for it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace and the conditions for sustainable development must be built. ~UNESCO

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bhutan is a Shangri-la and a heaven on earth

    A response  to the Development Minister of Singapore who said that, Bhutan was not a Shangri-la

Photo courtesy: Google images/Singapore
We can never see a Singapore in Bhutan nor can Singapore see a Bhutan in Singapore. Singapore will enjoy a clean and advanced concrete forest and Bhutan will always live happily in harmony with the great Himalayas and the rich biodiversity. 
The flag holds many answers...
The declaration made by Mr. Khaw Boon Wan (Development Minister, Singapore) may be true in his own sense. I am not annoyed by his remark but his remark is a call for every Bhutanese to view the country’s status and he has opened an opportunity to do so.
Yet, as a proud Bhutanese, I can feel the air of Shangri-la in my heart and I live in a heaven on earth. Bhutan is truly a happy nation. I admit that our beautiful country is not as advanced as Singapore. No two countries can be same. Bhutan is a living realm of happiness and rapid prosperity.

One of the many endangered species roam the
great Himalayas. Photo:Kuensel 

I prefer these natural beauties to man-made

The rich culture adds more value

The respect, loyalty, dedication are true plus points.
Bhutan follows a unique path towards the future. Bhutan has no intentions to emulate some other nation. Through the history, Bhutan enjoyed an isolated happiness, which flourished in her own soils. We have our own style of development. GNH says it all.  She fought the world wars without any involvement and the citizens enjoyed a peaceful passage of the great wars. Bhutan has been a peaceful country and she is the same now. People live a simple life enjoying an intricate society. Every Bhutanese love their fellow citizens. The bond between us is more than close. Families are together for most of the time and we have time for everyone. Nobody feels lonely in Bhutan.  One American friend of mine made a statement related to this situation. He said, “In America, we rarely have time to speak with our closest neighbor and here, even strangers talk like old friends. I love their hospitality.”  The rich culture and traditions of Bhutan are always a plus point in the changing world around. We also live in harmony with the rich natural environment. 

When business is concerned, Bhutan is not as busy as Singapore but we are doing our part. The approach toward business is wise and safe. We opened the international doors to business quite late and taking the short duration into consideration, we have done a lot and all judiciously. Business in Bhutan has seen drastic progression.  Ask any true Bhutanese, the answer is same.  We congratulate Singapore for being the ‘Friendliest’ nation to do Business. Nevertheless Bhutan also boasts of its own laurels. We received quite a good number of recognitions   in different fields, especially in protection of the environment. This is the greatest achievement a nation can have when the world is battling global warming. The country follows a wise strategy of development where we cause minimum harm to the natural resources. Industries do not dirty the rivers, so we enjoy clean water. The forest is rich, thus we breathe clean air.

The Beloved monarchs
In case of the government system, the system of government is a young democratic one and we see a great development in it. The world knows about the government system of this tiny Himalayan jewel. A father king sacrificing his throne, a king decentralizing the government, a king for the people, a dynasty loved by all for their developmental work… the list does go on. As citizens of this country, we enjoy every privilege and we participate in every governmental activity. Every government decision is implemented upon thorough examination and we rarely make a mistake. We have offices in charge of corruption cases and they do their part well. I believe no country is free of corruption. Is Singapore a corruption free nation? I guess not.
The concern...the closeness...the love
The progress of the tiny Buddhist country is immense compared to its size and location. As a citizen, I have seen every side of Bhutan. As the Singaporean minister noted, we need to revisit and improve in many areas. Nevertheless, I do not agree to the tag- ‘Not a Shangri-la’.  Bhutan is a Shangri-la on earth and will be one in future. There is no need of many lines to support this; we can see it in the faces of the people of Bhutan. The innocent happy faces hold every answer. The increase in tourist arrivals also shows that Bhutan is a place to be visited.

