Saturday, December 24, 2016

Rotary Club of Thimphu Donates 6 Kidney Hemodialysis Machines

On Bhutan’s National Day - December 17, 2016, the Rotary Club of Thimphu donated 6 brand new units of Kidney Hemodialysis Machines to the Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan. This Nu.6.8 million Global Grant Project took two years to realize and the collaborative spirit of 10 Rotary Districts and Clubs - across countries such as Bhutan, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and USA.


Bhutanese hospitals across the country suffer acute shortage of these life saving machines. We are told that at the JDWNRH, Thimphu, patients are so desperate for dialysis that they regularly attempt to jump queue - resulting in occasional fistfights.

His Majesty the King has gifted a new 24-beds Dialysis Center that is currently under construction. We think that our machines would provably be installed in the new Center. However, that is a decision the Health Ministry will have to take - our donation was a gift without any strings attached - we will not dictate where the machines should be installed.

In the coming months, we will also conduct in-country training and refresher courses for 9 operators of these machines.

Our immediate next project with the Health Ministry is the setting up of 3 artificial limbs fitment centers - one each in Thimphu, Gelephu and Mongaar. The world famous “JaipurLimb” technology will come to Bhutan as soon as the MoU is signed between the Health Ministry, the Rotary Club of Thimphu and some Indian donors. With the setting up of this Global Grant Project worth US$80,000.00, Bhutan will no longer need to send patients out of the country for prosthesis.

BUT GOD ALMIGHTY! - the wheels of bureaucracy grinds oh so painfully slowly! Even after four months of dogged pursuit, our MoU is still gathering moss in some unknown labyrinth! I have this uncanny feeling that the first patient that the Thimphu Center would need to treat would be our own MoU - because by the time it limps out of whatever hole it is stuck in, it would have lost a leg and an arm - thus requiring prosthesis replacement.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Hydro-power Madness III

Mt. Jichu Drake at 6,989 Mtrs. is Bhutan’s sixth highest peak. The lake at the base of this mountain is the primary source of the Pachhu (Paro river), that partially drives the turbines of Chukkha and Tala Hydropower Projects. When I first visited the area in 2004, the peak was fully laden with snow and the base of the mountain and its lower portion had a huge cover of frozen ice – it looked so azure that it was almost eerie.

During my next visit to the area seven years later in February, 2011, the peak had totally lost the ice and most of the snow on it had melted. The photo below was taken during my second visit in February, 2011 (I cannot find the photo that I took in 2004). As you can see, the peak has lost most of its show and ice - in fact three-fourths of the mountain has now no snow at all.

Two of the photos below are that of our third highest peak, Masagang at 7,194 Mtrs. The first one was taken in 2011 and the second one was taken on 12th December, 2016. Look at the difference between the two: the latest photo shows that there is almost no snow on the peak.

The two photos below show the source of Chamkharchhu. The first one shows the huge reserve of snow and ice underground. The second shows the hole in that depository. The rate of melting of the ice and snow is way faster than the replenishment. This means this reserve is going to run dry in times to come.

Miles and miles of depost of ice and snow under the ground, that feeds the Chamkharchhu

Hole in the ground of the ice and snow deposit - the melt is faster than replenishment

At this rate of snow and ice melt, how long do you think our high peaks and glacial lakes will continue to feed our river systems that turn the hydropower turbines?

Do you still think doing Chamkharchhu Hydropower Project and other hydropower ventures are going to be sustainable?

As I said in my last post, the issue of hydropower projects in our context has more to do with economic disaster that is being caused, rather then the fear that it will cause environmental degradation. I fully recognize that the cause of the environment cannot be allowed to constrain human development and economic benefit to the people.

But our experience so far with our hydropower ventures have been that it not only damages our ecosystems but is also all set to cause us economic enslavement.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Hydro-power Madness II

India ranks as the world’s fifth largest electricity generator. Its current total installed capacity is in excess of 300GW.

There is a misconception in Bhutan that we are a significant game changer to an energy starved India, in their drive towards energy self-sufficiency. Nothing can be further from reality.

India’s Power Minister Piyush Goyal recently reported in the Rajya Sabha that India imported 5.24 billion units of electricity from Bhutan, in the last fiscal. That figure seems like colossal! But wait just a second – translated as a percentage of India’s total power generation, our export of 5.24 billion units work out to a shamefully inconsequential 0.47% of their total output!

