Sunday, May 29, 2022
Thursday, May 26, 2022
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Sunday, May 22, 2022
Contrary to many historical accounts that claim that Bhutan began hammering our coins within the country sometime towards the end of 1700, I discover that it is not quite true. What transpires to be true is that Bhutan is among the most rare countries whose coining journey began in a foreign land – in exercise of the powers and authority of overlordship over a fallen victim – in the conquered Kingdom of Koch Bihar.
At the end of hundreds of hours of boring through numerous literatures on the subject – gleaned from accounts authored by writers and historians from US, UK, Belgium, Germany, Nepal, Tibet, India and Bhutan, I narrowed down to two accounts that I find are the most credible – one by the Bhutanese author Dorji Penjore of CBS and another one by a Bengali writer named Nagendra Singh.
These two authors speak of the exact same events that occasioned the start of the journey of Bhutan’s coining in the erstwhile Kingdom of Koch Bihar. Unfortunately while most of the facts tally, these two accounts give the year of coinage that is many decades apart. However, it was not difficult for me to determine which of the two is the more accurate account.
When I examined the two records more closely to determine which of the two accounts is likely to be the more accurate one – I noticed one common factor in the two accounts – the mention of the name - Raikat Darpa Dev. This name appears in both the accounts.
Written historical records I consulted confirm that in 1773, Raikat Darpa Dev was the reigning Raja of the State of Baikunthopur in the present day Jalpaiguri of West Bengal. He is recorded as a staunch ally of Bhutan's Ja Chila (Jagar Poenlop) Punsutama, seated at the capital of the Koch Kingdom at that time.
Now I am clear as to which of the two accounts is the factual one.
Sunday, May 8, 2022
Wednesday, May 4, 2022
2. A dramatic drop in tax collection from the tourism sector.
Please read the following Constitutional provision. Will the government be able to fulfill this Constitutional requirement – under the SDF only regime?
Finance, Trade and Commerce ?
7. A minimum foreign currency reserve that is adequate to meet the cost of not
less than one year’s essential import must be maintained.
The MDPR Dismantling Brigade does not present a true and accurate picture to the government – they are simply enticing the government with the carrot that the government will not lose, in fact they offer to enhance the SDF in the hope that the government will be tempted and take a bite. That is a lousy game to play – unworthy of a true Bhutanese with Bhutanese interest at heart.
Under a SDF only regime, the Tour Operators are open to tax evasion. Because they are required to deposit only the SDF portion of the tour cost, the true size of their business will not be known or recorded. Thus there will be rampant under-declaration of turnover. This means there will be huge drop in tax collection by the government.
Under the current MDPR regime – tax evasion is impossible – every turnover of the tour operator is recorded with the TCB thus, under-declaration is not possible.
In my view, no single person or institution or government can dare touch the MDPR in its present form – because if they do, what will follow will be devastating and irretrievable.
The DNT government has been in an unfortunate position to be caught in the middle of the pandemic and they did not really have the opportunity to demonstrate their acumen. I feel sorry for them and hope that they get a second chance to prove themselves. But I urge them to leave alone a matter that successive governments for the past forty-five years that have preceded them, have seen wisdom in leaving it well alone - and untouched.
I accept that change has to come – but change must come at the right time. And the Bhutanese people – not the carpetbaggers from outside who are starting to muddy the pool in the country - must direct that change.
Tuesday, May 3, 2022
Sunday, May 1, 2022
Nice to hear back from you. Good to know that you are all well and safe.
Yes indeed the mad man Putin has lost his marbles and is causing misery to millions across the glob. Obviously, as a member of the inter-connected global community, we in Bhutan too are impacted due to rising costs and shortage of supplies – in addition to the difficulties caused by the pandemic. But we are surviving.
You are right – tourism is our most vital industry and it is at a standstill – we are pushing hard for the reopening of the tourism – but there is this five days quarantine requirement for international travelers that is a huge deterrent. It is our hope that the government would lift that soon. Actually it is not that there is a ban on tourists entering Bhutan – there never was one - tourists were always welcome to come any time but the requirements for their eligibility to enter Bhutan during the pandemic were extremely discouraging - not suited to the majority of our class of visitors.
The Tourism Council of Bhutan’s "BHUTAN TOURISM MONITOR 2020" records that the average length of stay by tourists in Bhutan is six nights. This clearly means that our tourists will not want to languish in a quarantine facility - five nights of the six nights they want to spend here.
I get the sense that as long as we are fully vaccinated, the present Omicron variant of COVID-19 should not be any cause for serious worry – unless a more lethal variant emerges. So I do not believe that the cause for our government’s dithering is the fear of the virus. Bhutan is said to have achieved “herd immunity”.
So, if you are planning to come to Bhutan – now is the time to start planning your travel itinerary.
Wolfgang wrote back too – saying that he is fine and safe. By the way could you please send me a digital copy of my article in the Festschrift publication? Thanks.
Bye and take care …. and please keep safe.