Saturday, June 29, 2013

Bhutan's Road to Democracy: I

Day-before-yesterday, during the Common Forum of Lamgong-Wangchang constituency in Paro, I saw the PDP candidate Mr. Ugyen Tshering brandishing a paper - supposedly a copy of the Times of India article titled “Bhutan’s road to democracy leads to China?”. Mr. Ugyen Tshering made the point that, according to the article, Indo-Bhutan relations now stand imperiled.

I am aghast! Even if it were true, this is not something that a person should make a public proclamation about - particularly not by an aspiring Parliamentarian. The reason is simple: the enormity of problems associated with a fall-out in the relations between two neighbors with very special geopolitical realities - such as those of India and Bhutan - is simply mind-boggling. Every Bhutanese and, for that matter, every Indian should be worried - of such an eventuality.

I logged on to the Times of India website and read the article. I have never read an article more hollow and amateurish than the one that was now becoming the PDP candidates’ much-celebrated talking point on the Common Forums - from Paro to Kanglung to Zhemgang. I cannot understand why an article of such poor content and authorship is kicking up hysteria of such maniac proportions. Consider the following.

The author of the article is someone called Sachin Parashar. I called up a friend in the Indian media fraternity in New Delhi to find out who this person was. He hadn’t heard of the reporter. When I made mention about the article, the friend said that he was indeed aware of the article and had infact discussed about it with one or two members of the Indian “Think Tank”. In his view, given that someone unknown and unschooled had authored the article, it was inconsequential. He said that although the said reporter had, at times, written on foreign affairs and foreign affairs related news, he had never before written an analytical piece on Bhutan - it was not his area of expertise. The only news articles he did on Bhutan were limited to two pieces he did in December of 2009. The friend said that although the language was good, he felt that given the poor arguments presented, the article is more likely to be a “plant” from Bhutan, rather than something the author wrote as a serious piece, of his own accord.

The friend mentioned that had such an article been authored by the likes of Salman Haider or Indrani Bagchi, there was need for concern. More importantly, he opined that the article is not an official view of the Government of India and thus, it should be ignored. In his understanding, the government of India is satisfied with the explanation offered by the Prime Minister of Bhutan - subsequent to his famous talk with the Chinese Premier.

Certainly, the news of Indo-Bhutan relations being strained should be a matter of great alarm for the Bhutanese people. However, in this case, given the standing of the reporter and the ludicrousness of arguments he presents to substantiate his views, there is no need for us to be unduly worried. It seems like mischief is intended and, unless one is a complete dullard, one can see that there is nothing substantive in the article - does not seem like this is something over which we should lose our sleep.

…………… To be Continued

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Beautiful Birds

Here is again another post that is not political or election related. I am adamant to show that this country is worth protecting. Look at some of the beautiful birds that are found in Bhutan. We are home to about 800 bird species - some of them endemic and some of them critically endangered. This number is said to be more than the total number of bird species found in the US and Canada.

The photo posted below is that of Ashy Drongo (Dicrurus leucophaeus). Although  a very common bird, it has found its place on my Blog because of the quality of the photo. As you can see - back-lighting is apparent and yet, I have managed to control the exposure so well that the feather details of the bird have been captured remarkably well. I hope that my readers who understand photography is as appreciative as I am of the difficulties of getting a photo this good - given the lighting condition :)

(To enlarge the images, please double click on one of the images)

The next photo below is that of Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker (Dicaeum melanoxanthum) - an extremely cute little bird. Not many would have noticed this bird. I am posting this image not only because it is a cute bird and difficult to see for most, I am posting it beucase this too has been a difficult shoot - for the same reason I explained above - back-lighting. But despite all that, the photo is still as good as it can get.

The photo of the beautiful Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon (Treron sphenura) definitely merits a place on my Blog. It is a very pretty bird. I particularly love its delicate colors. This is a common bird too and yet, not many would have noticed them.

The last photo is that of the Asian version of American Humming bird - it is called Green-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis). It belongs to the Sunbird family. This is also a common bird - they are extremely pretty and I love their strong metallic colors that are difficult to photograph.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Bhutan's Natural Treasures

A few days back, a friend declared in apparent exasperation; “To hell with everything - I am so disgusted at the stupidity of the Bhutanese people - let them be ruled by a government they truly deserve”.

