Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Why does Bhutanese society want change every 5 years?

From Gasa Dzongkhag in the  highland with the least voter numbers to Samtse the most populated Southern Dzongkhag, people voted for change. If given an opportunity, looks like most Bhutanese would desire changes in governing authority each year not every 5 years.

Looking at the election result, it seems that those in Western and Lhotsampa populated Dzongkhags are more regionally divisive or ethnically united than people beyond Pelela. However, this might not necessarily be indicative of the actual nature of the people. The gravity of the force of push and pull of campaign strategies  could also have  been a big factor as to how voters behaved. 

The 2018 election was again somehow projected as us against them, poor versus rich, pro- Monarchy versus anti- Monarchy. 
The end result is quite dramatic. The PDP Party which kept referring to its core dedication to the King was defeated in the Primary. And DPT Party which has been tagged as anti-monarchy lost out in the final round. The DNT Party has a President with established royalist credentials and presumed to be backed by elite groups and yet people opted for the anti- establishment tone and socialist pledges of DNT Party. In a way this response demonstrares thst the  Bhutanese society is more socialist than capitalist or royalist.

The active combination of DNT and PDP in the final round proved decisive in swinging several constituencies in DNT favour. But the tell tale sign is the endurance and depth of DPT Party foundation which withstood  all that the majority of Ngalongs, Lhotsampas, DNT plus PDP combined team and  some more could throw at it. The end result was 55% voters for DNT that leaves 45% of voters  for DPT all over the Kingdom. The variation in constituency number seems large but actual vote difference is only 10%. That means DPT too enjoys wide support especially in the light of very high voter turn out of over 71%. The divide is very distinct. Against the backdrop of this stark reality, I had humbly made a plea and pray for a National Coalition Government. We have to make attempts now to unite and  not divide further. However, DNT the Party at the centre stage seems to be indicating  that on its own the Party  can succeed in bringing the nation together. Superficially yes in terms of law and order but in essence very doubtful. And the other three political Parties have maintained a ghostly public silence.     

So where does the results of two stages of General Elections leave the politics of the Bhutanese nation?

1. The powers that be as in backers of different Parties do not want a strong democratic leader.  The corner stone goal seems to be deny a second term to any Prime Minister. In fact the royal patented constitution does not permit more than two terms of PM post by an individual. Further the limit of maximum 65 years of birth age in active politics prevents entrenchment of political power in an individual. Haha ! Mr. Mahathir the 92 years old present  Prime Minister of Malaysia would be circumbulating Memorial Chorten with a bead string in his hand if he happened to be a Bhutanese political leader.  But jokes a aside, power do corrupt even pious hermits if held for long duration.  

2. Bhutan does not need  a challenger to the Throne in any form. I also believe the Kingdom is too small for two power centres. The King has to remain the number one authority for continued stability in a Kingdom. Otherwise like in Thailand both the King and the Prime Minister will be looking for Army support.

3.  Changing Political Party and thereby the Prime Minister at every election may also indicate a dis-satisfaction in the royal prescribed democracy. The Indian type of democracy without monarchy was called for by Southern Bhutanese in their uprising of 1989-90. The Institution of Monarchy on its own had initiated democratic changes  from 1952 with a people elected cum royal appointed National Assembly Body. The Wangchuck Dynasty  completed the gradual democratic process in 2008 with the introduction of constitutional King democracy.

But the trend in vote for change is undeniable and it  also clearly indicated that the Throne is not a crucial  election issue as far as the general voters are concerned. An indication that people want more substantive changes but under the Wangchuck Dynasty. Corrections not overhaul.

Today during every General Election, the Kingdom seems to be caught in a quagmire of anxieties for the King who has to preserve the good  health of the nation and the Monarchy versus the Political Parties, the  deep distrust or fear among Sharchop communities and possibly foreign enhanced insecurity and resentment  amongst Lhotsampa communities. The political web of complexities needs to be untangled. .  

People in general are not unhappy with services and service facilities. They appreciate FCB and new fair  price farm shops,  helicopter emergency services, the farm roads and power tillers, the marketting service for farm products, the mobile networks, clean drinking water supplies and electricity in homes at subsidized rate, health & education services, efforts in increasing employment opportunities for youth, improved  irrigation and facilitation of cash crops.  They even understand  the necessity of big loan Hydro Projects for self reliance goal. Bhutan has seen unprecedented development under the Wangchuck reigns. Its kind of a leap from medieval age to modern era in 110 years. Something to be proud about though not comparable to say the transformation of Japan in about 30 years after disastrous WW II.   And yet change is what people continue to demand and support in every election. It could be a search beyond material services and infratructure developments though these are very essential. 

4.  In all three General Elections, it has been shown that democratic politics in Bhutan is determined by the swings of majority ethnic groups. The social grouping  nature of Sharchops and Lhotsampas along with their majority in number are more attuned to democratic politics than minority Ngalongs further weakened by their individualistic social nature. Perhaps one valid reason to stick with Monarchy for us the out numbered Ngalongs.  

5. The East cannot have fundamental antipathy against the Monarchy as perceived in some section of the socio- political heirachy. The Wangchuck Dynasty originated from the East and the Royal Family tree root is more widely spread in Eastern Dzongkhags than in the West.   In 2013, the perception that the King backed PDP candidates versus DPT candidates somehow disturbed the psyche of Party supporters from different parts of Bhutan not just that of East.  And this led to the outburst of grievances at  DPT Party Meeting in July, 2013. The actual reason for 2013  DPT supporters' outburst relates to the  PDP Party campaign.  PDP had claimed to be pro- King Party and tagged DPT Party as anti- King during election campaigns. The strategy proved to be a magical wand serving well the interests of PDP Party but most damaging to the national embodiment.

In democratic polity, election rhetorics takes all kinds of shapes and sizes. Bhutanese politicians adopted the external  election rhetorics of allegations and deception. But the traditional Bhutanese rural society especially the under developed communities in the East are ill prepared for such an onslaught of allegations and falsehoods. For example in Western Dzongkhag like Haa unless directly charged by the King, such allegation of being anti- King would be laughed off as being rediculous. Who would dare to be so stupid to be anti- King in a Kingdom !  But Eastern community suffers from an attitude of deep servitude when it comes to Royalties and Rimpochees. Its like Lhotsampa caste system.  They react badly if so accused because they feel rejected. That I feel is the irony of social fabric in the East. The people feel rejected by their revered idols and thus the grievance arising from dejection. Not a revolt. Just a wail of fish beached on the hot sand.   

6. At one time, maybe,  the Lhotsampa population was more pro Nepal and India than Bhutan. But this has changed in the last 20 years. I think that is a very smart change of socio- political move. With Nepal or India, Lhotsampa population would be insignificant. I do not think that Nepalese of Nepal was even that hospitable in attitude towards Japha refugee camp residents.   But in Bhutan, the prominence of  now Lhotsampas ( no more the Nepalese of Southern Bhutan )  is guaranteed. Thus  they are for Bhutan but not necessarily traditional Bhutan.

Right now most people including media view election in Bhutan as competition between the East and West. But that is not correct. In democracy where majority vote means power, the Sharchops and Lhotsampas are in competition with minority Ngalongs as pivotal factor. And just as the outcome of Primary election would be determined by two largest ethnic groups, the Final round outcome will be decided by the minority Ngalongs. The West, however, is gradually undergoing demopraphic changes and with it naturally the socio- political outlook.

7. It is also natural for security forces and Ngalong population to vote against any percieved threat against Monarchy. The soldiers have taken the oath to protect the King and Country. And hard working Ngalongs who are more  individualistic natured than Sharchops and Lhotsampas retain deep faith in the Wangchuck Dynasty for ending war and strifes that had western Bhutan in turmoil for so many centuries. I put the stability of the nation as number one in my political priorities because a peaceful stable  environment permits self determination. No need of handouts.  And the King represents stability.  Knowing this fact, the Political Parties with Presidents from western Bhutan have tended to  conduct a campaign strategy as being more dedicated to the King than a Political Party headed by a leader beyond Pelela the traditional dividing line between West and East Bhutan. Such an election strategy is not only to buoy up supports from Ngalongs and security forces but also to dampen morales elsewhere into submission.

And this strategy finds welcome support among a section of influential elite hierachy who somehow wants to paint DPT and all supporters  in anti- royal colour. And perhaps this vindictiveness more than any other actual factors has sown seed of suspicion in  royal mind and caused fear or distrust amongst the communities especially  in the East. Most sad and unwarranted.

8. It is necessary to analyse the vote patterns in the national Elections. And understand  why the three regional zones of Bhutan differ so starkly in their preferences? The votes are not really Eastern region versus Southern plus Western regions. Both Pema Gatsel and Samdrup Jongkhar are in the Southern region.  The reality is the divide between  traditional beyond Pelela region versus  Lhotsampa populated Dzongkhags  aligned with the West. The demographic contrast is undeniable.

By dzongkhag wise number, it is 8 Dzongkhags versus 12 Dzongkhags. But in reality Dzongkhags like Haa and Gasa  are large in land size but thinly populated and comparable to few geogs beyond Pelela. So its 50 versus 50 demographically.

Does the votes mean that the Ngalongs and Lhotsampas think alike? Not at all. The call for Indian type democracy was made from the South. The Ngalongs have been quite contended with absolute monarchy system.    I think we Ngalongs simply count the pluses and minuses of a monarchy regime  and are contended with pluses in the majority. Democracy and wrest of power for power sake is not an Ngalong quest. Maybe basic human rights !

