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Friday, March 6th, 2015 - 9:58 AM
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The Year of the Sheep is upon us

Before we knew it, the Year of the Horse has galloped away. It was a fairly successful year.
Disasters were minimum, we enjoyed peace and prosperity, and even with a lot of hurdles on the economic front, the year sailed through smoothly.
But what do we do at the end of any year? We look ahead to a new year!
Bhutan this year has special reasons to do so. It is a year of celebrations. We are already in the mood. Celebrations to mark the 60th birth anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo have kicked off. While major events are lined up to mark the special birth anniversary, every single event is dedicated to His Majesty the Drukgyal Zhipa. From now until November 11, we will be immersed in colour, joy and excitement. It is a year to anticipate and to remember, whatever the datho says.
It is a special year because we are celebrating the birth anniversary of a King of destiny. It is a befitting year to pay tribute to a great leader and to rededicate ourselves to the aspirations His Majesty the Drukgyal Zhipa had for this great country and its people.
We need not take part in every dance or programme to show our gratitude to our beloved Drugyal Zhipa. The simplest way each individual can contribute to fulfilling the aspirations of Drukgyal Zhipa is by being true to ourselves by fulfilling our responsibilities.
Whether we are a simple farmer, a driver, a teacher, a civil servant, an elected representative or a Dasho, all we have to do is keep in mind what His Majesty the King said during the 106th National Day address.
In his address to the nation in 2013, His Majesty said that we have become experts in crafting plans, exhibiting better intelligence, expounding ideas and never failing in words. The gap lies between commitment and output. In other words, we fail to deliver results, quality results within the stipulated time. There is no point in having the grand plans or programmes if the end result measures up to nothing.
The datho predicts a grim year ahead with warnings of natural disasters. We have now to prepare. Traditional belief has measures to avert disasters or misfortune by way of kurims and rimdos. This we trust the dratshang will do. But in today’s world, disasters can be political or economic. To avert these, we have our work hard.
If the datho predicts that it is inauspicious for construction or venturing into new business, we will see fewer investments, which in turn would result in lesser job creations and poor real economic growth. It is time for us to prepare and craft good policies and translate them into reality.
The Sheep is known for its calmness and gentleness. It is during times of calm and peace that a lot can be achieved. This gives us hope for a successful New Year.
Happy Losar!

BT invests USD 7.491M towards better mobile services

Telecom: Bhutan Telecom (BT) expects to remove 90 percent of the problems related to B-mobile services and its connectivity by September this year.
BT’s chief executive officer (CEO), Tshewang Gyeltshen, said the company would spend USD 7.491M to improve mobile connectivity services across the country.
“It’s a big investment,” the CEO said, accepting the current complaints from the public today. “We’re planning to work through all the problems.”
Tshewang Gyeltshen attributed the current problems to timeworn equipment, outdated system, and towers. Some of them are unable to cater to the services required and have to be replaced.
According to BT officials, the towers’ capacities also need expansion. “The towers have certain capacity as per the number of users,” the CEO said, adding the capacity has to be increased if the number of users increased. “Users have increased tremendously.”
BT officials also made it clear that it would take time, because the coverage was huge. However, work started since last December.
The CEO, meanwhile, said there were limited people with the capacity to do the required expansion work. “Having deployed people in problematic pockets, problems in many areas have been solved.”
Meanwhile, officials also mentioned that the BT base was “small,” meaning the market was not huge and the revenue low, unlike in other countries.
Given the constant change in technology, the costs incurred in any telecom works were huge, officials said. BT CEO said people want fast service at cheap rates, which, according to him, was hard to maintain.
“However, our motto is to provide the most reliable and effective services,” Tshewang Gyeltshen said.
In 2013, the company also invested Nu 200M and has currently carried out two systems’ audits.
Rajesh Rai

