Saturday, October 31, 2015

Bhutan for Bhutan.

Bhutanese who have come down the generations of Bhutanese blood and hereditary lines may not share the fear and  hate for China that Indians or even Tibetans especially those living outside would feel. And likewise,  hereditary Bhutanese may also,  sensitively and sentimentally, be more protective of Bhutanese sovereignty viz a viz Indian strong arm influence than the later date Bhutanese citizens. I feel inherent sentiment is kind of different from adopted or inspired dedication.

The new leadership in Nepal is denying India from carving a little Indian State for Nepalese citizens of Indian origins in  southern belt of Nepal. If Nepal leaders fail then South Nepal will gradually become part of Indian Union. I expect Bhutanese democratic  leaders will also resist any attempt by India to carve out southern Bhutan. Therefore, I watch the event being played out in Nepal with thumping heart because it can give an indication of the future of sovereignty of small nations.

Some might say why would a non- entity be so concerned and moreover what can a non- entity like me do. Nothing really !  I know that. But a Bhutanese can exercise at least the freedom of wishful thinking. And that is what I am doing except I say it a bit aloud.

If one thinks beyond sentiment and just blind love of being sovereign, maybe majority of common people may not need to be preoccupied with sovereignty. I wonder what the true blood line of Sikkimese living in Sikkim  or Tibetans in Tibet really feel about living under a different line of rulers or political leaders. Are they economically better off or do they feel less fear or more fear of the authorities ? Do they miss the old  sovereignty and the old system or are the majority of the common people in the two countries content with the changes that had evolved ?

The construction progress of Samtse to Phuentsholing road is so silent now. The Amochu hydro project has been shelved.  In 1960 Bhutan could not have constructed the Thimphu Phuentsholing highway with out generous assistance from India. And today in 2015, Bhutan had to shelve the construction of the much needed Southern Highway that was funded by Asian Development Bank for " security reasons ". Whose security is  Bhutan concerned about. Many believe that the proposed Highway could have further strengthened  the security of Bhutan. At least we could  monitor who is entering the forests of South Bhutan: ULFA BODO Militants or Indian Soldiers through a " South Bhutan Highway Patrol ".

Bhutan has come a long way in terms of economic and social  prosperity since 1907. In terms of Bhutanese national sovereignty,  what has been the tangible political progress since joining United Nations in 1971 ? In my humble mind, one giant step is the China Bhutan Border Treaty. And the other possibly even more important is the successful renegotiation of Indo Bhutan Treaty of 1949 by the Fourth King. A Treaty has value and validity when put in practice. Otherwise,  it is only as valuable as the paper that records it.

True respect and reverence for a leader lies in exercising national confidence and faith in the deed accomplished by a great leader.  This renegotiated Treaty was signed by the Bhutanese Fifth King and the President of India who was then the Minister of External Affairs of India. I did not know that Shri Pranab Mukherjee would become the President of India. Now that he is, this Treaty is even more significant because in a way, two Heads of Nations' signatures stand testimony to the commitments of India and Bhutan. There should not be ifs and buts in honouring the terms of the Treaty.  It was the Fourth King who renegotiated the 1949 Treaty with the Government of India. The King must have had an immediate reason and an end vision in so doing what he successfully undertook. The endeavour could not be for namesake. So why are we treating it like a namesake deed ?

I am no fan of Nepal. I hardly know the nation and her leaders. But unlike some sore throats in the Bhutanese and Indian  media, I do not see the differences between  Nepal and Bhutan  rather the political situation affinity which terrifies me. Nepal is suffering because the leaders are resisting the partition of Nepalese nation. And when a Bhutanese News Print known for voicing in advance Bhutanese Government views, takes delight in tormenting Nepal, it is disturbing. I pray that this time it is not the actual view of the Bhutanese Government.

I took great heart in the Bhutanese Prime Minister meeting the Nepalese Delegation in New York. It would not have anything to do with the Nepal economic situation but so what. It was a good gesture similar to His Majesty's instant heart felt deed at the time of Nepal earthquake. There is not much that Bhutan as a small nation can say or do in the Nepal India situation. The least any true Bhutanese could do is refrain from insulting the Deities of the Himalayas because just like Nepal, Bhutan, too,  is dependent on the good grace of the Deities.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

India bans only fuel export to Nepal. Why?