9. Let me explain further this percept about democracy and basic rights. For example, democracy as such is not my quest. I do not thirst for equal power. But I believe in basic human rights. A right to be individal with self identity. Thats why I find it appalling that a Bhutanese mother has to seek  royal prerogative to obtain citizenship for her own born child out of wedlock/ illegitimate  or baby is fathered by a non-Bhutanese. How very humilating a situation in an acclaimed gnh democratic Kingdom ! A baby coming out of a Bhutanese vagina or DNA proved Bhutanese father from foreign mother should have natural right to Bhutanese citizenship. Do not tell me thats upsurping royal prerogatives. I view it as an encroachment to basic right of a citizen.   

For very sound national reasons,  citizenship cases for foreigners, foreign spouses of Bhutanese or foreign child adopted by Bhutanese should be royal prerogative to prevent misuse of citizenship grant by other authorities. But here  the very discussion of the plight of such Bhutanese mothers and children are forbidden and penalised as in ECB banning a lady political candidate from campaigning and levying monetary fines.  It is such deep similar  hurts  of tearing the womb or life  apart that ultimately give rise to hard core feelings against any institution of authority. One has to understand the trials and traumas of the womb in nourishing forth a baby to feel the excruciating pain caused by such cruel laws of denials. We need to collectively  pray that His Majesty the King and the Government would  be humanely sensitive and compassionate to matters of Bhutanese womb and genes.

10. It seems diffiicult for Bhutanese authorities to fanthom what Bhutanese society is seeking. Since royal prescribed democracy was introduced in 2008,  successive governments have faithfully fulfilled their campaign pledges upon which they were elected and yet each such government has been rejected after one term. So there have to be some underlying fault lines unprepared to be discovered or addressed by Political Leaders and too sensitive to be publicly listed by the people in individual capacity.    
Certainly these cannot be quenched by a mandir here, promises of a church & grave yard place there and temples everywhere. For gods if necessary can be housed in the crevices of the heart but not so some other intangible indispensabilities related to life and living.   

11. I am by birth a loyal Haap and by patriotism a royalist. But I am definitely not anti- Sharchop or anti- Lhotsampa. It was I who first wrote about the need to reconcile after southern uprising. I had wanted the nation to heal from the wounds of Southern rebellion. I stand genuinely for Tsawa Sum ( The King, Country and People ).  And  even in the wildest of my foolhardy folly, I cannot discount the importance of the participations of fellow Bhutanese of the East and the South along side those of us  in the West in the, hereafter, well being of Druk Yul. The three regional zones and ethnics   together form the sturdy  tripod upon which the raven crown rests.  Bhutan does not even have a population of the size of the nearest  neighbouring Indian district  of Jalpaiguri which includes the vast Siluguri town. It is suicidal for the Bhutanese  nation to practise  divide rule over such a miniscule population. As Dr. Lotay Tshering now the hon'ble PM Elect  said, it should be possible to accord equal services as part of basic human need of a citizen. And I do not mean just health services. 

12. First and foremost the regional  divide and segregation in ethnic, religion, caste and gender need to be addressed.    Therefore, my humble call for a National Coalition Government System. Such an  inclusive government can represent all sections of the three regions and three main ethnics. And bring about trust, faith and equality  within the Kingdom. One People one King is sacred to one nation.

National Coalition Government System  is not a wild impractical political thought. Before 2013 election, when I mooted aloud the idea of voting from place of residence, it was considered good idea but impractical. But facilitation booth voting came about in this year general election.  Ofcourse my call was far more reaching. It is not difficult to enable some 300,000 voters to vote through EVM or traditional ballot box from their place of residence. 

The political Parties and His Majesty the King have a huge responsibility to make whole a divided nation. We are not a broken Kingdom.  Just need to bring down the percieved shades between the three regional zones and different ethnics & beliefs. And National Coalition Government System could achieve  this goal  if implemented with  sincere intent.

13. For the record, I do not think the recent publicity campaigns in form of press releases by DNT Party declaring itself to be a Party  of national representative intent can adequately soothe  the hurt or seal the divide. Nevertheless, such public declarations are very good appreciable  conciliatory gestures  which I value and am thankful for sake of Bhutan. But it can not substitude the intent and substantive assurances and goodwill a National Coalition Government  System can generate. Its a pity that political parties and institutions  are not as yet prepared to take one critical step in the direction of healing a wounded Kingdom. Someday in the near future, I pray that this good seed though seemingly thrown in the wilderness now, will germinate and blossom to beautify the Bhutanese society.

May our Druk Yul  shine in full glow by blessings of our Deities and accumulative goodwill of the people and benevolence of the King. Palden Drukpa Gyel Lo !    

Sunday, October 21, 2018

A plea and prayer for Coalition Government System.

This is a follow up to my blog of 14th October titled  " A way forward...". I had publicly  shared this idea well before the election of 18th October, 2018.  The timing was to  avoid any semblance of vice or prejudice for or against any Political Party.  

I feel that Political Parties including both DNT the elected Ruling Party and DPT the elected Opposition Party would be interested to bring about unity and harmony among the people of Bhutan.  And promote trust and faith between our constitutional King and any elected Government, hereafter.

During every General Election, there are inciteful talks, hate posts in various social media forums and allegations against  Political Parties  and their supporters of being  anti- King or pro- King. The institution of Monarchy and the people are put on trial every 5 years. This is very  sad and demeaning for both the King and the people.  These unhealthy attitudes and grievous  behaviours are in total  contrast  to the Buddhist Kingdom with a national  philosphy of GNH and the image of a reverred benevolent institution of Monarchy.    

Dr. Lotay Tshering the Prime  Minister Elect and his DNT Party  has this unique historic opportunity to set aright this socio-political malady. At this juncture, the DNT Party can  bring about an environment of affection and faith in the administration of the Kingdom by the elected representatives of the people in the form of the two political Parties under the active guidance and blessings of the King. In promoting a National Coalition Government System, the  DNT Party being already elected  the  Ruling Party without having to share power, would be making a great sacrifice for the unity and happiness of the Druk Yul Kingdom for timeless ages to come. It is a worthy sacrifice. Such a  Coalition Government System proposal spear headed by DNT Party could create a more positive and encompassing contributory legacy to the institution of Monarchy and the nation than by  any other national political or socio- economic scheme including Vision 2045 abdication.  

A Coalition Cabinet will dispel any distrust or  misunderstanding between His Majesty the King and Political Parties.   Such a government would  represent the common  will of all the people of our Kingdom. Thus there will be no disparity or contradiction  between regions and between different ethnics. A coalition government of such nature would truely reflect the essence of a constitutional monarchy democratic nation. This would  enable  good governance in unity and unison. As His Majesty the King had  wisely said that with internal unity, Bhutan can meet any external challenges. And this proposed National  Coalition Government System would gurantee internal unity.   

The gist of  proposed National Coalition Government System is submitted as follows:

1.  The President of the Party that secures the highest number of constituencies be appointed the Prime Minister with full fledged PM Office Secretariat including Chief of Staff. 

2.  The President of the Party with lessor number of Constituencies could  head a Ministry and in addition be appointed as Deputy Prime Minister. The Dy. PM office  would be staffed with additional  Private  Secretary and Personal Assistant backed by the usual  Ministrial bureaucracy staffing.

3. All the rest of Cabinet members to be selected  by His Majesty the King from amongst the elected MPs and their portfolios accordingly assigned.

4.The Cabinet berths including that of PM and Deputy PM to be as per the  ratio of the constituencies secured by each Political  Party  out of total 47 constituencies. Under the present scenario, it works out to be 64% for DNT and 36 for DPT which after rounding off translates to 7 Cabinet berths plus PM for DNT and 3 Cabinet berths plus Deputy PM for DPT.

5. In the the National Assembly,  there would be no ruling or opposition benches as such. The National Assembly would be a congress of elected MPs. And they could freely consider all issues and matters with utmost wisdom  and  unbridled by Party affiliations and the NA decisions could be arrived at through consensus or majority of votes.

A compact high level Committee chaired by honourable PM Elect ( the President of DNT) and members comprising of  Dratsang Venerable Dorji Lopen,  honourable  former and present Chief Justices of Supreme Court and honourable Presidents of DPT, PDP and BKP could study such a possibility. The seven member Committee representing their institutions and Agencies could unreservedly  consider  the pros and cons  of the possibility of a Coalition Government System hereafter with necessary amendment or additional article to the Constitution. And if the proposed system is  consented to by His Majesty the King, this can be submitted to the 3rd Parliament for formal review and ratification. .

It is only a humble submission of prayer and plea and hopefully many would support and endorse. The national vision of one people one nation and one King  must prevail in good health and faith. May our Deities bless equally the  three Tsawa Sum with Peace,  prosperity and contentment. Palden Drukpa Gyel Lo!   



Friday, October 19, 2018

This thing about vision 2045

Somewhere along the last decade of royal reign, I think His Majesty the King did indicate his intent to see through till the age of 65 on the dragon Throne. Now that final year maybe falling in 2045. Even so I cannot really see the profound reasons why a political party would want to plan a vision 2045.