So tell me, how significant are we in India’s hydropower dreams? On a scale of Nu.1.00 we are not even half a Chettrum, and that denomination does not even exist in our currency!

Trust me, India does not need our hydro-electricity now, nor will they need in the future.

By the year 2030 India is poised to generate enough electricity not only to meet, but exceed their energy requirement. Even today some believe that the notion that India suffers energy poverty is a fallacy. They believe that India is already self sufficient in electricity - but that their problem is mismanagement and poor distribution and delivery.

Our situation is ofcourse perilous, to say the least. We can already see it clearly. We are slowly but surely headed towards a situation, a convergence of occurrences, that spell doom for us.

Fourteen years from now, our lone egg basket – India – will achieve self sufficiency in their energy needs.

Fourteen years from now, most of our hydro-electric plants will have outlived their productive life.

Fourteen years from now, our glacial lakes, mountaintops and rivers would be severely depleted of snow, ice and water.

Fourteen years from now, Bhutan would still be straddled with loans amounting to hundreds of billions of Rupees.

Very few, if at all, have understood why I make so much noise about hydropower. I want to clarify:

I do not make noise about it because of my belief that hydropower projects damage our pristine environment - far from it.

I make noise because I firmly believe that in our situation, our hydropower projects will be the VICTIM OF ENVINOMENT. It is clear that the state of the global environment will impact our hydropower projects.
And, indications are that the state of the environment is worsening by the year.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Hydro-Power Madness

After conceding Kula Kangri to China, Mt. Jumolhari at 7,326 Mtrs. is Bhutan’s second highest peak, after Gangkhar Puensum at 7,570 Mtrs. The photo below was taken on the 26th of November, 2016, from Paro Drugyel Dzong.

As you can see, one portion of the peak’s face is almost bare of snow. That is the effect of global warming - snow and ice are melting at an alarming rate from our mountain peaks and glacial lakes in the north. Our reserve of snow and ice that are vital for our sustenance are turned into rain and water, that run off to be emptied into the Indian Ocean.

Weather patterns are going haywire - there is rain where there use to be none, and there is none where there use to be plenty. Weather induced seasonal variations are bound to cause crop failures, and Black-necked Cranes will land in Geylephu.

Policy failures will cause us to import electricity during the winter months, while proudly claiming to be a net exporter of hydro-generated electricity.

Over time our deposit of ice and glaciers will be exhausted and there will be not enough water to turn the turbines of the many hydro-electric projects that we are building blindly.

By the year 2030 (14 years from now), India will generate electricity in excess of their need. India will no longer need our hydro-electricity. While in Bhutan our old generators would have outlived their useful life. It will be time to decommission these white elephants - but we will have no money to do so.

In fourteen years from now, we would not have repaid the loans on these projects - because the cost has escalated 4 times over their initial projections!

Our economic enslavement would be complete!

And yet, the politicians still talk of doing Chamkharchhu Hydropower Project. They tell you that it will bring development to Zhemgang. They have seen that Daga Project has happened. They see that Mangdechhu Project is happening. But they are blind to the fact that both these projects have not brought any benefit to Geylephu or Dagana or Tsirang.

To what can we attribute this madness?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Bhutan to Import 200 Truckloads of Chilies!

I was stunned by the BBS announcement yesterday that Bhutan is going to import 200 truckloads of chilies a year, from India. This is a chilling revelation. This means that the land of Ema Datsi has been importing huge amounts of chilies all this while. In other words, the one item of food that most Bhutanese eat every breakfast, lunch and dinner on a daily basis - has no in-country production base, to meet the demand? This truly is pathetic!

This revelation is perplexing at all levels. Let us do some mathematics.

Two hundred truckloads would be 1,400 Metric Tons of chilies calculated at a truck's carrying capacity of 7MT per truck. 1,400 MT broken down to Kgs. would translate to 1,400,000 Kgs. of the fiery stuff.

Now, lets consider that the import of 200 truckloads of chilies from India would constitute 10% of our annual consumption. This would mean that Bhutanese people consume a total of 14,000,000 Kgs. of chilies a year.

