Kuensel Feed

Subscribe to Kuensel Feed feed
Bhutan's Daily Newspaper
Updated: 10 min 47 sec ago

ཁྲིམས་མཐུན་གྱི་སྒྲིག་གཞི་ལུ་ གཙོ་རིམ་བཟུང་དགོཔ།

Mon, 05/06/2024 - 14:49

༉ འབྲུག་གི་ཆུམ་ ནང་འདྲེན་འབད་མི་ཚུ་ལུ་ དབང་འཛིན་གྱིས་ མགུ་འབྱིད་རྐྱབ་ཡོད་པའི་སྐོར་ལས་ ཉེས་ཆད་ བཀལ་ཡོདཔ་ད་ ནང་འདྲེན་པ་ཚུ་གིས་ ཆུམ་གྱི་རིགས་མ་འདྲཝ་ཡོད་མི་ཚུ་ ཁེ་སང་བཟོ་དོན་ལུ་ གཅིག་བསྡུར་ཐོག་ སྒམ་རྐྱབ་ཡོདཔ་ད་ ཉོ་སྤྱོདཔ་ཅིག་གིས་ འདི་བཟུམ་གྱི་ བྱ་ལས་ངན་པ་འཐབ་ཡོད་པའི་སྐོར་ལས་ སྙན་ཞུ་འབད་ནུག།

དབང་འཛིན་གྱིས་ ངོས་ལེན་འབད་མི་དེ་ཡང་ གཙོ་བོ་ར་ འདི་བཟུམ་གྱི་ བྱ་ལས་སྒྲིག་མི་ཚུ་ དྲནམ་བཏགས་བཅུག་ཐབས་ལུ་ཨིནམ་ད་ ཁེ་སང་སྦོམ་བཟོ་དོན་ལུ་ མགུ་འབྱིད་ཀྱི་ལཱ་འབད་མི་ཚུ་ ཧེ་མ་ལས་ཡོད་པའི་ ཚོང་སྒྱུར་རྙིངམ་ཅིག་ཨིནམ་ལས་ དེ་སྦེ་འབདཝ་ད་ ལ་ལོ་ཅིག་ལུ་ཁེ་སང་དང་ ལ་ལོ་ཅིག་ལུ་ རྒུད་ཕོག་མི་དེ་ རང་བཞིན་བཟུམ་ཅིག་ཨིན་མི་ཚུ་ ཁ་སྒྱུར་འབད་དགོ་པའི་ གནད་དོན་ཅིག་ཨིན་མས།

ཉོ་སྤྱོདཔ་ཚུ་གི་དོན་ལུ་ ཉེན་སྲུང་འབད་དགོཔ་གལ་ཆེཝ་སྦེ་ ཡོད་མི་དེ་ཡང་ དམིགས་བསལ་ཅན་གྱི་ ང་བཅས་ཉོ་སྤྱོདཔ་ཚུ་ ནང་འདྲེན་ལུ་ བརྟེན་སྡོད་མི་ ཉིན་བསྟར་བཞིན་དུ་ ཡར་སེང་འགྱོ་དོ་ཡོདཔ་ལས་ ང་བཅས་ཀྱི་ བཞེས་སྒོའི་རིགས་ ག་ཅི་ར་འབད་རུང་ ནང་འདྲེན་ལུ་མ་བརྟེན་མི་ ཅིག་ཡང་མེདཔ་ལས་ སྒམ་རྐྱབ་མིའི་ཧོད་ནང་ ག་ཅི་ཡོདཔ་བལྟ་ནི་མེད་པར་ གོང་ཚད་དང་ སྤུས་ཚད་ལུ་ དྲིས་བཀོད་ཟེརཝ་ རྩ་ལས་འབད་ནི་མེད་པར་ ག་ཡོད་མི་དེ་ར་ ཉོ་སྟེ་ལག་ལེན་འཐབ་སྡོད་ནི་ལུ་ ན་འཐན་ར་ ཤུམ་ཚུད་ཡོདཔ་ཨིནམ་ བྱ་ངན་སྒྲིག་མི་ཚུ་གིས་ ཧ་གོ་ནུག།

མ་གཞི་ གནད་དོན་མང་ཤོས་ཅིག་ར་ ཧ་ལམ་ཅིག་སྦེ་ བཞག་དོ་ཡོད་མི་ཚུ་ཡང་ ཉོ་སྤྱོདཔ་ཚུ་གིས་ ཧེ་མ་ཚར་ཅིག་ ཨོམ་ལྷ་སི་སི་སྦེ་ ཡོད་པའི་སྐོར་ལས་ ཉོགས་བཤད་བཀོད་མི་དེ་ བདེན་ཁུངས་ལུ་གྱུར་ཡོདཔ་ད་ དེ་བསྒང་ མི་ལ་ལོ་ཅིག་གིས་ བགོད་བྲའི་ཐོག་ལུ་སྦེ་ ཨོམ་བཞོ་ནི་ཡོད་པའི་བ་དེ་གིས་ ཆུ་མང་སུ་འཐུང་མི་ལུ་བརྟེན་ ཨོམ་ལྷ་སི་སི་ཐོན་ནུག་ཟེར་བའི་ སྐོར་གཏམ་ཡང་ འཆལ་གཏམ་ཚུ་ ཁྱབ་ཆེར་སོང་ཡི།

གོ་བ་བརྡ་སྤྲོད་དང་ ཤེས་ཡོན་སྤེལ་མི་ལུ་བརྟེན་ ཉོ་སྤྱོདཔ་ཚུ་གིས་ ཁོང་རའི་ཟ་ཆས་ཉོ་བའི་སྐབས་སུ་ དྲིས་བཀོད་འབད་མི་དེ་ ལེགས་ཤོམ་ཨིནམ་ད་ ཤེས་ཡོན་ཅན་རེ་གཉིས་ཀྱིས་ འདི་བཟུམ་གྱི་ དྲན་སྟོན་གྱི་ལོ་རྒྱུས་དང་ སྙན་ཞུ་འབད་མི་གིས་ ཤེས་ཡོན་མེད་མི་དང་ ཤེས་རྟོགས་མེད་མི་ཉོ་སྤྱོདཔ་ཚུ་ལུ་ ཕན་སྦོམ་སྦེ་ར་ཐོགས་ཏེ་འདུག།

ཉོ་སྤྱོདཔ་ཚུ་གི་དོན་ལུ་ ང་བཅས་ལུ་ ཉེན་སྲུང་འབད་ནིའི་ དབང་ཚད་ཡོདཔ་ད་ དྲན་སྟོན་འབད་མི་གིས་ གོང་ཚད་ ཚོད་སྙོམ་བཟོ་ནི་དང་ སྤུས་ཚད་ དེ་ལས་ ཉེན་སྐྱོབ་ལ་སོགས་པ་ཚུ་ ཕན་ནུས་ཅན་ཡོདཔ་བཞིན་དུ་ འདི་བཟུམ་གྱི་ བྱ་རིམ་ནང་ ང་བཅས་ཀྱིས་ འགན་ཁུར་འབག་དགོཔ་ ལེ་ཤ་ར་འདུག།

དབང་འཛིན་ཚུ་ལུ་འབད་རུང་ མི་སྟོབས་དང་ འཆར་དངུལ་ལངམ་སྦེ་ མེད་པའི་དཀའ་ངལ་ལུ་བརྟེན་ ས་གནས་ཐདམ་ཐད་ཁ་ལས་ཕར་ ལྟ་རྟོག་འབད་ནི་དེ་ཡང་ གདོང་ལེན་ཅན་ཅིག་ཨིན་མས།

ཁོང་གིས་ ད་ལྟོའི་གནས་སྟངས་ནང་བཟུམ་ཅིག་ འབད་བ་ཅིན་ སྙན་ཞུ་ལྷོད་མི་དང་ བདེན་ཁུངས་ཅན་ཚུ་ལུ་ གཞི་བཟུང་འབད་དེ་ སྡོད་དོ་ཡོདཔ་ད་ ང་བཅས་ ཉོ་སྤྱོདཔ་ཚུ་གིས་ བྱ་ངན་འབད་དེ་ མགུ་འབྱིད་རྐྱབ་མི་ཚུ་ སྙན་ཞུ་འབད་ནི་དེ་ སེམས་ལས་བརྗེད་ནི་མི་འོང་།

འདི་བཟུམ་གྱི་ ཉིན་བསྟར་བཞིན་དུ་ ལག་ལེན་འཐབ་ནི་དེ་ འོས་འབབ་དང་མི་ལྡནམ་ལས་ གལ་སྲིད་ ཆུམ་གོང་ཚད་ཉུང་ཤོས་འབད་མི་ཚུ་ སྒམ་ལོག་རྐྱབ་སྟེ་ ཚོང་འབྲེལ་འཐབ་འདྲཝ་འབད་བ་ཅིན་ དེ་གིས་ ཚེ་སྲོག་དང་འབྲེལ་བའི་ ཉེན་ཁ་ཡང་འབྱུང་སྲིད་ནི་དང་ འབྲུག་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་ནང་ ཐོན་སྐྱེད་མ་འདྲཝ་ཚུ་ བཀྲམ་སྤེལ་འབད་བཞིན་དུ་ཡོདཔ་ད་ གློག་ཐག་བཟུམ་ཅིག་འབད་བ་ཅིན་ བཟོ་སྐྲུན་འབད་ས་དེ་ རྒྱ་གར་གྱི་ས་གནས་ཚུ་གི་མིང་ཡོད་རུང་ ནང་འདྲེན་ནང་འབད་བའི་བསྒང་ལས་ འདི་བཟུམ་གྱི་ བཟོ་གྲྭའི་མིང་ཚུ་ མི་འོང་མས་ཟེར་ཨིན་མས།

ད་རེས་ འཕྲལ་ཁམས་ཅིག་ཁར་ ཆུམ་ནང་འདྲེན་འབད་མི་ཚུ་ལུ་ ཉེས་ཆད་བཀལ་ཡོདཔ་ད་ ད་ལས་ཕར་འབད་རུང་ འདི་བཟུམ་གྱི་ བྱ་རིམ་སྒྲིག་མི་ཚུ་ དབང་འཛིན་གྱིས་ ངོས་ལེན་འབད་ནི་ལུ་ གྲ་སྒྲིག་ཡོད་མི་དང་བསྟུན་ སྙན་ཞུ་འབད་མི་ཚུ་གིས་འབད་རུང་ བདེན་དཔྱད་ཚུ་ ཚུལ་དང་མཐུནམ་སྦེ་ འབད་དགོཔ་འདུག།