The Wangchuck dynasty took birth in 1907 and even though democracy was introduced in 2008, the Dynasty's continuous reign is constitutionally enshrined. Therefore, it is not going to end with the reign of the 5th Wangchuck King. It will continue with following generations of Wangchuck dynasty line.

The reign of each King would leave particular footprints. But in a continuous line, I feel all endeavours and accomplishments of a particular reign would be in comformity with overall Wangchuck Dynasty vision for the nation. As such I personally do not see one national vision ending with one reign and a fresh national dream starting with a new reign. Unless ofcourse a different kind of national path is being envisaged from 2045 and thus Vison 2045. 

I was uncomfortable with this agenda of DNT Party when first stated during Party Presidential debate at the onset of Primary election. And I am still confounded by DNT press release upon being elected the governing Political Party in regards to 2045 vision. But ofcourse the future of a nation is inscrutable abd therefore partly imaginery.  However, the  reality at present is that DNT the Political Party has been given the mandate to set its course for the nation.

So welcome Vision 2045 for whatever it is destined to achieve. Afterall for me  the ways of Pelden Drukpai Deities are more a matter of faith  than actual comprehension. I have learned to stride in faithful optimism with every change in life major or minor. Life is a gift of womb and so is the nation I am fortunately born in by the  grace of the Triple Gem. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Democratic fears versus realities.

I had pointed out possible friction in national administration during the consulting stage of the  drafting of  the constitution of Bhutan. But had no inkling of the tug of war kind of administrative confrontations that took place after 2008 until Lyonpo Sonam Kinga shared the excerpts from his forthcoming book.  I know he was fried over for sharing it on eve of Primary Election. I have no way of confirming his point of views but I give due cognisance to his former position as Deputy and then as Chairperson of National Council. He has to know far more than I a man on the street.  As such, I thank him at least for exposing some aspects that are not in public domain.

For example as a man on the street, I had no idea about the tussle over REC ( Royal Education Council ) pointed out by the former NC Chairperson.  In fact in my writeup,  I had opposed the appointment of a foreigner to head the REC without ever suspecting that REC itself was a contentious political issue at that time. My position was purely based on the fact that Bhutanese should be incharge of Bhutanese National Agencies. I did not suspect that the foreigner was a royal appointee. After all " royal " is a common title choice in the Kingdom as in Royal Audit Authority or Royal Thimphu College. And I was most relieved and happy when a Bhutanese was put in charge of REC. 

Today I do not look at any election local or national taking place within our Country as contest between pro-royal forces and anti- royal forces nor as any outcome as being pro or anti India or China. As an interested stakeholding common Bhutanese citizen, I stick to substance of an issue and avoid divisive or destructive politics. I am guilty of " prejudiced " voting for PDP in the Primary because PM TT is from Haa.  But I tried my best to be apolitical in my writeups and directed all thoughts to the pros and cons of an issue. And  I have attempted to counter unhealthy forces out to disrupt national unity or seemingly attacks on the Reign by political wings whether for short term political gains or long term socio-political impact.

As highlighted in the REC case,  we who are out and away from the power arena do not understand nor are aware of power dynamics at the centre. But thats a blessing in disguise. It allows us to be our true selves and therefore the goodness in not being factors of divisiveness.  We can foster unity by uphold trust in the Reign of our King and strengthening any weakness.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

A way forward for Bhutanese Political System free of nuances of a contest between King's anointed Political Parties versus other Political Party entities.

Let me approach this subject by introducing the influence of foreign forces into Bhutanese General Election.

Today I came across in fb an article dated  13th October, 2018 in Bhutan News Service authored by RP Subba now settled in America. He is described as a Political analyst of Bhutan Politics and a columnist at Bhutan News Service which is a News Outlet set up by anti- Bhutan  establishment outside Bhutan.

Placed below is a paragraph which is part of a lengthy article by RP Subba dealing with General Election of Bhutan. Quite enlightening I should add.

Quote " Diaspora Connection.
The existence of a nearly hundred thousand strong Bhutanese diaspora is a natural turf which provides a natural ground for social interaction among the Bhutanese community far and wide. They are talking and discussing elections with their friends and relatives in Bhutan. The soft power that transpires in these interactions, though not strategically planned, can exert significant influence, which can swerve voter choices in an election season. The power of social dynamics probably cannot be measured or surveyed but they cannot be dismissed either. Political counsel received from good folks living in the diaspora can penetrate the ballot box in Bhutan, and the impact can be really large. A southern Bhutanese living in the diaspora believes that the democracy which is introduced in Bhutan is born of the struggle and sacrifices he has made. The ‘ownership’ of an enterprise called ‘Bhutanese democracy’ is important to him, and he sees it happening when he participates in these elections, though indirectly and emotionally. Therefore, the need for him to establish a relationship with the politics of the motherland becomes a social need. It is only through such connections and participation that he can speak to his past identity and history."  Unquote.

The writer goes on to say that DNT is a Party which has guranteed the use of Nepali as an official language in Bhutan  and also to introduce a Nepali language BBS TV channel. And coupled with other pledges, it is a grassroot Party. And DPT as well as PDP are termed  Parties of the elites because both were started by two personalities  who were born " with golden spoons in their mouth".  RP Subba believes that both DPT and PDP are political Parties which believe in ruling from top to bottom ( monarchial style I think ). And he determines DNT as a Party  ruling from bottom to top ( socialist style I think ).

I personally do not see any such differences in being monarchial or socialist among the Bhutanese political Parties. And there is  no chance of nepali the main language  of the nation of Nepal becoming an official language in the Kibgdom of Bhutan. The majority of Bhutanese are for preserving and promoting distinctive Bhutanese national culture and tradition. In addition to Dzongkha, English is adopted as another official language only  because of its international application.   

RP Subba contends that both 2008 and 2013 election results were dictated by the influence of anti- nationals ( diaspora as per his term) living abroad through the Lhotsampa population in South Bhutan. And suggests that likewise 2018 result will be determined by Lhotsampa votes for DNT.

We are aware that Bhutanese social media is full of fake account holders. And they have attacked all Parties and have not even spared the Monarchy. These come in all shapes in fb posts from fake Bhutanese women and men profiles and in recorded video clips. The objective is to create suspicion and disharmony among the two ethnic races of Bhutan those in the East and that of the West. The ultimate goal seems to be vengeance for the illegal immigrants' unsuccessful uprising of 1989- 1990 in Southern Bhutan.

Whether voters are from the East, West or South of Bhutan, we all must be attentive to disrupting forces from the outside be these comprise of  anti- national kind whose main goal is to topple the Monarchy or that of India and China who think they have a stake in Bhutanese election outcome and policy direction.

The present political scenario provides fertile grounds for anti- Bhutan players. I think Bhutan would be well advised to correct the present constitutional democracy system. We need an outside  intervention proof political administrative  system.

The two political parties DNT and DPT contesting in the General Election  are Bhutanese Political Parties and their respective 47 constituency candidates are Bhutanese just like any of us. A lot of the candidates and their families are even related.  How could we  so recklessly and blindly determine that they, their families and supporters are either for or against the King?  Our distrust and suspicion springs from seeds of foreign intervention. We at the grassroot, at intellectual mid level and at the top leadership are subtly  being converted into gullible victims of politics of disharmony and disruption within our own Kingdom. This disastrous trend must be arrested before we drown in self fear and hate

Bhutan is only a small pool. There is no place for too many big fish to swim. Not even a popular Prime Minister and a deeply reverred  constitutional hereditary King. The political arena is just not wide enough to sufficiently accomodate two prominent power houses.  When two sumo giants are put in a small circle,  there will be bumps and frictions. Do not blame the wrestlers but realise that the smallness of the circle restricts gentle manoeuvres.    

Therefore, lets be practical. We need the institution of Monarchy or else our Political Parties may barter our sovereignty for freebee funds  from India or China. So first and foremost, we must strengthen the institution of Monarchy whilst honouring the will of the voters. Lets choose a midddle path governance system by amalgamating the system adopted in 1998 by the 4th King  and the democratic Party governance system introduced in 2008.

After this General Election, the Parliament must empower His Majesty the King to select the cabinet minister candidates from amongst the elected MPs. Also it must be mandatory to regionally balance the cabinet appointees.      It should be also mandatory to appoint the President of the Political Party with largest number of MPs as the Prime Minister and grant the first choice of the Ministry to the President of minority Political Party with additional deputy Prime Minister designation. And divide Ministrial berths in proportion to the MP strength of the two Parties.

In other words, adopt a coalition government system with more say by the King in cabinet formation as in identifying balance ministers and their portfolios. And in the Parliament, do away with the present distinct system of Ruling Party and Opposition Party. Seating in the Parliament should be determined by drawing lots except for cabinet rank MPs in the front row. .

Let MPs debate and decide freely on any issues presented to the National Assembly by the Cabinet.  Majority voice or vote will be the deciding factor. The proposals of the Cabinet will be tampered by the wisdom of MPs in the National Assembly which will be further guided by the apolitical National Council. And where necessary the Joint houses forming the Parliament presided over by the King instead of the Speaker can take the call. That procedure also saves the Royal Assent formality.   

Such a system will truly represent the interest of the nation rather than that of Political Parties. The Monarchy institution will not feel challenged by a people elected Political Party or a Cabinet selected by a Prime Minister. Both the Cabinet and the King must be binded in spirit and goal to serve the people and Druk Yul.