The Indian action cannot be a mystery unless you are blinded by absolute obedience to India or you have personal reasons of blood and birth to detest the very thought of Nepal seeking Chinese help and succeeding.

The Indian Oil Corporation is a Government of India Undertaking. There is no repercussion for the Government in dictating political decisions upon IOC.  Also India imports a lot of its own fuel requirement so it is under no economic compulsion to export fuel to Nepal or Bhutan. And of course shortage of fuel can bring a modern nation to grinding halt over a period of time. That's why oil producing countries of Middle East are pampered by all giant nations except by Russia. What would India gain if Nepal does not give in to crippling economic embargo?

India is more liberal in the export of other material including foodstuffs to Nepal. One reason: To protect the business interests of Indian Exporters. Nepal is a captive market for Indian products and its consumption capacity is almost 100 times that of  Bhutan.  Reason Two:  The Indian origin population of Nepal whom India banks for political  support will also suffer. Even fuel is being allowed to be smuggled into South Nepal from India to buy cooperation of this section of Nepalese population during the present embargo. Reason Three: India want to demonstrate her economic leverage but in no way had intended to alienate forever Nepal forces.

India is very important to Nepal for economic and transit reasons. Geographical position makes India vital to Bhutan and Nepal. China can never be an equally convenient geographical access substitute for Bhutan and Nepal. .  But equally important to India is the strategic geographical positions of Nepal and Bhutan.
The Himalayan Mountains that keep away the hostile forces from the northern plains of India are the same barriers that stand hostile to trade and transit for Nepal and Bhutan in the north. Thus in reality good relationship between India and the two tiny Himalayan nations serve equal interests of all three countries. Today, the defence forces of India sleeps easier during nights because Nepal and Bhutan are their dominoes to manoeuvre.

It is a trade off relationship with India that till date has never been demanded in equal proportion by the tiny Himalayan nations. There will come a time when demonic demands of a giant neighbour finally clashes with true awakenings among smaller nations that will compel about equal relationship and respect between India and her neighbours.  What is evolving presently in Nepal may just be the faint beginning towards the necessity and wisdom of friendship with equal dignity among all neighbours regardless of size.

Die hard Indians or writers in the media who enjoy bashing Nepal and China would only high light the greatness of Indian policies. They belittle Nepal and her position. Even in Bhutan some Bhutanese belittle the strategic strength that the Kingdom possess and omnipotence of India is religiously worshipped.  However, other leaders including seasoned leaders in  India will observe with concern the Indian embargo of Nepal and the consequent ripple impacts on South Asia balance of power and influence.

The inpregnible Himalayan mountains will be handsomely breached as Nepal is gradually forced to open its northern borders to rail and highway traffics with China. India will then have to deal with two pro China nations ( Pakistan and Nepal ). And as I had earlier warned the status of India among SAARC nations will diminish unless India make adjustments.

As a through bred Bhutanese, I opt for good relations with both India and China. I know India has to be and will remain our closest neighbour but I do not endorse the antagonism that certain section of Bhutanese polity hold towards China.

I have full sympathy for Nepal and I pray that both Nepal and China succeed at the earliest in surmounting the formidable natural barriers so that the people of Nepal are not starved and immobilised by the Indian blockade in the years ahead. This ongoing blockade will fade away but there will be another the next time so might as  well  start from now towards defeating the very objective of an Indian  economic blockade in the future. Good Luck to Nepalese leadership and the people.

Monday, October 26, 2015

On India blockade of Nepal fuel supply.

The Nepalese Foreign Minister Mr. Kamal Thapa is quoted as saying, " The Government ( Nepal Government ) is sincerely working ( with India ) to ease fuel supply without compromising on the country dignity ". What this means is Nepal has asked India to lift the trade embargo and refrain from internal matter interference.