A Malady Called Rural-Urban Migration: Part IX

TurnipFarmers need quick and economic means to access markets for their produce

If we are serious about reversing rural-urban migration, the priority should be working towards creating a conducive atmosphere for income generation.
We take pride in declaring ourselves as an agrarian society yet, we have allowed our farmers to be totally disenchanted with farming turning them into consumers, from their traditional role of producers.
Food self-sufficiency is said to be at the core of our development planning for the past four decades. Allowing our farmers to abandon their farms and villages isn’t the best strategy to achieving our goals. Small wonder than that instead of being self-sufficient in food, our food import bill for the year 2013 stood at Nu.6.3B. Rice alone accounted for Nu.1.57B.
Resettlement & Consolidation of Villages:
One of the biggest problems to effective service delivery in the rural areas is that our villages are too fragmented and isolated. One of the reasons why the villages still remain poorly developed is because it is not cost-effective to deliver essential services because of low population density in the villages.
It is time to consider resettlement and consolidation of villages to form larger human settlements to effectively counter wildlife predation. We did try this sometime in the late 70s and early 80s. We need to look at this very seriously once again – because one way to counter wildlife predation is by out-numbering them.
In addition, larger areas under cultivation will mean that cost of solar fencing will become economical through shared burden and economies of scale. Marketing of farm produces will be simpler and cheaper. Farmers can become better organised to collect, pack, deliver and market their produces.
Access to Markets:
It is not enough that the farmers produce – they need quick and economic means to access markets for their produces. Unfortunately, two of the biggest complaints of the farming community appear to be that:
1. They are too far away from the centres of commerce; and
2. They are priced out by cheap imports form India and third countries.
The above two problems are not insurmountable. When they say they are too far away from markets, it translates to transportation challenges. This problem would be solved if we can organise pick-up from centralised pick-up points in villages. This will take some doing, but it is a matter of building up organisational set up to pick up, sort, pack, store and transport to distribution centres from where bulk movement of produces to consumption centres can be organised.
This means we need to create a distribution network around the country. This can be done by private operators but with government encouragement.
Price is always an issue. Unfortunately, Bhutanese people want too much profit for too little value. This stems from the fact that they are poorly educated in the concept of costing. They do not know how to price their produce. As a result, they are priced out by imports. What they actually mean is that they are getting less profit! Thus, one of the most important exercises we need to conduct is to educate Bhutanese farmers to be reasonable in their expectations.
To encourage local production, selective restrictions on imports should be imposed. Bhutanese farmers cannot compete with imports because of the scale of production. However, consumers in Bhutan will always be willing to pay a higher price for locally produced food items because they are mostly organic and healthy and safe compared with those imported and sold at Sunday markets.
The government needs to help create an effective marketing and distribution network. However, there would be no point to producing if the produces cannot be marketed. Therefore, we need to create or invent markets for the produces.

Part X
In 2013, a staggering 53,307 students, or 31 percent of the total students in the country received free food from the WFP and the government under its School Feeding Program (SFP).
From 2014 through 2018, the WFP has earmarked a budget of US$ 8.6M (Nu 581M) that it will pump into this program.
In 2015 alone, the government is expected to spend Nu 269.980M to feed school children.
Where is all this money going? To India!
What has prevented Bhutan and Bhutanese farmers from supplying most of the food items purchased under the SFP? Nobody seems to have thought of this. We need to think and act upon.
The Centralised School Feeding Program of the education ministry and the WWF represents one single assured market for the Bhutanese farmers – it represents a Nu 500M worth of business every year. Why haven’t we tapped into this ready market? Why haven’t we looked at supplying to other institutionalised bodies such as RBP, RBA, RBG, colleges and VTI’s and monk bodies – to meet their food needs from healthy and safe produces available within the country?
Buying from within generates income for the rural people. Sizeable income from farm produces means that farmers will be discouraged from leaving their villages. This will curtail imports and prevent outflow of Rupees. Generation of business in rural areas will ensure that Goontongpas will start to return to their villages to take up farming.
Educational institutions can be the engine of growth in the rural areas. In fact, one of the main reasons why the UN Res Rep considered my ideas too radical (please refer my first article) and refused to publish was because of my suggestion that all government funded schools in the urban centres like Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangdue and Phuentsholing, should be auctioned off to private operators.
My idea was and still is, that Bhutanese have now become economically efficient to be able to afford the cost of educating their own children. Therefore, they should not continue to seek kidu from the government. Thus those who wish to remain in the urban centres must be burdened with having to pay private schools to educate their children.
If they cannot or do not wish to, they have the option to work in the rural areas where, my idea is that the government should open up public/central schools with free boarding and tuition. In this respect, the recent announcement by the government to consolidate a large number of schools to form central schools is in tune with my idea. However, they fall short of the real potential such an idea offers, simply because the government is thinking small.
Starting huge central/public schools in the rural areas should serve a purpose that go beyond educating children. It should be an engine of growth; it must generate economic activities that can give employment; it must keep the farming community within the vicinity busy producing all year round. It should not only serve the farming community but these schools must open up opportunities for all sorts of businesses- poultry, piggery, dairy farming, laundry services, bakery, banking, Internet services, photocopy and documentation centres etc.
However, key to the success of these schools will be that they have to be big. Each of these schools – around 4 to 5 spread around the country – must have about 5,000 students each. Such a number opens up all sorts of possibilities. Imagine how many bakers and poultry farmers will be needed to serve breakfast to a school of 5,000 students.
These schools will also help create regional hubs such as Yenla towns. These will help absorb few of the migrants that otherwise end up in urban areas. Free education in the rural areas will help draw talent to the rural areas thereby making it possible for them to develop faster and better.
These schools will not only help end Goongtongs but will also help reverse the process of rural-urban migration.
Contributed by  Yeshey Dorji
Photographer & Blogger
www.yesheydorji.blogspot.com
[email protected]

