31 May, 2009 -A lot of storms have been whipped up against the constituency development grant (CDG), which gives National Assembly (NA) members Nu 2 million each, every year for five years, to be used in their constituencies, for development projects not covered by the budget.
Even as CDG was passed by the NA and approved by the cabinet.
The opposition leader recently approached the finance ministry and the election commission of Bhutan to lodge his complaint against CDG. This may be a belated move.
The opposition leader’s argument that CDG compromises “free and fair elections” needs to be re-examined in the present picture by the Supreme Court. Or if at all ECB has the mandate to rate any election related issues before or after the election.
The other door open for the opposition leader could be the parliament, where he can raise the CDG issue as an agenda for debate. But the way may be already fraught with obstacles.
After CDG was passed by the NA late last year, the National Council (NC) took up the task to oppose it. NC lambasted the grant and then quickly submitted the matter to His Majesty.
Whether it seriously warranted NC to trouble His Majesty with the issue is debatable. But, in the absence of a Supreme Court to which His Majesty, according to the Constitution, “may refer the question” to get a judicial review, the CDG for now may be a fait accompli.
Some say NC should have put up CDG for a joint sitting of parliament, to vote on the issue. But NA would have never fallen for it. Because their stance was that CDG was part of the money bill over which they had control, and NC’s recommendations, whatever they maybe, were not binding on NA.
30 May, 2009 - It’s chronic, it’s contagious and it’s cool. Ever since young people caught the Korean fever, thanks to TV channel Arirang, there’s been no looking back.
A continuous dose of Korean movies and drama further fueled the birth of a new fashion that was no nine-day wonder.Today, Koreanised culture is visible in youth clothes, hairstyles, shoes, bags and even lingo.
Says Sonam Wangmo, 19, a class XII student, who’s been a Korean freak since class IX. “We find their dressing style cool and I was crazy about actor Song Sung Won then.”
Bhutanese youth like Sonam say that they are able to relate to youth-themed films and dramas and find the young actors irresistible. “We love their love stories and think they’re very fashion forward,” says Yoenten Lhamo, 19.
With shops that sell only Korean wear coming up, and even Bhutanese clothes with the Korean touch, this fever that has gripped our youth is only taking hold.
It was pure demand, says the owner of Dr Fish, a shop that deals exclusively in Korean attire. “Bhutanese girls are all influenced by Korean fashion and most of my customers are teenagers,” says owner Tshering Dhondup. “I don’t have much for boys because, like anywhere, it’s girls who shop more.”
Skinny pants, messy hairdos and short pretty skirts are what attract our youth to this culture that has gained popularity, especially among the millennial generation.
While popular throughout the Asian continent, Korean cultural influence is strongest in East Asia, especially dominant in China, Japan and Southeast Asia, spreading to India, the Middle East, Central Asia, Iran, Israel, Turkey and Russia. The Korean wave is seen as a product of globalisation and the rise of capitalism in Asia.
But, as different cultures seep in and converge in the minds of our youth, parents feel that Bhutanese culture is being diluted.
“This fever has swept the youth like a tsunami and parents are worried that they may drown in it,” says a corporate employee Choden. “Korean fashion is an adoption of the west and, if they go so much into it, we’ll definitely lose our culture,” says another parent of three, Thinley.
While parents are concerned, youth, however, insist it’s not being threatened. As one of them says, “Fashion is a part of change and it won’t be long before it changes again, so, there’s no need to freak out!”
“I can’t say if its good or bad but if you weigh, it definitely has more negative points. They shouldn’t forget their culture even as they adopt new cultures.”
– Thinley, father of three
“Its good for shopkeepers but culturally its not good if our children are more inclined towards fashion.”
– Rinzin, mother of two
“Children copy it thinking its good but we don’t think its good. Forget about children, even we don’t wear our traditional wear often.”
– Phub Gyetshen, father of three
“Its not good at all and don’t even look good. We need to preserve our culture and I keep telling my grandchildren that.”
- Rinzin Tshomo, 80, grand mother of three
29 May, 2009 – The past three-day floods began when Cyclone Aila dumped warm rains on Bhutan from down south Bay of Bengal. With the world’s climate undergoing dramatic change, this will not be the last we will see of it. Most of us thought that the threat of floods was only from up north Lunana glacial lakes.While we cannot prevent natural disasters from occurring, we can, however, reduce their destructive impact. We have much to do.