India would have lifted the blockade if Nepalese Prime Minister Oli had rushed to pay homage to New Delhi. But His Excellency Prime Minister of Nepal seems to be made of sterner nationalism material. After all he spent 14 years in jail for Nepal of his vision.  Perhaps India has found out that not every regional leader is ready to meekly bow before New Delhi for personal political salvation.

Fuel import to Nepal from China would be more costly than from India for transportation reasons. But with China granting 1000 tonnes of fuel in subsidy, the cost difference does not exist in importing  the 10000 tonnes immediate need.  I hope New Delhi realises that bullying small neighbours can back fire when a neighbour like Nepal has leaders with national backbone.

India is in position to grant any personal wishes of political leaders in Nepal and elsewhere in the South Asia Region.  But it seems Prime Minister Oli has no personal wish, only national dignity of Nepal to protect. The people of Nepal has taken a courageous path. It will not be easy but if Oli is not murdered he will succeed.

Whatever political card is dealt out, hereafter, the sacrifice that Prime Minister Oli and his supporters the majority of Nepalese citizens and institutions have made, has sown the imperishable seed of Nepal Sovereignty and Dignity. I admire such true grit in political leadership.

The biggest commercial losers in the end would be the business people of the States of India bordering Nepal. The population in Southern Nepal will also lose the economic advantage for a short duration. But on the whole even South Nepal is not that far away from Chinese border trading posts. Moreover it is possible that much of the business enterprises in South Nepal, too, are operated directly or indirectly by Indian businessmen similar to Phuentsholing in Bhutan.

And on the political front, South Asia Association till now dominated by mother India would have opened an active back door to China. New Delhi would have realised by now that economic strangulation of Nepal was not a foolproof strategy for India. I do hope India will change. South Asian Countries like land locked Nepal and Bhutan need India but prefer a less vicious India.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Wedding that fascinated and evoked multitudes of hopes and bright dreams of millions of youths.

Today the 13th of October, 2015, the Kingdom of Bhutan celebrates the 4th anniversary of the Royal Wedding of their Majesties the King and Queen. It is an appropriate occasions for all Bhutanese to express our happiness and good wishes for the famous couple of South Asia the King and the Queen of Bhutan.

May His Majesty and Her Majesty receive the Blessings of the Triple Gem for all their wishes and graceful reign. And may Bhutanese of all walks of life enjoy in peace and equality  the fruits of national resources and endeavours under their glorious reign.

I humbly offer my sincere prayers and respects on this joyous anniversary.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Welcome to the first Prime Minister of Republic of Nepal.

Glad to read that yesterday, Nepal has chosen Mr. Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli as the first Prime Minister of Republic of Nepal. Going through his life story, one realises he was educated in Politics on the Street, in the Jail and through the Bureaucractic roles. Academically he is a drop out of Secondary School. So having come this far, he has to be an achiever not a fancy facade of builders of castles in the air.

It is a challenging job but a practical leader like him ought to meet the challenges. He stands for the dignity of Nepal and her sovereign Republic status. The former Prime Minister Koirala who had actually made a Gentleman agreement to back the nomination of Mr. Oli for the Prime Minister Post had switched his face and challenged Mr. Oli for the post and lost.

Maybe Koirala of Nepal Congress Party a kind of Indian protege thought he had a chance with Indian arm twisting influence. He must have banked on the stinging economic blockade by India to have cowered the Nepalese Parliamentarians to vote for a pro India Party. Thankfully the Nepalese politicians are made of sterner national fabric. They voted to stand by national sovereignty of Nepal.

Koirala will always be a thorn to the national interests of Nepal. The consolation is that he is old and his turn coat style politics that drives his personal ambitions could be shattered by ill health.

Nepal has been economically strangled thrice by India.  The first was when King Mahendra of Nepal chucked out the Indian Military from Nepal. India had her soldiers even manning Out Posts at the borders of China and Nepal. That was terminated by Nepal King and so the first Indian economic blockade took place that year of 1969.

The second blockade was in 1989 when Nepal King Birendra armed his Army with Chinese weapons. The third economic blockade this time happened because India does not agree with the new Secular Republic Constitution of Nepal.