ཨིན་རུང་ དབང་འཛིན་ཚུ་གིས་ ཉོགས་བཤད་ཀྱི་ སྙན་ཞུ་མ་ལྷོད་ཚུན་ བསྒུགས་སྡོད་ནི་མེན་པར་ མདུན་བསྐྱོད་འབད་དགོཔ་ཡོད་མི་དེ་ཡང་ ཉོ་སྤྱོདཔ་མང་ཤོས་ཅིག་གིས་ ཉོགས་བཤད་བཀོད་ནིའི་ རེ་བ་ཡོད་རུང་ ས་ཁོངས་དང་ ས་གནས་ ཡིག་ཚང་གི་ ཤེས་རྟོགས་མེད་མི་ལུ་བརྟེན་ ཐབས་ཆགས་ཏེ་འདུག།

དེ་འབདཝ་ལས་ ཁྲིམས་མཐུན་གྱི་ སྒྲིག་གཞི་ལས་བརྒལ་མི་ཚུ་ ངོས་ལེན་དམ་སྒྲིང་འབད་བ་ཅིན་ མ་འོངས་ཡིན་རིང་གི་ གནས་སྟངས་ལུ་ ཕན་པ་ལས་བརྒལ་བའི་ གནོད་པ་རྩ་ལས་ར་མི་བྱུང་།

ཁ་རུང་ལ་ས་ཁོངས་ སྐྱེ་ལྡན་ལྟ་བཤལ་གྱི་ འོས་འབབ་སྦོམ་ཡོདཔ།

Mon, 05/06/2024 - 14:49

༉ བཀྲིས་སྒང་རྫོང་ཁག་ མཁའ་གླིང་-ཁ་རུང་ལ་ས་ཁོངས་དེ་ སྐྱེ་ལྡན་སྣ་ཚོགས་ཀྱིས་ ཕྱུག་པའི་ས་ཁོངས་ཅིག་ཨིནམ་ལས་ སྐྱེ་ལྡན་དང་འབྲེལ་བའི་ ལྟ་བཤལ་གྱི་འོས་འབབ་སྦོམ་ཡོད་པའི་ ས་ཁོངས་ཅིག་ཨིན་པས།

ཨིན་རུང་ གཞི་རྟེན་མཐུན་རྐྱེན་མེད་པའི་ དཀའ་ངལ་ལུ་བརྟེན་ ལྟ་བཤལ་པ་དེ་ཅིག་ར་ འོང་མ་ཚུགསཔ་ལས་ ལྟ་བཤལཔ་འོང་བཅུག་ཐབས་ལུ་ ཝམ་རོང་དྲུང་ཁག་དང་ བཀྲིས་སྒང་ནགས་ཚལ་སྡེ་ཕྲན་གྱིས་ གཞི་རྟེན་མཐུན་རྐྱེན་བཟོ་སྐྲུན་དང་ ནང་སྡོད་ཚུ་ ངོས་འཛིན་འབད་དེ་ཡོདཔ་ཨིན་པས།

ནགས་ཚལ་གཙོ་འཛིན་འགོ་དཔོན་ ཀརྨ་ལས་སྐྱིད་ཀྱིས་འབད་བ་ཅིན་ ཁ་རུང་ལ་ས་ཁོངས་ལུ་བརྟེན་ ཤར་ཕྱོགས་རྫོང་ཁག་ནང་ ལྟ་བཤལཔ་ཡར་དྲག་གཏང་ཐབས་ལུ་ ཁེ་ཕན་འབྱུང་ཚུགས་ཟེར་ཨིནམ་ད་ གཞི་རྟེན་མཐུན་རྐྱེན་བཟོ་སྐྲུན་གྱི་དོན་ལས་ མ་དངུལ་དངུལ་ཀྲམ་ས་ཡ་༥.༧༦ དེ་ཅིག་ ཐོབ་སྟེ་ཡོད་ཟེར་ཨིན་པས།

ཁོ་གིས་ སླབ་མིའི་ནང་ མཁའ་གླིང་རྒེད་འོག་ནང་ ནང་སྡོད་བཟོ་ནིའི་དོན་ལུ་ སྡོད་ཁྱིམ་༢ ངོས་འཛིན་འབད་དེ་ཡོད་ཟེར་ཨིནམ་ད་ དེ་གིས་ ཕྱིའི་ལྟ་བཤལཔ་དང་ ནང་འཁོད་ལྟ་བཤལཔ་ཚུ་ འོང་བཅུག་ནིའི་དོན་ལུ་ ཁེ་ཕན་འབྱུང་ཚུགས་ཟེར་ཨིན་པས།

མཁའ་གླིང་དང་ ཀླུ་མང་རྒེད་འོག་གི་ས་ཁོངས་ནང་ སེམས་ཅན་གཅན་གཟན་་རིགས་མ་འདྲཝ་༧ དེ་ཅིག་ འཁྱམས་ས་ཨིན་པའི་ཁར་ གཅན་གཟན་སྟག་དང་ གཞན་མི་སེམས་ཅན་མ་འདྲཝ་ཚུ་ མཐོང་ཚུགས་དོ་ཡོདཔ་ད་ བྱ་རིགས་མ་འདྲཝ་༢༥༠ དེ་ཅིག་ཡང་ མཐོང་ཚུགས་དོ་ཡོདཔ་ཨིན་པས།

ས་གནས་དེ་ རྒྱལ་ཡོངས་ཀྱི་ཕྱེམ་ལ་དང་ བྱ་བབ་མ་འདྲཝ་༣ དེ་ཅིག་ མཐོང་ཚུགས་དོ་ཡོདཔ་ལས་ ལྟ་བཤལཔ་འོང་ས་ བཟོ་ནིའི་འོས་འབབ་སྦོམ་ཡོདཔ་ཨིན་པས།
ག་དེམ་ཅིག་སྦེ་ ལྟ་བཤལཔ་ཚུ་འོང་པ་ཅིན་ ས་གནས་ཀྱི་མི་ཚུ་ལུ་ ཁེ་ཕན་སྦོམ་ཡོད་མི་དེ་ཡང་ ས་གནས་ཀྱི་མི་ཚུ་གིས་ ལྟ་བཤལ་དང་འབྲེལ་བའི་ཞབས་ཏོག་ དཔེ་བ་ཅིན་ ནང་སྡོད་ཀྱི་ཞབས་ཏོག་ ས་གནས་ཀྱི་ཐོན་སྐྱེད་ ལྟ་བཤལ་ལམ་སྟོན་པའི་ ཞབས་ཏོག་ལ་སོགས་པ་ཚུ་སྤྲོད་ཐོག་ལས་ འོང་འབབ་བཟོ་ནིའི་ འོས་འབབ་ཡོདཔ་ཨིན་པས།

ཀརྨ་ལས་སྐྱིད་ཀྱིས་འབད་བ་ཅིན་ མཁའ་གླིང་གི་སོ་ནམ་པ་ཚུ་གིས་ སོ་ནམ་གྱི་ཐོན་སྐྱེད་དང་ སྒོ་ནོར་ཐོན་སྐྱེད་ཚུ་ བཙོང་ཐོག་ལས་ འོང་འབབ་བཟོ་ཚུགས་ཟེར་ཨིན་པས།

རང་བཞིན་གནས་སྟངས་ལུ་ སྤྲོ་བ་དང་ གློག་ཐུང་བཟོ་མི་ བསོད་ནམས་རྡོ་རྗེ་གིས་འབད་བ་ཅིན་ ས་གནས་དེ་ བྱ་བལྟ་མི་ ལྟ་བཤལཔ་ཚུ་འོང་ནིའི་དོན་ལུ་ འོས་འབབ་སྦོམ་འདུག་ཟེར་ཨིནམ་ད་ དེ་གིས་ ས་གནས་ཀྱི་མི་ཚུ་ལུ་ ཐད་ཀར་དང་ ཐད་ཀར་མིན་པའི་ ཁེ་ཕན་སྦོམ་ཡོད་ཟེར་ཨིན་པས།

ཁོ་གིས་ སླབ་མའིའི་ནང་ ས་གནས་ཀྱི་མི་ཚུ་ལུ་ ནང་སྡོད་མཐུན་རྐྱེན་སྤྲོད་ནིའི་སྦྱོང་བརྡར་དང་ ལྟ་བཤལ་པའི་ བཟའ་འཐུང་བཟོ་ནིའི་སྦྱོང་བརྡར་ དེ་ལས་ རང་བཞིན་ཉམས་སྲུང་འབད་མི་དང་བསྟུན་ ལྟ་བཤལ་པ་ཡར་དྲག་གཏང་དགོཔ་འདུག་ཟེར་ཨིན་པས།

མཁའ་གླིང་གི་ས་ཁོངས་དེ་ རབ་ཆད་ཉེན་ཡོད་པའི་ བྱ་བབ་མ་འདྲཝ་༣ མཐོང་ནི་ཡོད་པའི་ཁར་ ས་གནས་དེ་ སྐྱེ་ལྡན་རིགས་སྣ་གིས་ ཕྱུག་པའི་ས་ཁོངས་ཅིག་ཨིན་པས།

བྱ་བབ་སྔོ་ནག་དེ་ ས་གནས་ག་ཏེ་ཡང་མཐོང་དོ་ཡོད་རུང་ བྱ་བབ་དམར་སེར་དང་ སྔོ་དཀར་དེ་ ས་གནས་ནང་མ་གཏོགས་ མཐོང་མི་ཚུགས་ཟེར་ བསོད་ནམས་རྡོ་རྗེ་གིས་ བཤད་པའི་ཁར་ ས་གནས་དེ་ ནང་འཁོད་གནམ་ཐང་གི་ སྦོ་ལོགས་ཁར་འབདཝ་ལས་ ལྟ་བཤལ་པའི་འོས་འབབ་སྦོམ་འདུག་ཟེར་ཨིནམ་ད་ ས་གནས་ནང་ ཕྱེམ་ལ་མ་འདྲཝ་ཚུ་ཡང་ མཐོང་ཚུགས་ཟེར་ཨིན་པས།