The bill should also require its director to report directly to the Lyonchhoen and have the power to mobilise resources of the government quickly during natural calamities.
He should also maintain an up-to-date inventory of the emergency response team and technical expertise available from all sources, and implement a system for reaching needed equipment and teams to a disaster site within 24 hours.
The bill should require top DM officials to have emergency management experience or training.
DM could create dedicated teams in vulnerable hazard areas that would be made up of DM officials, as well as counterparts from the government, police and army, which would, in turn, train together with local governments to prepare for a possible natural disaster. We are aware DM is trying to do just that, but the strategy and approach needs to be fine-tuned. Distribution of literature is a good idea too.
Reduction of the country’s vulnerabilities by downsizing targets with catastrophic potential, like Punakha, is crucial and DM is well on track on this.
However, establishment of early detection system, flood-warning sirens in hazard zones, and evacuation drills must be done fast.
We can’t know for sure how much time we have left to get prepared right before disaster strikes the next time. We know only that there will be a next time – and that we better be ready for it.
27 May, 2009 – So, son, how are you doing in school? Well, Apa, Im centre forward in football and right back in studies. Its an old joke but still relevant to our times. It highlights the conflict between doing well in class and in sports, a real concern in our part of the world where a future is often associated with academic excellence.Excelling in the classroom could mean college, a secure job in government, but where will making it to the school soccer team take you? The national squad? Then after the boots are hung up?
So sports have suffered not only at a policy level but also as societys priority. This holds true even today. Once a child starts spending a lot of time playing his or her favourite sport, their parents begin to worry. But if he or she is a bookworm, its fine. The child is also slowly brainwashed and the enthusiasm killed by repeated comments of parents and teachers that it would be more useful to know why an apple falls to the ground than mastering kicking a piece of leather.
But this is the way things are. As a country still grappling with basic needs like clean drinking water and a doctor shortage, sports has never been on the priority list.
Not very long ago Bhutanese students dominated the sports scene in the boarding schools of neighbouring Darjeeling district. On returning home, most gave it up to take up responsibilities in the government that was then short of people, who went to school.
Today, the situation has changed. Growing numbers of young people are becoming couch potatoes, the government is unable absorb everyone with a schooling and we all want our sportsmen and national teams to do well internationally.
Its hard to forget the thrill when our national soccer team almost beat India in the semi-finals of the SAF games last year. We all want to feel that kind of pounding excitement again.
But we also want sports to be a priority not only to perform well and get our children out of the house and away from the TV screen, but because its a good way to develop emotional, intellectual and social skills. Its on the court or the field that we learn about teamwork, respecting the rules and the referees decision and that participation and effort is as important as the outcome.
For all the time it spent on the back-burner, sports must be given the priority it deserves, even if that means putting in a lot more time and money to create more opportunities. That way no apa should have to worry too much if his alu is playing right back in the classroom.
26 May, 2009 – The paperless culture is slowly seeping in. With most communication done electronically, its not surprising to see even books going that way.
As with any new technology product, the e-book is causing waves of excitement around the globe. What started as a means for academic research is today available widely to the general public.
Handbag doorbell alarm: With two settings, you can either hang it on your bedroom door or select setting A and its a doorbell. You can press the flower to activate. Setting B sets a motion sensing alarm, which plays back your pre-recorded message to warn you if someone is trying to enter your room or warn them off if you are out.
E-books or electronic books are books you can read on computers. Like regular books, they have the same information and involve the same reading experience. E-books look just like Microsoft documents but transformed into an ebook format, such as portable document format (PDF).
If your local bookstore or library does not have books on subjects that interest you, you can always turn to books on the net.
You cannot physically hold an e-book and it can get a little irksome to sit in front of your computer to read an entire book, when you can instead curl up with a regular book anywhere you want.
|1971 Project Gutenberg, the first ever e-book service, was started by Michael Hart at the University of Illinois.|
E-books are an alternate reading choice for the tech-savvy and offer a new dimension to the written word. And love it or loathe it, e-books are here to stay with sales predicted to skyrocket in the near future.
E-books are better than traditionally bound books because:
You save trees by not using paper
Pages will never turn yellow nor get doggie ears no matter many times you read them
Adjustable font size.
