Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Personal Perspectives on Current Events – The 5th Series.

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.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Unintended Debate on Celestial Beings

My reference to the Speaker’s address has nothing to do with the sects or communities. I leave that to the zealots. My observation was simply a natural instinct to a sense of change of wind. Only time will tell the significance. Had the address been made by a person without prior legislative experience, maybe the political nuances would have escaped notice. However, a former Secretary of National Assembly is worthy of attention when something out of normal context is said in his role as the Speaker. It is not for me to judge the right or wrong of it but when I sense a possible change in the wind, I do think aloud.

I am writing this 2nd article as a result of a spark created by the way Migma a commenter in Kuensel forum had structured his very informative comment. I just felt an elaboration is warranted.

I do not personally know Namkhai Ningpo and Jamyang Khentse but that is no surprise because I do not know many other religious personalities. However, they are Buddhist Trulkus deeply revered by Bhutanese including myself and other Buddhists. I have a photo of the father of Jamyang Khentse in my home altar. I found it in a book given to me by a pious person.

My reverence for Jamyang Khentse is not based on his linguistic ability to speak the birth languages of his yab and yum and the much commonly spoken English language nor his knowledge of the Old Testament the origin of Islam, Judaism and Christianity etc.

I respect him for his well thought out and very frank even bold views on every day happenings. He makes Buddhism easy to understand. I listen to his BBS interviews. Very Profound! I also want to take this opportunity to thank the Rinpochey for stating aloud for all to hear that, “Education is more than just securing a job.” At this juncture of time, it is necessary and beneficial for all Bhutanese parents and youths to appreciate such profound outlook on education.

I have seen the enormous establishment of Namkhai Ningpo at Bumthang. It is a huge investment of money, time and religious sentiment. Also one cannot fail to notice the large number of devotees and followers inside and outside Bhutan and elsewhere in the world. He is undoubtedly a Buddhist Teacher of the highest order.

I do not really believe that Guru Pema Juney visited Bhutan 3 times but I do revere the knowledge that the saintly Lam Pemala imparted to us at Ugyen Wangchuck Academy that Guru visited Bumthang and there are 8 manifestations and many holy places of Guru in Bhutan. I often recite the Kathadhup of Guru.

As a born Buddhist of the general kind, I simply hold in veneration all Lams, Rinpocheys and personalities of other religions for their piousness and knowledge and not for dollars or wealth that surround them. If dollar income generation is basis for veneration than all Bhutanese Travel Agents should be awarded saffron robes and revered.

I just lead a general Buddhist life not a professional occupation. To me Buddhism is a simple religion of Buddha and Guru but made complex by crowds of assorted others including many conflicting claims of reincarnations of the same personalities and the kind of hereditary type of Trulkus often a product of inbred offspring or blood line of a former great Buddhist Teacher. So I take a simple approach. I do not differentiate between home grown or outside grown, incarnate or self-attained. As a Buddhist I bow before a Buddhist Teacher and receive Blessings when occasion presents.

I hold His Holiness the JeKhenpo and Zung Dratsang at the pinnacle of my respects for the simple reason of tradition, faith and national sentiment. It is not just that the two are part of the adopted constitution. The two represent the historical roles played by the religious personalities and institutions in Bhutan. And I remain always grateful and appreciative of the contributions that molded Bhutan which provides my identity as that of all Bhutanese.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Chukha Tariff Revision: Good News!

Last year Dasho Chhewang Rinzin of Druk Green Power Corporation publicly declared that there will be no downward revision of the tariff agreed between India and Bhutan for Chukha power. Instead he had stated that the Bhutanese Government had already asked India for a hike in Chukha Tariff. It is good that the present Government has successfully followed through and got a 25 paisa hike. Any increase in electricity export tariff would positively impact the Bhutanese economy. It is good national news from Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk and his delegation team members. I hope this trend will boost the export tariff from other hydro-projects.