No king will be as close...
Photo: Kuensel
Bhutanese will go on to live happily with their families gathered around the mud oven, enjoying a hot home cooked meal. We would continue to lean on a tall cypress tree, feel the soft clean breeze with a view of the majestic mountains and dzongs. Old and young Bhutanese will turn the prayer wheels, walk to their office and recycle to save the environment. The Bhutanese citizens will live by the virtues of the Buddha, The teachings of Buddha will flourish. The king will carry on to guide us through while helping those in need; the government will plan and progress wisely. Husbands will be faithful to their wives; Children will respect their parents and teachers. There will be respect and help for the elders and elders will continue to advice and care for the young. Birds will fill the country with their soothing chirps; Tigers will roar from the distant forest, rare animals will live alongside the people.
The joy brought by the 'People's King'
Photo: Kuensel
A help when in need, as always
Photo: Kuensel
Rare flowers and orchids will decorate the country, prayer flags would flutter to the winds of change. Trees would be saved from logging, rivers free from pollution, and soils saved from desertification. No foreigner will miss their home; the Bhutanese people will maintain their warm hospitality. Education and health facilities will be free.  Songs and dances will be in the air, peace and prosperity will prevail.   The Bhutanese populace will continue to live happily. Bhutan is a true Shangri-la and a heaven on earth.

Happy as ever...
Photo Courtesy: Kuensel

Are they not happy?
Happy tourists are received warmly...
Photo: Kuensel
A family sits down for a simple lunch...this is beautiful and we can
see the time and bond.
Photo Courtesy: Kuensel
The sun of happiness will never set in Bhutan

Saturday, October 22, 2011

First Flakes of 2011 make the Himalayas beautiful as ever

The Himalayas have always been a source of  beauty and mystery. It has acted as a distinct boundary to Bhutan and as a forbidden barrier to its enemies in the past. These photos are zoomed clicks from Samtengang. The snow has come early for this year ... but all the way, it looks beautiful.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Silken Kiras and Terry cotton Ghos to Hilton glasses and Hush Puppies

Should we encourage students to wear other(casual) dresses on Saturdays and concerts apart from the school uniform?

Mom, I want to wear this sae-sho kira (silk dress) and these pair of Elle pencil heels, demanded a ninth standard student. She wants to wear it tomorrow which is a Saturday and a day where you can wear any (formal) dress of your choice. Lucky was this girl as her father was a prosperous businessman and her mother was a teacher. When Bhutanese schools let their students wear other dresses on Saturdays or concerts, did they give a second thought? This petty practice can lead to many unwanted results in the lives of our students. It is a wise thought but let us view the darker side of it.

Take the following instances into consideration: 1) A student whose parents are struggling to keep the dining table alive with a decent meal will be mentally and physically affected by seeing his friends wearing dazzling silk or bura ghos and classy Adidas shoes when he is wearing a cheap terry cotton gho and a pair of discounted Bata shoes.  2) On contrary, a wealthy man’s son will be busy thinking of which gho he should wear from a collection of a dozen expensive ghos.  I think this custom is promoting culture in a very small way and discriminating the unfortunates on a greater means. It widens and exposes the rich-poor gap.

Moreover, children demand their parents to buy them new clothes when their parents are striving to keep the family abreast.  Children are innocent and we cannot blame them for this. Mr. Sonam, Vice Principal of a Middle secondary school supports this practice of letting students wear other dresses on Saturdays in boarding schools but he too opposes the practice in day schools. He said that this custom segregates the less privileged from the privileged. The culture further de-motivates the financially challenged students to come to school and in a way children (poor) will be psychologically bogged down when they are not wearing what their well-heeled friends are. This culture played its responsibility in the suicide case of a primary student of Woochu Lower Secondary School. He committed suicide because he could not afford to replace his old torn shoes and out of shame, he ended his life.

Like wise, school cultural bonanzas nowadays are becoming a platform to showcase ones wealth and status in society, rather than promoting culture. The day the concert is scheduled, the curiosity starts to boil amongst the students to fashion their Hilton and Ray Ban glasses, their pair of Pepe jeans, the expensive Kishutharas, the rare Oshom kira and the list flows endless. This curiosity, for sure is amongst the fortunate lot of students. The unfortunates keep silent and mentally they are tortured to a great extent. Thus, some capable students are discouraged to participate in the show. The primary aim of organizing a concert is to unearth and nurture the talents of our students and not a forum to exhibit ones best dresses or to promote fashion.
Dress other than school uniform during Saturdays and concerts will leave a deep scar in the lives of unprivileged children’s intellectual and psychological growth. Children instead of concentrating on academics will be lost in dreaming of the best dress they can put on during Saturdays and concerts.
In addition, the practice of giving freedom to wear dresses of children’s choice will breed pride and ego amongst the children and lower self esteems in the case of the unfortunates. If children grow up with such attitudes, the civilization of peace and harmony will always remain a dream to achieve. Schools as an educational institution should not give birth to citizens occupied with pride and ego. A school should instead excel in discovering hidden talents of the students of varied background and nurture with the seeds of knowledge and values. A child should be disciplined through education and school uniform is a vital part of a school which should be strictly implemented no matter what the occasion beholds. Therefore, we should think twice before this culture comes out as a scapegoat for affecting the lives of future builders of Bhutan. If all students from all walks of life are made to wear a single uniformed dress, then the level of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, low self esteem will drastically melt down, there by producing happy citizens of a nation where the country believes in Gross National Happiness rather then Gross national Product.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Beware! Trucks on the Highway

