Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Shabdrung Statue from Asiatic Society in Kolkata, India. An article by Tshering Tashi ( Kuensel issue 31.12.16.

The writer has much  knowledge about so many historic events of Bhutan. One can get so much education from him. I also read more about this statue in the social media.

So Captain Hidayat Alli bestowed his war loot with the Asiatic Society. I thought this Asiatic Society was a legal and respected Institution. Little did I suspect that this society is a safe keeper of war loot. I wonder if Asiatic Society has Nazi war loot paintings. I read of cases where very valuable paintings looted by Hitler people from private individuals/ sovereign nations during WWII have been returned to rightful owners.

Asiatic Society and Government of India know very well that the statue never rightfully and legally belonged to that Captain. He took it as a war loot/ trophy. The rightful and legal owner is the Central Monastic Body of the Kingdom of Bhutan.

If it was returned to Bhutan that is great. But why did Bhutan accept it on loan? How can Bhutan sanctify the wrong doing of that Captain and the Asiatic Society? Are we really so badly short of Shabdrung statues? Is any Shabdrung statue more holier or precious than the Kham Sum Singye that is said to be moulded by Shabdrung himself to represent him after his own mortal death? 

What is a statue even of Lord Buddha without the " zung". It is just a piece of sculpture. One values it for its sculpture and work of art value and monetary price. Not spiritual value.  Does Bhutan need another excuse to bow in gratitude to other powers? Bhutan never acknowledged the late said to be Shabdrung incarnate that Indian  Government took from Tawang during Sino Indian 1962 war and brought up by Government of India. So why hunger over a bronze product that was not even crafted by Shabdrung?

I feel that the management authority of Asiatic Society should examine their conscience and make the right moral and legal decision to return the statue to its rightful owner " The Central  Monastic Body of Bhutan'.  A war looter can never be acknowledged as the rightful owner of war loots. I think both that Captain and Asiatic Society have been amply rewarded. The " zung" of such a statue would consist of at least one golden Chenrezi statue, cat eye, red corals and other precious gems in addition to holy mantras. Asiatic Society acknowledges to be in possession of only the mantra script paper rolls. Damn convenient.

To answer Tshering Tashi's query about a large enough structure to house such a statue at Bhutan Duars. Yes, there was a Dzong. After it fell into British hands, Bhutan built a replacement under Samtse Dzongkgag ( Tendu Sibsoo). And it was called Dzong Sarpu ( meaning new fortress).    

The Dorjilung Hydro Project 1125 MW, the 2nd article by "The Bhutanese".

The final gist of the second article by the Bhutanese ( 30 December, 2016) on the Dorjilung Hydro project is that even after more than a year of Bangladesh, India and Bhutan joint visit to the proposed tripartite project site, India has not formally agreed to activating the project. Bhutan and Bangladesh had signed the MOU in Feburary, 2016 but India is still yet to sign the MOU writes The Bhutanese.

So was it a candy dangled to get Bhutan to fulfill another wish of India? I wonder what was that wish. The project is an important milestone if it goes through. However, it is not worth compromising the larger national interest.

As for power development, India has already backed down on her commitment to fund ( loan and grant) the total 10000 MW hydro projects by 2018. Few Hydro projects among the 10,000 have been rejected already. And by 2018, not even 30% of the committed 10,000 MW will be achieved though costs have escalated beyond financial sanity in the ongoing few projects.

The silverlining about future Bhutan Hydro Project development is that now Druk Green has the capability to conduct feasibility studies and draw up complete power projects of mega size. That is quite a national feat. Thank you Druk Green and Congratulations!

Project Fund and Market are of secondary importance for hydro projects in Bhutan. During dry rainy season, even Bhutan needs to import electricity supply to meet national consumption. So if Bangladesh wants to invest in Bhutan it can be done. If India does not allow transmission of power generated from Bangladesh Bhutan joint hydro project through Indian territory, Bhutan can pay Bangladesh share in currency ( I know Bangladesh needs electricity not money but a head start has to be made somehow for Bangladesh Bhutan joint Hydro Projects).  Also some power intensive Bangladesh industries can be set up in Bhutan. Somehow Bhutan and Bangladesh should go ahead bilaterally if India hesitates further with the Dorjilung Hydro Project. ( My thanks to The Bhutanese for the update. We Bhutanese  should be interested in knowing about such subjects).

