Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Education City

What exactly is happening to the Bhutanese people? Are we slowly going insane? What happened to our capacity to think objectively and rationally?

Take, for instance, the case of the Bhutan Education City project. Everybody seems to be intent on killing it. Why and by what authority? In all frankness I am not so sure of its commercial viability but we should understand that huge investments have already been made - in hundreds of millions.

But what is even more irksome is that the whole project is now being touted as something illegal. From what I know, both the Upper, as well as, the Lower Houses of the Parliament had passed the Bhutan Education City Act. Even beyond that, it received Royal Assent on 3rd September, 2012. So there is no authority in this country who can say that this project is illegal and that it should be shut down. If it has to be shut down, there are procedures to follow - before making such pronouncements. The Land Commission has no authority to challenge a decision passed by the King and the Parliament.

If it has now been determined that the Education City project is commercially not feasible, then it certainly is a good idea to look at other options, but don’t call it illegal and remember that only the King and the Parliament can decide to pronounce its burial.

In the meantime, if we are smart and unique as we claim, let us look at how we can recoup our investment - through better ideas. If the Education City was a bad idea, let us come up with a better one.

I have a proposal: lease some portion of the land to IMTRAT. They have become an eyesore being located bang in the center of Thimphu city. And, lease some portion of it to the RBA and relocate them from Lungtenphu. Also, it would be a good idea to consider moving out the Bhutan Oil Distributors - one of these days, the BOD is going to cause a major catastrophe.

Friday, March 21, 2014

KUENSEL - The Grand Old Dad Among Bhutanese Newspapers

One of the first things Dasho Kinley Dorji (currently the Secretary of the Ministry of Information & Communications) did, as soon as he took over the Kuensel as its CEO some two decades back, was to redesign the Kuensel’s masthead. The paper’s present masthead was conceived and adopted by him.

Before the masthead was adopted, I was among the few Dasho Kinley consulted as to the appropriateness of the masthead. In particular he was in serious doubt whether the sentence “THAT THE PEOPLE SHALL BE INFORMED” was grammatically correct. Of that one I wasn’t sure either - but of one thing I was sure and I told him so - that the background color of the masthead - blue - looked YUCKY! The color did not change and neither did my opinion about it, to this day. However Dasho Kinley went ahead and adopted the current masthead - yucky color and grammatically doubtful sentence et all. As far as Dasho Kinley was concerned, he made sure that he went through the motion of seeking popular opinion but as the top dog of the paper - he did exactly as he pleased - opinions be damned!

Since then, Kuensel never failed to INFORM the people. But the words
THAT THE PEOPLE SHALL BE INFORMED” did not bind them to MISINFORM the people from time to time. Infact, they did so with unfailing regularity.

Look at the following. The Prime Minister dedicates the project to the IVth Druk Gyalpo - but Kuensel says that it is to the Prime Minister.

The following news report in the Kuensel is encouraging. The civil servants are going to be given free plots of land - to grow vegetables. That is a great idea - it will boost vegetable production and one never knows -  this may be one job at which they might excel!

Best of luck to the new breed of farmers.