Let us now make an educated assumption that a total of 40% of the resident Bhutanese population do not eat chilies. That segment would include the population that is still not of age to eat chilies, those that do not eat the stuff on medical grounds, and those group of population that are past the age when they no longer find eating chilies palatable. It would also include those that have been driven to paranoia by Dr. Sonam – about eating chilies.

In addition, let us presume that 20% of the Bhutanese population are working outside or are not resident in the country. Add to that 1.46% of the population - under constant labour pain and childbirth, in some maternity wards (based on Bhutan’s 2015 population growth rate). This means that effectively 61.46% of the Bhutanese population DO NOT splurge on the fiery capsaicinoids loaded Capsicum.

Based on these assumptions, we get a figure of 305,083 actively chili eating Bhutanese, computed at today’s total Bhutanese population of 791,600.

Now divide 14,000,000 Kgs. of chilies by 305,083 chili eating Bhutanese and you get a tidy sum of 45.89 Kgs. of chilies per Bhutanese per year. Break it further down to per Bhutanese per day and you get: 0.13 Kgs. of chilies per Bhutanese per day.

This means a Bhutanese consumes a Kg. of chilies every 8 days!

The question is: given this humongous captive market, why isn't the Bhutanese people growing more chilies? Why cardamom?

Even at Nu.50.00 per Kg., 14,000,000 Kgs. of chilies would translate into Nu.700,000,000.00 per year - SEVEN HUNDRED MILLION Nuggies for a lot of Drups! - while at the same time saving Indian Rs.70,000,000.00 per annum.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Something Has Gone Seriously Wrong Somewhere

Most of my friends have started their room heaters since mid October. I adamantly refused to do so. The reason: I cannot afford to pay the electricity bill. Last year, to my horror, I realized that my electricity bill during the winter months was anywhere from Nu.7,000.00 to Nu.9,000.00 per month!!! I simply cannot afford that kind of heating bill. So this year I refused to use the panel heater in my office – to control cost.

Today is 1st December - and I started my panel heater for the first time. I simply couldn't do without it any longer.

I start my work at 5 AM these days. By 7AM my fingers would be frozen stiff! But I adamantly refused to start the heater! When it became intolerable, I would go out and start my car and put on its heating system. One round of the town and I would be warm enough to continue to work.

Bhutan is supposed to be a net exporter of hydro-electricity. Why is it then that poor people like me and other citizens cannot afford to heat our homes with our own electricity that we supposedly generate in abundance? Why is it that we have to queue up at the petrol pumps for cooking gas and kerosene?

Promises have been made that we would be so rich from the earnings from export of hydro-power, that our roads would be paved in gold. In truth the reality is that today the common man cannot afford to heat their homes with electricity.

Something has gone seriously wrong somewhere.

Those who speak so eloquently about hydro-power need to ask this one simple question: Why is it that the Bhutanese people prefer to queue up at the petrol pumps, to purchase imported energy source - over our own electricity?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Twenty One Packets of THANK YOU

During August this year, the Rotary Club of Thimphu had installed and handed over a solar fencing project in Kheng Goleng, Zhemgang. The 4-KMs long solar fencing was a collaborative initiative between the Rotary Club of Handa, Japan and the Rotary Club of Thimphu. Close to 85 acres of rice fields have been protected by this project from wildlife predation.

The rice fields of Goleng that was solar fenced with funding from the Rotary Club of Handa

The project was implemented through the Khengrig Namsum Cooperative (KNC) - headed by its CEO Thinley Wangdi. KNC is a cooperative formed by 16 educated youth who chose to go back to their homes in rural Bhutan, to venture into agriculture production.

Few days back, the CEO of Khengrig Namsum Cooperative called me up to say that he was on his way to Thimphu from Zhemgang. He arrived Thimphu with the express purpose of delivering to me freshly milled rice - harvested from the rice fields that we had helped protect in Kheng Goleng.

The rice was a gift of gratitude from the people of Kheng Goleng, to the Members of the Rotary Club of Thimphu. They sent word that because of our solar fencing they were, for the first time in recent history, able to harvest 90% of their crop.

The Members of the Rotary Club of Thimphu were touched by this show of gratitude and said so to the CEO of KNC, who was invited to join our weekly meeting on 18.11.2016.