I suppose India will have to realise that driving Nepal up against the Himalayan  Mountains is not really in the ultimate interests of India. Nepal is already suffering but as in the past Nepal knows that India will have to relent. This is the historical reason why Nepal has officially not yet made public appeal for Chinese help in easing the economic blockade.

Instead Nepal has called global tender for supply of crucially needed fuel supplies. As I had earlier said if fuel has to be air freighted then Bangladesh is the shortest route for Nepal. But if India denies over flight right of fuel air transport from Bangladesh then only China can make the supplies.

I suspect India will refrain from brinkmanship politics with Nepal now that their favoured Prime Ministerial candidate Koirala is out and it is the new Prime Minister Oli that India has to deal with. India will have to end the economic blockade because the alternate would be disastrous for India and even America who have partnered with India to contain China.

America has been hoping that Nepal hardliners would given in to the Indian  economic blockade. In fact America has been advising her citizens from visiting Nepal knowing very well that Nepal needs tourists. It is another kind of economic blockade but the tactic failed to prevent Mr. Oli coming to power. So now both Modi and Obama has to rethink strong arm tactics. They need Nepal and Bhutan for their geo political strategic roles.

India Nepal border blockade cannot last too long without dramatic political fallouts in Nepal or dramatic upsets in the Sino- India- America political equation. This is a dangerous period for all small neighbours of India.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A curative 20th October Kuensel editorial on Bhutan Football Federation incident ! Would this soothe over the injurious tamasha ?

The football match between Bhutan and Maldives began in similar manner to the earlier matches wherein the opposing team scored goals and the Bhutanese fans kept praying. Then at the later stage of the 2nd half, the tide turned. The tempo that the Bhutanese team was able to play with during the 2nd half finally tired the sea level Maldive players in thin mountain air of Thimphu. Initially with 4 goals ahead , the team from Maldives seemed a little complacent. I wondered what advise the team coach had given the visiting team during the interval. And was intrigued by too many ball shuffling in and around their D area instead of clearing away.

One could not have guessed the Bhutanese side of the drama during the half time interval. But the ball was mostly contained on the side of the winning team during the 2nd half.  And as Bhutanese forwards scored successive impressive shots into the opponent's net, it seemed a long cast curse had been shattered. The change in Bhutanese team  dynamo may not be entirely due to abrupt departure of the bad luck Japanese coach but the change in strategy and new found self respect and high spirit definitely brought about the memorable feat at Changlingmithang. Scoring 3 fantastic goals in such a short span of time is no fluke. The curse has been destroyed and Bhutan Football team has regained its spirit and dignity.

I for one do not care about the niceties  or ugliness  of the Japanese coach, the manager and the players that had occurred during that crucial half time break. That it happened and made possible the wind of change is all Bhutan needed.

What could Kuensel Editor have in mind when the editorial writes of ( phantom ?) long term goal of the Japanese coach ?  100 goals more defeat for Bhutan ? And washing dirty linen in public ? Well, please check what the Japanese coach said to Kuensel before departure for Hong Kong game. It was he who began washing dirty linen in public.

A blame game kind of incident has been portrayed by the Bhutan Football Federation. The Japanese coach is not innocent but BFF management is largely the culprit. A winning Bhutanese coach Nima was dumped and a Japanese with confusing mental attitude and dubious professionalism was imported. His main contribution seems to be changing the numbers on the Jersey of players and a hara- kiri match strategy.

The President of BFF Dasho Ugen Tsechup had acquired the coach from the Japanese Football Association. And both Team Manager Hishey Tshering and Team Captain Passing Tshering had backed the Japanese coach to the hilt. As I had commented before, I do not underestimate the valuable contributions made by BFF management. The artificial green turfs, the practise sessions in Bangkok , the funds acquired and raised had to have made tremendous impact in upgrading Bhutanese football standard. What was negative was that the BFF  Management lacked confidence in itself and the collective efforts of team Bhutanese. So they sacked the match winning Bhutanese coach and totally endorsed the street dog treatment of the players by the Japanese coach. And the Bhutanese fans went crazy wild with praises for every losses. The more the number of goals the Bhutanese team lost by,  the louder the praises for the team or was it a fabricated publicity camouflage for bad management decision.