ཁོ་གིས་འབད་བ་ཅིན་ ལྟ་བཤལཔ་ཚུ་ ལཱ་ཁག་སྦེ་ རྒྱལ་ཡོངས་ཕྱེམ་ལ་བལྟ་བར་ བཀྲིས་གཡང་རྩེ་ལུ་ འགྱོ་དགོཔ་མིན་འདུག་ཟེར་ཨིནམ་ད་ བྱ་བལྟ་བའི་ཞོར་ཁར་ ལ་མཐོ་སར་སྡོད་མི་དང་ མཁའ་གླིང་གི་ལམ་སྲོལ་ཚུ་ བལྟ་ཚུགས་ཟེར་ཨིན་པས།

བྱ་བབ་ཚུ་ཡང་ སྤྱི་ཟླ་༣ པ་ལས་༥ ཚུན་དང་ སྤྱི་ཟླ་༩ དང་༡༡ པ་ཚུན་གི་བར་ན་ མཐོང་ཚུགས་དོ་ཡོདཔ་ད་ མཁའ་གླིང་དེ་ ཐགས་རིགས་ཡོངས་གྲགས་ཡོད་པའི་ ས་གནས་ངོ་མ་ཅིག་ཨིན་པས།

ས་གནས་ཀྱི་མི་ ཀུན་བཟང་ཆོས་སྒྲོན་གྱིས་ བྱ་རིགས་མ་འདྲཝ་ཚུ་དང་ ཕྱེམ་ལ་མ་འདྲཝ་ཚུ་ གོ་ལ་གུ་ འཐག་ཞིནམ་ལས་ འོང་འབབ་བཟོ་དོ་ཡོདཔ་ད་ མོ་གིས་སླབ་མིའི་ནང་ ད་ལྟོ་ཚུན་ཚོད་ ལྟ་བཤལཔ་༡༠ འོང་མི་ལས་ འོང་འབབ་དངུལ་ཀྲམ་༡༠,༠༠༠ བཟོ་ཚུགས་ཅི་ཟེར་ཨིན་པས།

མོ་གིས་ སླབ་མིའི་ནང་ ལྟ་བཤལཔ་འོང་པ་ཅིན་ ས་གནས་ཀྱི་མི་ཚུ་ལུ་ ཁེ་ཕན་སྦོམ་འབྱུང་ནི་མས་ཟེར་ཨིནམ་ད་ ནང་སྡོད་ཀྱི་ཞབས་ཏོག་སྤྲོད་ཐོག་ལས་ འོང་འབབ་བཟོ་ནིའི་ སྤྲོ་བ་ཡོད་ཟེར་ཨིན་པས།

མཁའ་གླིང་རྒཔོ་ བསོད་ནམས་རྡོ་རྗེ་གིས་འབད་རུང་ ལྟ་བཤལ་གྱི་འོས་འབབ་སྦོམ་ཡོད་ཟེར་ཨིནམ་ད་ དེ་ཡང་ ནང་འཁོད་གནམ་ཐང་གི་ སྦོ་ལོགས་ཁར་འབདཝ་ལས་ ལྟ་བཤལཔ་ཚུ་ འཇམ་ཏོང་ཏོ་སྦེ་ འོང་ཚུགས་ཟེར་ཨིན་པས།

ཁོ་གིས་ སླབ་མིའི་ནང་ གཙོ་བོ་ར་ ལྟ་བཤལཔ་ཚུ་ ཡུན་རིང་སྦེ་སྡོད་ནིའི་ རེའུ་མིག་བཟོ་ནི་དེ་ ཁག་ཆེ་བས་ཟེར་ཨིནམ་ད་ ས་གནས་དེ་ སྐྱེ་ལྡན་ལེ་ཤ་ཡོད་པའི་ ས་ཁོངས་ཅིག་ཨིན་ཟེར་ཨིན་པས།

མཁའ་གླིང་–ཁ་རུང་ལ་ས་ཁོངས་དེ་ སྐྱེ་ལྡན་རིགས་སྣ་ཡོད་པའི་ས་ཁོངས་ཅིག་སྦེ་ ངོས་འཛིན་འབད་ཡོདཔ་ད་ ལྟ་བཤལ་དང་འབྲེལ་བའི་མཐུན་རྐྱེན་བཟོ་ནིའི་དོན་ལུ་ གདོང་ལེན་ལེ་ཤ་ཡོདཔ་ལས་ མ་དངུལ་མངམ་དགོ་ནི་ཨིན་པའི་གནས་ཚུལ།

གནས་བརྟན་རྡོ་རྗེ། མཁའ་གླིང་།

Bhutan invests USD 539 million on cryptocurrency

Mon, 05/06/2024 - 10:27

Thukten Zangpo  

Bhutan has invested USD 539 million in cryptocurrency mining operations over the last two fiscal years between July 2021 and June 2023, resulting in a sharp decline in the country’s reserves.  

This was equivalent to Nu 31.51 billion or 21 percent of the fiscal year 2021-22’s gross domestic product. 

The majority of cryptocurrency Bhutan mines are Bitcoin (BTC), followed by small allocations for mining Ethereum.

Bhutan’s investment is at the advantage side as the Druk Holding and Investments (DHI) announced that it began cryptocurrency operations between 2019 and 2020, when the price of Bitcoin was about USD 5,000 to USD 8,000. As of yesterday, one Bitcoin was priced at USD 64, 042.

According to the World Bank’s latest report, “Bhutan Development Update”, the DHI financed this investment through loans from the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA) to accelerate the country’s digital transformation and diversify the economy.

“The bond proceeds were used to import IT equipment for cryptocurrency mining operations and related goods,” the Bank said.

DHI also imported related goods to expand the electricity network. 

The RMA and the finance ministry have announced eleven issuances of bonds till date. As of December 2023, the government’s domestic debt from bond issuance was reported at Nu 28.1 billion.

DHI is required to repay USD 224 million in fiscal year 2023-24 and USD 315 million in fiscal year 2024-25 to the RMA, according to the loan repayment schedule, the Bank said. 

The Bank also said that the recent increase in cryptocurrency values has helped the DHI to facilitate timely repayments. 

It added that the import of IT equipment and related goods for crypto mining resulted in decline in international reserves in fiscal year 2021-22 and widened the current account deficit (CAD).

Between July 2021 and June 2022, reserves sharply declined by 34.7 percent, from USD 1.27 billion to USD 832.9 million. 

The reserves further declined to USD 573 million as of June 2023, less than half of reserves in June 2021. As of November, last year, the reserves stood at USD 533.29 million.  

Going through the trade figures, Bhutan imported Nu 4 billion and Nu 11.91 billion worth of IT equipment in 2023 and 2022, respectively. In 2021, Bhutan imported Nu 4.33 billion worth of IT equipment. 

The Bank said that although exports were supported by higher tourism receipts, hydropower exports declined due to increased domestic consumption, reflecting the higher electricity needs for energy-intensive crypto mining operations. 

The Bank added that crypto mining-related IT equipment imports widened the CAD to 34.3 percent of GDP in FY22-23.

DHI, according to the government, has used all the RMA loan proceeds and there will be no further imports of IT equipment in fiscal year 2023-24, the Bank said. 

The CAD is expected to sharply decline as IT equipment imports fall, and is expected to moderate further in the medium term, supported by an increase in tourism from fiscal year 2024-25 and electricity exports with completion of Puna-II in fiscal year 2025-26. 

The Bank projected the country’s CAD to improve to 15.7 percent of GDP in this fiscal year 2023-24 with lower trade deficit and reduction in imports. The projection was also because of decline in crypto IT equipment, accounting for 6 percent of 2022’s GDP. 

At the same time, international reserves are also expected to remain at USD 516 million in fiscal year 2023-24, equivalent to 3.3 months of import coverage.

Asia’s rising temperature threatens Bhutan’s glaciers

Mon, 05/06/2024 - 10:26

YK Poudel

In the face of changing climate and weather patterns, lack of disaster risk knowledge, observations and forecasting, dissemination and communication, and preparedness to respond are the major challenges facing Bhutan and the world.

This is according to the State of Climate in Asia report 2023 which lists Bhutan’s vulnerability, ranking it 38th most vulnerable to climate change threats, lagging at 62nd in preparedness.

Bhutan achieved better score in observation and forecasting. However, the score is low on warning, dissemination of information and preparedness to disasters.

The National Center for Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM) in Bhutan operates 234 stations and provides critical weather forecasts and advisories.

Principal Hydrology and Meteorology Officer at NCHM, Sonam Lhamo, during the recent ‘Hydro-met science workshop for media’ presented that three benchmark glaciers, Gangjula, Thana, and Shodug, are witnessing glacial water loss in billions annually.

The Gangjula glacier which is the headwater of Phochhu and Punatsangchhu recorded a thickness of 96.4 metres in 2019. In between 2004 and 2020, the glacier lost 30 percent of its ice—which is 6.3 billion water loss in 16 years. 

This has caused annual water loss of 369 million litres. The glacier is expected to be lost within this century.

Thana Glacier, the headwater of Chamkharchhu and Manas basin with a thickness of 210 metres is losing 6 billion litres of water annually, which is 7 percent of the glacial ice. 

The data with NCHM shows that in between 2016 and 2020, approximately 17 Gigatons of glacial ice is lost.

Shodug glacier, the head water of Thimchhu with thickness of 126.6 metres (2021). The glacier mass balance in between 2021 and 2022 was minus 1,762.29 millimetres water per annum.

According to Bhutan Glacial Lake Inventory 2021, Bhutan records 567 glaciers covering 55.04Km square—Phochhu has the maximum.

Regionally, Asia experienced its second-highest mean temperature on record, soaring 0.91°C above the 1991–2020 reference period in 2023. 

To make the matter worse, only 21 countries—which is 60 percent, reported the status of their early warning system on the Sendai Framework Monitoring.

The nine years between 2015 and 2023 were the nine warmest years on record in all datasets.

Based on recorded data, over 80 percent of reported incidents in 2023 were flood and storm events, leading to over 2,000 fatalities and impacting more than 9 million people.