As opposed to the above, another friend was blasé. She shrugged off the whole thing by saying; “I don’t care whether DPT or the PDP wins the elections. For me it will not make an iota of difference - I will still continue to get my Nu.30,000.00 salary at the end of each month”.

These are two extreme views: one of helpless frustration and the other of nonchalance. In my view none of these two views are helpful. In fact, they are downright dangerous.

A recent conversation I had with another friend clearly demonstrates that the urban Bhutanese population - the media tended and the Internet savvy - is losing that essential quality of processing and analyzing information. I think there has to be something terribly wrong with a brain that absorbs information without scrutiny. Or, simply, the urban Bhutanese have stopped caring. But care we must, because this country is worth caring for! Look at the following photographs.

The first photograph shows a school of Golden Mahseer (Tor putitora). The estuary of this small stream (located in North-Western part of Bhutan) is packed with these fish - I counted 42 of them - until I lost count. This is an extremely rare sight that you are unlikely to see anywhere else in the world. The reason is that, everywhere else in the world, this fish is going extinct. The IUCN has classified this fish species as “Endangered”.

The Mahseers grow into enormous size. My personal record is 27 Kgs. which I caught in Sheytekharey, Kalikhola. My second biggest catch was landed at the junction of Dakphai/Mangdechu rivers in Zhemgang. It weighed in at an impressive 23 Kgs.

The second picture below shows a group of fresh water otters known as Eurasian Otters (Lutra lutra). In Bhutanese they are called “Saam”. The IUCN lists them as “Near Threatened”. This photo is also unique in the sense that it is a rare sight to see so many otters congregated together. This hunting group comprised of seventeen otters. The otters were photographed at the same exact spot where the Mahseers (above) were frolicking. These otters feed primarily on fish - including other vertebrates.

The third photo shows a forest stand of Eastern Himalayan Silver Fir (Abies densa). I am told that this forest - located somewhere in the North-Central part of the country - is among the world’s oldest Fir forests in existence. It is a national treasure we must do everything to protect and preserve - for humanity and the succeeding generations of Bhutanese.

NOTE:   The photo of the Mahseer was shot from a distance of about 500 Mtrs. across the river.
               Thus the fish under the water surface look rather small. The truth is these fish are all over
               5-6 Kgs. each.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

World's Rarest Herons: White-bellied Heron (Ardea insignis)

Bhutan is home to the largest recorded population of the world’s rarest herons - the White-bellied Heron (Ardea insignis). As on last count, Bhutan is home to 24 of these critically endangered birds. They are found in the Punaphochu-Mochu areas in the Western part of the country and in Berti in Central Bhutan.

The global population of these rare birds is estimated at less than 200 birds. Bhutan is also the first country to have successfully incubated, hatched and raised a
White-bellied Heron chick in captivity. Researcher Rebecca Pradhan at the RSPN is also first in the world to undertake a research project on White-bellied Herons - in collaboration with a heron expert from the USA. The first ever detailed scientific study and report on the ecology of the bird is also credited to Bhutan - published by Bhutan’s first environmental NGO - The Royal Society for Protection of Nature, under the Royal Patronate of Her Majesty Gyeltsuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck the Queen of Bhutan.

In the past two months, I have been visiting and photographing a heron couple that have set up nest - a day’s journey away from Thimphu. From all indications, the couple is a young pair and most likely this is their first attempt at parenthood. It is reported that the three eggs in the nest were laid around 21st May, 2013. The first time I visited the site was on 24th May, 2013. I made another visit on 8th June, 2013 - to see if everything was OK.

Rebecca Pradhan’s many years of experience and observation show that heron eggs hatch in about 31 - 35 days. Thus, if everything goes well, the chicks should be hatched around 25th June, 2013.

It is normal that not all eggs produce chicks. Sometimes, it is known that the inexperience of the breeding couple can cause the eggs to go sterile - particularly those who are breeding for the first time. By the way, both the male and the female take turns to incubate the eggs. After every two hours, one partner flies in to guard the nest while the other flies off in search of food.

