1. 34th Birth Day of His Majesty the King.
The nation celebrated the 34th Birth anniversary of our People’s King. The celebration at Thimphu Changlimithang Stadium was a huge success and the chief guest’s summary of His Majesty’s service to the nation was of historical note. We the people and the nation as a whole are most fortunate but I feel that this year the people who would really be feeling incredibly fortunate and happy would be the rural farmers. His Majesty the King has made it his top priority to settle the issues of farmers’ land holding disputes. And so far 10 Dzongkhag rural farmers’ anxieties have been put at rest. And I feel by the 35th of the Royal Birth Anniversary, farmers in the remaining 10 Dzongkhags would have proper Thrams for their very valuable land holdings. Your Majesty, thank you for tackling headlong this agonizing land issue and with so much compassion for your poor rural dwellers. It’s a good reason for Bhutanese to celebrate your Birth into this Kingdom.
2. Financial Aid from India.
India has been and for the foreseeable future would be Bhutan’s chief development partner. In the 10th Plan India agreed to grant Rs.34 billion. However, now India has refused to honor its commitment for Rs.660 million which is part of the Rs.34 billion. The public excuse is that the last DPT government of Bhutan had implemented the identified projects for the Rs.660 million before India gave her formal approval. The concerned Indian officials should be ashamed of such lame reasons but politics that govern Indo-Bhutan relation has moved beyond any shame or decency since June, 2013. I had prayed and hoped that India would stop playing Bhutanese Political Parties against each other. But I guess the temptation is too alluring and Bhutanese Political Parties too willing to participate in the political game of India. So India has dawned the Santa Claus cap to drop a gift bag of Rs.5 billion for the People’s Democratic Party of Bhutan (in governance now) to meet the campaign promises of the Party. However, India has the devil’s horns up and blocks the committed fund of Rs.660 million for the projects that both India and Bhutan identified and which the previous Bhutanese Government of Druk Phuensum Tshogpa political party had executed during the sun set days of the 10th Plan. Bhutan’s sovereignty has never been so blatantly and publicly compromised.
The 11th Five Year Plan has a huge chunk of financing from India. This time its Rs.45 billion. The way the approaches are being made I have an uncanny feeling that at the end of the 11th Five Year Plan, the government of Bhutan would not have spent even Rs.30 billion of the supposed to have been committed financing of Rs.45 billion. And a lot of that Rs.30 billion maybe implemented with the involvement of Dantak the para-military force of India stationed in Bhutan to execute development projects in Bhutan. The Government of India is naturally more inclined to release fund speedily when the projects are executed by Dantak. Personally I think Dantak maintains good work quality. The Paro Airport strips is done by Dantak so it is functioning. The Airports in Bumthang, Yongphula and Gelephu are done by Bhutanese contractors and are not in use partly because of poor quality of air- strips. However, when Bhutanese contractors are engaged in development Projects, the nation benefits in that the money stays within the country and our construction industry along with other Bhutanese run commercial enterprises grow and expand from the experiences and the economic benefits including employment for our youths.
3. Ukraine Politics a Lesson for Bhutan.
America and her western Allies have turned their attention to former Eastern Europe. Their sojourn in the Middle East and Afghanistan turned out to be another Vietnam. This time whilst Russia was busy with Winter Olympics, the West staged a coup and had the Ukraine Parliament throw out their duly elected President. The Ukraine people are suffering whilst the West and Russia get locked in a fierce strategic battle. It’s a lesson that Bhutan and Bhutanese can learn and feel. The general populace of Ukraine cannot be either pro or anti Russia or the West. They are simply the victims of their politicians and upper class cadre who chose to side with either Russia or the West. Bhutanese populace in general are struggling to live from hand to mouth. The parents are busy working hard to meet life’s obligation including the education of their children. Most Bhutanese youth are busy studying or looking for sustainable jobs after leaving high schools or finishing colleges. Politics does not provide food, shelter or jobs. Being pro India or anti-China is meaningless and self-defeating. Being Bhutanese and etching out a decent living is the immediate objective and the long term goal is to always secure that very important pride of being a Bhutanese in a sovereign Bhutan. I hope and pray that the King of Bhutan will marshal all his wisdom and leadership to help and guide the Bhutanese populace to achieve both our immediate objective and long term goal. And may the sovereign people of the Kingdom celebrate together with their Majesties the King and Queen the Day that gifted the 5th King to this Kingdom, for decades to come.