Last year, the mean temperature over Asia was 0.91 °C above the 1991–2020 reference period, the second highest on record.

As per the Global Status of Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems 2023, only half of the world’s countries are covered by an early warning system.

In the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) has witnessed glaciers in the Eastern Himalayas range rapidly disappearing, losing mass at an accelerating rate. 

“Record-breaking temperatures and drier conditions last year exacerbated this loss, with huge implications for sea levels, water cycles, and local hazards such as glacier lake outburst floods (GLOF),” according to the report.

Bhutan at crossroads?

Mon, 05/06/2024 - 10:25

An interview with Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche

Many Bhutanese are leaving Bhutan because of economic reasons. How can a small country like Bhutan with its traditional culture and values manage in this fast-paced modern world? And what impact will this migration have on Bhutanese values, traditions, and the Buddhadharma?

I think that what we’re seeing is inevitable. If people from much larger and more powerful countries like India and the Philippines are migrating in search of jobs, how can people from a small country like Bhutan resist that trend?

In this past century, so much emphasis was put on the economy. To some extent that’s understandable, as people want to live comfortably if not extravagantly. But that material focus has created our present society, where everything from education to values to government planning is geared towards the economy – to what we have, rather than who we are.

That’s how whole countries are judged. For instance, these days we read how bad the German economy is, which somehow means that everything about Germany is bad. That’s really unfortunate because the economy may play a big role in how a country is doing, but it’s certainly not the only important part. No one seems to be noticing the really good things happening in German society.

Given this global materialist trend and thinking, I totally understand why so many Bhutanese are emigrating. They too are swept up by the universal focus on economic gain above all else.

Hopefully, some of these emigrants will return home, but many may not. While they are away, I am sure they will try their best to uphold their Bhutanese identity and culture. But how much can they really do beyond celebrating National Day once a year and perhaps some other traditional day that we celebrated back home. I think that as they discover that the lure of economic gain does not always bring glory and greatness, many Bhutanese emigrants will really go through a major identity crisis.

And, due to past history, many countries like Australia and those in Europe have had the upper hand. But these western countries are now declining and their economies will suffer. And when that happens, immigrants to those countries will experience great challenges, from racial resentment, a resurgence of nationalist fundamentalism, and ethnic hatred to inferiority and superiority complexes. In short, the world is in a mess and Bhutanese are not exempt from the fallout that this will bring.

In terms of the impact of migration on Bhutanese traditions and values, there will obviously be changes. But the changes are already happening even at home, regardless of migration. If we believe that we can uphold our Bhutanese values and traditions forever, we are fooling ourselves. In my own life as a Bhutanese over more than half a century, I have seen so many deep changes.

That’s partly because Bhutan, like many other Asian countries, thinks that modernisation and westernisation are one and the same. Japan boasts even at the official level of having its own special customs and traditions, but the country practically, metaphorically, and literally subscribes in every way to western and, especially, American values. In that regard, at least for the time being, Bhutan is still better than Japan.

For instance, my parents used to call me “lepo”, which literally means “idiot.” But the thought of suing my parents for emotional damage has never occurred to me, not even in my dreams. Still, I don’t know what will happen when a version of wokeism or the coddling American mind or megalomaniac individualism arrives in Bhutan. Will we become like the Americans, where people seem to be suing each other for ridiculous reasons?

As for the impact on the Buddhadharma, I don’t think Bhutanese migration to different places will make much difference. Some might like to think of Bhutan as the custodian of Buddhism, but that is simply not true. While Buddhism is the dominant “religion” in Bhutan and one could say that most Bhutanese are Buddhists, many of them may just be culturally Buddhist. As the entire population of Bhutan is no more than that of a small town in India, our influence on the Buddhadharma worldwide is negligible.

What do you think of the Gelephu Mindfulness City Project? What impact will this project have on Bhutan?

In every era, our leaders must make bold and visionary decisions that align with present needs while also envisioning the future we desire. These decisions should uphold our sovereignty, identity, and safeguard our core vision, values, and traditions as a nation. That is the challenge His Majesty the King faces. So many factors are involved in such decisions.

For instance, the decisions of our monarchs in the 1920s and 1960s first united our country and then strengthened Bhutan’s sovereignty in ways appropriate to those particular times and situations. But at the same time, they also looked ahead and created the foundations of the modern Bhutan we witness and feel today. And yet the methods of those times cannot be used to move forward as we need today, as His Majesty has wisely recognised.

As leaders from small companies to powerful nations can testify, bold decisions almost always come with a lot of risks. I am sure that His Majesty’s bold decision on this project must have been very carefully considered and thoroughly assessed to minimise those risks. I am equally sure that there are many reasons as to why His Majesty considers this project the best step for the future of Bhutan. And so, as citizens, we must fully support His Majesty’s vision in the context of today’s world and geopolitical realities, as well as in considerations of Bhutan’s demography, migration patterns, and more.

I recently had the good fortune of a brief visit to another visionary and forward-thinking project initiated by His Majesty – the Royal Academy in Paro. I was immediately impressed by the very thoughtful architecture and layout that had all the traditional elements and none of the shallow, gaudy, kitschy pomposity one sees in so many posh houses and hotels in Bhutan.

But the real reason I was moved was not the outer structure of the Royal Academy but its curriculum and educational vision. Even at this early stage in its development, the Academy seems to have the goal of enabling future generations of Bhutanese to have their own mind. And that, to me, is very importance. My wish and prayer is that the Gelephu project will have similar outcome, on a much larger scale.

What do you mean by Bhutanese having their own minds? And how can we best protect our own core values as we move boldly forward?

 The issue of core values is a vast subject and I can’t explain my view in just a few words. My concerns on this issue are totally my own personal opinion, based on my very narrow interpretation.

When people come to Bhutan, they feel they’ve entered a totally different world, with its traditional attire, different official robe colours, prayer flags, and unique architecture. But, in fact, I feel that Bhutanese have come dangerously close to losing their capacity to think as Bhutanese. 

This is, obviously, partly due to us being such a small nation sandwiched between two giants. But I think there has also been a lot of complacency, particularly on issues like education. This is especially true among Bhutanese think tanks and elites who are almost all educated outside Bhutan. Even the term “educated” refers to western education.

And, so, we find tremendous veneration towards Ivy League graduates by members of the Bhutanese elite and think tanks. Since those elites were themselves largely educated in the western colonial system, they can’t be blamed for thinking like that. After all, that’s what education does – it is basically a way of brainwashing us without us even realising it’s happening.

It is mind boggling for me to see so many Bhutanese frantically and fanatically defending colonial values, when colonial influence must be the single most harmful destroyer of other cultures, values, and traditions – more so than a thousand cultural revolutions in China. This negative influence continues to this day.

The colonial education we have inherited really kills all ability to think critically and analytically. That’s because colonial education subtly leaks in its own individualist, materialist, and self-serving values and creates a slavish mentality that, without our being aware of it, ends up making us completely co-dependent. It’s this outside infiltration of destructive values and influences that make me worry that we have almost lost our ability to think and act genuinely as Bhutanese.

We can see this trend in so many different fields and daily experiences. We now get embarrassed and amused by things that culturally never used to embarrass or amuse us. We have adopted new etiquettes. And, if we don’t outright believe it, we still consciously or unconsciously give more weight to what is spoken or printed in English.

In fact we see this trend even at the national level in the way we think about our own country. For instance, Bhutanese sometimes whine about how small and landlocked our country is, insinuating that we lack the opportunity to reach out. But we don’t even try to reach out the other half of our landlocked country, and so we make both our nation and our own mindsets even smaller.

We have two neighbours. We know so much about one neighbour and almost nothing about the other. And the little that we do know about that other neighbour is all written by the first neighbour. And that narrative in turn is written or informed by other far-away countries that are wary, if not hostile, to our other neighbour. 

 But isn’t this what happens in any small country? For small nations, wouldn’t it always be challenging to protect their values and have their own mind?

 Even if a few of us Bhutanese get curious and puzzled about what I’ve been describing here, it can help to safeguard our values and sovereignty, and to have our own mind. But for that to happen, Bhutanese first need to recognise the power of that colonial influence and learn the lesson that “friends” are often much more dangerous than “enemies.”

It is unthinkable that Bhutan will ever become a powerful nation or hegemon in any sense. But Bhutan can still be an example, as it has been.

It is wrong for Bhutanese to think that people pay a lot of money to visit Bhutan because of our amazing dzongs or high-class hotel experiences. If I were looking for that kind of experience, I would sooner go to Bali, Kyoto, or Corfu. People come to Bhutan because it still has something incredibly magical and genuinely human about it.

In a world that is changing so much and so rapidly, often in questionable ways, Bhutan could really stand out as a model of sanity and peace. This is very achievable. But we have to do it within this generation, because we are now at a crossroads. What we decide now, at this crucial junction, will determine who we are far into the future. If we fail, we may never recover it.

“Green Oscars” for Kuenzang Dorji

Mon, 05/06/2024 - 10:25

RSPN’s biologist wins 2024 Whitley Award for his solutions to protect golden langur

Lhakpa Quendren 

It is believed that seeing a golden langur brings good luck. For wildlife biologist, Kuenzang Dorji, who had been studying the primate in the context of human-wildlife context, it was more than luck when he was awarded the 2024 Whitley Award by the UK-based conservation charity, the Whitley Fund for Nature (WFN), on March 1 in London.

A biologist with the  Royal Society for Protection of Nature, Kuenzang was recognised for protecting the endangered Gee’s golden langur and addressing the human-wildlife conflict in the country. He is one of seven conservation leader awardees worldwide dedicated to safeguarding the world’s most fragile ecosystems.

As he celebrates his 20 years of conservation journey, the 44-year-old said the recognition acknowledges his sacrifices. “Dedication often leads to recognition, revealing the true worth of one’s efforts in the light of acknowledgment. This is what I believe,” he said.

The recognition, Kuenzang said, further exemplifies Bhutan as a conservation role model.

Kuenzang has devised deterrents to prevent langurs from foraging and shield them from other dangers. He uses heatmaps to locate conflict spots, implements community interventions, installs road signs for langur safety, and places repellents near power stations to prevent electrocution.