The path to way forward is coming out clean. So washing ugly and dirty linen in public and adopting a more nationally sensible transparent working system is a positive first step. The BFF Management need to apologise to itself for lack of self confidence in team Bhutanese and apologise to the Bhutanese coach Nima who they sacked for winning. It seemed to be a case of professional jealousy. May be the Japanese coach did not want to win matches for fear of being kicked out. 

One hopes for BFF to weather this episode and be more coherent hereafter. And as for the players I hope they keep to the necessity of being humbly professional and work harder to be better.

Good Luck to the BFF Management and the players. And better luck and wisdom with the next  coach.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

India and Nepal on the brinkmanship politics of " Little India " creation in Nepal.

The root cause of economic blockade of Nepal from Indian side is the formation of seven Provinces ( Dzongkhags ) in Nepal under the newly adopted Constitution of Nepal.

India and some sections of the mainly Indian origin population occupying the southern plains of Nepal want to stay as one whole Province. Therefore, they are against dividing Nepal into seven Provinces because that divides the southern plains into part of different Provinces. More than 50% of Nepal population are of Indian origin occupying the southern plains bordering India and having the plains united under one large Province is equivalent to " Little India " in Nepal.

Some sections of Bhutanese political thought pretend not to understand the predicament that Nepal faces. And some part of general public in Bhutan may not be fully aware of the gravity of the issue that is playing out in the neighbourhood. Maybe a similar hypothetical scene in Bhutanese context could illustrate the Nepal dilemma. Its like Lhotsampas in Bhutan demanding whole of Southern Bhutan as one Dzongkhag and India blocking supplies to Bhutan until the Bhutanese Government accede to the demand of the Lhotsampas.

For Nepal the situation is most difficult. If Nepal gives in to " Little India " demand, sooner or later Nepal as a sovereign Republic would cease to exist. At the same time, the economic blockade will choke northern part of Nepal including Kathmandu. China is there but it is not easy to overcome geographical difficulties at such short notice.

Some political leaders in India and elsewhere may feel that China would not dare to help out Nepal against India's fierce opposition. Well that is exactly what America and her western allies particularly France and NATO Command thought about Russian position about Assad in Syria until Russia came in to rescue Assad with guns blazing.

I feel China will do everything directly and indirectly to come to the economic rescue of Nepal if the Indian push comes to shove. There will be no blazing guns but regional politics to the highest velocity would be played out between the two giant nations and smaller neighbours would not end up winners under any scenario.

The business people in Nepal are playing fork tongue politics. They do not want to appear to be opposing the Nepalese nation but at the same time the Hindu dominated business sector of Nepal have its sentiments of originality and most importantly their commercial profits to protect. Thus their appeal to the Nepalese Prime Minister to end the stalemate. Trade embargo hurts commercial interests on both side of the border. So business people mood and heart could swing with monetary source. Thus ultimately it will be the Nepalese Army and the general rural citizens that would make the difference in the fight between Nepal sovereignty and Nepal short term economic gains.

If Nepal gives in to India backed Nepalese political faction demanding larger size Province in South Nepal, the next political call will be cessation along ethnic lines and that would be the end of Nepal of today. So the gravity of present scenario does not hinge on securing or not securing fuel supplies from India. Economic masala may be top priority for many because the dignity of a nation does not fill up stomachs and the greed of some political and commercial leaders. But sovereignty may be a matter of life and death for some other kind of leaders and nationalities.

The Political Parties in Nepal are united against India but some of their reasons maybe more to do with self survival rather than totally defending national sovereignty of Nepal. Whatever the reasons maybe, till date, a united front has been put up by Nepal against India's aggressive dominance in Nepal affairs. I do not think India can count on the full blind support of the majority of the Indian origin population of Nepal. If it was so, there would not be the need of this politics of economic aggression. India is unsure so she is displaying her clouts.