Friday, December 30, 2016

President Obama and perhaps his last strategy hits plateau of despair.

An outgoing most popular modern time United States President of 2 terms, Barack Obama would have like to have ended his 8 years term on a high note in international affairs if not in domestic.   Afterall America is the self acclaimed super world leader.

But the last 2 months of November and December, 2016  has been failures at home and abroad. His Democratic Party lost both Presidential Election and Congress Election. The Republican Party under Trump Tsunami swept both Senate and House of Representatives and Hillary Clinton was soundly  defeated in her confident race to the White House.

Middle East turmoil has been American stage for so many decades and both President Bush (Republican)  and Obama ( Democrat)  Presidencies saw wars conflagrate from Iraq to Libya extending to Syria. The influx of refugees into Europe from Middle East troubled nations overwhelmed European Countries. A force known as ISIS over shadowed all efforts of American led Western Allies in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Against this background,  an outgoing American President would have badly wanted to be associated with the peace process going on in Syria. But it is Russia and Turkey that brokered a Truce between Syrian Government Force and the Opposition Force. America was not invited. And unfortunately for Obama,  the Truce has very good chance of paving  the path to permanent peace. And President Trump has been invited in the next round of Peace Talks scheduled deliberately a month hence. On 20th January, 2017, Obama leaves and Trump comes in at the White House. 

Obama Administration retaliated against this Middle East ( more precisely West Asia ) political snub from Russia by following up on  Washington allegations against Russia on cyber attacks to " influence American Presidential Election"( unproven) . A feeble diplomatic sanction has been imposed against Russia through Executive Order by President Obama. The sanction included expelling 35 Russian Diplomats from United States.

However, President Putin outplayed President Obama again. The Russian Leader refused to retaliate in kind. Thus laying a solid diplomatic ground for President Trump to reverse the Executive Order of Obama in 3 weeks time.

Obama's Administration tried to counter the Russian and Turkey peace initiative in Syria by creating one of their own in West Bank. The Security Council passed a resolution declaring Israel Settlements in West Bank to be illegal with United States abstaining and not vetoing the resolution. That, too , backfired somewhat with Israel accusing United States of orchestrating the resolution and President Elect Trump  publicly telling Israel to be strong till 20th January. However,  there is a silver lining in that the UN Resolution cannot be reversed by Trump with an Executive Order. But it's impact can be nullified by a pro- Israel Washington.  

So unless something dramatic happens giving President Obama a parting gift, the first black President is going to create another historic precedent- leaving the White House roundly defeated  in all fields:  Congress, National Policies and International affairs.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Kuensel editorial welcoming increase in electricity tariff. Hilarious!

Kuensel editorial points:

1. The hydropower is economic jewel to achieve socio- economic development.
2. The electricity tariff increase  may hurt the individual pockets but we must not forget the larger national goals.
3. The revision is only 3% while the annual inflation the country experience is about 6% on the average.

My points:

1. I never expected a glowing editorial praising the hike in electricity tariff for Bhutanese consumers.
2. If inflation is 6% then 3% tariff increase makes it 9% more strain on individual income.
The 3% increase in rate every year for the next three years means that in aggregate it will be more than 10% increase in rate  at the end of the  2nd year( 2018).
3. If " larger national goal " and " socio- economic goal" has no place for individual Bhutanese welfare than for whom is Bhutan planning for.

What are facts:

1. When I read the notification on electricity tariff increase, as an individual I was resigned to it like most consumers. But for sure I did not expect a follow up by the Government National Paper " Kuensel" to tell the Bhutanese consumers to be grateful for the increase in tariff because it was not as high as in United States of America. 


1. The authorities can reduce hike in tariff every year by controlling the unnecessary cost escalations in hydro project costs. Maybe if Bhutanese authorities wish to compare electricity Unit price in Bhutan with United States as Kuensel has done then perhaps compare project cost escalations that happens in Bhutan with that in United States.

2. Stop telling the Bhutanese  people that the nation will be better off with completion of hydro power projects if the welfare of every  Bhutanese is not part of that national development goal as indicated by Kuensel.

3. I am grateful to this Government for the direct subsidy of 100 electricity units provided free to the rural village families.