The following image shows 21 small bags of rice that will be distributed to the Members and staff of the Rotary Club of Thimphu. It is not the quantity that matter - but the thought behind the gift.

 21 small bags of rice gifted by the villagers of Kheng Goleng to the Members of the Rotary Club of Thimphu - in appreciation

It is these small differences that we are able to make in the lives of the people that make Rotary work fulfilling and meaningful. It is appreciation such as this that makes us realize that we have finally graduated to being a Rotarian, from being merely a Member of the Rotary.

In the coming months, the Rotary Club of Thimphu is hoping to be able to fund the solar fencing of some more fields in a village called - Nimshong, in fulfillment of a request received from the Dzongkhag Administration, Zhemgang. The Club is also working towards funding 3 youth agriculture cooperative societies - one each in Zhemgang, Tsimasham and Sarpang.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

BBIN MVA Rejected by Bhutan’s Upper House

It comes as heartening news that Bhutan’s Upper House – the National Council – has rejected the terribly ruinous BBIN MVA. If this Agreement gets ratified, all sorts of problems will overwhelm Bhutan – and we do not have the wherewithal to stand up to the forces that will come into play.

But alas! I suspect that we may not be able to stall it for long. Already events have been set into motion that tells me that we have to soon, as the Indians would say “ink the Agreement”.

So what exactly is this Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal Motor Vehicle Agreement (BBIN MVA)?

India originally proposed the SAARC Motor Vehicle Agreement during the Kathmandu SAARC Summit in 2014. Opposition by one of the Members - Pakistan, torpedoed the plan. India then pursued its aspirations through the BBIN - a sub regional body called the South Asian Growth Quadrangle (SAGQ) – of which Pakistan is not a member. With the effective exclusion of the “stick-in-the-mud” Pakistan from the grouping, it was possible for India to have the Motor Vehicle Agreement signed by the BBIN member states on 15th June, 2015. Bhutan is a signatory to the Agreement.

However, signing the Agreement is not enough – it has to be ratified by the Parliament.

Bhutan’s on-again, off-again process of ratification began in real earnest – first during the 6th Session of the Second Parliament. Despite the Opposition’s impassioned plea to delay the ratification in order that its implications could be understood properly, the National Assembly ratified the BBIN MVA on 17th November, 2015 based on 22 YES votes, 14 NO votes and 3 ABSTENTIONS.

Three days later, the ratification was unceremoniously REVOKED! – because the Parliament had failed to read the fine print in the Constitution. The Parliament had ratified the BBIN MVA on the strength of the majority votes of the sitting MPs while the Constitution calls for majority vote of the total strength of the MP – 24 votes.

Once again, during its 7th Session of Second Parliament, Bhutan’s National Assembly ratified the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement (BBIN MVA) on 21st June, 2016 with 28 votes in its favor. However, to pass into law, it now requires the Upper House of the Parliament to endorse it.

The Upper House rejected the BBIN MVA. So for now the BBIN MVA hasn't passed into law. But for how long?

Friday, November 11, 2016

US Election Results: Dark Forces Will Be Unleashed

An American friend in USA sent me the following mail this morning:

Hi Yeshey —

My friends and I are absolutely devastated by the US election. It is beyond belief.

I live in a very liberal city. We never considered that the vote could go toward such a malign, psychopathic candidate. The analogy to Hitler is not far-fetched -- dark forces will be unleashed, for sure. The US is ruinously divided at the moment (Hillary Clinton actually won the popular vote), and there are already protests underway. I have never feared for the country and for the planet as much as I do now. You should know that Trump is stridently against one of the issues that you are passionate about: environmental conservation.

We all agree that Donald Trump winning the US elections was something totally unexpected. But by now we know that Americans tend to do the unexpected, once in a while.

According to many, Mr. Trump is supposed to be the vilest of all the evil in the world. I am a little intrigued though. It is simply impossible that millions of supposedly educated people in the world’s most advanced country would elect such a supposedly evil person, to govern and lead them. Something is amiss here. May be the American people know something that we don't.

But one thing is for sure - we should all be concerned - what America does and how it behaves, impacts us all. As the self-elected custodians of world order and morality, the American people should understand that they have a responsibility to the rest of the human race, beyond their borders. Fortunately the American democracy is mature enough and there are checks and balances in place, that would prevent any modern day Hitler a free hand to dismantle all that their past 44 Presidents have built and worked for.