With £50,000 from the Whitley Award funding, Kuenzang plans to halve human-langur conflict, empower women farmers, raise conservation awareness in schools and villages reaching 300 people, mitigate electrocution and collisions, and support 10 budding primatologists with research fellow awards.

“I want to revive the relationship between monkeys, people, and the forests they share,” said Kuenzang, who is focusing on “building harmony” between people and primates in his community-led project in the country.

With climate change affecting monkeys’ behavior and leading to crop raids, Kuenzang Dorji intends to train citizen scientists to gather primate data for long-term monitoring in the ecologically fragile Himalayan ranges.

“If I put myself in the shoes of the local people, I can really feel how frustrating life is in the middle of the forest,” he added.

Kuenzang is developing practical solutions to help langurs and communities in his 6,500 square kilometer project area, covering six remote dzongkhags where golden langur is found, including the Royal Manas National Park, a World Heritage Site.

The area is home to 100,000 people, and his work will primarily target Zhemgang and Trongsa, with the largest population of the primates and where human-langur interaction is most intense in Bhutan.

Traditional approaches to guarding fields, such as scarecrows and electric fences, proved futile against the monkeys’ high cognitive abilities, according to Kuenzang.

Habitat loss from economic expansion, including hydropower projects, road construction, and housing development, has pushed many golden langurs into closer contact with humans. Bhutan, home to about 2,500 Gee’s golden langur, is one of the last remaining habitats for this species, along with a small region in Western Assam, India.

The Whitley Awards, often dubbed the ‘Green Oscars,’ recognise grassroots conservation leaders for their innovative approaches to tackling various threats to nature. The prizes they receive provide essential funding to expand their initiatives and create a global impact.

Rigsar win 2024 JDW national archery tournament

Mon, 05/06/2024 - 10:24

Thinley Namgay

Rigsar Construction emerged victorious in the 2024 Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (JDW) Memorial National Archery Tournament, defeating Rinyang Export 2-1 sets at the Changlimithang archery range in Thimphu yesterday.

It was the debut competition for the Rigsar Construction team.

The final match lasted one and a half days.

In six rounds, Rigsar sealed the first set with a score of 25-9. Rinyang lost nine points in the third round and seven points in the fourth, making it unlikely for them to win the first set.

The second set was competitive, with Rigsar making an attempt to secure victory, but Rinyang clinched it with a score of 25-22. The deciding set yesterday was won by Rigsar with a score of 25-10.

Rigsar’s captain, Kezang Dorji, described the final as competitive, but credited the team’s success to confidence and team spirit. “All the players were talented and played with confidence.”

He said that the archers were recruited from various locations, and all expenses for the tournament were covered by Rigsar Construction.

Rinyang Export players said that the final didn’t unfold as expected. “It could be due to a one-day luck. Yesterday, most of our players struggled to hit the target.”

Sangay Phuntsho of Rinyang Export said: “Until the semifinals, our team has been winning in style.”

The players of Rigsar Construction were awarded a 12-inch Guru statue each, while the runners-up players received a 12-inch Buddha statue each. Both teams were presented with a team trophy.

Rinyang Export secured their place in the final by defeating Rignga United with a score of 2-1 sets on April 26, while Rigsar Construction earned their spot by defeating Karsel Chuksum.

The best player of the tournament was Ugyen from Rignga United. He hit 39 kareys in four games.

The tournament pays tribute to the father of modern Bhutan, the late Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. This archery tournament, conducted with traditional bamboo bows and arrows, plays a crucial role in preserving the culture and tradition of the country.

Organised by the Bhutan Indigenous Games and Sports Association, the tournament saw participation from 20 teams.

Good Monday!

Mon, 05/06/2024 - 10:23

Monday, according to the Guinness World Records, is the most hated day of the week. It could be because it is the first day of a long week, and for those who hate their job, it is even worse. Experts believe making Monday fun, free and flexible could change it.

At Kuensel, starting today, we will dedicate our front page to stories that could begin Monday with some positivity.  The mainstream media, including ourselves, are obsessed with negative news. We wake up watching social media reels and breakfast news on television of how many children were killed in Palestine, of how many missiles were shot down or landed on schools and public places taking innocent lives, of tornados devastating entire counties, floods and drought.

These news cannot be avoided, as reporters embedded at conflict areas, spending millions, file breaking news and analysis. But we believe that it is not all doom and gloom. 

There are researches that confirm what many have long suspected that a continuous coverage of disasters, tragedies and violence could trigger fear, stress and even trauma in those consuming the stories. Although Bhutan is better off and local media not providing “enough” of that, we are bombarded with cable TV and social media enabling the news to be in our hemchu. 

There are good things happening, small it may be. There are plenty of stories to be told to inspire, hope and give us confidence, if not, at least begin Monday on a happy note! 

From our own records, we are convinced that our readers like “positive” stories – stories about common people, common issues, little achievements, of small success and also light stories that readers can relate to easily. Some of our light reads, judging by the number of shares and likes, could easily be the most read story of the  year. For instance,  stories like “Dine-and-Dash man convicted” (Where a man was caught for leaving a bar without paying) or  about the bear at large after drinking rum – were one of the most read stories.

However, we are not saying we will not tell stories of tragedies, crimes or problems. These stories will have to be written about. So shall the boring but important stories on policies, analysis and issues that affect our people.

The first edition of Kuensel’s “Good Monday” today carries two stories of such nature. One is about a Bhutanese in Australia initiating to help his countrymen and women find affordable shelter. If housing shortage or Bhutanese living in cramped flats or tents made headlines, Sangay Kunchok’s initiative deserves more media coverage. The other is about a Bhutanese biologist getting recognised for his dedication to conservation. At a time when stories of losing habitat, endangered species and impacts of climate change dominate mainstream news, Kuenzang Dorji winning the “Green Oscars” deserves equal attention.

Meanwhile, we hope our small initiative will be received well. To make it successful, we need the support of our readers and audience. We request our readers to share your stories or be our ears and eyes to help us spread positivity.

Bhutanese helping countrymen with housing initiative

Mon, 05/06/2024 - 10:23

KP Sharma  

A 25-year-old Bhutanese, Sangay Kunchok, has taken decisive action to address the pressing housing challenges encountered by the Bhutanese community in Perth, Western Australia.

Witnessing families squeezed into cramped units, enduring exploitative living conditions in shared spaces, and even resorting to sleeping in vehicles, Sangay Kunchok felt compelled to act.

His goal is to offer stable and secure rental accommodations for the well-being of Bhutanese in Australia.

From Shaba in Paro, Sangay Kunchok went to Australia in August 2022 to pursue Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Murdoch University.

Before the pandemic, he established a startup called “Thunder Guide” to tackle the scarcity of language-speaking tour guides in Bhutan.

However, when the pandemic struck and tourism sector being hit the most, he shifted his focus to “The Care”, a social enterprise aimed at mitigating the labour supply shortage and high unemployment rates in the commercial and construction sectors.

But the housing crisis among Bhutanese immigrants in Australia, particularly in Perth, was becoming increasingly challenging.

Realising the urgency of the situation, Sangay Kunchok saw a chance to impact the real estate sector positively and offer vital assistance to his fellow Bhutanese in Australia.

Despite feeling nervous about entering the real estate industry as a newcomer to both the country and the field, he embarked on his journey by taking on a full-time role as a sales prospector at Minic Property Group.

However, the demanding nature of the role alongside his studies forced him to switch to Raine & Horne, where he began as a part-time assistant property manager.

Over time, he worked up to six months to become a property manager and in addition, he took on the role of business development manager (BDM).

Sangay Kunchok has been able to secure rental accommodations for 32 Bhutanese families, with eight families finding homes just last month. 

“Many of these families were struggling to navigate the stringent rental application process,” he said. 

Through his personal networks and advocacy for Bhutanese community members, he has successfully secured housing for those who were previously overlooked.

Sangay Kunchok prioritises the needs of the Bhutanese community to secure housing. 

He hosts private viewings for interested applicants before properties are advertised to the general public and provides guidance on building strong rental applications, ensuring tenants are informed about their rights and responsibilities. 

“This personalised approach has proven effective in helping Bhutanese applicants secure housing in a competitive market,” said Sangay Kunchok.

Sangay Kunchok also offers free or low-cost legal assistance to those facing real estate-related legal issues and conducts homeownership counselling sessions tailored to the unique needs of the Bhutanese community.

As a licensed real estate sales agent and property manager, Sangay Kunchok said that his ultimate goal is to empower Bhutanese individuals and families to realise their Australian dream through the entire building to buying process.

As the housing market in Australia experiences significant growth, particularly in Perth where house values are rising by approximately AUD 37,000 a quarter, Sangay Kunchok sees bigger opportunity for Bhutanese immigrants to secure their financial future through real estate investment. 

He feels that this investment not only enriches individual lives but also contributes to the economic development and prosperity of Bhutan. 

“As our community becomes self-sufficient and prosperous, we anticipate a reverse investment scenario, where Bhutanese individuals in Perth invest back in Bhutan.”

Access to information and attrition challenge media

Sat, 05/04/2024 - 14:07

 …25% of working journalists have less than one year’s experience

YK Poudel

Streamlining communication channels and institutionalising media spokespersons will enhance transparency and accountability in Bhutan, according to the 22nd annual South Asia Press Freedom (SAPFR) 2023-2024 report launched by International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) yesterday.

Titled ‘Hollowed out media,’ the report stated that Bhutan’s press freedom faced a setback in 2023, with the country’s ranking plummeting from 33rd to 90th place in the World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders.

This year, the rank dropped to 147th scoring 37.29 percent of the 180 countries studied on political, economic, legislative, social, and security indicators.

Bhutan scored the lowest in the political indicator of the five indicators.

Citing the “small society syndrome” and fear of backlash, Bhutanese journalists heavily self-censor with 84 percent of journalists practicing it. To bolster media resilience and innovation, investments in professional development and technological infrastructure are essential, the report stated. “Collaborative efforts between government, media organisations, and civil society are crucial to navigating Bhutan’s media landscape towards greater autonomy and effectiveness.”

Globally, Norway stands first followed by Denmark in press freedom index while Eritrea followed by Syria stands 180th and 179th respectively.

 

Existing Challenges

The report states that Bhutanese journalism is characterized by relatively younger journalists with mixed experience and greater gender parity. The loss of experienced journalists impacts the production of in-depth stories and availability of mentors for young journalists, affecting public trust in the media. 