The prevailing tuck of war kind of  administration of the nation between the King and elected government and further fuelled by outside forces if not checked now  will destroy the Tsawa Sum in the near future. The Monarchy will not have a throne to call its own seat and we the Bhutanese  people will not have a sovereign nation to call our own home. Both could end up possessing only semblance of what are rightfully  and wholly ours.

The one people , one nation and one King inspirational call  is becoming a false flag of hope under the present political scenario. Instead of the  Bhutanese People and the Bhutanese King calling the shots, we are becoming tools of other forces in managing our national affairs. Our political Parties are being transformed into conduits of power channel for anti- national forces and big neighbours who presume that Bhutan is their priviledged  turf to play around.

I hope and pray that His Majesty the King and the whole honourable institution of Monarchy, the Dratsang, the 4 Political Parties and the People of all regions and races of Bhutan will take a precious step to consider and formulate a system of national administration that reassures the King and his heirs the  hereditary position and duties of the Wangchuck Dynasty. And at the same time enable the King, the royal subjects and the royal Bhutan Political Parties to join forces  together to serve in unity and in unision for accommplishing the national goals of  prosperity,  peace and sovereign dignity of the Kingdom of Bhutan.  Palden Drukpa Gyel Lo!           


Saturday, October 13, 2018

Uneasy lies the Saudi crown.

President Trump of America recently told his countrymen that if  Saudi Arabia does not  cough up cash to foot American military security  bills then the Saudi  King cannot reign.    He claims to have phoned the Saudi King to cough up the cash or he will lose his throne in 2 weeks time.

Saudi Arabia did not refute the American President's assertion that  the Saudi King would  lose  his throne in 2 weeks time if America lifted the shield of protection over the Saudi throne. Uneasy lies the Saudi  King whose reign is propped up by a foreign force. Just too bad.

So many such propped up Leaders  have been betrayed likewise. Used throughly and then thrown like a "  dead rat ". A phrase coined to describe the ousting of His Imperial Majesty the Shah of Iran by America when the going got too hot to handle in Iran. And years later,  President Marcos of Phillipine was another leader who got flown out rather  unceremniously by American Army. Next could be Saudi King and Family.

All these events were possible because those leaders relied more on outside prop for their national position. They should have sought the support of their own citizens. At the least if the end did come like the murdered Royal Family of Nepal, the people would have shed tears and  accorded a befitting royal farewell. And national history would laud them as heroes who sacrificed their lives for the Country.   

To conclude the sad Saudi tale, the Kingdom is again under limelight about the horrible affair with Khasoggi's probable murder. Perhaps too many sins accumulated in bullying small dependent neighbouring nations. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Why does DNT deny that in the last 55 years people have benefited from GNH development Plans?

" GNH has not reached rural population"
declares DNT candidate in Bumthang debate this evening. Lying is an incorrigible habit and it seeps into core character of a person.

GNH is not intangible. It is not abstract. It is there for all to see if you are not in the habit of denying and lying. Do not get into  the habit of denying the Tsawa Sum in every word you utter. How did a rural boy reach the stage of vying for MP seat if GNH is yet to reach rural Bhutan?  

GNH comes in the form of schools that provide education to children of all Bhutanese whether rich or poor.

GNH comes in the form of hospitals and BHUs in all Dzongkhags and Geogs that service the health of all Bhutanese. 

GNH comes in safe drinking water, motor roads to all geogs and hundreds of villages. In improved crop seeds, introduction of cash crops and development of markets for products. Promotion of cottage and handicraft industries and trade. The King who gifted the development philosphy of GNH, had rural population at the core of his vision. 

GNH comes in electricity in all village homes and at subsidised rate too. In mobile phones that connect all to each other both farmers and urbanites, rich or poor. 

GNH comes in power tillers that have replaced bullocks and farm works done in few days that used to take weeks. In Boleros that scoop up farm products and reach to markets for better prices.

GNH come in election of local government
by the local population. GNH comes in the form of national government elected by the people of the nation. Whether in rural or urban, you have just one vote and same right. Thus please do not deny the absolute reach of GNH all over Bhutan. Leadership is not about who tells the most convincing lies. 

GNH in practical forms of  facilities and services  are prevailing in every corner of the Kingdom and at the service and benefit of all villagers and urbanites alike.

GNH is not just a royal vision like a " castle built in the air ". It has been implemented on the ground. And today all Bhutanese enjoy peace and properity that was never imagined when the 1st 5 year plan was developed. GNH has been brought into lives of every Bhutanese in the most tangible and transparent deeds as desired and planned by the Kings of Bhutan.

Yes we still have much to do but we need to do for all.  Not only for poor or just for rich. But please recognise and give credit for what have been achieved so far. 

And yet DNT candidate declares that GNH has not reached rural communities. Perhaps the DNT candidate has been living in another country  such as Sub Sahara under a Zulu Chief. He certainly is not talking truthfully about Bhutan. 

It is the gift of GNH that has enabled  this same DNT candidate of Bumthang Tang  to receive both  education and professional employment opportunities.  And made it possible for him  to stand before the nation on BBS TV today in equal opportunity with the Leader of Opposition Party. But lying to the whole nation first in a dramatised taped  video with ficticious audience inserted about his fabricated BBS laments and second today lying  that GNH has not reached rural Bhutan is his own manufactured character. Nothing to do with GNH wisdom and gift.   

Monday, October 8, 2018

DNT complain against a DPT lady candidate ( courtesy kuensel 8th October, 2018 edition )

So this lady dared to touch upon the pitiful situation of Bhutanese particularly women
having children born out of wedlock or from foreign fathers. And DNT Party has appealed to ECB to disqualify her candidature and thereby I guess oust the DPT Party by default from the election contest. Actually I am not bothered whether EBC declares DPT out or in. But the shame of  this issue being  so sensitive  in our gifted democracy is a huge concern.

What about DNT pledge to pay new born baby mothers? Payment based on mother's and baby's plights ? Or father's status? 

Thank you Bhutanese lady for raising this gross inequality and the curse of the wombs situation. Since a complete foreigner can receive Bhutanese  citizenship, I pray that children of Bhutanese parenthood father or mother also be granted citizenship at birth. How does the nation's conscience live with this cruel segregation policy? Surely Bhutanese citizen too have some rightful claim upon our beloved Kingdom.

What is democracy and basic human right if a Bhutanese mother cannot call her own son and daughter Bhutanese? If given a choice, a Bhutanese mother would surely prefer grant of citizenship to her child than the gift of vote in the name of democracy. What value is voting right when a Bhutanese mother is not granted the legal right to call her offspring Bhutanese?   

We all know that grant of citizenship is royal prerogative. But royal prerogative is generally exercised for national interest. And people including women make a nation.  So is it really a constitutional crime to hope and pray that royal prerogative be exercised to eradicate this utter painful insult to Bhutanese parenthood especially motherhood in Bhutan the land of everyone elses's happiness but such mothers and their children?   

Kuensel pointed out that this plight was also a consideration in PDP Party manifesto. Thank you PDP. It is a paramount duty of a democratic government to correct such social class and gender bias and injustice through submission of such Kidu to His Majesty for overall considerations.  

Common DNT!  Babies come out of the viginas of Bhutanese mothers. Does Bhutanese authority need more proof than this to register the census  of the baby?  DNT must incorporate this issue as part of  bridging the gap between people's rights and privileges? Does elite mothers and fathers face such citizenship problems for their foreign fathered or mothered offsprings? Perhaps not. Maybe their spouses are eligible for citizenship. 

As for upsurping royal privilege and extra constitutional issues, consider the following.

a) DPT supporters seeking a different King in July, 2013 in video of their convention.

b) Before that PDP President pledging pay raise for Army during 2013 Presidential debate.

c) In Presidential debate 2018, DNT President proposing  All Political Parties Meet  to ensure that " King abdicates at the age of 65 in 2045 ".

A democratic goverment of whichever Party must work  towards ensuring facilitation of royal considerations for such painful difficulties that Bhutanese parenthoods are being subjected to. 



The 2018 General Election outlook.

In 2013, one major reason of PDP win was the solid turnover of DNT cream candidates to PDP in the General Election. They not only won their constituencies but also all became Cabinet Minister ranking in PDP government. 

In this Primary, DPT won 22 constituency seats with around 90000 votes.  And DNT with PDP won 25 constituencies with around 160000 votes. And this was followed by  strong rumours that PDP leaders were asking supporters to back DNT against DPT in the General Election.

Some PDP supporters were baffled by the sudden teaming up  as DNT President had even challenged PDP President as in " may need to  ruffle up by the neck "  and threatened PDP Party with " blooodshed and chaos "  in 2023 if PDP won the 2018 election. Also DNT did not accept any PDP candidates into the Party fold for the final round. Still politics is politics. It lacks definite characters and therefore undergoes changes like monsoon weather.

By fate of fortune or misfortune, DNT stuck to the same candidates of Primary election though it had quite a few clear  winners in PDP candidates. I had  thought DNT would have a sure chance of winning if few PDP candidates were absorbed into DNT. And blogged about such a suggestion even though DNT President had already ruled it out. Such a winning combination seemed worthwhile a second consideration. But there was no reconsideration.  I wonder if DNT Party had  miscalculated into the 2nd place.  But my take is only a personal view not a field study of voter mood. And DNT could very well have a hidden strategy.