In the next few days I will again visit the nesting site - to see that everything is OK. May be by then, the eggs would have hatched. If not, I will make another trip to photograph the hatched chicks - provided the couple has been successful in their attempt at parenthood.

In the photo below, one of the partners stands guard over the eggs (you can clearly see the eggs in between the legs of the bird):

In the following, one of the parents is sitting over the eggs - I think the act is known as "brooding":

In the following photo, both the parents are seen together - this is the moment when one partner flew in to replace the other - so that the other could fly off to feed:

The following photo shows the head of one of the parents. You can clearly see that the bird is agitated. Despite my best efforts to conceal myself, the bird became aware of my presence and looked directly at me:

In order that I do not cause stress to the bird, I left the site. Disturbing the birds during their brooding period cannot be good.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Two Interesting Comments

Since I do not have the time to write an article this morning, I am going to post two comments made by two different readers on two of my most recent posts:

One wrote:
“Coming from you, this is a much needed fresh air, replete with wisdom :). This is by far your most "unbiased" article on the current election”.

The above comment was posted on my article titled “Is Proof Needed?”. As you can see, my article was critical of the DPT. The reader seems to appreciate this article and even goes as far as to say that it is “replete with wisdom”. He/she calls it “unbiased”. In other words, what the reader means is that any article that I write on my blog that is unfavorable to the DPT is a good article and is like a “much needed fresh air”. What this means is that anything I write good about DPT is biased and bad!

Another reader commented thus (on my post titled "A political Coupe Without Parallel!":
“What we really need are smart, dedicated, and honest politicians that will take our country far through a governance delivery mechanism that is truly fair and equitable”.

This is a reader after my own heart. Like him I too am for “smart, dedicated, and honest politicians”. We certainly need our politicians to posses these fine qualities. This is precisely the point I have been trying to make through my recent posts, which were prompted by a sense of disgust that I feel at the DNT leaders and founders deserting their own party to join an opposing party against whom they made a show of contesting - in the Primary round.

They were not “smart” to assume that the Bhutanese people were so dumb as to not see their game plan.

They were far from being “dedicated” when they deserted the party they formed and led. They were even less so when they abandoned the rest of the party members - to join another party in order that they can still remain in the race - while the rest of the brood was left in the lurch - without leadership or direction.

They were not “honest” when they mislead the whole nation into believing that they stood for a cause and ideology that is distinct from others. They were not being honest when they claimed that they were a party that is separate from all others. They were not being honest when they said that they were stronger candidates than others whom they replaced - when they were not. Of the seven, six of them were beaten by candidates of other parties. In fact, three of them were royally trounced by the same candidates of the PDP whom they ousted - on the pretext that they were stronger.

Whole lot of people argue with me that it is OK for these seven from the DNT to gang up with the PDP - because they opine that it will make our democracy so much more stronger.

One question these detractors have yet to answer me, convincingly, is: If that were true, why didn’t these seven join the PDP before the Primary? Why after?

Think about it!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Is Proof Needed?

Even while the people of Bhutan are still reeling under the trauma of the discovery that some of their chosen candidates are nothing more than accomplices in a game of sham and deceit, we are told that concrete proof of the collusion between the DNT and the PDP has now been submitted to the ECB - in the form of a audio recording of one of the PDP candidates’ public admission of such a collusion.

To add to the drama, I am told that the DPT has now filed a case with the ECB - asking that action be taken against the said candidate and the party.

This is not good. What further proof do we need? Actions speak louder than words and the fact that the entire top leadership of the DNT, including some of their founding members, moved to the PDP is confirmation beyond a shred of doubt that there is collusion - either at the leadership level or at the party level. Either way, it is too late in the day to make an issue of it. We need to put all this behind us and move forward. The ECB is the regulatory authority and, whether they will do their job or not, whether their rules in place allow them to act in a certain manner or not, we need to concentrate on completing the elections. For, every day of delay costs the country dearly.

The DPT needs to rise above such pettiness and focus on its campaign. Get the message out - prove that it is the superior party that it claims to be. Remember that, time and again, the Bhutanese people have proven to be wise and smart. They know.