The average age of journalists is 34 years.  25 percent have less than one year’s experience. 

A survey conducted by the Centre for Bhutan and GNH Studies in 2023 found that of the 63 professionals surveyed, 32 had left the profession, while 31 stayed in the media. “The main reasons for leaving the profession were low salary and lack of professional development. Lack of access to information was also a common concern, with nearly two-thirds of respondents identifying this as the main,” as per the survey.

The report states that there is no systematic mechanism to facilitate access to information, leading to difficulties for journalists. Bhutan lacks a law ensuring the media’s right to access information. The Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) regulates the media sector through the Information, Communication and Media Act of Bhutan 2018. 

A study by the Bhutan Media Foundation (BMF) in 2023 also noted the difficulty where 84 percent of Bhutanese journalists reported various degrees of difficulty in obtaining information from bureaucracies.

On sustainability, the report stated that private media in Bhutan has survived on the back of government subsidies, which is being equally divided among all the private media houses regardless of their market share has prevented commensurate gains for the more efficient ones. 

Moreover, the report highlighted the recent assurance of support by the government and its willingness to engage with the media as a beacon of hope for Bhutanese journalism.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, during the third meet-the-press session, emphasized and discussed the pivotal role of the media in upholding democratic principles. He urged the media not to shy away from critiquing and engaging in debates over government policies to uphold an accountable government.

The report recommended media houses and the government encouraging innovation and fostering flexibility to evolve with changing trends and technology. 

“Journalists in Bhutan should collaborate with international news agencies or global media houses to gain experience and increase earnings, necessitating an appropriate supportive regulatory framework,” it stated.

Bhutan’s economy to rebound to 4.9 percent in FY 2023-24: WB

Sat, 05/04/2024 - 14:06

Thukten Zangpo 

The World Bank (WB) predicts that Bhutan’s economy will rebound to 4.9 percent growth in the fiscal year 2023-24. 

This uptick is attributed to the stronger performance of the service sector. 

In comparison, growth was anticipated to be 4.6 percent in the preceding fiscal year, 2022-23.

This is according to the Bank’s latest report, “Bhutan Development Update”, released yesterday. 

The Bank noted that growth is expected particularly in tourism-related services and the industrial sector, driven by a gradual rise in mining and manufacturing activities, particularly in base metals.

Furthermore, the Bank added that the implementation of new incentives aimed at attracting longer-staying international tourists is expected to bolster the tourism sector in the fiscal year 2023-24.  However, it projects that tourist arrivals will likely continue to fall short of the levels seen before the pandemic.

On the demand side, growth will receive support from services exports and consumption, driven by increased government expenditure.

Looking ahead in the medium term, robust growth is anticipated in exports, construction, and the services sectors. This growth will be driven by the commissioning of the Puna-II hydropower plant, which is set to add 1,020 megawatts (MW) to Bhutan’s existing hydropower generation capacity of 2,300 MW.

The Bank also said that the timber woods and wood product exports, along with activities from the carbon markets bieng established, are expected to provide additional resources for growth. 

Furthermore, the injection of a Nu 15 billion economic stimulus package into the economy will support private sector growth, along with the promotion of special economic zones or autonomous areas to attract foreign direct investments, aligned with the vision of the Gelephu Mindfulness City.

Inflation is projected to remain elevated at 4.9 percent in fiscal year 2023-24 due to extended global supply disruptions resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and tensions in the Middle East. 

The inflation is expected to ease at 4.1 percent in the next fiscal year.

“To maintain a strong and inclusive growth, Bhutan can do more to enable the business environment to attract foreign direct investments and promote the private sector to create more jobs that appeal to the aspirations of its citizens,” Abdoulaye Seck, WB’s Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan, said. 

Further, he added that it would be equally important for the government to timely address the increasing stress on service delivery because of human resources challenges. 

However, the Bank warned against the downside risks to the economy.

The Bank said that the risks include delayed fiscal consolidation, vulnerabilities in the financial sector, volatile international commodity prices, and delays in hydropower projects. 

The country’s fiscal deficit is expected to widen to five percent of gross domestic product in fiscal year 2023-24 from 4.7 percent in fiscal year 2022-23 because of decline in revenues and a major civil servants’ salary increase. 

There has been a significant decline in international reserves, but have begun to stabilise as the current account deficit showed signs of narrowing in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2023-24, following a significant expansion in fiscal year 2022-23, the Bank said.

Bhutan’s revenue remains largely driven by the hydropower sector, which contributes significantly to both tax and non-tax revenue collection. However, the contribution from direct taxes without the hydropower sector remained stagnant, it added. 

“Greater contribution from direct taxes beyond the hydropower sector, coupled with a more effective tax administration system, could bolster Bhutan’s ability to generate increased revenues essential for its development,” Hoon Sahib Soh, World Bank’s Practice Manager for Macroeconomics, Trade and Investment for South Asia Region, said. 

The Bank also said that the state enterprises in Bhutan contribute significantly to budget revenues and create jobs but suffer from profitability and performance challenges. 

Although Bhutan enhanced its legal and regulatory framework for state enterprise management, key policy gaps persist, including ownership and dividend policies, it added.

WB’s Resident Representative for Bhutan, Adama Coulibaly, said, “Furthermore improvements in managing investments, corporate governance and financial reporting, can help improve performance of state enterprises and reduce fiscal risks.”

Contingent fees for lawyers are a gamble on justice

Sat, 05/04/2024 - 14:04

With the increasing complexities of legal disputes and the enactment of numerous laws, the need for the general population to hire legal professionals is becoming a necessity to navigate through complex legal processes.

Engaging legal professionals not only involves cost but also involves one’s trust and confidence as the client’s properties, rights and interests are now in the hands of these professionals. Therefore, understanding what these professionals do and how they should conduct themselves is crucial in helping clients positively.

The Jabmi Act 2003 provides clear legal rules governing fees for legal counsels (jabmis), which prohibit the use of contingent fees where the fee amount is determined by the outcome of the case. Tthe law mandates that fees must be fixed before the jabmi taking on the case, and cannot be contingent upon the result. Furthermore, jabmi and the client are required to voluntarily execute a legal agreement specifying a reasonable fee for jabmi’s services, which shall apply regardless of the duration of the case. The fees cannot be deducted from or paid through the property that is the subject matter of the case itself.

These provisions are enshrined in the Act with the best intentions of upholding ethical standards and maintaining the nobility of the legal profession.

First, the role of legal counsel as an officer of the court is there to assist the court in bringing the truth in the dispute and fee charges are services provided to the client not on the outcome of the case. The outcome of the case depends on numerous factors including the competency of the lawyer, parties in the dispute, the judge who presides over the case, evidence and witnesses. If the fees are fixed subject to the outcome, the lawyer can resort to unethical behaviours including possible tampering with crucial evidence, buying or manipulating witnesses to prolong cases or even influencing other court officials to influence the outcome.

Second, the lawyers could also influence clients to appeal the cases even if the lawyers know that appealing will have no impact on the decision of the lower court. Further, lawyers will consider every case as a match rather than justice as contingent fees are a form of gambling. Clauses on contingent fees in legal agreements violate the Jabmi Act and Sections 16 and 47 of the Contract Act, as they constitute unlawful considerations, unlawful objects, and a form of wagering agreement.

Jabmi Act also provides provision to protect the jabmi if the client refuses to pay the jabmi for the services. If the client fails to pay the stipulated fees as per the agreement, jabmi has the right to retain possession of any documents or papers related to the case until the fees have been paid in full. However, the jabmi is entitled to receive a proportionate amount of the agreed fees under certain circumstances, such as withdrawing from the case in good faith with the client’s consent and prior leave of the court, being unable to represent the case due to infirmity or disability or withdrawing in the best interest of the client.

Legal profession is considered noble profession. The nobility of the legal profession is “maintained by the adherence and observance of a set of professional norms, ethics, maintain the honour and dignity of the law profession and promote justice through fair dealings with client, opponent, and witness”.

Say no to contingent fees.

Sonam Tshering

Lawyer, Thimphu

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are author’s own.

Primary healthcare in Bhutan: Insights and recommendations from PHCPI assessment

Sat, 05/04/2024 - 14:04

Jigmi Wangdi

Addressing disparities in access, service utilisation, and health outcomes between urban and rural areas is crucial for achieving equity in the healthcare system, which requires comprehensive policy attention, especially considering ongoing resource challenges and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is according to the Primary Health Care Performance Initiative Assessment (PHCPI).

To assess the strengths and weaknesses of Bhutan’s primary healthcare system and formulate actionable policy recommendations to improve the system, the World Bank, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, conducted the PHCPI. 

The study also stated that Bhutan’s PHC system has a clear organisation and service delivery structure based on health facility catchment zones. However, migration from rural to urban areas has led to overcrowding in urban hospitals and underutilisation of health facilities in rural areas.

The report also highlighted that there are opportunities to strengthen the capacity of the PHC system to deliver high-quality care, address emerging challenges such as NCDs and mental health, and improve pandemic preparedness.

The report recommends investing in enhancing the availability, competencies, and satisfaction of healthcare workers, including promoting equitable distribution, availability, and competencies of healthcare workers, and strengthening the village health worker programme. 

Health Economist at the World Bank in South Asia, Kathryn Andrews, who led the study, said that one of the most important takeaways from the PHCPI was that strategic investments and health care in Bhutan had resulted in a strong PHC system in Bhutan.

“Bhutan’s commitment to providing free health services at the point of care along with efforts to improve health system governance has provided a very strong foundation for PHC. There has been measurable progress and population health and health service provision and the National Happiness policy set a strong foundation for underlying primary care,” Kathryn said. 

Kathryn noted that there have been improvements in key reproductive, maternal, and child health indicators, as well as in life expectancy. However, she highlighted the concerning trend of rising non-communicable diseases and mental health conditions in Bhutan and globally.

Recommendations 

To enhance the primary healthcare system in Bhutan, the report emphasised several critical issues that need attention.

One recommendation is to use digital health solutions to enhance the quality and efficiency of primary healthcare in Bhutan. This, according to the report, can be achieved by improving the capabilities of data platforms to enhance service delivery and patient experience. Establishing a national-level telehealth programme is also expected to improve equitable access to care and the efficiency of service provision.