Unless some unforseen change of situation snatch away DPT votes, it is unthinkable that DPT would be unable to add another 2 constituencies to its Primary 22. It could even add several more for a comfortable majority.  

DNT had 16 constituencies in its pocket and there were 8 PDP constituencies  excluding Sombaykha.  The magic number of 24 constituencies with over 160000 votes were all there on a golden platter. But Dr. Lotay chose to walk alone possibly for two personal reasons.

1. Looks like the two Party Presidents have more personality clash than commonality.  One is receipant of Lumar scarf from His Majesty and other the Druk Thusey Medal.  The two seemed in equal royal favour and thus "  the clash of the Titans ". So it seems that DNT President did not want the shadow of PM TT hovering over his Party pie. Protecting turf is denying any role  direct or indirect to the  competitor. 

2. Also secondly,  the DNT President was possibly lulled into a false sense of superior zone. He thought he could handle all. He had unexpectedly done superbly well in comparision to BKP President.  His air of infallability was reinforced by the thumping  Primary win. He failed to recognise that during the Primary, neither PDP nor DPT seriously attacked DNT. The two seasoned Party Presidents did not want to offend DNT supporters. 

PDP was quite confident of grassroot support and DPT must have had a good take of its support base. So both were confident of coming through the Primary as winners. Thus they were careful not to offend supporters of BKP and DNT. Good will is crucial for General Election. In fact both DPT and PDP  Presidents werw only defending their respective Party's past track record and laying out future plans during the Primary. DPT President  was not even attacking PDP directly. This tactic of passivity might pay off in this final round.

Leadershipwise, Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho is ofcourse well experienced to withstand the heat of election fireballs. DPT has been called all names and levelled all accusations. And he has been attacked from all sides. Moreover, he has had to navigate his leaderdhip as Party President and Opposition Leader under close watch of much more experienced and senior leaders and other able MP members. There is nothing worse than be branded disloyal and anti- King in a Kingdom where the King represent in essence the Tsawa Sum. So he has seen it all, heard it all, burdened under all. Thus DNT cannot fire any salvos that would un- nerve the DPT President . He has been cool as ever and approached the West, South and East with similar hope and confidence. And extreme North the highlanders is his Phd. home environment.

Dr. Lotay Tshering is several months into DNT Party Presidencyship. He was hauty and aggressive during Primary Election firing  much of his salvos at PM Tshering Tobgay the President of PDP Party. His anti- establishment rhetorics and above all his high flying proposal of no exams and no merit standard  for students till class XII caught the fascination of many parents who had school going children.  Both rhetoric and pledge  did wonders to eliminate PDP from the race.

Then in the ongoing final general round, things took not a u turn but definitely an unexpected turn and the new DNT leader found the going hard. He was reported to have choked with emotion  whilst recounting allegations against him at Drametse, Monger in front of 30 people audience( courtesy Kuensel ). Maybe the meagre attendance un- nerved him  The doctor who in all his professional life was used to humilities of folded hands and respectful bows of patients and relatives who were totally at the mercy of his kindness and professional skill as a urology  surgeon could not digest the " arrogrance " of those who dared to challege his authority and questioned his political knowledge.  His pledges were shredded as nothing but lies to deceive unwary voters.

It seems the good doctor had  naively  thought DNT manifesto was a " bible " beyond criticism and so he  complained bitterly that DPT Party was challenging DNT manifesto and calling for accountability. He just failed to comprehened that final round was fire under the pan. It is an irony of contradiction that he who publicly  issued threats to " ruffle up by the neck " or promised " bloodshed and chaos " was protesting attack on his pledges. Well Dr. Lotay learnt that  Political Party opponents are nothing like anesthetized motionless body on his surgery table. 

Dr. Lotay has much to learn and endure as a politician. He buckled under the election campaign's brimstone and fire attacks.  The Eastern tour took the wind out of him when the push came to shove. He declared that DNT had no hopes of winning in the East? What he said maybe a fact but a Party President owes it to the candidates and supporters who are bravely contesting in the fields, not to dash their hopes with such finality. Maybe his distraught has to do with his loyalty to his staunch backers Tenzin Lekhpell and Karma Dorji who face daunting challenges in the East. In  this I admire his loyalty.         

Party pledges:
The Parties' manifestos differs in context and substance. DNT emphasised on getting the opportunity to govern and closing rich poor gap relying mostly on freebees but no substantive indication of how or where it intents to lead the nation or close the gap. DPT dwelt on experience and achieving self reliance through improving and increasing hydro projects. And promised equity and justice for both poor and rich.

DNT attacked DPT hydro pledges as increasing national debt.  And cast doubts on DPT relationship with India the pivotal force behind Bhutan's hydro projects. Also PDP supporters have kept hammering upon the allegations that DPT Party was anti- Monarchy.

DPT Party in turn attacked the freebees offered by DNT as frivolous and unachievable or detrimental as follows:

a) The DNT pledge to provide assurred ladder to take students upto class XII without exams or set merit standard , suddenly became sure formula to failure in education quality. Turning out nuts ( lengos ) rather than talents ( yoentenchens )  after high school. Instead of helping children of poor families to acquire good education, the pledge was a lure to doomsday denying quality education to children of poor families who need good education to compete for limitted opportunities. Whilst the children of the rich only needed a paper degree obtained easily  by ladder ascent  because they do not need jobs to survive. Further this education pledge was also declared to be unconstitutional by DPT.  

2. DNT pledged 6 months wages to rural mothers of new born babies. Sounded great for securing rural votes. I would go for all mothers in national goal to increase population.  But on close scrutiny,  the irony is that rural Bhutan is mainly populated by elderly  people beyond child bearing age. The younger lots are in urban areas though their census are in their rural village. Most are working at some jobs. And they would not be covered by DNT pledge for those  living and working on farms in villages. 

3. The grand nationwide hospital plans just sounds too utopian and far off if promoted by anyone else. But professional zeal of Dr. Lotay does attract public enthusiasm. And Dr.Lotay can still count on the fruits of his surgery labour. His patients and their relatives would be with him. Not necessarily for his pledges but patients are grateful people by nature to their doctors. And they will repay his deeds of saving their lives or easing their pains with their votes. People largely appreciate the professional zeal of DNT President as a medical doctor and thus his popularity. 

Party prospects:
Both DNT and DPT candidates have respective captive votes in groups of family members,  relatives, friends in addition to many Party faithfuls and enemies of competing candidates. And there is the all valuable game changing PDP voters who may be still encouraged to vote against DPT. And margin influencing BKP supporters. So DNT prospect in the East may not be as bleak as made out to be by Party leadership. And DPT performance in the West and South may not be as dismissal as in the Primary. 

It all hangs on the stamina, endurance and insights of the two contesting political party leaderships .   Would the rather bruised and distraught DNT President be able to put together a last minute irresistable appeal to PDP supporters and  the crucial swing votes of BKP Party faithfuls. 

And how deep could Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho and his DPT Party  penetrate the West and South. Would South give DPT the highway vote and can Sombaykha constituency give its DPT candidate a cabinet berth. Maybe Layaps and Lunaps would positively answer the SOS call of their once Phd home resident and  now the  DPT President. 

I cannot predict cabinet posts for DNT or DPT candidates of other Dzongkhags. But Haa and Paro are close by and  near enough to hazard a guess. If DNT wins at the centre then North Haa DNT candidate  Dasho Ugyen Tenzing will be a sure cabinet member. And if Dasho Ugyen Tshering manages to surmount what looks an uphill task in North Paro, he too, will get cabinet berth.

And if DPT wins at the centre, its North Paro candidate former Local government chairman Phub Tshering will be a cabinet member if he comes through and he seems favoured to win. Now Haa has a different scene. I cannot imagine Dasho Ugyen Tenzing of DNT losing in North Haa. He has the Primary vote number and in addition PDP voters now freed from dedication to PM TT could also choose him purely on his seniority and proven ability. So I have had to evaluate the South Haa DPT candidate for a possible cabinet berth if DPT forms the Government. This possibility was spurred on  when I read that Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho during his recent visit to Sombaykha had told that candidate Tshewang Rinzin was a DPT Party faithful since 2008 and present Treasurer of the Party. And that cabinet posts will be evenly distributed region wise.  Now the catch is will fellow South Haaps especially of Gakiling and Sombaykha stand by their native son as they did in supporting their other native son for NC?  So Haa as a Dzongkhag could get a consolation minister berth in either ruling Party cabinet though PM post has been lost for this term.    
All said and done General Election may not turn out to be as exciting as Primary Election. As stated in the beginning, rejecting a winning combination formula by DNT could prove to be more costly  than what it would have personally cost Dr. Lotay Tshering to acknowledge the  help of President of PDP and his Party. But who can say for sure how it will shape out? Election is predictable until the evening when election  results flow in and then the time to bury heads in palms or throw up arms in the air in joy or bewilderment!     


Friday, October 5, 2018

Vote as a Bhutanese. Never in fear or favour or as surrogates of other nations.

If you feel purely a Bhutanese not just being born a Bhutanese or accorded a  citizenship, please love Bhutan for herself. Forgo the agony of regionalism, caste and race for one nation one people one King. When you choose DNT or DPT candidates in this 2018 General election, please base your choice purely on your feelings for the candidates or your preference for a particular Party. Never brand a fellow Bhutanese disloyal. Vote freely and forget   fear or favour of India or China. Be a Bhutanese at depth. 