A lot is made about providing electricity to remote part of Bhutan and actual cost that is incurred in so doing. Along with such trumpeting,   the authorities  should also take into considerations the environmental protection rules: restrictions on mining, felling trees to people  and wildlife conflict. The individual Bhutanese do make sacrifices. It is not just Bhutan Power Corporation or Druk Green. Please note  Electricity Unit rate touches lives of all Bhutanese.

Poor people do live in urban cities not just in  villages. It should be possible to do without increasing the electrical rate upto to 100 units in urban cities for all Bhutanese. The benefit derived in cooking on electricity stoves rather than imported cooking gas alone should justify national goal to maintain at minimum the base 100 Units cost in urban Bhutan whilst providing free of cost upto 100 Units in rural Bhutan.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Private Money Lending Rules of RMA and Supreme Court.

First one must thank The Bhutanese for sharing on the social media the Draft Rules being worked out by RMA and Supreme Court.

Second this Draft Rule will definitely kill Private Money Lending.  It is designed to kill the system or at the least, drive private money lending and borrowing under ground. I feel it will go underground. The fallout from the rules, therefore, is even more disastrous. So why bother with the rediculous facade of drafting Rules that choke only the Lenders?  

Why not simply pass a law banning private money lending? And if RMA and Supreme Court feel that demands of borrowers must be met to some extent then come up with solutions in the financial institutions for meeting demands of such types of would be  borrowers.   

Also I am rather surprised that the two institutions have just one sided view of the private money lending and borrowing problem that is ailing the Bhutanese society. And that view is the incredible compounded  interest rates charged by money lenders. The same view is also shared by many innocent onlookers or those who choose to know no more than what appears on the surface. What about  con persons ( some borrowers)  out to wrest hard earned money of others by offering attractive dividends or interests  that they  have no intention to pay? Such borrowers are not victims. 

What the Supreme Court and RMA totally misses in the Draft Rules is the " pyramid scam" type that quite a many  borrowers are actually engaged in. The pyramid scams  are financial schemes that promises very high returns on investments. In Bhutanese parlance the borrowers promise high interests return.  The initial investors/ loans are paid  high returns and this leads to more people banking their money in such schemes/borrowers. Then the scheme fails or rather the Promoters / borrowers disappear with the investments leaving quite a many high hopeful investors cheated of their money.

This is the other side of the Bhutanese money lending and borrowing  story. Borrowers have led lavish lives in the country and then  absconded the country and few of them possibly enjoying the loot in another country away from the arms of Bhutanese laws. Consequently leaving behind quite a many money lenders without even recovering their initial capital. And not all money lenders are loan sharks. Quite a few elderly pensioners have been duped to invest/ lend their life savings to such unscrupulous borrowers. 

There is a private mony borrower serving prison term as the borrower was unable to pay back to many money lenders. A building owned by the borrower was auctioned off by the Court to settle dues. The lenders had to settle with whatever percentage of money they could recover by dividing the amount fetched from the auction proceeds of the building.

The borrower was supposed to have been bankrupt with the only asset the building being auctioned off. There is now a story going round.  And according to it, the imprisoned  borrower had actually bought the same building put out in the auction through an intermediary. If true the joke was on the Court and the money lenders. And rumours that circulate in the narrow Bhutanese social circles are invariably true.

There would be borrowers who would be prepared to bear some pains so that they and their family members financially benefit. There are also cases where some money  Lenders and Borrowers have caused much pain and hardship upon their own family members because of their ventures of greed.

There are grave eonomic and social ills  that private money lenders and borrowers create through their joint greed. Most of the private money cases that flood the Courts and are sensationalised in both main media stream and social media are related to black market, gambling and speculations of buying now and selling at huge profit later on.

The agreements do not reflect the actual  purposes of the loans. Therefore, the Courts are not legally aware though the judges as individuals would have to be aware of some of the happenings in the social business circles. 

Small time private lenders and borrowers are far away from public and judicial  gaze. The amounts do not run into millions and most borrowers are good people in need of ready cash to override an economic crunch or settle a social debt. The lenders too are people who do not make business out of money lending.

The authorities and the public must exercise caution and differentiate between those high market borrowers  and lenders among  urban communities  and those traditional rural community based lending and borrowing.

Friday, December 16, 2016

High Blood Pressure, Diabetes and rudimentary reality.

You are told that such health problems are due to rich oily diet and lack of physical exercise. These are what medical people state with all the confidence that they learnt from what others wrote. Possible that most illness have some sort of relation to  one's own diet and habits. But what happens in real life experience can also be totally contradictory.