The report underscores the importance of investing in the capacities of the primary healthcare system to enhance its quality and effectively address emerging challenges, including non-communicable diseases (NCDs), mental health issues, and pandemic preparedness. 

This involves strengthening the availability of essential resources to ensure equitable access and safe service delivery. Additionally, introducing a systematic monitoring and evaluation framework for quality standards is crucial for ensuring continuous improvement.

Another recommendation from the report is to invest in improving the availability, competencies, and satisfaction of healthcare workers. This can be achieved by promoting equitable distribution and availability of healthcare workers through recruitment and retention efforts. 

Providing timely incentives and support is expected to further enhance their satisfaction and motivation. 

Government still studying implementation of third child birth

Sat, 05/04/2024 - 14:03

Sherab Lhamo

The country’s fertility rate has been declining steadily, decreasing from 6.6 births per woman in 1971 to 1.866 births per woman in 2023. Implementing the third child pledge will require substantial financial investment, estimated to be in billions.

Half of the world’s population resides in countries where the total fertility rate is below 2.1 births per woman, according to a report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). This rate is significant because it is considered the threshold needed for a population to replace itself over time.

The report also highlights a notable trend: highly educated women often face challenges balancing their careers with family life and personal aspirations. This difficulty contributes to a wider gap in fertility rates among this demographic compared to less educated women.

According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey Report 2023 by the National Statistics Bureau, Bhutan’s overall employment rate is now 96.5 percent, showing an increase from 94.1 percent in 2022.

During a press briefing on April 26, Minister of Health Tandin Wangchuk emphasised the importance of the fertility rate, noting that it has risen from 1.7 percent to 2.1 percent. While this rate is sufficient for population replacement (where each parent has two children), the government is now advocating for the birth of a third child to bolster population growth, he said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health is prioritising reproductive health advisory services. Experts recommend that the optimal age for childbearing is between 20 and 30 years old, as this age range is beneficial for the health and well-being of both the mother and child.

The government has committed to providing Nu 10,000 per month until a child reaches the age of three. This initiative is designed to incentivize couples to consider having a third child, thus contributing to population growth.

Similar to China’s policy change allowing couples to have up to three children, which was implemented in 2021 to address declining birth rates, the government announced policy adjustment shortly after the 2020 census was published. This census revealed a slowing population growth, prompting the government to take action to encourage higher birth rates.

According to Reuters, in Shenzhen, a city in southern China, couples who have a third child or more are eligible to receive an annual allowance of over 6,000 yuan (equivalent to Nu 69,139) until the child reaches three years of age. Similarly, in Jinan, the capital city of Shandong province, mothers who give birth to a second or third child can receive a monthly subsidy of 600 yuan (equivalent to Nu 6,913) until the child reaches three years old.

The Ministry of Health is presently analysing census data from the last five years. However, there is no definitive timeline for the completion of this study at present.

Trashiyangtse court sentences three men for fraudulent insurance claims

Sat, 05/04/2024 - 14:02

Neten Dorji

The dzongkhag court of Trashiyangtse has sentenced three men to prison for fraudulent insurance claims.

In the judgement rendered on May 30, Tshering Wangdi, 46, from Zhisagang in Thimphu, received a sentence of one year and six months in prison for asking Neten Dorji, 49, to set his machinery on fire.

Tshering Wangdi, however, has the option to pay thrimthue in place of serving the prison term for the remaining duration of one year, four months, and 27 days.

Neten Dorji, a resident of Tongmijangsa in Trashiyangtse, has been sentenced to one year and six months in prison for collecting Nu 30,000 and soliciting another individual, Tenzin Dorji, to set the machine on fire.

He also has the option to pay thrimthue instead of serving the prison term for the remaining duration of one year, four months, and 29 days.

Tenzin Dorji, a driver from Mankhar, Trashigang, received a three-year prison sentence for setting the machine on fire.

According to the judgment, Neten Dorji had hired a JCB backhoe loader to extract sand along the Drangmechu at Tshergom in Trashiyangtse.

The judgement reads: “The judgment reveals that the JCB backhoe experienced frequent breakdowns, prompting Neten Dorji to communicate the challenges of procuring machine parts for maintenance with the owner. Tshering Wangdi suggested via WhatsApp that Neten Dorji should either set the machine on fire or dump it into a river to claim insurance before its insurance coverage expired.”

Neten Dorji has also asked for a commission of Nu 50,000 from the owner, Tshering Wangdi, to set the machine on fire, according to the judgement.

After Tenzin Dorji hesitated to take action by setting the machine on fire himself, he approached his friend Jampel Dorji to do it in exchange for a commission and a division of Nu 50,000. Subsequently, when Jampel Dorji declined the offer, Tenzin Dorji carried out the act of setting the machine on fire.

On January 28 last year, the JCB backhoe loader caught fire around 4am and Tshering Wangdi later claimed insurance of Nu 4.84 million in total loss from Bhutan Insurance Limited (BIL) for the machine. Tshering Wangdi deposited Nu 30,000 as a reward for setting the house on fire. 

Trashiyangtse Police initiated an investigation after uncovering anomalies surrounding a machine found damaged and unused in the Korlung area in January of the previous year. Following the inquiry, it came to light that the owner of the machine had deceitfully filed an insurance claim.

The police forwarded the case to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), which then charged Tshering Wangdi with obtaining insurance fraudulently. Neten Dorji and Tenzin Dorji were charged with aiding and abetting.

After legal proceedings, the court directed Tshering Wangdi to reimburse the insurance claims totaling Nu 4.84 million to BIL within one month. 

Tshering Wangdi and Neten Dorji were provided the opportunity to pay thrimthue instead of serving a prison sentence. However, Tenzin Dorji did not receive this alternative and was instead sentenced to imprisonment.

Economic snapshot shows price rise; while ngultrum depreciates

Sat, 05/04/2024 - 14:01

Sherab Lhamo

In March of this year, the cost of goods and services rose by 4.99 percent compared to March of the previous year.

In comparison to the inflation rate of the previous month, the price of goods, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), rose by 0.07 percent from February of this year.

As of March 2024, the value of the ngultrum has been depreciating, with Nu 100 now worth only Nu 56.4 compared to December 2012. This indicates a decrease in purchasing power, with a drop of 4.75 percent over the past year (from March 2023 to March 2024) due to price increases in the economy.

In March, food prices surged by 6.95 percent, while the non-food index rose by 3.34 percent compared to the same period last year.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages saw a significant increase of 7.20 percent, while alcoholic beverages and betel nuts rose by 3.70 percent.

The sectors experiencing the highest increases were housing and utilities, with a surge of 8.93 percent, followed closely by health, which increased by 8.02 percent.

Clothing and footwear registered an uptick of 5.75 percent, while furnishings and household equipment rose by 3.93 percent. Meanwhile, restaurant and hotel prices increased by 2.88 percent, among other sectors.

Transportation prices experienced a slight decrease of 0.07 percent, while communication prices saw a more significant decline of 7.08 percent.

In March, food prices saw a modest increase of 0.20 percent, while non-food prices experienced a slight decrease of 0.04 percent. Specifically, the prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages rose by 0.18 percent from February, and alcoholic beverages and betel nuts increased by 0.52 percent.

In the non-food category, housing and utilities experienced a decrease in prices by 0.4 percent. Meanwhile, there was a slight increase in transport prices by 0.15 percent, representing a decrease of 0.75 percentage points compared to the previous month.

Given Bhutan’s economy’s close integration with India’s economy, with approximately 80 percent dependence on imports from India, Bhutan’s prices typically move in sync with Indian inflation trends.

According to the RMA report of 2023, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) adopts an inflation-targeting monetary policy with a target range of four plus or minus two percent, aimed at stabilising prices within India.

This policy significantly impacts Bhutan by influencing Indian inflation.

By aligning with Indian inflation trends, Bhutan benefits from maintaining price stability, thereby cushioning against sudden inflationary shocks stemming from external factors.

Jo Bay Tsho – Soaking in ancient tales and modern beliefs

Sat, 05/04/2024 - 13:57

Dechen Dolkar

The Dzongkhag Administration of Haa has established a fresh trekking path leading to Jo Bay Tsho, situated on the border between Gakaling and Sombaykha gewogs.

The two-day trek covers a distance of around 25 kilometres. It starts with an 84-kilometre drive from Sombaykha to Mochhu, a charming location surrounded by forward-thinking farming communities. Along the journey, trekkers can appreciate the captivating scenery of Bhutan’s countryside.

Haa Dzongdag Melam Zangpo said that the construction of the trail started in 2022. It took around three to four months to complete; it was completed in early 2023. The construction of the trail was awarded to two local contractors at two different sites.

Melam Zangpo said that though people might have trekked the route before, it had become inaccessible.

The journey to Jo Bay Tsho begins with a visit to a temple of profound cultural importance. This sacred site is home to 1,000 statues of Guru Rinpoche, laying the foundation for a spiritually enriching experience for trekkers embarking on this adventure.

As the trail ascends into the forested hills, dense clusters of bamboo flank the path, crafting a peaceful and inviting ambiance for the journey ahead.

After approximately six hours of trekking, adventurers arrive at a verdant pasture. Here is the campsite, situated just over a kilometre from the Jo Bay Tsho Trek. This campsite provides a comfortable base for visitors to delve into the scenic surroundings. It features a small camphouse with two rooms, capable of accommodating 8-10 people.

The next day, trekkers resume their journey, welcomed by the allure of smaller lakes concealed along the trail beneath the towering canopy of trees.

Throughout the trek, travellers are treated to a picturesque journey through forests, majestic mountains, and serene lakes, promising an experience that will imprint itself in the memory of every adventurer.

As travellers make their way along the gently sloping trail, they encounter lush green forests, dense clusters of bamboo, and the rich natural beauty of the surroundings. The path meanders through wooded areas, occasionally revealing expansive pastures and slightly challenging narrow passages. Along the way, glimpses of wild animals and peaceful lakes further enhance the serene ambiance.

Warm hospitality awaits visitors from the locals they encounter along the way, adding to the sense of community and camaraderie during the trek.