Now that all the election posturing is behind him, may be Mr. Trump will surprise us all by NOT delivering on most of the promises he made during his election campaigns.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Thank God I am in Bhutan

For the past more than one week or so, the residents of Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital city, have been waking up to a spotless, sparkling atmosphere awash with the warmth of the morning sun under a crystal clear blue sky. On the other hand, cities in our neighborhood have been cloaked in stifling smog and pollution, causing poor visibility and risk to health.

Delhi in the morning smog

Beijing shrouded under heavy smog

Thimphu this morning at 7.48 AM - sparkling and crystal clear

Look again at my image of Tashichho Dzong - sparkling in the morning sun - with clear blue skies and pristine atmosphere that surround it. Thereafter, think:

     ~ Is our country worth fighting for?
     ~ Is our environment worth protecting?

If yes, then think before you cause destruction to our natural world.

Stop building roads we do not need.

Stop justifying building of hydro-power plants that are prone to repeated “geological surprises” - one that is causing the country to spiral out of control into an irretrievable debt trap, and environmental devastation that we can ill afford.

Consider deeply and you will discover that we have done poor little to fulfill our Constitutional responsibility towards safeguarding our environment.

Accept that if it hadn’t been for our successive monarchs’ vigilant stewardship of our natural world, combined with the extremely difficult geological make of our landscape, left to the Bhutanese people, we would have long destroyed our environment.

We need to go beyond the talk - and start to translate our talk into action. If we don't, we will lose what we have and get what we deserve - disasters such as Beijing and Delhi.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Rotary Club of Thimphu Recognized in Australia

The Rotary Club of Thimphu has been toasted in Australia for our achievements in a short period since our Charter in 2012. We were informed as follows:


My name is Jamie Clyne. I am the International Service Director for our Rotary Club in Goondiwindi, Australia. Each week we toast another Rotary club from around the world. Last week we toasted Bhutan Thimphu Rotary Club. We were all very impressed with the achievements your club has managed since your charter in 2012. After a recent visit to Nepal with my family I was impressed with the achievements from the Rotary clubs around Nepal. I suggested to our members to have a look online and see what these smaller, newer Rotary Clubs can achieve. A fellow presented to us Thimphu-Bhutan Rotary Club and their good work. You are very worthy of congratulations and our international toast. I traveled to Nepal with some Rotary work and hope to travel to Bhutan one day soon and meet some Rotarians from your country.

Many kind regards

Rtn Jamie Clyne
Goondiwindi, Australia.

The Rotary Club of Thimphu is due for even more recognition. On November 11, 2016 - Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the 4th Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck - the Club is making a donation of 6 Dialysis Machines to the Ministry of Health for the benefit of Bhutanese people with renal insufficiency. The Rotary Club of Thimphu has been working on this multi-million humanitarian service project for the past one year.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Shame on UNICEF & Aamir Khan II

In less than 3 days, my article titled “Shame on UNICEF & Aamir Khan” generated a staggering 30,507 pageviews. The visitors, broken down by countries, were as follows:

Bhutan                          23,229
India                               4,145
United State                   2,747
Australia                        1,696
Thailand                            692
Nepal                                 480
United Arab Emirates        346
Malaysia                            265
France                                179
United Kingdom                158

But what was even more extraordinary was the quality of comments generated by the post. The post generated 68 comments – sadly, most of these comments missed the point I was trying to make.

My post wasn't about what Aamir Khan was wearing – I wouldn't give two hoots what he was wearing - it had to do with when and where he was wearing what.

As members of the civilized human society, we are expected to behave and conduct ourselves within the bounds of civility. Those who choose to live outside the boundaries of social norms, and those who behave with lawlessness and disregard all that keep the human society civilized and orderly, they have no right to claim to belong to a civilized society.

Dresses certainly do not make the man – but knowing how to dress and what to dress, given the occasion, distinguishes him from the uneducated and the depraved.

Underpants is an acceptable clothing under certain circumstances; in some occasions and places, nothing but swimsuits are acceptable – Hawaiian shirts are standard apparel for beach side walks – being suitably clad for the occasion is what sets the humans apart from the animals.