It has never been my habit to take morning or evening walks. I always thought sex in bed was far enjoyable than solo aimless or purposeful  walks  Anyway, never had the luxury of time to walk away from domestic morning and evening tasks to go for walks.   I am not physically inactive though I do not normally engage in  physically strenous task. There is no restrictions in my diet. Growing up in a village, you eat whpat is raised on the farm. And now I eat what I like. I am not crazy about rice and chilli curry is not my favourite dish. But I like meat and taste of chilli. And from western diet, I like  ice cream and chocolate. I do not normally drink alcohol but once in a while in festive mood, I do drink beer or wine during celebrations. I do not as yet suffer from blood pressure problems or diabetic ailments.

My wife is a workaholic. She could manage all house chores, domestic animals care and 8 acre paddy fields. I did help out whenever my professional life accommodated.  Looking after the children and my needs are kind of by the way task for her. She never tired looking after us. So she has been physically and mentally  over active.   She is everywhere and everything. Her taste in food are very simple. If there is rice and ema datsi ( chilli cheese dish), she craves for no other. She doesn't even like cakes that much. And yet today she has both blood pressure and diabetic problems. Still physically active and managing all our home needs.

My dad died at 96 years of age. He was a tough farmer. He was not alcoholic but he did drink and enjoyed it too. He could down a bottle of whisky in a night even at age 90 and suffer no hangover. He had such good health. He died kind of physically young. I remember with amazement that he used to walk from Haa to Paro over the hills to meet relatives or  just to get fresh green chilli supply. He was 86 then. 

My life experiences taught me that death is dictated at the time of your birth. And your illness has more to do with your body constituents gifted at birth than your living  habits.  You will die when your time comes no matter what you do to prevent it. Also  your quality of life may have more to do with your mental state rather than physical exercises.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Donald Trump, Taiwan and Mainland China.

In the present political scenario, one might be tempted to assume that American President Elect Donald Trump would be relinquishing the One China Policy once he takes over the reign of United States Policies.

America is the only Super Power and she is quite powerful. However, now the world has undergone so much changes. So America is like the spider in the world web. The spider weaves the web but it cannot destroy the web without making itself homeless. Thus as President, Donald Trump cannot pursue nor can he achieve two China policy if he attempts.

America could start aggressively arming Taiwan and declare her intention to honour the security pact signed with Taiwan. The consequence of such a foreign policy would only hasten the demise of Taiwanese present national status. There is no way the mainland Chinese Government will give in to American attempt to enforce two China equation. As costly as it maybe, China will march into Taiwan if Donald Trump attempts to break away Taiwan from China. I had expressed the same opinion when some Americans and European politicians called for war to oust Russia from Crimea.

Taiwan will be part of one China whether Donald Trump likes it or not. Presiden Trump will have no choice but to adhere to the one China policy. His present expression of annoyance with China is only to cover up the fiasco of his ill advised direct contact with Taiwanese President. Some political commentators say that Trump is testing China and his present stands as President Elect is a deliberate strategy to weigh out Chinese strength and seriousness. I would disagree. It is too early to have had the  time and energy to devote to such a strategy. 

America, China and Russia cannot afford any direct aggressive confrontation of large consequences. They have much to lose and so little to again. Thus America under President Trump will not be wasting her time and armed forces to make Taiwan a different China. I cannot even imagine a large scale trade war between America and China. Major Cabinet posts under Trump are taken up by known  industrial and Commerce figures not war hawks. So it all points towards better world trade and prosperous economy. Not wars and destructions caused by  the past policies of  American Administrations.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Bhutan the last 10 years.

Bhutan the last 10 years.