Can add digital bookmarks.
Can store them on your computer
You can print an e-book with the click of a button.
E-books can show links to more information and related websites.
But its disadvantages are
E-books require personal computers and special devices, which are expensive.
Screen glare and eye strain are serious concerns for any potential e-book readers.
Not all e-books are free.
Not convenient to read. Sitting in front of a computer can cause muscle strain and backache.
By Pema Choezom
26 May, 2009 – Sonam Wangdi, 26, is a marketing officer of mobile car cleaning centre. He plans to open jointly a car products showroom.
1. What were your plans after your studies?
Id wanted to join the police because I find the job interesting, but that didnt happen. So now Im helping my friend with his marketing.2. Why do you want to start the car products showroom?
Itll be a part of the car cleaning centre. Its a new business idea and we plan to open in Paro, Phuentsholing and Thimphu.
3. What do you think about the civil service?
I dont know but I feel its much easier than doing business. Its a job with less tension and not very challenging.
4. How will you manage the capital for your business?
My parents are willing to help me, so I dont have to pay interest like I would if Id taken a loan.
5. Whats your advice to wannabe young entrepreneurs?
Be determined, develop your ideas and be ready to face problems.
26 May, 2009 – Sir,
I am 29 years old, 53but weighing 69 kgs. I am a working mother, thus I hardly have time for any fitness regime. Please suggest considering my busy schedule as to how to keep myself fit and start reducing my weight. And whats the ideal weight for my height?
Many working mothers face similar problems. To achieve a healthier mind and body, I recommend you to brisk walk first thing in the morning for 30 minutes on empty stomach, three times a week.
You can also reducethe amount of saturated fat content in your food presently like fat found inred meat and butter.
Your ideal weight as per your height would be approximately 50 kgs, but I would request you not to take such numbers seriously, because the most important thing is how healthy you feel, not how much you weigh. I have seen far heavier people in much better fitness level, compared to those who starve themselves to meet their ideal weight.
My advicewill not only help you lose weight, but improve your cardiovascular strength, increase your metabolic rate,and eventually makeyou healthier!!!
26 May, 2009 – The ongoing river embankment work in Bomdeling, Trashiyangtse, is an optimistic ray of sunshine that we hope will dispel a long and painful shadow of problems caused by the river Kholongchu that runs through the valley.After eating away Bomdeling paddy fields, patches by patches and years on many ends, the Kholongchu flood wreaked its severest deluge in 2004, burying underneath its debris more than 1000 acres of paddy fields, belonging to over 70 households.
The flood also prompted a huge concern for the endangered and protected black-necked cranes, which used the fields for their winter-feeding place.
They fed on the leftover paddy grains.
This largely led to about half of the cranes flying off to the Chorten Kora paddy fields in the day, away from the valley in Trashiyangtse, to feed. They returned in the evening.
Although there is no drastic decrease in bird’s number coming to Bomdeling – 150 in 2004 to 130 today – conservation experts said that the flooded situation was, nonetheless, depriving the cranes of their habitat and affecting their conservation.
Kept that way, in the long run, could keep the cranes away from coming to the valley altogether.
The intervention from the Trashiyangtse dzongkhag, and funding from the World Wildlife Fund, therefore, comes at a critical stage. The damaged paddy fields buried under the two metres sand may take some time to reclaim but it’s a positive start. Farmers are happy.
We are also pleased to learn from the dzongdag that the embankment will not harm or alter the crane’s roosting ground, which is the long strip of island in the middle of river Kholongchu. This is a significant protection fence for the cranes from its predators, which are usually four-legged wild animals, like the large type weasel Marten.
We hope that the dzongdag will keep his word.
The embankment also marks the beginning of the end of the Kholongchu big flood.
The source of the flood was the constant erosion of the loose Bareykang mountain, three-day-walk up from Bomdeling, which spewed huge amount of debris downstream during monsoon, creating large natural dams along the Kholongchu course. The breach of these dams caused the floods.
Trashiyangtse dzongdag, however, told Kuensel that the loose Bareykang mountain had been stripped off nearly all its soil today. So future landslides were unlikely to occur from the notorious mountain. This is indeed great news.