If India lose Nepal to strategic interest of China then only Bhutan among SAARC remain under Indian dominance. This can be dangerous for Bhutan. An insecure jealous lover/ master could lead to suicidal acts. One could be pampered one moment and next bull dozed over. So rejoicing at Nepal situation may not exactly give Bhutan the last laugh. 

The best thing for Bhutan would be for Nepal to exercise her right to her adopted Constitution. Apart from its Republic nature, the Constitution of Nepal seems to be very similar to the Bhutanese Constitution. The major difference lies in Nepal a Hindu Kingdom now becoming a Secular Republic and that hurts India particularly the present BJP Government which is most pro Hindu. India would of course be most pleased with Bhutan the known Buddhist Kingdom becoming a Secular Kingdom under Bhutanese Constitution. It strengthens the position of other religious ethnics especially the Hindu population in Bhutan. Just because Bhutan gave in to India the Bhutanese people do not have to call upon Nepal to do the same.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

RSTA and Taxi registration new rules:

The new regulation is aimed at those in the honest trade of 2nd job to overcome the rising cost of living. Employed people at the lower rug of the society are forced to make ends meet by taking up secondary jobs to supplement their monthly income.

And some such people drive taxi during off office hours and on week ends if they are free from the demands of regular jobs. This is honest hard work and those that engage in such secondary occupation are good humble citizens who work their butts off so that their family survives to lead a kind of acceptable decent life.

RSTA administration as such cannot be against humble people doing honest jobs to earn a manageable livelihood. It must be the Government decision to earn the good will of regular taxi drivers. Taxi drivers association seem to have quite a political clout. But not all regular taxi drivers are against the part timers. Some felt it was alright and did not think it was too much of a pinch to their own income ( reference BBS interview).

As a society,  we should encourage Bhutanese citizens to do honest works and improve their livelihood. Closing of all avenues of honest work opportunity only forces people to support corrupt practises. And those placed in dire economic situation will resort to any other means including changing religion if it brings economic salvation.

I fully respect the regular taxi drivers and have never supported the obligation to buy electric cars to register as taxis. I am glad that this rule has been relaxed to some extent. At the same time the taxes on taxis of both regular and part timers are same. The difference is part timer are not much of a market competition to regular ones but they comply with all the obligations enforced by law. And if these part timers could do without this secondary job, they would be the first to opt out and take life a little easier.

I hope the nation and the Government of the day kindly take a re-look at the lives of part time taxi drivers. Most of them may be living a life below the standard of some regular taxi drivers. And few I hope have better lives. Bhutanese can do with less kidu dependent families. If given a comfortable choice both regular and part time taxi drivers would prefer other occupations. Life on the road is a hard life and dangerous also. Unless compelled to for economic reasons who would want to be a taxi driver. It is not to seek compassion. But one hopefully hope reasonable rules especially when determining the source of low income families will prevail.

It is O.K if I am rich and buys taxis to be hired out to other drivers and thereby  create more wealth for my family. But if I can only afford to buy just one car, I cannot use it as a taxi during off office hours to supplement monthly income to improve my family livelihood. Such vicious rules against the have nots will one day breakdown the harmony that has been nurtured for over hundred years.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Why not just shelve the miserable Druk air incident. A nightmare that that is not allowed to go away. Why further torture the public sentiment ?

Why not just shelve the miserable Druk air incident. A nightmare that that is not allowed to go away. Why further torture the public sentiment ?

So now Ministry of Communication wants to know about the Druk Air dumping a helpless very sick passenger who was on his way to Bangkok to seek medical treatment. And the Ministry of Health is investigating why a registered Doctor with the Medical Council of Bhutan issued the air travel fitness certificate. Why the charade ?

According the the media, Druk Air says it will provide the same clarification made in the Press Release   And the Doctor confirmed that he issued the certificate and had not revoked it ( contradicting Druk air claim) and in fact he again issued a similar one when Bhutan Airline wanted to fly the patient to Bangkok ( reference Kuensel ). And the patient was successfully flown to Bangkok without suffering health mishaps in the air, as certified by the doctor who issued the air travel fitness certificate.

