Saturday, December 20th, 2014 - 6:06 AM
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Closing the judge-journo gap

An ongoing workshop in the capital, perhaps the first of its kind, hopes to create a better working relationship between journalists and the judiciary. The two and half day workshop, which kicked off yesterday, has about 30 reporters, government spokespersons and lawyers participating. Such an initiative is most welcome. The working relationship between the judiciary and the media could definitely do with some improvement. While the larger and more significant debate is always about the independence of the fourth estate and the judiciary, important pillars [... Read More]

A black mark for Bhutan

When word went around yesterday that a Bhutanese woman was detained at the Suvarnabhumi international airport in Bangkok for alleged smuggling controlled substances, the instinctive question was how did she manage to take it out of Paro. More worrying, going by the talk, was that custom officials at the Paro airport couldn’t detect it.  The concerns are valid, as the amount of the substance smuggled was huge, 4.9kg of ketamine, and it had to go through security and customs checks at Paro airport. Custom officials [... Read More]

A terrible loss

In a tragic accident yesterday at Haa, 11 soldiers were killed during a routine procedure of destroying unserviceable ammunition. After the plane crash that killed several Bhutanese in Nepal, this is probably one of the worst tragedies the country has experienced. The site, which was identified for the purpose at Haa, was riddled with pieces of cloth the explosion left. At home, it left families of the bereaved in disbelief of the news they had heard. It was not a war that their father, husband [... Read More]

A promising first step

In what has come as a huge relief to the government and the people of Bhutan, the government of India has, yesterday, committed the Rs 45B, which Bhutan has requested for the realisation of its 11th Plan. Bhutan’s closest friend and development partner also agreed to grant the new government’s Rs 5B economic stimulus plan, and Rs 4B for the 10th Plan’s spillover activities.  This takes the total amount committed by India to Rs 54B.  With the 11th Plan already in its third month, securing [... Read More]

Come September

By all accounts September, the festive season for the capital, appears to be the month when the ball will actually start rolling for the new government and the new parliament. The new prime minister is in India on a six-day visit on the invitation of the Indian PM, and is specifically there to finalise India’s assistance to Bhutan in the 11th Plan. Bhutan is asking for about Rs 54B in development assistance for the current plan, including Rs 5B for the stimulus package and Rs [... Read More]

Keeping a good thing going

For the new government, it was another first of sorts when they met with the local press yesterday, continuing a tradition instituted by the previous government, where the cabinet answers in person questions from the media at least once a month. This time the forum did not take place in the National Assembly complex, it was in some place away from institutional structures, and the cabinet did not wear their orange scarves, making it less formal, which must have been welcomed by the journalists. But [... Read More]

The ups and downs of higher education

The education ministry announcing a list of 22 universities across India as found to be fake by the University Grants Commission (UGC) of India, which also de-recognised another 44, should come as welcome news to thousands of parents in Bhutan. India is, by far, the most popular destination not only for trade but also for higher education. Every year, thousands of Bhutanese students go to India, starting from the neighbouring Darjeeling hills all the way down to the state of Tamil Nadu, to pursue a [... Read More]

Notch one up for transparency

So the right to information (RTI) bill, which some prefer to call access to information bill, will be up for discussion in the first session of the second parliament next month. The new prime minister has already posted a link to the draft policy on social media seeking feedback from the public. Having an RTI Act, which, among other things, is expected to foster citizen participation in governance and promote government transparency and accountability, is a pledge the new government made during the election campaign. [... Read More]

Rocked by the ripple effect

Most Bhutanese would be familiar with the saying, “When India sneezes, Bhutan catches a cold” to indicate how closely integrated Bhutan is with its southern neighbour at so many levels. Consider the sky rocketing price of onions, a big issue India, big enough even to topple governments, because the pungent tear-inducing bulb just about goes with every kind of Indian meal, fried, boiled or consumed raw. Here too, consumers have been complaining about the price of onions, around Nu 80 a kg in the Thimphu [... Read More]

Tightening belts at the top

The new government’s cost cutting measures to curtail wasteful public expenditure has been well received, even by detractors, if reluctantly. Whichever way one looks at it, the initiative is commendable considering that Bhutan, as a nation, does not have much cash to spare and needs the support of donors to start up new projects and build basic infrastructure. Besides, prevailing circumstances are such that any move that will add to public expenditure could give the much stronger opposition and a more discerning electorate the ammunition [... Read More]