For me the choice of Political Parties is over with Primary Election. Its now selection of candidates. I have no doubts about the loyalties and dedication of all candidates of the two Political Parties to the Tsawa Sum. So its a matter of abilities and experiences and a little bit of favouritism among similar capable candidates. 

I was wary of the gift of democracy and had expressed my reservation. Were all stakeholders ready for what true democracy entails I had thought aloud.  I also pointed out the merit and demerit of two Party final round election system  including the real possibility of denying the first choice of representation to a substantial section of Bhutanese population. And the scenario of the rise of one major Political Party as in 2008. This year we now realise that 1/3 of  Bhutanese populace majority of which are the voiceless rural population are denied their original and so the true choice of parliamentary representation. We practise in essence many aspects of limitted democracy system.  But final round two Party system must be honoured as long as it stays enshrined and not outcast from the constitution.

I have never questioned and never doubted the elected Political Party's legitimacy and mandate to govern the Bhutanese nation. I thank India for stating aloud her intent to respect the will of the Bhutanese people in this 2018 general election.  On my own part, I have as a   Bhutanese citizen held in full due respects the authority of  the  elected individuals in the constitutional posts of the Prime Minister, the Speaker, the Chairperson, the Opposition Leader, the Cabinet Minister and that of MP. They themselves would bear testimony to my deference.

I will always respect and remember the truely  dedicated visionary  Prime Minister Honourable Jigme Palden Dorji  and all Lyonpos under the reigns of Their Majesties the Third and Fourth Kings and I thank all democratic governnents' cabinet members especially Their Excellencies   Prime Ministers JYT and TT under the reign of present King for their sevices to Tsawa Sum.    

Whilst respecting the elected Political Party's mandate to govern, I have not hesitated to  express my differences in policies with both DPT and PDP Governments. And by fluke of providence, policies did get amended as in Tobacco Law which I initially termed  as " draconian " and Government approach towards  China ( I advocated end of subjugation by India)  during DPT Government. Under PDP Government, I was for delaying the process of Thromdes and Yenla Thromdes and approached the PM, the Speaker, the NC Chairperson and the Opposition Leader.  I also kept hammering on the need to soften the PDP  hardline China policy. Providence intervened and inadvisable policy of rapid urbanisation of rural society was put on hold. And for whatever reasons,  in the last leg of PDP rule, the government did soften its approach towards China.  I failed in efforts to save the construction of the Southern Bhutan Highway during PDP governance but I know Southern East- West  Highway is the heart vision of all Bhutanese except few amongst us who mistakenly  feel kinship with Indian conscience and objectivity. 

Frankly I  cannot imagine a truely sovereign Bhutan without the highway in the South and rapproachment with China in the North. What kind of a sovereign land is it that which has no road of its own to travel from West of the country to the East of the Country? What kind of sovereign land is it that which cannot cannot on its own exercise the right to establish full and friendly ties with its immediate neighbour? What kind of political leadership does a population of a sovereign state look for to lead the nation if not to foremost protect and promote the sovereign dignity and freedom of citizenship of a sovereign Kingdom?

It is possible to keep existing peacefully as at present under the thumb of India. As Ambassador Shiv Shankar Mukherjee said on Rajya Sabha TV, " the Bhutanese are comfortable being in such a position ".  That remark is similar to the one many Bhutanese elite families made when HM King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck commanded that the serf population be freed and resettled in different parts of the country  away from their traditional masters. The serfs are quite comfortable being looked after by their masters, why is the King bothering about the welfare of the serfs they grumbled. Even many serf families shared similar sentiment.   21st century Bhutan still has remnants of such sentiment filling the lazy hearts of few leaders and followers who cherish basking in the generosity  of India and hold on to present absolute India dependency.  Though we have in name a King and Kingdom, Bhutan is in all essence looked down upon as a princely state of India. Thats why Indian Army freely   marched into Doklam June, 2017 to secure her security interest claiming India was protecting her protectorate " Bhutan ".  And so many nations including Japan the second largest development Partner of Bhutan supported India's right to march into Doklam which is a disputed land between China and Bhutan. India has no claim of her own upon Doklam. Thats why at times  you come across Indian media or some personalities refer to our King as His Highness the Maharaja of Bhutan. Is this what Bhutanese really desire to continue to hang on?      

By the way, my rapproachment desire with China began as far back as 1971 as a high school senior when HM King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck granted the first audience to students of Ugyen Wangchuck Academy at Paro. I submitted, " Your Majesty, does it pay in the long term interest of Bhutan to adopt an antagonistic national  attitude towards China ? Why have our Army only guarding the northern border and not the Southern border? "

I am from the Valley of Haa which is protected  by the Deities GyoenTsebarme,  Miri-Phuensum and Ap Chhundu.  And I am probably one of the first youngster who was subjected to the acute agony of India- China hegemony tussle over Sino- Bhutan international boundary. No Bhutanese young or old should  ever have to go  through such frustratingly helplessness state.

I value and respect  both India and China but I just prefer and love Bhutan best. Therefore,  I am for good relationships with India and China. Ofcourse I am grateful to India for all development assistances in the last 60 or so years. I am myself a receipant  of India granted scholatship in junior schooling.   But as a citizen of sovereign Kingdom, I am also resentful with India for cocooning Bhutan as hers alone fiefdom. This imbalanced and highly India lopsided  status of 50 years of Bhutan- India political relationship is unacceptable. Must undergo reasonable and respectable changes. Get rid of Master- Serf status quo. Be the closest and  friendliest neighbours in true sense.   

I am a Bhutanese and subject of my King. I shall always respect the Constitution adopted in the sacred hall of Lord Buddha in Tashichhodzong by the Wangchuck Kings and elected Representatives of all the 20 Dzongkhags and 47 constituencies.    I am bonded to this solemn duty and responsibility by the King, the People and the Dharma. This is the reason why I raise my voice for a sovereign united nation as enshrined in the constitution. Free from outside domination and free from internal discrimination. May all Bhutanese find the reserve of strength to cherish and promote our own nationhood  before all other nations and over and above our other personal prejudices and affections.

PS.  Today is my birthday. And this is my tribute, dedication and pray to the Deities of Palden Drukpa in  celebration of  the fortune of being born in this heaven on earth beautiful Kingdom.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Bhutan Changing Political Equation - a Rajya Sabha TV programme of India.

In the programme,  there are three very individualistic but distinguished panelists selected from different social, political and intellectual spectrum of Indian think tanks. The programme seems to be specifically oriented towards Bhutan and Bhutanese people.. 

The Panelists composition represent the Indian Defence Forces in Rtd. Major General Ravi Arora who is also introduced as the Chief Editor of Indian Military Review. He seems to be also a military expert ; the professional administrative cadre and diplomatic corps of India is represented by India's former Ambassador to many nations including United Kingdom and  Nepal His Excellency Shiv Shankar Mukherjee.  He was the Indian Ambassador in Nepal when the Nepal King was deposed.  The academics and intellectuals are represented by Professor Sreeram Chaulia Phd. A very active intellectual in the Indian polity like the Ambassador.  The RStv host or anchor introduced the topic but more or less left it to the respective panelist to evoke their takes.

Several  fb friends had forwarded the tv clip and sought my views. I just did not  have time to study in detail and think over until now. Thank you for sharing the clip.It was very educative hearing such high confidence expert views and analysis  from the learned panelists.   

This is a rather heavy subject and it is not really for general fb friends whose attention span is restricted and also whose interest is short time Party politics. However, there are many well versed fb friends and others who are very familar with India-Bhutan friendship and related  politics and though their public views could differ, the private takeons could be quite similar to mine. Anyway I share with respects to all stakeholders my limitted but frank views. May we all benefit from honest exchanges.    

My Views:


By and large the panelists especially the two of  civilian origin presented a vastly improved and sophisticated long term approach to Indo- Bhutan relationship,  hereafter. It is much different from the Indian media tone during Doklam transgression by Indian Army into the disputed territory of Bhutan and China. I bring up this Doklam subject because all the three panelists and RStv anchor  dwelt upon it quite specifically but in true Indian prejudiced interpretation of the episode. I shall deal with this towards the conclusion.

1. Rajya Sabha is the Upper House of India and it is something like National Council of Bhutan but very much Party political oriented  and quite powerful. So comparision is only in sense of political organizational structure but incomparable in clout and composition plus leeways. I, therefore,  take this Rajya Sabha tv programme as being solely a message from the government of India to Bhutanese people, the Political Parties and the Institution of Monarchy. And it comes in stick and carrot form. There is , however, a conciliatory tone strengthened with some genuine sincerity.

2. Let me first state the stick form. The military expert  panelist shoots straight.
" We have not got the bang for the buck " he more or less aggrieved maliciously  and went on to chide Bhutanese behaviour and begger position versus India.  The threat is open and aggressive. Nothing couched in niceties and impossibly rude. He kind of puts Bhutan in the prostitude position and India as the man who paid for favour but did not get satisfied. It is at such times when listeners wished to be among the panelists and ask the Rtd. Major General if he took into account self virility deficiency in, " not getting  the bang for the buck ".  Afterall India has her own vital national reasons for both sweet and sour deals with Bhutan. And over the years,  Bhutan and her leadership and thereby the people have been reduced to sub- servient position in matters of self national determination and aspiration. 