Though the patient was initially deplaned by the Druk Air pilot, the final decision to refuse flight passage to him was taken on the ground not on the plane. I somehow cannot believe the decision was taken alone by the Pilot. Druk Air HQ is at Paro and these days mobile phones enable instant consultation with any concerned authority if necessary.

Raising hands or not raising hands when a question of yes or no is asked is voting though Druk Air denies voting took place. Maybe to Druk Air voting was not done properly  as per Election Commission procedure because CID was not verified and fingers were not inked and EVM was not used. And most crucially it was not sanctioned by the Chief Election Commissioner of Bhutan.

A tourist couple maintained that they had initiated collection of contributions from the passengers. . In fact later,  out of pity they even offered to fund 50% of a chartered flight cost according to the tourist husband. Druk Air said they initiated the collection. An Initiator usually is the first and primary contributor. Just how much of the sum equivalent of the 1700 dollars collected as contribution was put in by Druk Air ? The inability to take on board the patient because of odour problems may not be a subject of investigation. But the other facts or lies need to be investigated if Ministry of Communication is really genuinely interested in correcting denial disease to the extent of falsifying records by any participant or stakeholder. Otherwise let bygones be bygones instead of rubbing salt to a wound that can hardly ever be made good.

I hear that the odour from the sinus patient was really bad and so it is understandable that other passengers especially in the Business Sector would express their difficulties since the patient was in the Business Class. It makes no difference now but I wonder if the patient could have taken the flight if all other passengers were shifted towards the front and the patient with family members arranged to be seated at the tail end of the plane. Maybe a compromise could have been reached that way.  Of course it is possible that the flight was absolutely packed or the patient family refused the seating arrangement at the tail end which is doubtful. According to a foreign tourist ( Kuensel ) the family was crying uncontrollably as other passengers proceeded to embark again. So the family seemed desperate and I feel any seating arrangement may have suited them except grounding their patient.

I had read the letter of the daughter to Druk air. Later a fb friend requested me to respond on line but I told him to wait for positive official response because the case would have already reached concerned authorities. I never imagined that drulair would cold shoulder the public dismay and the state of the patient.

I was, therefore,  shocked and saddened when I read the BBS news online stating that when contacted Druk Air responded they will only comment on Monday. It seemed the patient was too insignificant for such a proud and indispensable Airline as Druk Air status to bother about. Even the only National Broadcasting Television Service was unable to solicit a response from the Management of Druk Air.

The decision to dump the patient may have been made under stressful circumstances but why did Druk Air Management chose to ignore the public outcry when contacted by BBS on Saturday ? There was no CEO so maybe everything was confusing for a headless organisation. A system failure I suppose ! It is perplexing. Due to intense public pressure Druk air responded on Sunday but by then drukair had to know that the patient had reached Bangkok hospital on another chartered flight.

Regarding the much touted Powers of a pilot. I would not dispute the absolute powers of a pilot though I do not know the rules of engagement in civil aviation.  World events have demonstrated the powers of pilots. A hero pilot landed his plane with damaged engines on a river in New York to save all passengers and possibly the plane. A murder pilot deliberately flew his plane into the Alps in Europe killing all his passengers. So pilots have life and death powers over the passengers. Then there are cases of unruly and even smelly but otherwise healthy passengers being sent out of the planes by pilots. However,  I do not know if sick and helpless patient certified fit to fly and needing crucial professional  medical attention that is only available 4 hours flight distance away has yet been dumped by any pilot or by Airline Management.
The patient has died in a hospital in Bangkok and nothing can change that. Now if Communication Ministry wishes to make things easier for such future patients they could consult how it is done elsewhere and propose fitting regulations. Its no use beating a dead horse for solutions. Let Druk Air be taken over by the new CEO and hope for better social attitude thereafter.

And if registered medical doctors are not allowed to practise their profession then deregister them. Why register them as medical professionals and then impose rules barring them from practising. The whole thing is very confusing and in a way nationally demoralising . A national airline of the Kingdom cannot fly a helpless sick patient who is in dire need of  professional medical service and a registered doctor of the Medical Council of the Kingdom cannot issue air travel  fitness certificate though it has been demonstrated practically that the patient was fit to fly as certified. There are exceptional rules for exceptional people and no win rules for general people. How are people to comprehend the system?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The politics of Hydro projects of Bhutan.