Today the Nation pays homage to the first decade of the reign of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.  Deviating from general platitudes and tributes in celebration of the occassion, I shall recap what I can  recollect from amongst the happenings that I can sort of retrospect of the last decade ( 2006- to- 2016). My own humble  way of paying respects for peace and good health in the past 10 years.  
1. The signing of the re-negotiated Indo- Bhutan Treaty of 1949 at New Delhi.. Bhutan was  to become  truly master of her own foreign affairs under the new Treaty.
2. The 4th King abdicating in favour of the 5th King
3. The Kings voluntarily empowering the people and abolishing absolute Monarchy system in favour of constitutional  Monarchy.
4. The 1st National Council Election. And the 1st General Election in 2008 and formation of the 1st  Democratic Government under DPT Political Party led by Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley .
5. The adoption and signing of the historic Constitution by the King and the MPs in the presence of Drugyel Zhipa.
6. The Public Coronation of the 5th King  and celebration of the 100 years of Wangchuck Dynasty Reigns.
7. The Royal Wedding.
8. The successful nation wide Local Governnent Elections. And Celebrating 100 years of modern education.
9. The cadastral re- survey exercise of land holdings and grant of land Kidu. Thus empowering national livelihood through land distribution and ownership by the King.
10. The 1st constitutional case review by the Supreme Court on legislative process for taxation.
11. The 2nd National Council Election. And the 2nd  General Election in 2013 and also the first Primary Election contest between 4 Political Parties.  For the 1st time, Bhutan came face to face with direct outside intervention in internal governance process. . (Thankfully the nation seems to have now recovered to some degree of confidence and stability). 
12. The formation of  2nd democracy Government under PDP Political Party led by Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay.
13.  The National Celebration of the 60th Birth Anniversary of the Triple Gem King the great Drugyel Zhipa.
14. The unprecedented leave of one year absence by His Holiness the 70th Jhe Khenpo. Thankfully His Holiness is now back on active duty.
15.  The 2nd constitutional review by the Supreme Court on matters of Thromde creations and term of office for Local Government  elected officials.
16.  Successful and smoothly conducted Two Bye - Elections and 2 Phases of  Local Governnent Elections by the Election Commission of  Bhutan. 
17.  The demise of original SAARC and introduction of a smaller inner pact of 3+1  regional retrogressive club.
18. Visible progresses in Bilateral relationships with India and  in Border Talks with China since the bleak period  of  2013 General Election. Also contact with America was achieved at the higher level of Secretary of State. Bhutanese Leadership gained a higher state of calibration since 2013 low tide ( my perception).  
19. The Birth of the Crown Prince His Royal Highness Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck. Probably the undisputed biggest national happening of the decade if national ecstacy was measured.

The decade had much ups and few downs. But as in all journeys, what counts is the final lap. The Tsawa Sum is in good health. And may  these 3 Pillars of the Kingdom remain ever so in good health under the benevolent reign of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and the Blessings of Drugyel Zhipa and the Deities.

Pelden Drukpa Gyelo! 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

This damned BBIN Agreement and Bhutanese Parliament.

I read with amusing interests what their Excellecies the Foreign Minister and Home Minister said in the National Assembly on behalf of BBIN Agreement.  People must understand that the Cabinet of Bhutan is declaring that salt is as sweet as sugar to get BBIN Agreement ratified. The Bhutanese Cabinet is under regional pressure so it is under duress that Cabinet Ministers take such stand. The MPs must forgive them and scrap the Agreement.

Bhutan is surrounded by China and India. Geographically and therefore,  economically,  India is even more pivotal than China. The recently renewed Trade and Transit Agreement between Bhutan and India takes care of all Bhutanese needs. In case of electricity export to Bangladesh from Bhutan, the same has to go via Indian grid. And that will depend on India and Bangladesh relationship not BBIN Agreement. Export and import of other goods are already happening between Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal without BBIN Agreement and things will be fine as long as India is happy. And if India is unhappy then as in the case of Nepal Blockade, even the Bhutan India Trade and Transit Agreement will not guarantee movement of goods between Bhutan and India. An Agreement is worthless if the larger Party wishes to break it.

BBIN Agreement has only one purpose. That is to snub Pakistan. And it will have tsunami impact on Bhutanese national security, social, economic and political structures. Bhutan just does not have the capacity to absorb and manage the immense and hugely diverse overwhelming influx of everything that BBIN floods into the country.

Bhutanese need not care about Pakistan. India and Pakistan will always be hugging and stabbing each other.  But there is a responsibility for Bhutanese to look out for our self national interests. Forget personal self interest of pleasing your Bosses, your Political Parties and even Bhutanese Trucks and Taxis. Just stand United against regional invasion. 

Bhutan fears India for one reason. Bhutan wants to be the best of friend with India for the same reason. And that reason is Bhutan values her sovereignty and way of national life. BBIN Agreement is one night stand that is going to make Bhutan a life time prostitute. Prostitution is for ecomic reliance. It does not enhance individual freedom or national sovereignty.  Prostitution does not preserve individual or national dignity.