Aamir Khan is nothing more than a flash-in-the-pan and his two days’ visit is inconsequential. He brings no value to Bhutan or the Bhutanese people.

What I am upset about is his insensitivity and his total disregard for the country’s rules. If he didn't know, he should have asked and if he didn't ask, his promoters should have told him.

He and his promoters – the UNICEF – have paid scant regard to the established rules and decency that every Bhutanese, including visiting dignitaries, are required to observe. They have trivialized the institution of the Prime Minister of Bhutan. As a Bhutanese I am not going to remain gawk-eyed about this affront to the highest executive of the country’s government.

They must be reminded of their uncouth behavior so that they know we Bhutanese will not remain muted, if slighted. We will defend our right to be treated with respect, in our own country. In future, UNICEF must learn to elect their Ambassadors who are better schooled in decorum and social grace.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Shame on UNICEF & Aamir Khan

UNICEF has been in Bhutan since 1974 – and yet, after 42 years of being in the country – they remain oblivious to the country’s culture, tradition and etiquette.

Indian actor Amir Khan can be forgiven for his poor sense of dress - after all he is merely an actor not generally known for their sensitivity to cultural etiquette or social grace. But what is UNICEF’s excuse for allowing their Regional Goodwill Ambassador to present himself so inappropriately dressed in the presence of a Prime Minister of a country? UNICEF’s officials in the country should know that such informal dress (jeans) and head gear that resemble those worn by the underworld thugs of Mumbai, is not allowed inside the Gyalyong Tshokhang.

How can UNICEF be proud to present such a shabbily dressed, culturally insensitive person to be a torchbearer of their organization’s cause? They should have had the common sense to inform their Goodwill Ambassador that the organization would be better represented, if he exhibited a level of social etiquette, in particular, when presenting himself to the highest executive in the country.

Shamefully uneducated and insulting!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Et tu, BBIN MVA?

So the wailing has begun!!

Way later than I had expected - but it has begun and it will only get more and more cantankerous, with the passage of time. It had to happen. Because the disaster that was inherent in the road-widening project touches every section of the Bhutanese society - not just the motorists; not just the tourists - not to forget the environment!

According to Kuensel’s 20th October, 2016 news report, 750 of the usual 1,000 tourists could not make it to Bumthang during the Tamzhing Phagla Chothpa, because of road block. That is a whooping cancelation rate of 75%! This is serious bad news. And it will get worse, if we do not see the writing on the wall, and act hastily and decisively.

According to the Kuensel news, the Bumtap hoteliers hope that things will improve - provided the road contractors and the Department of Roads are able to keep the roads open during the Jambay Lhakhang festival due to take place soon - a real crowd puller. That is rather wishful thinking. In nature nothing can be taken for granted and we have messed with nature big time.

What the hoteliers forget is that if incessant rains do not cause roadblocks, sunny conditions will cause dust to rise and cause misery to the tourists. Their troubles are just beginning!

When the government announced the road widening works early last year, I pleaded that we should not do it because we do not have a need for it - not as yet. I had proposed that even if we have to do the work for whatever reason, we should do it in manageable stretches of 20 – 30 KMs at a time, and not dig up the road all the way to Trashigang. I have written close to 20 articles on the subject. Please read my articles under the label “Tourism Industry” listed on the left. In those articles, I have predicted exactly what is now happening.

The government has said that the road widening will be completed in 3 years. I have said that it will take 20 years. Now, one and a half years into the works, I get the feeling that the roads will never be done.

For the past one and a half years since the road widening works started, I have been trying to see a reason, a purpose for such a huge road running from west to center to the east. There are no factories en-route and economic activities in this region is practically zilch! The volume of traffic is more towards the south rather than to the center and the east. Then where is the need for such a gargantuan road that we can ill afford to build or to maintain, thereafter? I was totally nonplussed - until the embarrassing Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement imbroglio during the 6th session of the second Parliament.

Some have said that it was the hand of providence - that caused the drama and theater surrounding the on-again, off-again ratification of the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement during the 6th Session of the second Parliament. I am beginning to believe that there may be hell of a lot of truth in that. Since that peculiar affair, I began to wonder:

Can it be that the road widening works is linked to the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement initiative?

