Bihar people has not deserted the man of the down trodden. It was he they claim who gave the poor the necessary political voice and human dignity.  During this Election in Bihar, his Party RJD secured the largest share of Assembly Seats and as icing on the cake both his sons got elected. The Dad and Mom team has been replaced by two sons team. Whatever the future of Politics be, I do hope Lalu will remain afloat and bring beneficial changes for the poor.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Tributes and nostalgia of 60 years of a royal life.

The BBS produced memorial documentary  of 60 years of the life of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo is very heart touching. Hearing the words of two Lyonpos their Excellences Kinzang Dorji and Leki Dorji and others describing parts of the golden years that they too had the honour and privilege of serving and witnessing the great King in action, is like watching the sun rising in tribute and again the sun setting in nostalgia.

His Majesty touched the lives of so many in so much ways. The affection was far and wide , near and close by, personal and public. Bhutan and Bhutanese were the inspirations of His Majesty during days and dreams of his nights. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck has been always a Guru, Father,Friend and Guide to his nation and people.

Many have said that the King did what ever deeds for the nation. This understanding is vital for the Kingdom of Bhutan and the people to, hereafter, develop unity in diversity. The national goal in preserving the culture and tradition, the heart wrenching issue of genuine citizens and illegal residents in Southern Bhutan, the perils of ULFA BODO expulsion campaign, the Bhutan China Border Treaty, the Indo Bhutan renegotiation of 1949 Treaty,the vision of National Happiness, the installation of the constitutional Monarch along with the institution of guided Democracy are all for the goodness and the strengthening of the Bhutanese nation so that true citizens have the means and opportunity to develop a national livelihood with human dignity and sovereign prestige.

This King went through the most arduous journeys of national reign only for his Country and his people. Even Triple Gem would have been hard pressed to be more selfless. The sacrifices he made, the visions he believed should enable the people of Bhutan to love in unity, appreciate the diversity of thought and culture and respect and protect individual and national dignity. May Bhutan prosper in national unity, national tolerance and national dignity.

It is not for me to compare the Kings in my life and judge their individual greatness. I deeply revere the Third King, worship the Fourth King and admire the Fifth King. My respects and belief in their Majesties'  devotion to the nation and the Bhutanese is explicit and unshakable.  But it is my hope and also an appeal to Bhutanese of all blood and culture to comprehend the reign of His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in the broader light and perspective of the Kingdom and the interest and welfare of whole of Bhutanese people and the Bhutanese nation. Individuals and communities are crucial but the greatness of the wisdom and leadership of the Fourth King lies in his consolidated vision for overall Bhutan and Bhutanese.

I am really happy that His Majesty will soon be able to hold the future sixth King in his arms. May the King live long and able to groom and guide the Crown Prince. May Peace and selfless Confidence prevail in our Kingdom in true royal memorial.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

ISIS: What is it ? Who is it? And how much is it?

I remember America tried to bury the term ISIS but that proved impossible. ISIS stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria but most readers would simply understand the term as a name of a fearful terror group that has tentacles in many regions.

France has declared war on ISIS after the recent Paris attacks. Russia also declared that ISIS will be hunted down every where after it was confirmed that the Russian passenger plane was brought down by an ISIS planted bomb on the plane. America wants to side along her NATO friend France in avenging the Paris massacres.

What is ISIS ?
It is a nation proclaimed by extremist Islamists who believe that there can be a great Muslim nation to be headed by a Caliph. A Caliphate centred in Syria and Iraq. Possibly there is something about such a Islamic nation in the Koran. Many young Muslims seem to believe in this Koranic dream and therefore, there is no dearth in new recruits for this cause and dream.

Who is ISIS ?
That is the difficult answer. There is no such nation, therefore, there cannot be such citizens. And yet today New Yorkers, Parisians and Londoners sleep less easy because of this kind of phantom nation and people called ISIS.

How much is ISIS ?
For the Western Front lead by America, ISIS is the consequences of all the chaos and war of terror inflicted callously upon Iraq , Libya and Syria. The life of the nation and the populace in these nations have been turned inside out if not outrightly killed and destroyed. The Palestinians are corralled and killed by American armed State of Israel and so many Muslims lie oppressed under pro American Rulers in the Middle East. It is not difficult to visualise the size of disgruntled population of Muslims who feel they are victims of other races and powers. But just how much among them truly believe that their salvation and dignity  lies in carving out a Caliphate under a Caliph from the shores of Arabian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, is yet to define.

ISIS is described as extremist Islamists.  One could say the very Terror among Terrorist. A clan of people prepared to do extreme deeds in the attempt to  achieve their objectives. In courage they are comparable to Japanese suicide pilots who dived upon the American warships with their planes during the Second World War. Like the Tamil lady who garlanded Rajiv Gandhi with explosive decked flowers and hugged him to set off the ignition. Like the Polish cavalry that charged the German tanks, on horse backs. But unlike all the foolhardy incredible brave hearts, the ISIS posses a sophisticated mind of modern war strategies including use of social media and mass human psychology.