“The biggest issue the whole world faces is habitat destruction”
25 May, 2009 – Everyone knows who Nadal and Federer are, but only ardent tennis players and lovers in Thimphu know who Jigme Sherab is. The diffident and soft-spoken, National Open winner of 2005 is courteous and obliging.Jigme, 23, who is best known for his serve and forehand on court, has won many matches both in and outside the country. He participated in the 23rdUniversity Games in Ismar, Turkey. He also played in Kolkata in 2003 and 2004; and in Delhi in 2005.
Jigme also won the Centenary Open last year in straight sets (7-5, 6-4) against Yonten Gyaltshen. But, according to the once top-seeded player of Bhutan, his win in the 2005 National Open was the most memorable.
It was the best feeling … I won in straight sets against a friend, Depeesh Chettri, Jigme reminisces. Depeesh was also one of my coaches when I was a junior, he adds.
In his most humiliating losses, Jigme admits he loses his temper. I remember I was 17. I was playing as a junior then … I felt so bad after losing, I broke my racket … but I dont do it anymore, says the now calm and collected tennis player.
Jigme recently lost in the semi-finals to the current national champion, Kinley Wangchuk in the Spring Open this April, but most of his friends still consider Jigme the better player.
He might have lost this time but, for me, Jigme is still the top player, says Ugyen, a fellow tennis player. Jigme looks all gentlemanly and soft on the outside, but hes very aggressive on court. I particularly like his forehand … it reminds me of Marat Safin, says Phuntsho, a friend and tennis enthusiast.
Jigme was 15 when he first started playing tennis but admits he should have started younger. It was his mother, who encouraged him to take up tennis. Both my mother and younger sister play tennis … my mother is not a regular player though … my sisters in college so I dont know if shes still into it, says Jigme.
He started training with head coach, Tshering Namgay as a junior and worked with David Fisher, an Australian coach back in 2004.
Jigme doesnt have a fitness regime nor does he follow any strict diet but he plays a lot of games. I love the game of tennis but hate losing.
Today, Jigme thinks that tennis is not getting enough attention like football and cricket. It would really encourage our juniors if the federation organised more matches outside the country to build their confidence and get exposure … at the moment, were not even participating in SAARC games, says Jigme, with a tone of disappointment.
But he is hopeful because there are a lot of children interested in the game today and, although, the ratio of girls is still less, the numbers are increasing.
Jigme is currently undergoing the post-graduate diploma in financial management at the Royal Institute of Management (RIM). Given a chance, Id love to train as a professional coach and work part time with the tennis federation.
By Pema Choezom
25 May, 2009 – There are several ways to prove that archery is our national sport.
Consider the number of archery ranges that keep popping up everywhere. Actually, any open space more than 100 yards usually serves as a range. Could it be compared to the alleys in India being used to play cricket? Paro dzongkhag, for that matter, has about a 100 ranges, spread all over the valley floor and up in the mountains as well. Thimphu has its share of archery ranges by the banks of the Thimphuchhu and near the forests of Mothithang. In Phuentsholing, one permanent range is inside a park.All this goes to show that the national sport is as popular as ever. Some say that it may have never been more popular than it is now. This has been made possible, to an extent, by the numerous tournaments organized through the year, the attractive prizes offered and the sport itself not losing it traditional touch as a festive social occasion.
The use of modern and expensive equipment has also given it a classy appeal, while greatly increasing the chances of kareys and raising the thrill (and danger) of competition. At the same time archers have taken a personal initiative to contribute and promote the sport. The archery federation therefore has not had much to do to keep it popular.
Our youth are, however, not into archery. For many, a compound bow is out of reach and using a traditional bamboo one does not appeal. They would rather play football and basketball and, nowadays, cricket. But facilities are lacking for these sports to flourish.
Take, for example, the Chang Jiji football ground. It is a sandstorm in winter and spring and a paddy field in summer. Most schools in Thimphu do not have proper football grounds and not many let others share the facility.
In such a situation, youth cannot be blamed, with no other outlet to burn youthful energy, for spending time shooting terrorists in video game parlours and indulging in harmful activities.
Some effort has been made to increase sports facilities, but there is a need to do much more to keep our youth meaningfully engaged. Our youth numbers are rising and getting more easily distracted year by year. Encouraging all types of sports, particularly the ones they may be keen on, is also a good way to inculcate values like sportsmanship and learning to win and lose gracefully.