If it is, then we are in serious trouble. I have this sickening feeling that we have yet again been had!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Rotray Club of Thimphu's Project of Compassion & Healing

The Migraine Treatment Clinic of the Rotary Club of Thimphu was successfully concluded at the close of day on 10th October, 2016. It began on the evening of 25th September, 2016. This was a humanitarian service initiative conducted in collaboration with the National Traditional Medicine Hospital (NTMH), Kawajangtsa.

The team that worked on the Clinic - some Members of the Rotary Club of Thimphu with NTMH officials posing with Dr. Yu
Dr. Yu Huang shut down her successful private practice in Boston, USA to heed the call of many Bhutanese suffering the dreaded illness called migraine. Every day, she worked from 7.30AM in the morning till 11PM in the night – almost always missing her dinner. During the two weeks period she administered acupuncture to close to fifteen hundred patients. The NTMH’s resident Dungtso’s (traditional doctors/healers) worked tirelessly to keep up with the marathon consultation and treatment that, at times, seemed near impossible to manage. Rotarian Sonam Wangmo was roped in to act the Sergeant-at-Arms, to bring some semblance of order in the management of the crowd thronging at the doors of the consultation and treatment rooms.

Dr. Yu treating a policeman and a Gomchen - ably assisted by the resident Dungtso Dorji Euden

 The Rotary Club of Thimphu would like to believe that the project was a success; that it has brought relief to many and liberated a few from the pain and the discomfort of suffering the dreadful disease. Even if 10 people are cured of the disease, we are satisfied that ours have been a worthwhile cause.

The Clinic has served the Royalty, the commoners, monks, nuns; a traffic policeman, including his officer. I am proud to have been associated with the project that has, according to daily reports, cured a number of people of migraine, back pain and a host of ailments that the Clinic was never intended to treat.

The acupuncture’s curative powers have now been firmly established in Bhutan. We wait for the day when this form of ancient Chinese treatment is accepted as a mainstream treatment by the Health authorities.

There are many people who suffer illnesses – for reasons that are not of their doing. It is a mystery – why one has the gift of life, and yet has to suffer pain and agony, to live it. But one thing I know: no one suffers because they deserve it.

The Rotary Club of Thimphu would like to be able to conduct a follow-up Clinic next year. Dr. Yu is willing and will try to get some more acupuncturists to join her during her second trip next year. Until then, here is wishing a good and painless life to all those who came to the Clinic with hope and optimism. 

Project completion dinner for Dr. Yu and her husband Sanjun Chen

A grateful patient's touching gesture:
Of the many cases Dr. Yu has treated, one was an 18 years old boy who suffered a chronic case of Cerebral Palsy. For most of his life, the boy was tied in a contorted knot and could not move or sleep properly. Speech was strenuous. Two acupuncture sessions later, the boy loosened up and could flex his fingers and arms. Movement was not easy but he could now move. And he could sleep.

In gratefulness, as physically and verbally constrained as he was, he communicated to his mother that he would be happy if she could invite Dr. Yu to his home for dinner. That was touching - Dr. Yu had her last dinner in Thimphu with the boy at his home - she departs Thimphu today morning. A touching send off from a grateful patient!

The boy got one last session of acupuncture at his home yesterday night - from a visibly moved Dr. Yu.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Rotary Club of Thimphu’s Service Project – Conception to Execution

The Rotary Club of Thimphu is constantly looking out to do meaningful projects to help the Bhutanese people. As small and new as we are, the Rotary Club of Thimphu is among the most active Clubs that is the envy of many older and bigger Clubs around the world. In the last two months we have done 5 projects. Currently one more service project is under way – Treatment of Migraine by Acupuncture - at the Traditional Medicine Hospital, Thimphu. The following is how fast paced our projects are conceived, put together and implemented.

28th October, 2015
My guest Mr. Dilip Raval - a retired Nestle executive from USA and I was talking of this and that at the Hotel Yugarling, Bumthang. The guide walked in to say that she was going to retire since her head was hurting from an attack of migraine. She is among 5-6 people I know who suffer from this excruciatingly painful disease.

I told Mr. Dilip how painful the migraine attack can be and how I have seen people driven to tears from the unbearable pain. He turned around and said;

“I know because I suffered this disease for 40 years."

I was puzzled and asked him; “Now you do not suffer from it?"

“No, I have been fully cured of it for the past 35 years”.

