KuenselOnline

Sunday, March 29th, 2015 - 5:47 AM
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Online migration making headway

Yearender/ICT: While information and communications technology continues to advance, the past year showed that our legislation and capabilities to counter cyber crime have remained more or less static. Despite it being a crime, several locally made pornographic movie clips were shared by users of a mobile application – WeChat.  When the issue first surfaced, the police and the Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority, the two most relevant law enforcement agencies, repeatedly pointed out that no action could be taken until a written complaint was received. [... Read More]

Spiritual wellbeing of country strengthened

Yearender/Religion: Preservation of Bhutan’s rich spiritual heritage, consolidating and sanctifying historical monuments, and strengthening the spiritual wellbeing of the country, were the highlights of the religious activities in the year of the wood male horse. His Majesty the King, on July 10, placed the first sachu bumter (religious vessel for land stability) into the ground of the Wangduephodrang dzong utse (central tower), re-sanctifying the site that once housed the fortress.  The 17th century fortress that used to house more than 200 monks was completely destroyed [... Read More]

Cementing ties, expanding role

Yearender/Foreign Affairs: Bhutan not only consolidated its diplomatic relations, especially with India, in the past year, but it also made a significant expansion as a member of the international community. The close diplomatic relations and shared spiritual heritage between Bhutan and India were once again displayed the past year, with visits being exchanged at the very top levels of leadership. His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen visited India in October.  While in India, Their Majesties graced the 167th Founder’s Day celebration of [... Read More]

They don’t tell; we don’t ask

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Yearender/Media: Why don’t you ask tough questions? That was what an Indian journalist observed about Bhutanese media when they were in the country during Prime Minister Modi’s visit. Let alone tough questions, the Bhutanese media didn’t ask many questions. So the visit was covered mainly through pictures, just as had been done on Bhutan’s foreign policy, or India.  But it wasn’t just during visits that the Bhutanese media remained an observer.  It didn’t ask tough questions for even attempts to clarify policy issues during the [... Read More]

Of new beginnings

Yearender/Judiciary: It was literally a year of new beginnings for the judiciary. The year saw the inauguration of the seat of the judiciary, the new Supreme Court complex, inaugurated by the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi.  On June 15, Prime Minister Modi, who visited Bhutan as his first foreign destination after winning the election, unveiled the inaugural plaque of the Supreme Court. Located in Hejo and constructed at a cost of more than Nu 705.50M, the Supreme Court comprises five buildings and is symbolically placed [... Read More]

Corruption gets its comeuppance

Yearender/ACC: Either the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) is going gung ho in its fight against corruption, or corruption is on the rise, going by the cases in the commission’s hand. The year of the horse saw several high profile cases, like the lhakhang Karpo issue, Gelephu dungpa’s embezzlement and fraudulent case, illegal transaction of land, corruption in immigration service, and currency trading, come under the ACC scanner. The lhakhang Karpo corruption case is already in court, prompting some to question how the foreign minister got [... Read More]

Labour pains of another kind

Yearender/Employment: It was a laborious year for the Horse, as it saw the unemployment rate leap from 2.1 percent to 2.9 percent.  Youth unemployment rate also saw an increase from 7.3 percent to 9.6 percent in just one year. The unemployment figure rose despite numerous efforts and promises to create jobs.  Towards the end of the year, the labour ministry, through their job portal, gave employment to about 4,471 jobseekers out of 8,425 registered jobseekers.  A total of 8,686 registered jobseekers were spread across the [... Read More]

Thai tourists ride high in the horse year

Yearender/Tourism: If not for the Bhutan-Thailand friendship offer last year, China would have emerged as the top market, having beat America that usually dominates the international arrivals segment. The horse year treated the tourism industry well, with an increase in tourist arrivals by about 15 percent from the previous year.  Tourism earnings also increased to USD 73.2M last year, the highest so far.  In 2013, tourism earnings stood at USD 63.5M. The resilient exchange rate in recent years also helped the sector immensely.  Last year, [... Read More]

Calamities galore, command centre yet to materialise

Yearender/Disaster: With the boat capsizing in Mangdechu on May 10 killing nine people, and the fire that razed most of the Sarpang town on January 15, the elements of water and fire smouldered the wood horse year almost to ashes. The 18 adult passengers on board the boat at Rindibi in Zhemgang were on their way to Rindibi to collect cement for the school construction when the boat capsized.  The incident left behind many children fatherless. Sarpang, the district, which was already making headlines for [... Read More]

Shift of focus from big cities to small towns

Yearender/Settlement: Headed by the first women minister, the works and human settlement ministry made an important commitment in 2014 to amend the Local Government (LG) Act. The outcome was to have 20 thrompons, 140 thromde thuemis (representatives) and 20 yenlag throm thuemis in the 2016 LG elections. Having local governments in place, especially the thromde tshogde, is expected to ensure balanced regional development, which should improve the lives and opportunities of people outside Thimphu and Phuentsholing.  It is also expected to bring balanced planning in [... Read More]

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