Any way,  later the sauve anchor tried to shave off the edge of the crude phrase  " bang for the buck"  by suggesting to the Army fellow " you mean India did not get the full  returns for her investment in Bhutan ?"  The meaning was ok not the crudeness.

3. What I have deduced even before Doklam tragegy was that the Indian Army heirachy  has no regard for Bhutan Army except as its underling domino. This time the Indian Army General Bipin Rawat had unnecessarily included Bhutan when answering questions about Nepal not joining Bay of Bengal Initiatives joint Army exercise. Bhutan Army was  there.  The  General who thinks that Indian Army keeps the Bhutanese Throne intact as in " helping rulers rule " was quite conciliatory in tone towards Nepal Army conducting joint exercise with PLA of China after cancelling joint exercise in India. It seems unlike Bhutan Army, Nepal Army is funded by the Nepalese nation. General Bipin took extra pains to remind Bhutan along with Nepal of our geographical vulnerbilities if we cosied upto China and this was also  pointed out by the panelists. I think the General is yet to recover from Doklam stump. 

4. What we as Bhutanese must  know is that in India the Commander of Defence Forces is the President of India and the President does what the Prime Minister of India ask him to do. So what General Bipin Rawat  says or the insufferable attitudes that Indian Army officers like Rtd. Major General Arora  bears towards small dependent neighbours like Bhutan and Nepal, does not necessarily weigh all in terms of actual Indian policies. Unlike in Bhutan where His Majesty the King  has absolute  gracious  command over defence forces,  the Indian defence forces are subject to the authority of the elected Government. Therefore, I feel quite buoyed up by the softer and more comprehensive attitude and views of the two civilian panelists who would be in better position to gauge the prevailing  thinking and official mood of the Indian Government. They certainly would not be expounding such views over Rajya Sabha tv without some nod from certain government quarters. In any case they are heavy weights unto themselves..  

5. Ambassador Shiv Shankar Mukherjee directly disapproved of the tone of approach adopted by the Rtd. Major General Ravi Arora. He said such transactional approach was inadvisable because this makes Bhutan feel vulnerable and therefore susceptible to Chinese overtures and deep pockets. I think as a very seasoned career  diplomat,  he was perhaps offended or embarrassed by the term " bang for the buck ".  And moreover, as a very shrewed diplomat he knows that in an era where China is giving away billions of dollars with no string attached, it would be grievious mistake for India to tell the Bhutanese Prime Minister and worse the King that Bhutan is just too dependent on Indian largessee of billions of rupees.

One can get the picture between billions of dollar grant given by China to many small nations and billions of rupees smaller portion of which is in grant form and much larger portion in hydro  loans at out of standard 10% interest by India to Bhutan. No other nation charges such exorbitant interests. Worse than commercial banking.   In fact I remember reading an article by a Bhutanese about India getting  loans from Countries like Japan and world financial institutions like IMF and Word Bank at 1% to 2% interest  with repayment schedule stretched over 50 years period. So literally India is reaping huge profit in financing hydroprojects in Bhutan. India has monopoly over Bhutanese rivers and makes Bhutan subsidize her monopoly over Bhutan's only premier natural resource the rivers of Bhutan. Thats generally termed as having the cake and eating it too.

6. It would be naive on part of Bhutanese people to think that the Rtd. Major General and the other two panelists were only speaking their own minds. They are individualistic in approach but have common allegiance. One does not get called to Rajya Sabha tv programme to voice out only personal views especially at a time when PDP Party the deemed pro India Party in Bhutan was unexpectedly defeated in the first round of the two tier national elections. So what Rtd. Major General said about India " not getting the bang for the buck " is a warning.  And it seems similar tone in the past had got Bhutanese leadership to crawl under. The Indian Army commanders know what size of  bullets are to be fired at Bhutanese establishment. Moreover, retired maybe as professional soldier but he is very actively engaged with the Indian Army and he is a worthy expert on Indian defence strategies and the mood of warring group in India. Sometimes Bhutanese leaders must learn to flick off such warnings so that these are not repeated again by India. Easy to scare is easy to manipulate.   

7. The Ambassador seems well versed in the Bhutanese affair. And so is the the ex- Army General.  The professor does not seem to have an indepth nitty gritty knowledge of Bhutanese in particular. But he is well versed in the geo- politics of the region and he is incredibly deeply insighted and foresighted. That made me look him up in the internet. Infact I would suggest readers to look up all three panelists. 

I shall quote them, hereunder, so that readers can get the wholesome picture from the horses' mouths as the saying goes. 

A) Ambassador Shiv Shankar Mukherjee stated:

i) No need to point out dependency of Bhutan on India. The Bhutanese people are well aware of the situation and they are comfortable with this.

ii) The elephant in the room is China. Whatever India wants to achieve, it has to be done with the willing co-operation on the Bhutanese side. India has to be sensitive and generous to counter Chinese influence. 

iii) India should  not look at Bhutan as a very dependant Country which cannot do without India. India should counter Chinese influence upon Bhutan and should stave off China breathing down on Indian neck.  

iv) India should not make Bhutan seem vulnerable by the transactional approach. That would make Bhutan open up to Chinese overtures and their deep pocket.  Inadvisable to deploy the transactional approach upon Bhutanese or other small neighbours. These small countries have high sesitivity feelings  for self sovereignty. 

B) Professor Sreeram Chaulia stated:

i) Democracy was intriduced in Bhutan by the King but he has not given up all the levers. The King is the fulcrum. ( a similar  view was also expressed at another Indian TV channel. It was said that the King is the pivotal force ).

ii) India must provide room to Bhutan to achieve her aspiration. India cannot prevent any neighbour including Bhutan from joining for example BRI. Both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka with whom India enjoys close ties have already joined BRI. India should not conduct relations with Bhutan based on Political Party preference.  He also pointed out aspects favouring India such as China having  territorial claims on Bhutan whilst India does not.

iii) When the Major General alleged that Bhutanese youths do not like Indians the Professor countered  by stating that if youths of Bhutan seem anti- Indian then India must move to change such feeling through providing scholarships and other grass root involvement to win over the youths and people in general. He also pointed out that Bhutan has Lamaism religion akin to Tibet.  And the fact that Tibetan exile government and Dalai Lama are housed in India. He said that there are ways to foster closer ties and trust through Tibetan institutions in India and what happened to Tibet the nation next to Bhutan. (In other words pepper Bhutanese society with Tibetan culture and phobia for China. In saying so he seems to be aware of few  Bhutanese of Tibetan origin siding with India against China to the detriment of Bhutanese national interests during Doklam transgression). In a nutshell the professor believes  Bhutan has such a small population and it should not be difficult to mould them the Indian way. ( The learned Dr. Chaulia maybe underestimating  the Bhutanese psycology but  who can say for sure. We do have those who thrive on freebees.)       

iv) India must take a multi- facet approach towards Bhutan and accommodate Bhutanese aspirations. India must not look at Bhutan under the shadow of Chinese prism.

He confirmed  that Indian Government was already in contact with all relevant political Party leaders and authorities in Bhutan after the Primary Election result. India was ready to work with any Political Party in Bhutan.  

C) Rtd. Major General Ravi Arora made the following dubious statements. Therefore, I have put my  clarifications in bracket against each of his statement.   

i) That India had prevented Bhutan from giving away territitory to China.

( The fact is that India prevented Bhutan from signing  the Border Agreement with China as far back as 1992- 1994 because of her strategic interest in Doklam. There was even a much larger land swap proposal  in central Bhutan-China border with smaller land portion at North-West Bhutan-China border in Bhutan's favour.

The Doklam tri-junction lies in South - West of Bhutan- China border at the southern most tip of Chumbi valley of Tibet. And Doklam was never part of the land swap proposal. In fact, Bhutan wanted to leave out the issues of the tri-junctions both at South-West of Bhutan and North- East of Bhutan bordering both India and China. These tri- junctions issues would only delay forever a Sino- Bhutan border deal covering  north Bhutan international border with China.. Nepal too had wisely left out the tri-junctions.  But India has been persistant and to borrow the phrase of the  panelists " breathing down Bhutan neck " ).
ii) That during Doklam crisis,  Bhutan informed India of Chinese entry into Doklam and then ownwards, the two countries worked in tandem successfully.

( How could Bhutan inform India about the entry of Chinese troops at tri-junction spot in Doklam? Indian Troops are stationed on the Sikkim side of Doklam only 150 metres away from the Chinese seasonal camp whilst Bhutanese border guard camp is 2 or so Kms away from both Chinese and Indian Camps at Doklam. Infact Indian troops had moved into Doklam by 5th June according to some Indian media  much before all the public  noise began after 15th June, 2017.  Maybe unsuspecting Chinese Army had not sent border patrols regularly because all was usually tranquil at the desolate tri- junction. So perhaps Indian troops were able to move in quietly unopposed. No one was there at site  to oppose or witness. 

It may have appeared to the outside world that Bhutan was working in tandem with India during so called Doklam stand off between India and China. Actually it was a standoff between 3 nations. We know that  Bhutan issued a demarche to the Chinese Embassy in Delhi, I think,  on 20th June, 2017 requesting China  to " maintain the status quo ".  There was also a press meet by Bhutanese Ambassador in New Delhi reiterating the same status quo call. Many would have assumed that Bhutan was asking China not to extend the motor road as alleged by India. I also thought so in the beginning. But then Bhutan maintained absolute public silence after that. In between the Bhutanese Ambassador in India attended a Chinese Embassy function in Delhi marking an occassion to do with PLA.

