Saturday, June 24, 2017

We Don't Have Other Eggs

A statement made by our Hon’ble Economic Affairs Minister during a recent BBS Panel Discussion on national debt, left me completely startled! His Excellency was quite categorical that “we don't have other eggs.” Listen to the following:

Clearly, Lyonpo thinks, as a number of other Bhutanese do, that all our other eggs are inconsequential. It is truly worrisome to hear a member of our Cabinet say that we have no other eggs. What he is saying is that nothing else matters, other than hydro electricity. From Lyonpo’s statement, it is obvious that we are so blinkered on hydro electricity that we are unwilling to accept that there are other eggs that do matter, certainly even more than hydro electricity.

Could it be possible that Lyonpo may have, even if unwittingly, given us an insight into the Bhutanese psyche? Could this perhaps explain why so many problems beset modern Bhutan? Could this be the reason why our other eggs have seen neglect and, therefore, made poor or no progress at all?

Could this mentality be responsible for the apathy that we see being shown towards every other problem we have, other than hydro electricity?

The wild animals plunder and pillage our farmers’ crops, while they watch in fear and helplessness. But all that the government can do is come up with a strangely inaccurate coinage. They call it “human-wildlife conflict”. Where the dang hell is the conflict, I want to know? A Swiss woman had recently observed that the wildlife predation into the human habitat has been a problem that remains unsolved for the past 4 decades, since she first visited Bhutan.

They capitulate and they surrender - poor rural folks abandon their ancestral homes and fertile lands and migrate by the droves, to seek and find refuge and respite in the urban centers, a wilderness of a different kind. In the process more than 20% of our villages have now been abandoned, and thousands of acres of fertile farmlands remain fallow. And what do we do? We put all our brains together and coin a brand new word for it - we call it Goontong and go about BAU.

We grind it, we dry it, we boil it, we chop it, and we chomp on it. We eat it for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner and for snacks in between. We may puff and we may huff and we may sweat and shed tears while eating it – but it is a food that the Bhutanese eat the most, all life long. Ema Datsi identifies with the Bhutanese more than the upstart GNH. And yet, we have to import 200 truckloads of chilies every year, if need be, by air!

Visitors to the country have been complaining about the dogs barking all night long, for the past many decades (I am in possession of a written record that shows that one American complained about it during Paro Tsechu in April of 1965). This means that this problem has remained unsolved for over half a century. And what do we do? We pool together our collective imagination: we send out a travel advisory – all visitors to Bhutan please bring along earplugs!

The whole of Gaselo hill including the village is at the verge of sliding into the Punatsangchhu because of the destabilization caused by the construction activity of the PHEP I. From its initial estimate of Nu.35.00 billion, the cost has escalated to Nu.97.00 billion as of end last year. By the time the project is done, if at all, the cost is likely to cross Nu.200.00 billion. And yet, our Economics Affairs Minister will tell you that the hydro electricity is the only bankable egg we have. By implication, what he means is that nothing else is important, not our human capital potential, not our agriculture, tourism, cottage industry, mining etc.

In reality, His Excellency the Economic Affairs Minister sorely misses the truth – that his precious egg basket has been brimming with all sorts of eggs for the past three year.

…………….. to be continued: The State of Bhutan’s Hydro-power Projects


  1. Superb: we send out a travel advisory – all visitors to Bhutan please bring along earplugs!

  2. The minister deserves to have his "eggs" crushed.