Saturday, March 7th, 2015 - 7:39 AM
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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]

The contentious issue of natural resources

Yearender/Environment: The mining sector was in the news for all the wrong reasons last year. Conflicts between mine operators and communities erupted mostly in Thimphu.  Villagers, becoming aware of the adverse impacts, started complaining about the problems from the mines on their livelihoods.  It resulted in the temporary shutdown of one mine in Khariphu.  Currenlty, five mines, including the Khariphu one, are fighting cases at the Thimphu district court. The small community of Khariphu contested the license renewal of a mine that operates above their [... Read More]

A year in which culture took the limelight

Yearender/Arts: The horse year saw much strides made, when it came to the state of art in the country.  The year saw many avenues being opened for artists through different themed art exhibitions, literary fests, to the Voluntary Artists’ Studio of Thimphu (VAST) attaining civil society organisation (CSO) status. The year kicked off with a joint exhibition titled Impressions of Happiness between Bhutanese and Singaporean artists held in Singapore in April. The artists came together and expressed their concept of happiness through their artworks, which [... Read More]

Football rules … on and off the field

Yearender/Sports: Football was once again the dominant sport, both on the field and on TV  in the Year of the Horse. While 32 nations battled for the World Cup in Brazil, thousands of Bhutanese joined the international fans to support their favourite team.  Rain, light and heavy, didn’t stop the fans from coming out to the Changlimithang stadium to watch their teams, some on whom heavy bets were placed, on the giant screens. A miniature seven-on-seven World Cup fan fest tournament was also organised to [... Read More]

Unease along the southern flank

Yearender/Security: There was generally peace and harmony in the country, as predicted by the astrologers.  However, the prediction didn’t come true for people living along the southern borders. Miscreants from across the border robbed Bhutanese commuters along the Indian highway; they came into homes, took away Bhutanese and held them for ransom. While schools across the country have already begun, the 14-year old student, who was abducted on December 16, is yet to be freed from the clutches of the kidnappers.  Two drivers, who went [... Read More]

Drug offenses buck downward trend in crime

Yearender/Law and order:As if the spate of kidnappings and robberies along the border towns were not enough to keep them occupied, the horse year sent the police bolting into action to nab escaped convicts, solve a cold blooded murder at Central Plaza, and call one of their men, accused of rape and assault, mentally unstable. Although crime rates were reported to have declined by almost 16 percent from the previous year, the horse year saw a 30 percent increase in cases involving possession of controlled [... Read More]

Hardly a dull moment

Yearender/Parliament: There was drama, suspense and action at Parliament in June 2014.  In fact, the third session of the second parliament session will be remembered for the heated debate, more than on democracy, on the salary revision. The pay revision was mainly for civil servants, but the actual raise fell below the 25 percent for the highest raise, while cabinet ministers and the prime minister took the highest amount of revision at 131 and 67 percent respectively.  They were followed by the deputy speaker, the [... Read More]

When the sherig sector reformed

Yearender/Education: From the closure of the Education city project just as the Horse trotted in to the controversies on the leaked English II paper until the Sheep started bleating, the Sherig sector saw some of its highest highs and lowest lows in the year that passed by. Loaded with the highest share of the budget, the 100-year old sector galloped into a frenzy to reform the education sector. The school-feeding program received attention, 19 schools were granted autonomy and 24 schools were chosen to become [... Read More]

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