Till now the Powers that be restricted themselves to containing ISIS advances in Syria and Iraq. France joined America to contain ISIS forces in Syria. And Russia came to the rescue of her ally President Assad of Syria and therefore attacked forces including that of ISIS which were gaining grounds against Assad in Syria. However, the recent retaliations conducted by ISIS in downing the Russian passenger plane and the Paris attacks have called for elimination of ISIS.

Could ISIS be eliminated by a combined forces of NATO, Iran, Russia and Saudi Arabia and her Arab Allies? For the time being, ISIS potency would be reduced but elimination is not possible. The consequences of intolerance and destruction and humiliation of human and national dignity cannot be erased or eliminated until such acts cease. As long as aggression upon society and nations take place, grievances will deepen and resentments will give rise to counter forces conveniently named terrorist groups.

After the initial furore and avenging acts of aerial bombardments of supposed ISIS strongholds, the Powers that be, must sit down with the United Nations and work towards finding a solution to ending the wars of aggression and régime changing policies and start respecting human and national dignity of the aggrieved Countries and persecuted minorities. Remove the salt from the water and sea water can be drunk. Likewise address the grievances of aggrieved societies and grounds for terrorism will abate.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Why is there now a trend of addressing the Bhutanese King as Chhoegyel ?

Is Chhoegyel supposed to be more substantial title than King?. A point to ponder I thought.

Chhoegyel was the title of the Sikkimese Leader who was not referred to as King. In Bhutan Shabdrung was referred to by foreigners as Dharma Raja since he was a Lama with political power. 

The first hereditary Bhutanese Monarch  was installed in 1907 by the People , Public  Officials and the Monastic Body of Bhutan as their King so naturally it is understood that the King of Bhutan holds power and responsibilities over both religious and political affairs of the nation. The Sceptre originated from all spheres of the Bhutanese society not just religious society. The title Deb originated from the Dratsang but not the King.

When the Fifth King was installed as Trongsa Penlop somehow the Title Chhoetse Penlop was promoted. I thought it was a case of astrological appropriateness ( maybe someone advised that the Title Trongsa Penlop needed to be temporarily replaced by Chhoetse Penlop to avoid the sad event that followed in 1972 ). But on this 11 November, the BBS Commentator referred to the Fourth King as Chhoegyel. Of course in nature as also confirmed by His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck , the Fourth King is also a Dharma Raja in spirit and compassion but still Bhutanese Monarchs are Kings not merely Chhogyels.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Father and the Son of Bhutan.

Father and son relationship is more complex than that of mother and daughter. It is even more delicate because men by temperament are less flexible. A mother and daughter relationship can survive most quarrels and fights. Whilst most dads and sons cannot even hold a decent duration  conversation of small talks.

But in rare occasions of time capsule, there occurs a bond like King Jigme Singye Wangchuck the father and his son King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. A Father who declared that his son would be a better Ruler and a son who feels that there can never be a greater King than his father. 

Not every doting father can gift a Kingdom to a son and not every son can so grandly and meaningfully celebrate with the nation the 60th Birth Anniversary of his father in the presence of the same towering figure of his childhood memory. Congratulations your Majesties !

The day of 11th November, 2015 is more than historic. Its an emotional day of memories past and hopes of the coming future. Looking back at the last 60 years for Bhutan and Bhutanese , it will be filled with highs and lows of national emotions that come fleetingly past by. Not a dream but so much happened to make it appear like a dream. 

Bhutan was in the best of sovereign health when Crown Prince Jigme Singye Wangchuck was born and Bhutan was handed over to the Fifth King in the same sovereign best of health in December, 2006.

The fundamentals of a Kingdom remains the very same. And so in a way, it is like waking up from a long hectic dream in the morning to find oneself in the best of health. And likewise the morning of November 11th, 2015, all Bhutanese will wake up to this sovereign  nation in the best of heath, to celebrate the 60th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck and the eve of the 10th year of the reign of his son His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

On such an auspicious national celebration, I humbly wish the father King the best of good health and the joy of peaceful living with the graceful Queens.  And to the son His Majesty the King of the Kingdom, I humbly offer my prayers for great Kingship and a son with whom he can share such privileged father son relationship.

And to all walks of Bhutanese, I wish the privilege and honour of both self dignity and national dignity. The weakest of human being and the smallest of nations must have the right to enjoy the most precious heavenly gift of dignity. And may the Wangchuck dynasty with the Blessings of the Triple Gem,  guard and guarantee the dignity of every Bhutanese and the dignity of sovereign Bhutan, for all times to come.

Pelden Drukpa !  GyaLo !