It would not be such a great victory for the DPT - should the ECB disqualify Norbu Wangchuk - based on their incessant heckling. Instead, the taste of victory would be so much sweeter - if the people were given the chance to show what they really think of such behavior from their politicians.

I am for quickly wrapping up this election and moving on with life. I am not interested in prolonging this - I write on the issue as a matter of historical record - so that future generations may read and understand how our democracy was shaped and who were the players who steered the course of our democracy - in a given direction.

Years from now, when people read of what nefarious plans have been hatched to fight and win elections, they will know that if the people of our generation have been lacking in ethics and morality, we certainly did not suffer from lack of craft and guile!

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Political Coup Without Parallel!

We can finally put to rest all the conspiracy theories. The game plan is out in the open. It is now proven beyond doubt that the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) did not collude after the Primaries - the alliance was struck even before the elections were announced; way before the first Parliament was dissolved and, way before the DNT came into being as a legitimate political entity.

Thus, unlike what the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) and others say, my own view is that their convergence cannot be called collusive politics - not in the sense it is understood or inferred. For me, I see it as a regrouping of the co-conspirators; the implementation of a strategy conceived months before - the brazen and audacious finale to a political coup that is without parallel!

I am aghast at the brilliance and boldness of this scheme. I doubt if something similar has ever been pulled off anywhere else in the world - with such delicacy and flair. This must be the Bhutanese uniqueness that I keep hearing about.

However, the genius of the master schemers notwithstanding, there are certain aspects to this virtuoso that, somehow, come through as something that is not in the regular order of things. After all, even if this was treated as a game, the players are still governed by the rules of the game. We need to understand:

(a)    Was the means employed to achieve the end honorable, well
        intended and transparent to other members in their respective
        parties? Were all the candidates in these two parties aware that
        their leaders had struck a deal? Was the deal, and
        the subsequent transfer of the DNT member to the PDP,
        in the best interest of the country and the people of Bhutan?

(b)    What would have been the implication on the country and its
        governance - had DPT been defeated in the Primary
        round - as a result of the DNT/PDP combine? In other
        words, what would have been the implication, had the
        two parties (DNT & PDP) whose leaders had entered into
        a pre-arrangement - were to be elected to our
        Parliament - to form both the Government as well
        as the Opposition?

(c)    What would be the implication should DPT be defeated in
         the General round and the seven leaders who defected
         from the DNT and those from the PDP go on to form
         the nucleus of our government for the next five years?

(d)    What was the reason behind creating two separate entities -
         when it has already been pre-agreed that they would
         ultimately represent only one party - either the PDP if the
         DNT lost or the DNT - if the PDP lost?  What are the
         implications of such an arrangement - on the state and
         other political parties contesting the elections? And, last but
         not least;

(e)    What is the possibility of an “Acho” factor behind one
         or some of our political parties?

NOTE: One of my inventive friends explained to me that “Acho” is the equivalent of “Sugar Daddy” in the Western concept.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Get Your Facts Right

In all of my posts so far relating to the ongoing elections, I have never given the slightest of indication that I prefer the DPT, over other parties. I have tried to do a fair analysis of things based on facts. However, some have accused me of being a “mouthpiece” of the DPT. I am not one and I am not fool enough to sound like one. But I am a Bhutanese and I am, over and above everything else, concerned about the outcome of the elections that is currently underway.

What I am trying to do is to try and understand what exactly is afoot. I am incensed that the entire top leadership of a party can actually go and abandon a party they have formed; in whose name they have received funds from the state and, based on the faith and trust they placed on these leaders, forty other candidates have joined the party to contest the elections, and lost.

I am reminded, time and again, that the reason why these seven have deserted their own party and joined an opposing party, against whom they have contested the elections in the Primary rounds, is because these seven candidates are “strong” candidates and that they are good for Bhutanese democracy.

Figures tell a different story. Except for Dorji Choden, all the other six candidates have not won in their constituencies. On the contrary, the results show that their voters have rejected them. Thus, how can anyone say that these are “STRONG” candidates?

