Monday, April 20th, 2015 - 4:52 AM
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What will it take to civilise us?


A four-part attempt to ferret out the distinctive features that validate an educated person

Part II

Don’t be taken in by the red herrings of refinement

BEFORE GETTING to grips with the real deal, shall we first put the pretenders in their place?  Show them up for the phoneys they are?

There are many such frauds in our midst, mostly among the Big Three – the rich, powerful and famous – as aired last weekend in my pet peeve ‘doctorate’ vent.

Sure, they look, speak and dress well.  Why, they even smell good.  These self-styled patrons of the arts are bound to be at all the hotspots, to tick off the boxes as it were: gallery, recital, theatre, litfest,…

But are they truly civilised for all of that?  

We shall have to see, won’t we, if they can pass the litmus test that will separate, if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphor, the wheat from the chaff.

Yet who can deny the posh crowd has taste, style and panache?  Still, don’t mistake all that skin-deep stuff for the real McCoy.  The sense of discernment they own (and flaunt) is an acquired trait, a mere cosmetic, just for show; real culture cuts deep, down to the bone.  One is aesthetic, the other visceral.


One highway dropped, another deferred

Both are  ADB-funded southern east-west highway projects 

Roads: For security reasons, the government has deferred the constructions of the 68.3km Nganglam-Dewathang highway (NDH) indefinitely, and aborted the 98km Lhamoizingkha-Sarpang highway.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) was financing both the projects.

For the Nganglam-Dewathang highway, ADB has completed the project preparatory technical assistance (PPTA) worth about USD 670,000 between 2011 and 2012.  The department of roads (DoR), in doing the detail design of the road, spent Nu 12.59M (million).

Tender evaluations were completed, and the department was evaluating the financial bids, when the cabinet issued the directive.


Fishing for FDI

Govt. to be selective about sectors in which foreign speculation would be invited

Investment: Despite the government’s renewed thrust to fish foreign direct investment (FDI), it also admitted that the quest to emerge among the top 100 on ease of doing business ranking remains uncertain.

Ease of doing business index is one way to assess a potential investment destination for investors and the higher the ranking, the more conducive is the country for business.

The economic affairs minister, Norbu Wangchuk, said there were so many laws and policies entangled in making it easy for doing business. “We have to open each of these knots and it might take some time, but we’re working hard on this,” he said. “But I’m not sure whether we’ll be able to achieve the target.”


Elusive snow leopard sighted at JDNP

Wildlife: A rare sighting of three snow leopards stalking their prey was made at the Jigme Dorji National Park (JDNP), earlier this month.

While camera traps have been able to capture images of the elusive snow leopard, the last human sighting of a lone leopard was made in 2007.

A research team counting blue sheep at Tongdreyshesa, Thimphu, a three-day walk from the nearest motor road sighted the three leopards.

Tongdreyshesa is an alpine region of the park located 4,050 metres above sea level.


Japan government commits 29 ambulances next year

Grant: The Japanese government has committed Nu 89 million for the procurement of 29 ambulances, which the health ministry will receive in March next year.

The Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) secretary, Sonam Wangchuk, and the chief representative with JICA Bhutan, Yumiko Asakuma, signed a grant aid agreement for the replacement of ambulances phase II project yesterday. In 2011, the Japanese government gave 26 ambulances in the project’s first phase.

Department of Medical Services director general, Dr Ugen Dophu, said not all 29 ambulances are an additional to the existing 110 in the country. Nineteen would replace the old ones, which would be surrendered to the finance ministry. Some 48 ambulances in the country have been in use for more than its lifespan of 10 years.


A need to be worthy of the occasion

Before we know it, we are already in the third month of the year.  November 11 is not very far, and the nation has already gone into a celebratory mood.  There are a lot of events dedicated to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, who will be turning 60, by the Gregorian calendar, on November 11.

It is a historic year for Bhutanese.  A year for paying tribute to one of the greatest leaders Bhutanese have seen, a moment to honour the service of a monarch, who epitomises monarchy in our living memory.  It is indeed a momentous year for Bhutanese.


Porter-pony charges revised

DSC07415All set: A span of mules is readied at Ramthangka in Tsento to ferry tourists to Taktshang, Paro

This despite the fact that the earlier contract period has not been completed

Tourism: Giving in to the demands of the horse contractors in Paro, porter pony charges for tourism activities and services were revised on March 5, even though the three-year contract they had signed with the Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators (ABTO) is yet to expire.

The demand for increase in rates came following several issues last trekking season, where most horse owners refused to cater to tourists, and instead chose to ferry sandalwood to Phari, Tibet given its lucrative returns.

Although illegal, sandalwood trade is rampant in Paro, which is close to the northern border of Phari, Tibet.  Without a road to Phari, horses are used to transport sandalwood across the border.

Despite signing a three-year contract in March 2013, horse contractors demanded a revision on the agreed rates of Nu 250 a day, besides a 10 percent commission and a 50 percent of the payment for their return journey.  The rates were last revised in 2011 from Nu 150 to Nu 250 a pony.


Shoddy pipework leaves Pam PS high and dry

DSC_0040It was found that water pipes were not laid under the ground by the contractor

The contractor has been accused of not properly preparing the groundwork

Water: Soon after a new water source was constructed for Pam primary school (PPS) last year, the water pipes started to break resulting in an acute water shortage for months.

The school blames it on the shoddy work carried out by a local contractor, M/S Chengla Construction, and accuses them of not properly laying the water pipes underground.

M/S Chengla Construction was awarded the Nu 2.59M (million) worth contract to carry out the construction of drainage, retaining walls, pavement, water supply and fencing works at PPS on July 6, 2013.

Since the contractor was already involved in constructing the school principal’s quarter, the additional work was also awarded to him.  The contract period was for two months.

Without proper trenching work carried out, teachers said that villagers and animals damaged the pipes frequently, while the school had to carry out frequent maintenance.


Misgivings over new Jaldaka Bailey bridge

DSC_0491The tilted abutment isn’t an issue according to CDCL

The authorities concerned, however, aver that such fears are unfounded and misplaced

CDCL: People in Bara are skeptical about a bridge that has been constructed over Jaldaka river that connects Sipsu’s two gewogs Tendu and Bara.

The 160-foot bailey bridge, which was completed in November 2014, Bara villagers claim, is not properly constructed.

One of the tshogpas in Bara, Gopal Rai, said there was something wrong with the bridge’s ‘layout’. “Even a layman is able to make the difference,” the tshogpa said.

The bridge’s base plate hasn’t been placed within the avertment wall.  The base plate is a bailey bridge’s main feature that neutralises the load with bearing system on it.

The base plate, in engineering specifics, has to rest within the right position of avertment wall (concrete), according to engineers.


World Cup qualifiers second round draw on April 14

Screen-Shot-2015-03-18-at-11.54.47-PMHead coach Chokey Nima (Photo courtesy: FIFA)

Head coach Chokey Nima could be replaced before the next match

Football: Who is waiting for Bhutan in the second round of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers will be known on April 14, when the fixtures for the second round will be drawn at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Officials from the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) will be representing the country during the draw.

A total of 40 teams from Asia, including the six teams who qualified from the first round, will be divided into eight groups of five each.  The probability of Bhutan facing the regional powers like Japan, South Korea and Iran is 1/40.

12 teams, including the winners from each group and four best group runners-up, will advance to the third round of FIFA World Cup qualification, as well as qualify for the AFC Asian Cup finals.