It is  interesting and quite an intrigue. It is often thought that if Nepal had cooperated with India to construct hydro projects, India would not have made so much investment in Bhutan in developing  the same. And mind you it is not just a recent retrospection. This thought has been expressed by very senior Bhutanese officials before.

Lyonpo Om Pradhan shares similar thought in his book , " Roar of the Thunder Dragon ". And Lyonpo was very senior active player in the pre democracy Bhutanese Government.

The 1st Prime Minister of Democratic Government of Bhutan, His Excellency Lyonchen Jigmi Thinley and his Cabinet Ministers also felt that Bhutan grabbed the opportunity whilst Nepal dilly dallied.

I shall not dispute such thoughts but I shall simply write what my personal thoughts are. Mind you, I was never a senior officer in the Bhutanese Government and I have no close contacts with the past or present democratic Governments of Bhutan. And I do not have concrete idea of Nepal politics of past or present. I have one good quality that is managerial quality and keen perspectives of events. I observe with due diligence.  I read a lot and do not base my thoughts on personal prejudice. And often my observations have proved to be right lucky.

After Chukha Hydro project, Tala hydro project was taken up. India badly wanted to do this project. In fact at one time it was referred to as Chukha Hydro Project II.  His Majesty the 4th King tied the Tala Project with the Dungsum Cement Project. The two projects were signed at New Delhi the same time and I recall late Lyonpo Dawa Tsering the Foreign Minister of Bhutan calling the two Agreements " historic ". India was not at all in favour of taking up the Dungsum Cement Project. And the delaying tactics that followed is also historic.

As years followed possibly the performance of Chukha Hydro Project convinced His Majesty the potentialities of the Bhutanese fast flowing rivers. The King called  the river sources white gold a kind of comparative term to black gold of   OPEC  that brought about economic magic for petroleum nations.

Did Bhutan outsmart Nepal in drawing Indian hydro investments to Bhutan from its intended destination in Nepal ? In my opinion the answer is no, not at all. And here are my reasons. If I had tonnes of money and I had the opportunity to invest in two similar locations which one should I choose ?  Would it be at the location where I had 100% control or 75% control ? Hydro Project is a long term investment. The gestation period is comparatively long but production is quite constant and raw material which is water is near infinite under a well protected natural environment. The key crucial factor is the security of the hydro plants and delivery system of transmission lines and my capacity to have de facto control of all these equations. Therefore,  if I were India and the choice of location Nepal and Bhutan  for investment, where would India invest ?
Why do you think India is against the Amochu Hydro Project under Samtse Dzongkhag? Is it too near to China ?

Bhutan is a natural strategic choice of India not Nepal for hydro project investment by India. This is not to say that India does not have investment interests including that of hrdro projects in Nepal. However,  I do not believe Bhutanese leaders had to try to take away hydro investments of India from Nepal. India has a heavier presence in Bhutan than in Nepal though Nepal is a far larger Country. Bhutan is simply ideal for India to construct its power supply plants.

Politically there will be Bhutanese and Nepalese who do not like each other and do not support each other. Some may even try to sabotage. However, geo-politically it would be self defeating for both Nepal and Bhutan to wish that the other either fell under India or China. Independent  Sovereignty of two Countries actually strengthens each other. In fact if Tibet and Sikkim were still independent States, Nepal and Bhutan would be in more comfortable position.

So there is not much national reasons for Bhutan to rejoice at present predicament of Nepal. Its not choosing Nepal over India or testing what China would do. By the way, China is no more what it was 25 years ago. It has surged far ahead and if any Bhutanese political faction thinks China will desert Nepal, such thoughts would be sand blinding. I hope it is not a reflection of Indian view. That would be a repeat of 1962 miscalculation of otherwise astute statesman Nehru. I personally pray for amicable solution to the ongoing India Nepal tussle. It will be good for Nepal, India and even Bhutan for India Nepal to co-exist in peace and harmony.