Today, 4th September 2011, lives of three young people nearly perished on the Wangdue-Trongsa highway.  I was driving back home after visiting Wangdue town and was exactly on the right track. My speedometer was waving on the 40-50 speed bands. I was about to reach Rabuna (2KM from Wangdue 0 point) when a tripper truck was approaching on a very high speed. The driver was driving on the middle of the road and it did not try to decrease its speed but kept coming towards me. I honked, thinking he may be sleeping or on the phone but in vain. I tried to squeeze myself on the walls of the road and wooosh...dang kalang dong kalang…; it went past me, missing me by mere millimeters. I thought I was saved but something frightful happened again, a boulder fell off the truck. I was lucky that my leg could react on the accelerator pad and miss the lethal boulder. I tried to stop the truck and again in vain. My heart was beating as if I completed a 100m dash and my senses were numb. I stopped for a while and resumed my journey with a still shivering hand and legs or the whole body. God! I was saved and my two passengers too. If I was hit, I would have been thrown down the mighty and ominous cliff (History knows that Trongsa Bus went off this cliff twice, killing many). And also, if the boulder hit my car, it would have crushed us.
  The condition of trucks and its drivers on the highways are unexplainable. The number of trucks on this highway increased lately. Most of them transport stones and boulders from the Kheley kha quarry to the Punatsang Chhu Hydro plant. I learnt from some fellow road users that the way the trucks travel on this road is very hazardous. Compared to 1613 trucks, modern trucks have greater muscle and have a better hand on the comfort in driving. I assume that this same reasons lead to the over speeding of these trucks. We also heard that the amount of trips completed in a day and the maximum weight it carries, determines the profit level of the owners or drivers. (The concerned authority may have a better say here).  You can see a truck carrying loads above their carrier and that too, without any safety measures. Remember, stones are loads which can fall off easily.
My stance here is not to stop the booming number of Bhutanese becoming proud owners of trucks. I am happy that many Bhutanese own trucks as it shows something good. But, I think the concerned offices like the RSTA, Traffic Police, PHPA, Quarry officials, truck owners and the most important, drivers, needs to revisit the present air. There are hundreds of vehicles on the highway and it would be too late if something dreadful happens. The news is already created regarding petty accidents related to trucks, on this very highway.
I am not creating some fictitious situation here. To learn more, drive on the road, or stop some fellow road users and interview them on the condition of trucks and their loads too. I assure that they must have encountered similar deadly situations. Today's encounter is not my first time. Many other road users are frowning over the same issue. Let us pledge to be responsible road users and I pray that the concerned offices would react and help us.

October Lens...

I love to click on any subject. I am not good but this small drive makes me go on. In this collection, I have some of my favourite clicks taken in October lens.

This photo was clicked by my friend, Mr. Rinzin and this is a photograph I treasure.
I treasure it because it is my first photo with a person of such position and it is
a reward for an achievement...Innauguration of a blog.

The Memorial Chorten in Thimphu...looks great at night, all lit
for the Royal Wedding.
My daughter's new hairstyle.  She is now 2 years and 11 months
old and I love her...

She likes to pose in different positions...

My son and daughter, they love each other. 

My son, Karma, is now 10 months old and too big for his age...
This snake was found in the girls hostel. I trapped it in a bucket
and released it outside the school fence.

She is aggressive...

The stand to attack...

It was pretty long.

 After I released it...

 I title this as the Missing Bridge. It is the bridge near the Flyover in Thimphu...

The Sheare Square does look great at night.

The lightings on Tashichho Dzong looks awesome during the night.
I learnt that a huge sum was invested to make it so...

This is a funny photograph. The subject is a chorten.
I clicked it at night and without flash...this was the result.
I liked it in some ways.

The following pictures are from the annual concert in my school.

This group chalked their whole face to make it look different.
It looks different indeed...