Additionally, look at the following Comparison Chart. It shows that the PDP candidates whom they have replaced - on the pretext that they are stronger candidates - have actually beaten some of these very DNT candidates.
Kinley Dorji, DNT’s candidate from Radi-Sakteng was actually beaten by the PDP candidate whom he replaces - both in the EVM as well as in the Postal Ballots. Same is the case with DNT’s Panbang candidate - the PDP candidate who he replaces actually beat him in both the EVM as well as the Postal Ballots.

It is no different in the case of the Jumotshangkha-Martshala constituency - the DNT candidate who replaces the PDP candidate got royally trounced by the PDP candidate who has now been unceremoniously shunted out.

The PDP candidate who has been replaced by the DNT candidate from Kanglung-Samkhar-Udzorong actually won in the EVM vote count. Also, in the Bardo-Trong constituency, the PDP candidate who got replaced by the DNT candidate got superior results in the Postal Ballots.

So, what is the reason why some people are trying to misinform the Bhutanese people with falsehood?

Unlike Dorji Choden who had no qualms about declaring on national TV that our Ex-Prime Minister and two Ex-Ministers are liars - I would like to put the facts on the table and let the Bhutanese people decide - who the real liars are and who the stronger candidates are.

If hard facts tell a different story, if the DNT candidates who replaces those in the PDP are not stronger as claimed, then what is the real reason behind why weaker candidates are replacing winning candidates?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Desertion: What Can The ECB Do?

It is now official - seven of the DNT candidates have moved to PDP. And, as rumoured, these seven consist of the President, the Vice President and two founding members of the party. One interesting fact is that, of the seven, three of them (Dorji Choden, Lekey Dorji and Pelzang Wangchuk) contested as PDP candidates during the 2008 elections. With their return to the PDP this time round, these three have come full circle.

We may never be completely sure of the far-reaching consequences of this unprecedented political maneuvering. The two parties - PDP and the DNT - has taken advantage of a loophole in the country’s electoral laws to forge an alliance that is in direct conflict with the Constitutional provisions.

Stray incidences of candidates moving from one party to another are a political reality. But the President, the Vice President and two founding members deserting their own party to strengthen and render muscle to another party is something that defies conventional logic. In my view, what these seven did transcends morality and ethics - there is something more than meets the eye. This cannot be simply a matter of political opportunism - there has to be something sinister for the entire party leadership to move to another party.

In the coming days we will discuss the probable reasons why such a thing has come to pass. But first things first.

The Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa is a state funded political party. Thus, it is a quasi-public institution and a state apparatus. The day it accepted state funding, it ceased to be an association of private individuals free to do as they please. That is the reason why the ECB is able to dictate its terms on the way political parties function in this country - because they use taxpayers’ money. And, because they use state funds, the political parties and the leadership of these parties are not free to do as they please - there is an element of accountability that is inherent in the principals of state funding of political parties.

Our existing laws cannot prevent the movement of party members and functionaries from one party to another. However, in particular, the founders and the top party leadership has a responsibility to the state. The reason why the party was accepted and registered as a political party fit to contest in the elections was based solely on the composition of the founders, leaders and candidates it is comprised of. Therefore, if the leadership of a party moves to another party en masse, the abandoned party (DNT) is like a rudderless ship without a Captain or a Vice Captain to steer it safely to port.

This is a situation that cannot be acceptable to the state. The state, through the ECB, has invested lot of money behind the party - upwards of ten million. The ECB cannot look at it as a bad investment gone sour and look on helplessly and do nothing about it.

If nothing, the ECB must, at the minimum, require the party leaders and founders to reorganize the party structure and management - before they are allowed to register with another party. Failing that, these leaders and founders must be asked to refund the money the state spent behind the party and de-register it as a political party worthy of receiving state funding.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Final Request to Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa

The two parties - DPT and the PDP - have only one day in which to finalize their list of candidates who will represent their respective parties in the General Round of 2013 elections. And, by the morning of the 14th July, 2013, the nation will know which of the two parties will form the government and which will be in the Opposition.