“But I thought migraine was a lifelong and incurable disease?"

“No, it can be cured by acupuncture treatment”.

29th November, 2015
Dear Vijay,

I hope this finds you and Harsha in good health and spirit. Dilip your brother tells me that you know of an acupuncturist who can cure migraine and that you have undergone the treatment yourself. I write to you with the request to put me in touch with the good doctor.

2nd December, 2015

Dear Yeshey:

So nice hearing from you.

The acupuncturist who treated me many years ago is in an ashram - I have lost touch – may be not alive and even if alive may be in his late nineties.

However, Harsha/Harsha’s friend from Taiwan knows a famous acupuncturist who might be interested in exploring your offer.

We will get in touch and let you know shortly.



December 19, 2015

Dear Yeshey:

Our good friends Vijay and Harsha shared your recent emails with them regarding an interest in having an acupuncturist visit Bhutan to treat migraines. They asked us to assist in making the initial inquiries with our acupuncturist (who by the way have treated both of them).  I would appreciate more information regarding your specific needs. Are you asking for a permanent relocation to set up a practice or merely a temporary short time visit?


Daniel Mao

December 22, 2015

Hi Daniel,

Thank you for your mail.

I really do not have an idea of how many persons suffer from migraines …. However I know that there are a large number. I have seen friends and family suffer and the suffering is just too great. I am fortunate not to suffer from this disease but see that the pain is so very excruciating. I have seen people go into isolation in dark rooms and suffer.

I do not know what the treatments are for the disease but when I met Mr. Dilip Raval, Vijay’s elder brother, he told me that he was cured of the disease by acupuncture treatment. I was very encouraged – because I was under the impression that migraines was incurable.

January 11, 2016

Dear Uncle Danny,

My dad says he has been asking doctors here in N.Y. from his association and some are saying they're afraid they won't be good use there because they themselves will suffer from the high altitude migraines or have other reactions.

My dad has decided to talk to his fellow board members at International Acupuncture Associations, appealing to their compassion and also help them to see it as an opportunity to spread Traditional Chinese Medicine to a new audience, sort of a diplomatic component.

January 13, 2016

Hi Claire & Danny,

Thank you for your mails.

First and foremost, let me assure you that Thimphu the capital city of Bhutan is located below 8,000 ft. altitude. It is said that people normally to not suffer from AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) at altitudes up to 8,000 ft. a.s.l. So I think you can dispense with the fear of altitude sickness.

…… If the acupuncturist can cure some of our patients in Bhutan, it certainly will re-enforce the validity of the curative powers of Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM). I certainly have been informed of the potency of acupuncture in treating migraine. Dilip & Vijay Raval swears by it and they are living example of how effective the treatment is.

January 14, 2016

Dear Yeshey,

The friends in China that my father spoke to do not think ….. It will become a whole long bureaucratic process and considering, unfortunately, that Bhutan does not have official diplomatic relations with China, it looks rather difficult.

HOWEVER, as if heaven-sent, we have found the perfect physician for your request. Dr. Huang Yu, cc'd here, is a licensed acupuncturist with her own clinic practicing in Boston. She comes highly recommended by my father, who has taught her in the past. Not only is she a competent acupuncturist, she is also a close family friend, world traveler and a truly generous spirit. She is willing to shut down her clinic and travel to Bhutan for a first time stay of 2-3 weeks to see if she can be of help, she is amenable to future visits as well!

She is willing to operate as a free clinic, not charging her patients, if lodging and airfare could be provided.

Please communicate further details with her.


January 14, 2016

Good morning everyone! Thank you all to make the connection, give me a possibility to serve the people in Bhuton.

Hello Yeshey, looking forward to talk to you, I will be busy in my clinic whole day but will have time at night if I get your email!

Take care!

Huang Yu

February 24, 2016

Dr. Yu Huang created a fund raising website to raise US$ 5,000.00 to make purchases of needles, heater, moxa etc. for her trip to Bhutan and for donation to the Traditional Medicine Hospital. In three days she raised US$ 5,471.00 from 33 generous donors.

May 4, 2016 

Visa clearance obtained for the visit of Dr. Yu

September 25, 2016

Dr. Yu arrives Bhutan and she treats her first migraine patient the same evening.

She will perform acupuncture until October 10, 2016.