Finally, the journey culminates at Jo Bay Tsho, a stunning hidden lake stretching approximately 300 metres in length and 200 metres in breadth. It is a breathtaking finale to an unforgettable trekking experience.

The Jo Bay Tsho

“Bay Tsho” translates to “hidden lake.” It became the focal point of a dramatic incident involving Pangbe Lam Terton Sherab Mebar and his team, who embarked on a mission to extract gold from the lake’s golden post.

The story has it that, summoning all his powers, the Lam drew all the water into his mouth to facilitate the gold extraction, and his team began their work. However, realising that his team was exceeding the permissible limits of extraction, the Lam intervened. In a dramatic turn of events, the water escaped from his mouth, submerging his team members. To escape, the Lam transformed himself into a bat, while Jo Bay Tsho assumed the form of a bird to pursue him.

The chase eventually reached Tergola, where Jo Tergo, the local deity, intervened, prohibiting the Lam from venturing beyond Tergola. This incident fostered the belief that individuals from areas beyond Tergola were not permitted to marry individuals from Paro Pangbesa. 

Even today, residents of Samtse and Sombbaykha continue to worship Jo Bay Tsho, seeking blessings in their daily lives.

Bouddha: Bhutanese pilgrims’ spiritual destination in Nepal

Sat, 05/04/2024 - 13:56

Chencho Dema

Nepal’s massive Bouddha, also known as Boudhanath, stands at 36 metres high, overlooking the busy Kathmandu city below with its sacred aura. This spiritual landmark is cradled by a lively enclave of monasteries, each resonating with the chants and prayers of monks. 

When Bhutanese pilgrims and visitors go to Nepal, they always make sure to visit Bouddha. It’s a must-see spot for prayer, meditation, and religious events. You’ll often see Bhutanese pilgrims circumambulating the stupa.

The stupa is not just a favourite spot for tourists; it’s also deeply cherished by local residents. Each day, the site teems with hundreds of visitors from near and far.

The vicinity of the stupa is dotted with shops offering Tibetan crafts, thangka paintings, and various religious artifacts. This transforms the area into more than just a spiritual destination; it is a bustling shopping hub as well.

The Nepalese government implemented an entrance fee system a few years ago. Under this system, visitors from SAARC countries are required to pay a fee of 100 NPR per person,  while those from outside the region are charged 400 NPR per person for entry.

Ticket office is located at the entrance of the Bouddha gate, making access easy for visitors.

Nepalese say that the stupa is one of the biggest round stupas in the world. Its popularity is further boosted by its convenient location, just a 30-minute walk from significant landmarks like the Pashupati temple. This proximity makes it easily accessible and contributes to the influx of visitors to the site.

A local tour guide, Raj Timalsena, said that most of the Bhutanese have visited the stupa at leat once.  “When they meet me, the first thing they ask me is about the Bouddha. Whether you are seeking spiritual enlightenment or simply exploring, Bouddha is an essential destination.” 

Since 1979, Bouddha has held the prestigious status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Renowned as one of the largest stupas in then world, its inclusion on this list highlights its immense cultural and historical significance.

Bouddha stands as a symbol of Nepal’s vibrant cultural and religious heritage, drawing in thousands of visitors annually. Its iconic presence serves as a testament to the country’s profound historical and spiritual legacy.

For most  Bhutanese visitors who were exploring the area around the stupa the visit is a must because of cultural similarities, appreciation for its architectural splendour, its historical significance, and the convenience of its location for exploration.

A 58-year-old woman from Thimphu expressed her long-standing desire to visit the stupa, influenced by recommendations from friends. This year, she fulfilled her wish, travelling with a group of friends to experience the site firsthand. 

Reflecting on her visit, she said: “I feel a profound sense of peace and a comforting familiarity, akin to being at home.”

Namgay Tenzin from Punakha travelled to Nepal for the first time in 2023 with his wife. Their primary reason for visiting Bouddha was to seek blessings, as the site holds deep spiritual significance and is revered as a profoundly sacred destination.

Local travel agents in Nepal say that besides Bouddha, Bhutanese pilgrims also visit places like Namo Buddha, Lumbini, Swayambhunath, Durbar Square, and Thamel for shopping.

Battlefield of filth: WASH challenges at large gatherings

Sat, 05/04/2024 - 13:56

At Kuenselphodrang, Thimphu, there used to be a problem. While people gathered for spiritual events such as Kuenkhen Kabum, there was a not very clean situation: some relieve themselves openly, instead of using proper facilities.

The green bushes and forests saw the messy result of thousands of worshippers, showing a big problem in dealing with water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) during religious events. In November 2022, when people gathered for blessings and teachings, the area near Kuenselphodrang looked like a messy battlefield. There were not enough toilets – only 60 for more than 15,000 people. Worshippers had to share facilities, which wasn’t hygienic. The strong stench made  the ceremony an unpleasant experience.

Ugyen Pema Zangdopelri Chhoetshog has constructed 64 pit toilets for men and 56 for women, and installed over 60 water taps with wash basins for the upcoming Rinchen Terzoed Wangchhen event in Bondey, Paro

Problem with WASH is not new, if not the biggest hurdle in coordinating mass gathering like at Moenlam chenmos, wang ceremonies or even at tshechus.

Even though the government supported the National Sanitation and Hygiene Policy 2020 and created the National Public Toilet Guidelines 2021 (NPTG), Bhutan is still faced with problems with open defecation. This was true even after the country was declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) in 2022. 

These incidents raised concerns about whether the WASH provisions were enough and who was responsible for making sure guidelines were followed. 

“Not paying attention to this issue affects not just the environment but also people’s health and dignity,” said Pema Dorji, who attended an event in Sarpang. “The sight of open defecation and pollution goes against Bhutan’s goal of overall well-being.” 

The repeated problems with WASH during gatherings show that there’s a need for better policies and actions to ensure sanitation keeps up with the needs of large crowds.

Learning from shortcomings

Despite past problems, there’s hope for improvement. As thousands of worshippers get ready to gather for the upcoming Rinchen Terzoed Wangchhen event in Bondey, Paro, organisers are already worried about WASH issues.

Considering the problems, the organisers have WASH as a priority. The coordinator, Khentrul Karma Jigme, said that over 50 modern toilets with water closets for VIPs, trulkus, lamas, and monks had been built.

“We also set up 64 pit toilets for men and 56 for women on private land. Furthermore, we’ve designated a space above the male toilets for urination that can accommodate more than 200 people at a time.”

To further improve sanitation, the organiser has installed over 60 water taps with wash basins on both sides of the Wangkhang. Khentrul emphasised the importance of maintaining cleanliness during the peak monsoon.

“We need to ensure the well-being of the worshippers. There will be 20 individuals to clean and oversee the toilets and other sanitation services throughout the Wangchhen event.”

Khentrul said that since Paro was a popular tourist destination, it was essential to keep the area clean and tidy. 

The dzongkhag health sector is actively involved in supporting and managing sanitation and logistics for the attendees to access basic facilities. 

Dzongkhag Health Supervisory Officer (DHSO), Karma Chedup, said that since the public kitchen was close to the restrooms, sanitation would be monitored regularly. An emergency health camp will also be established within the Zangdopelri complex to provide medical care services to the attendees.

Organisers said that these sanitation and hygiene initiatives weren’t driven by policy intervention or regulations but rather by learning from past experiences. They aim to set a precedent for future gatherings across Bhutan, prioritising the well-being of attendees and the cleanliness of the environment.

Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche is scheduled to confer the empowerment of Rinchen Terzoed from May 29 to September 13.

Urgent call for behavioural change

Referring to the difficulties encountered in the past at Kuenselphodrang, the Religion and Health project manager of Zhung Dratshang, Kinley Penjor, said that despite the construction of 22 urinal units and 38 toilet units for devotees attending the empowerment of Kuenkhen Kabum, many still chose to urinate and defecate in the open.

Kinley Penjor said that in consideration of female devotees, the dratshang also supplied waste bins and plastic bags for sanitary pads. However, users ended up throwing them inside the toilets, causing blockages. 

Kinley Penjor expressed concern, stating, “Unless people change their behaviors and abandon traditional cultural practices of defecating in open spaces, simply having thousands of public toilets and strict regulations won’t solve the problem.”

As outlined in the national public toilet guidelines, ensuring the availability of well-designed and easily accessible public toilets at public areas, historical sites, and along highways has become increasingly important due to urbanisation and population growth. 

The guidelines highlight that the existing public toilets are often poorly designed, poorly maintained, and unhygienic. This situation often forces people to resort to open defecation when they are away from home.

Contributed by 

Rinzin Wangchuk  

Bhutan’s boxing hope dashed in debut tournament

Sat, 05/04/2024 - 13:54

Thinley Namgay

Bhutan’s aspiration for a medal at the ongoing Asian Boxing Confederation (ASBC) Under-22 and Youth Boxing Championship in Kazakhstan faded as all three participants were eliminated from the tournament. 

The tournament was Bhutanese boxers’ international debut. They were selected based on their performances during a training camp and a friendly competition held in Bangladesh in March. 

Officials said the boxers tried their best despite limited experience. 

Officials said that such a major tournament provided a platform for the participants to learn new skills, gain exposure, and confidence.

It’s widely believed that without adequate international training and exposure to competitive games, athletes are unlikely to perform well on the international stage. 

In the quarterfinals on May 2, Kinley Phuntsho faced off against Mendengbam Jadumani Singh of India in the 57-kg category and was defeated. Kinley Phuntsaho advanced to the quarterfinals by default. Despite his boxing skills, Mendengbam fought hard for the win.

In the 48kg category, Migma Dorji, 22, defeated the seasoned opponent, Mekhrojiddin Barotov from Tajikistan on April 28. However, he couldn’t make it to the next round on April 30 as he lost against Karap Yernar from Kazakhstan in a highly competitive match.

On April 27, Dechen Dorji lost against Khavantsev Alexey from Kazakhstan in the 60kg category. 

Dechen Dorji, the country’s top boxer, suffered a defeat in the very first round of the tournament. His opponent, Khavantsev Alexey, is a renowned boxer from Kazakhstan, boasting numerous international medals.

The tournament began on April 27 and will end on May 7. A total of 397 boxers from 25 nations are competing.

The three boxers and two officials will arrive in the country on May 8. 

Pages