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.