On the 13th of July, 2013, the people of Bhutan will deliver their collective verdict - as to which party should form the next government. Thereafter, the decision will be irreversible. All of us have to accept the collective wisdom of the people - no amount of lamenting will alter anything. Nonetheless, until that moment, each of us cannot help but hope that the party each of us support would win the elections and go on to form the next government. Towards that end, each of us will do what we must, to ensure that victory is on our side. And, none of us would be wrong to do what we must - to put the party we think is best for the country - to power. Because, most of us are driven by the power of our own convictions - why a certain party is better than the other.

Unlike some who accuse me of being a DPT mouthpiece, I do not accuse others of being a PDP mouthpiece. The PDP supporter has as much right and freedom to his/her convictions as I do to mine - and I am not going to say that theirs is wrong. For the record, I am not a DPT mouthpiece and I do not really care if I am accused of being one - for, I know that they are being irresponsible in saying so. If anything, I am a mouthpiece of the country and the King. I will shamelessly support the party that I believe is best for these two.

I know that all the parties and most of their candidates have the very best intention for the country - but I am not convinced that all the parties and all of their candidates have the capability and experience to best protect the interest of the country and the King. Good intentions are not enough - it has to be backed with competence and capability.

As the day is closing in on the two parties to finalize their candidate list, I am hearing some strange and demoralizing rumours. There is talk that the President, the Vice President and some of the founding members of the DNT are migrating to the PDP. I hope that this is not true. However, if it is true, then it is a political scandal without precedence - anywhere else in the world!

The DNT candidates have a duty to the nation. They have to bear in mind that as pioneers in the democratic process - how they behave at this formative stage will determine the course of Bhutan's democratic culture.

No amount of explaining can justify how there is merit in the President, the Vice President and the founding members of a party deserting the very party they formed. What of their responsibility to their other members who placed their faith and trust in them? What of the party itself? What of the Constitutional intent that discourages collusive politics?

As I have reminded some of the DNT members, its leaders should understand that 2013 is not the end of the world. Their time will come and therefore, they should have the patience and the resilience to bid for their time. Everything is pre-destined and nothing will happen before time. No one may preempt destiny.

If they go ahead with the move to PDP, there will be a hundred questions that will pop up. In the end, it will be their undoing. People will not forget their vile and despicable behavior. If they go ahead with the move, they have to be prepared for the backlash that is imminent. They have to answer questions that, as of now, remain unasked.

I hope and pray that common sense will prevail upon the DNT leadership.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Law On Withdrawal of Candidates

How often does it happen that the victor falls and the fallen triumphs? Not very often I am sure and, even if it does, it provably happens only in Bhutan.

The Bhutanese media - print and visual, including the social media - are full of reports about the supposed ongoing tug-of-war between the DPT and the PDP in their respective efforts to rope in some select members of the fallen party - the DNT - to replace some of their existing candidates.

In my view, the issue concerning the replacement of candidates, while permitted under the Election laws, has implications that go far beyond the moral and the ethical - it impinges on the very intent behind our Constitutional provision that dictates the form of our parliamentary democracy. This subject is too complex and thus requires a separate discussion. For now, I want to talk of something that has been completely ignored by the Bhutanese people and the media. It is an issue that, I believe, must be addressed first - before contemplating replacement of candidates.

What is to become of the candidates who are being replaced?

I do not see any discussion on this issue. In fact, scant regard is given to what they might have to say on the matter. The parties have to be reminded that these are the valiant soldiers who fought the war and won the battle for them.

Some of these candidates have given up jobs; some have forfeited opportunities and most have depleted their life’s savings - for the cause of a dream and the promise of a better future. These candidates have crossed high mountains and walked through deep valleys and gushing rivers - to canvass and campaign for their parties. They have worked hard to put the parties where they are today - at the very threshold of victory and honour.

Nothing can be more agonizing than to find that they have been victorious and yet, they are being denied their just reward. If these candidates are to suffer the humiliation and indignity of being ignominiously sidelined - to make way for candidates from other parties who have played no role in the party’s success, the parties better have damn good reasons to justify their immoral behavior. Or, they have to compensate the candidates whom they chose to cast away - in preference to others.

Surely the parties are aware that there is no authority under the sun that can force any candidate to accept replacement or withdrawal from the party. The following rule in the Election Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2008 is clear on the issue:

Withdrawal of Candidature

229.    No political party shall be empowered to withdraw the
           nomination of its candidate once duly nominated, except
           with the written consent of the concerned candidate.