As the silence continued and Indian high level diplomatic and security  teams frequented China to negotiate withdrawl, it dawned upon me that perhaps the demarche indirectly told  China to maintain the status quo of having no third country force at the Bhutan- China disputed Doklam. I am just guessing !  Bhutan herself was and still is  in no position to tell Indian Army off. She could have been easily choked off by India.  No wonder China started  threatening India in no uncertain terms since the demarche! What really happened is anybody's guess. Maybe Bhutanese aothority  co-operated with both China and India in Bhutan's interest.  

Well politics may be every politician game but the Wangchuck Kings of Bhutan have been at such survival games for over a century be it the institution of Monarchy or the status of the Kingdom. Nothing maybe beyond the royal political realms when it comes to self and national survival strategy.)

iii) That the Treaty of 2007 says both countries shall not work against each other's national interests.

( The wordings of the 2007 Indo - Bhutan renegotiated Treaty of 1949,  is not at all as quoted by the Rtd. Major General. If it were so then India should not be working against Bhutan's national  interest of establishing diplomatic ties with China when India herself has both diplomatic and trade ties with China.

The actual wording says that both India and Bhutan shall not habour forces on their soil working against national interest of the other signatory nation. During Doklam crisis,  it was Indian Army which was transgressing into China- Bhutan disputed land.)    
iv) Chinese border with Bhutan is not demarcated. Indio - Bhutan Border is already demarcated.

( China and Bhutan has international boundary disputes and so have held till date  24 rounds of Boundary Talks. The fact is China as a huge, powerful nation could have just demarcated their border as desired and as India did with Bhutan. But China has chosen the negotiation and reasoning path. Bhutan and India held no border talks. At least not to public knowledge. Bhutan simply accepted whatever the Survey of India demarcated. It was quiet and quick as the case usually is when one powerful Party  makes the unilaterial decision for both stakeholders.)  

In conclusion my summary is as follows.

1. India will not be blantantly interfering into this ongoing 2018 General Election even though PDP Party has been eliminated. Infact in another Indian TV, it was even pointed out that withdrawl of fuel subsidy in 2013 was a regretful mistake. A bad coincidence. Never intended or planned. I believe not in the coincidence part but I think it was not planned at Indian Government highest level. The Indian Ambassador in Bhutan during the withdrawl of fuel subsidy in 2013 upon returning to India became an advisor to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of Bihar State. He did not continue his career in Indian Diplomatic Service. Maybe he had reached retirement age.  Also when PM Modi visited Bhutan in 2014, there was a rumour that  he sent his regards to former PM JYT. No idea how reliable the rumour was.) But if DPT comes into power, such gesture bears good value. 

2. One fact stands out. India seems to be confident that His Majesty the King of Bhutan will preserve the age old India domineering Indo-Bhutan relationship. The King was referred to as the " fulcrum ". And they genuinely believe that the King  has the " leverage " to do so. Maybe the panelists were telling the King just that. 

Looks like India feels that the King of Bhutan will stand by India and His Majesty would use his position as Supreme Commander of Defence Forces of 16,000 soldiers ( number quoted by the major general possibly including the police force and Desuung trainees because I do not think RBA and RBG make up this number) and other royal prerogative powers to protect and enhance Indian interest in Bhutan.

In this, India could be overly misplacing her confidence. If the push comes to shove as in Doklam, the King of Bhutan would  be at the call of the Drukpa Deities Palden Lhamo and Yeshey Gyenpo and ofcourse the people of Bhutan. In such a scenario even an Indian atomic type clout may not sufficiently persuade the King to take over responsibilities of an Indian Ambassador to Bhutan.    

Actually, in my view,  His Majesty the King has the necessary trust and reverence of the People of Bhutan and all Political Parties to open up to China and yet maintain present relationship with  India. This is what I would look upto the reverred King to accomplishing. Bhutan has been unjustly cocooned long enough by India.          

3. India  seems to be sensitive to the position of the King of Bhutan and the increasing frustration that is building up in regards to India taking a confrontational position towards Bhutan developing an internationally  respectable relationship with China. The panelist trio offered everything " across all boards"  to the King and the next Prime Minister to keep China at bay. Such freebees can be selfishly tempting for Political Parties who over pledge. Thats why I believe Wangchuck Dynasty is crucial for Bhutan's national long term interests.  

4. In my view, India should resign to the fact that sooner or later Sino- Bhutan relation will foster to diplomatic level. So India should  not place demand upon the King to stop Bhutan from developing diplomatic and economic relationships with China.  India seems prepared to do everything short of military venture like Doklam to convince Bhutanese leadership that Bhutan was better off without China.  But something that the Ambassador said seems to also suggest that diplomatic relation maybe tolerated but not actual physical Chinese embassy presence at Thimphu. A wishful thinking!  I would suggest a small  Chinese Embassy at Thimphu but no military attaches. Let military affairs of Bhutan be a preferential matter between Bhutan and India.  It is high time for Thimphu to take away the leadership of the Kingdom from New Delhi in all other matters. Just preserve the close military link to ease Indian discomfort. Indian friendship and support is important to Bhutan. The people are also very friendly and easy to communicate with. The Chinese are different in nature and there is the language and social barrier.  

5. By now it should have dawned upon New Delhi that a limitted  unobstructed relationship between Bhutan and China actually would  strengthen the buffer status of Bhutan. I sincerely feel that it is in India's national security interest if China is given the opportunity to demonstrate a healthy respect for Bhutan as a sovereign Kingdom. That way  the so called Siliguri chicken neck  and the whole  of North Eastern States of India will  never be invaded  by China through Bhutanese territory. And it has been demonstrated at Doklam that India does not have the capacity to invade Chinese Tibet from Sikkim or through Bhutan. Thus  India can relax and  still be Bhutan's number one friend and of considerable influence. 

6. Both IMTRAT and DANTAK will continue their presence in Bhutan but advisably at a lower profile as in:

(a) Indian Army Troops to refrain from occupying and destroying Bhutanese cummunities' forests and water sources in the name of war exercises and acclimatization camps. There are hundreds of similar altitude places in India itself in States of Jammu Kashmir, Sikkim and Arunachal. Do not trample over Bhutanese livelihood sustainable natural environment  and community self respect.

(b)  And Dantak refrain from putting up  road signs and Indian tri colour  markings all over Bhutanese highways and at  Border Gates as if India owns Bhutan.  

(c)  And co-operation between Indian Army and Bhutan Army is maintained at respectful and reassuring level. Bhutan ofcourse has no military interest with China. Our experience with Indian Army has saturated us adequately. However, it would be advisable to have Indian Army  withdraw its spy contigents attached to Bhutanese border guards at Sino- Bhutan and Indo-Bhutan borders. I think their existence is an open tri-national secret and is a distraction in  building trust between Indian Army and Bhutan Army. Indian Army has to trust Bhutan Army and not watch over it  24 x7.     

7. Whichever the Political Parties  DNT or DPT comes to power,  both should be serving the Tsawa Sum under overall guidance of His Majesty the King.  That is what  India is also  quite  confident about. This is the reason why the panelists and the RStv host unanimously reached the conclusion that, " India would respect and  be willing and happy to work with whichever Political Party the people of Bhutan elects in the governing seat".  I guess this has been conveyed to both DNT and DPT by the Indian Ambassador in Thimphu as suggested by one panelist. I am sure the two Political Parties also assured highest regards for India. The friendship must continue with small adjustments only for sovereign external affairs.

It is for us the Bhutanese citizens who too must be ready to accept the choice of the majority among us. The spirit of democracy must prevail under democractic system. And unity of one people,  one nation under one King must prevail over any and all political differences amongst Political Parties and supporters and the three regions of  Bhutan. A freely well contested general election topped with controversy free result in the evening  of 18th or morning of 19th October, 2018, would unite Bhutanese people and foster confidence and trust amongst the  Political Parties, the Institution of Monarchy and the populace. India too would feel reassurred and encouraged to be  more forthcoming with  reasonable substantive dialogue of true friendship in parallel Indo- Bhutan relationship.      

May all prevail well in accordance to  the wishes of the two Deities of Palden Drukpa. And may Tsawa Sum succeed in promoting and preserving national  interests and sovereign dignity. Palden Drukpa Gyelo!

Monday, October 1, 2018

What my take is with DNT Party's two main offers.

1. Bhutan is facing stagnancy in population growth. Therefore,  a major policy overhaul is necessary to induce population growth. And one sure effective way would be to provide allowance to all poor mothers of  new born babies both in rural and urban Bhutan. In this DNT Party has hit a right social and national cord. Whichever Political Party comes to power, this is a must policy. Bhutanese could be outnumbered in Bhutan in few decades if population growth is not sensitised and promoted in tangible manner.  

2. The free education upto class XII is a good goal. I always spoke up for educational support.  But this pledge is not in keeping with the existing constitutional dictate. Therefore,  even though it is a good proposal with excellent  intent, it is not implimentable unless Constitution is amended. However, there are ways to get around the constitutional limitation. I only caution the advisability of setting  precedents of compromising the Constitution.