This means that the only way to make a candidate accept his/her withdrawal for replacement with another one is - if the party makes it worth his/her while! 

It will be illegal to force a candidate to withdraw against his/her wishes! And, it should be illegal for parties to clandestinely get their candidates to sign the withdrawal papers - without making known their rights under this rule.

How to decide what the amount of compensation should be? Not a problem - a benchmark has already been set: Nu.6.3 million. If you remember, a certain Dr. Lotey Tshering paid that sum to enter politics. There is no reason why it should be any lower - to get out of it.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Rumours, Rumours, Rumours II

I had said in my earlier post that the number of DNT candidates who are likely to move to PDP would be about NINE. But after reassessing certain ground realities, I wanted to downsize the number to about SEVEN. But yesterday evening I was told that the number of DNT candidates who may be moving to PDP might be as high as FOURTEEN! That would be preposterous. I do not believe that.

Even the DPT that is perceived to be a party that supposedly set store by superior moral and ethical standards seems to be wavering in uncertainty. There have been media reports - alleging that the party (DPT) has approached Tenzin Lekhpell and Norbu Wangchuk of the DNT to join the party. Mrs. Dorji Choden has also been categorical that she too received repeated offers from some parties. There is also a strong rumour that a candidate of a fallen party may replace DPT's Phuentsholing candidate.

As of this writing, the DPT high Command has not issued a denial of the media reports. So, is the DPT in the game too? - of switching candidates? I did not think so. And yet, someone yesterday evening told me, over a cup of tea that in politics, everything is fair game.

Really? Isn’t politics possible - even with just a bit of morality and ethics and decency?

Very few seem to have an understanding of the darker side of shuffling candidates at will. Politicians seem to ignore the fact that they are not engaged in a game of Chess. There are a whole host of issues involved.

Some people tell me that switching candidates is good - that it will strengthen parliamentary representation. But what of the path that gets strewn with human carcasses on their journey towards the august hall of the great Parliament? What of the weakened morality and human values?

There are those of you who remind us that there is a need to give others a chance. Please remember that not even God can give anyone a chance - unless his or her day has arrived.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Rumours, Rumours, Rumours

Mildly whacky to outright bizarre rumours are doing the rounds - the most incredible being that Dorji Choden, President of the fallen Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa is joining PDP. Although I had said that DNT is a party created by the PDP in an effort to beat the DPT, and yet, somehow the thought that a President of a Party can actually desert her own party to join another one seems totally incredible. In fact it is scandalous! We will wait and see. 

But no less laughable is the rumour being deliberately floated by one DNT candidate that the DPT leadership has approached him to join the party. It is quite absurd that a victorious party should actually approach a losing candidate to join the party - particularly when their own candidate in that constituency has trounced every other contender. However, I think I can understand the reason why putting out such a rumour can help them.

The DPT leadership must be aware that their reputation and image has taken a beating - as a result of eleven substitutions they made. Rumblings are rife in the market place that the party has not acted as one with Tha-Damsi. For the DPT to contemplate any change in their candidates at this stage would be suicidal. They will be playing right into the hands of the Opposition.

Rumour also has it that Jigme Zangpo has joined PDP.

The most credible rumour: that H E Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup is rejoining the party. If that is true - the challenge to DPT will be raised to a completely different level.

One another rumour that is doing the rounds is that Dr. Lotey Tshering is finally throwing in his towel and headed for Bangladesh where he has been offered employment at an astronomical remuneration. In my view, quite bogus! Damn - this Dr. Lotay issue is fascinating! This one deserves comprehensive and in-depth analysis.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Royal Textile Academy Building

The swanky Royal Textile Academy building in Chubachu will be inaugurated today at 08.30AM. The recently completed building is perhaps the most well built structure in modern Bhutan. I simply love the paintwork and color scheme on the building.

In celebration of the inauguration, a fashion show titled “Window to Woven Dreams” has been planned for the 6th June, 2013 at 07.30PM.

In conjunction with the opening of the building, my photographic work titled “THAGZO: The Textile Weaves of Bhutan” published by the RTA will also be released.

The book contains photos of some of the rarest collection of Bhutanese textiles - some of which have never been on public display before.

The following is a close up shot of one of the many beautiful Kiras featured in the book. The Kira will be on display in the Exhibition Hall of the Academy.

The book will be available for purchase from the RTA's in-house Gift Shop located within the building and also through some select book stores in town.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Birds & Elections

The sharpest photos of birds are those when the photographer has been able to get very close to the subject. That is why, most often you will see a bird photographer inching closer and closer to the bird, even at the risk of spooking the bird. Closer you are to the bird, greater the detail and clarity you will get of the bird and its subtle colors and feather patterns.

But there can be those very rare moments when you chance upon a bird - suddenly and so close to it that you wouldn’t know what to do. Particularly when the bird happens to be a large one, all that you can do is look at in wonderment and be rooted to the spot where you stand. Because if you make a move, the bird will take flight.

Recently during my trip home for casting my vote, I chanced upon the very unique and endangered bird called the Rufous-necked Hornbill (Aceros nipalensis) at a place called Batasey. I chanced upon it so suddenly and it was so close that all I could do was fire off two frames. But as you can see from the following photo, the large bird was so close that all I could do was get a head-and-shoulder of it. In an effort to get it whole in my camera frame - I backed my car but it was spooked and it flew away. But I am glad that I was able to get its head and neck details with stunning clarity.

After chasing it for years, I also finally managed to shoot my life bird called Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica). This bird is fairly abundant in my area but it forages and feeds in dark and dank places. Thus, even when you see the birds, it is very difficult to get a good picture of it since most often the light condition is so poor that you can hardly get the proper shutter speed to get a detailed and sharp photo. This time though - I got a good one as the following photo will show. Bhutan is home to about eighteen doves and pigeons - of which I consider the Emerald Dove among the prettiest.

I did not realize it that time - but now that I think about it, I suspect that my luck must have been an omen of sorts - of the election results a day later :)-

Monday, June 3, 2013

Want to Bet? II

Who wants to bet with me that Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) was never intended as a political party but as PDP’s contrivance in its war of attrition against the DPT? Would you give credence to my gut feeling that its defeat in the Primary round was by design - rather than as a result of lack of support from the voters.

Almost all the people I had spoken to and discussed with - prior to voting - agreed that the DNT had much better candidates and that the race would be between them and the DPT. I too believed that to be true.

On 28th evening, I was told by one of my nephews in Geylegphug that his friend who is a candidate-designate for one of the parties told him that it didn’t really mater who won - PDP or DNT - he told him smugly that it was the same thing.

What conclusions can be drawn from such a curious statement? Additionally, what is the idea of a lackluster party Manifesto the DNT put out? Think for yourself.

If what I think is right, the game plan will begin to unravel itself in the coming weeks. Watch closely the lateral movement of candidates from one party to another. In particular lock your oculi on the following nine candidates (some of whom are founding members of the party) of the DNT:

          Achyut Bhandari
          Dorji Choden
          Dr. Lotay Tshering
          Dr. Tandin Dorji
          Jigme Zangpo
          Lekey Dorji
          Norbu Wangchuk
          Sangay Zam
          Tenzin Lekhpell

In particular, the case of Dr. Lotay Tshering is most intriguing - a more in-depth analysis is required on this one.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Want to Bet?

I just returned to Thimphu after having performed my duty to myself, my country and to the future generations of Bhutanese - I cast my vote. I am relieved that the Primary round is finally over.

I should rejoice but the result is so unexpected that I am overwhelmed with a sense of foreboding. Something is not quite right - and my mind has been whirring in all directions like a top gone out of control.

I have drawn a few conclusions - all of them pretty outlandish and rather bizarre and yet, very plausible. But to put them all in words will take a while. So, for the moment, since I see that currently there are 59 readers logged on to my Blog, I want to leave you with a teaser:

Who wants to bet with me that atleast nine (9) PDP candidates who participated in the Primary round will find themselves out in the cold - and that a large number of them will be replaced by candidates of the supposedly "fallen" Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa?

Welcome to the world of dirty politics!