The Power of the Inner Journey

IMG_7466

From a first reading of ‘As I Am, So Is My Nation’
Review: There is good news for book lovers. The second edition of former Minister of Education Thakur Singh Powdyel’s ‘As I Am, So Is My Nation’ has come out of the press as a refreshing contribution to the rich corpus of South Asian writing in English.
An impressive collection of twenty-seven chapters, the work represents the author’s deep understanding of many of the questions we ponder as citizen, parent, son, daughter, educator, leader, builder, bearer, or philosopher.
The book’s free-flowing poetry, rich wisdom and penetrating insights give it the qualities of what the seventeenth century English poet John Milton called “a good book”, one that embodies the “precious lifeblood of a master spirit”. The recurrent theme of “harmonized perfection” weaves its many pieces together as a fine work of art.
Through striking illustrations and telling allusions, the book argues that our ability to understand and appreciate the wisdom of interrelatedness (or oneness) and how it influences our daily life is determined by how the mind is nurtured at home, in school, in office, and in society. Hence, works of art, architecture, history, language, literature, or the values of democracy or diversity will only sustain on the strength and character of the mind.
The celebrated American writer Henry David Thoreau once said that “A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint”. ‘As I Am, So Is My Nation’ is a celebration of our innate ability to cultivate goodness. This capability develops through intelligent training of the sense faculties. Reading the chapter ‘Gifts of My Life’ brings all of the reader’s senses to full play – imbibing the majesty of the sun or the moon, the sound of solemn prayer or poetry, raindrops or sweet laughter. The book’s many powerful images evoke a sacred sense of affinity with nature as well as a painful awareness of how the human mind is continually exposed to the trivial and how it deprives itself of what truly sustains it.
‘As I Am, So Is My Nation’ is characterized by discerning allusions to our everyday actions in relation to nature. Throughout, the reader can’t help feel a riveting sense of guilt regarding what human beings do to the natural world. For example, “We burn the forest and kill the trees, hunt the deer and trap the hornbill … We foul up the air and besmear the seas … We do violence to the source of our life”. The many pithy references to our everyday actions such as “throwing rubbish into the river”, “writing filth on the walls” or “carving dirt on the desk” challenge the reader’s own actions and mental habits. The book inspires the reader to commence living on its hints about the good life.
To the developing mind, home and family are the “cradle of tenderness”. It is here where the values of love, goodness and grace, care and kindness, health and happiness, diligence and gratitude are learnt. Nurtured in the rich and enduring values of the family, a person learns to cultivate a kind of friendship outside the family domain that “knows no colour or community, race or religion, ethnicity or nationality”. Hence, “the circle of our friendship depends upon the size of our heart”, argues the book. Such friendships in turn nurture societies that are sustained by the enduring values of fellow-feeling and tolerance.
The irony of modern education, the author argues, is that “its inspiration comes from the open market and not from ideals and visions that elevate the mind and expand the heart”. Therefore, the role of school education is important. Deeply reflective yet starkly real, pensive and philosophical yet closely familiar and practical, the chapter ‘This, My Temple of Learning’ (the school) evokes the reader’s own memories of early life in school and provides a nostalgic, and at times sad, reminder of how the latter shaped the inner and outer characteristics of one’s personality. The school is the “home of plenty”. Here children from different backgrounds and experiences meet – those from “towns and villages, hills and valleys, farm-houses and road-side huts, rich mansions and humble shelters” – to celebrate diversity and construct their dreams together. The chapter offers penetrating insights into what school curricula and teaching can do to children’s intellectual, emotive and social development. Such an educational system will need teachers who come to school with their “unbroken, harmonious and committed self”.
An outstanding quality of the book lies in the depth of understanding it demonstrates regarding culture. It argues that culture “advances and blossoms through respect, sensitivity and honesty”, which will be possible through good education. Good cultural education nurtures goodwill and tolerance. No wonder, the ancient Greeks defined a ‘cultured’ person as someone with a “finely tempered nature” and in whom the quality of “harmonious perfection” manifested spontaneously.
The book’s stance on the pursuit of happiness as a development goal is clear and uncompromising. What is important in doing so, it argues, is the need to live its ideals through commitment and disinterested pursuit in one’s own life. This makes moralizing about GNH less valuable and acts, for example, of respect for nature or affirmation of truth and honesty in daily life, more meaningful and of positive benefit to self and others. Hence, “GNH is a template to set our own house in order. But if lived well, the examples set could also encourage efforts to “set the world in order”, the book argues.
The author confesses that the work is in some ways a statement of the way he has lived his life. Yet, the living may not have been as perfect, he admits, as it is dreamt in the many chapters of the book. Inspired to want to start life afresh on the books’ key messages, the reader is convinced, page after page, that a simple way to begin to contribute to nation-building is by realizing the power of the inner journey and what it does to a person’s mind and character.
Coming from one of the country’s finest thinkers and writers, ‘As I Am, So Is My Nation’ is a precious gift to all those in search of a meaningful life. Everybody – teacher, student, parent, civil servant, lawmaker, law enforcer, gardener, artist, scientist, culture bearer – must read it. It is so relevant to our times.
Contributed by Dorji Thinley
Dorji Thinley (PhD) is Director of Research and External Relations in the Royal University of Bhutan

Picture Story

 

Alumni of Bhutan Youth Development Fund opened the capital’s first thrift store ‘The Goodwill Shop’ on February 18 to raise funds for the education of disadvantaged children and youth in the country through sale of donated goods and items.

From clothes to accessories, beauty products, kitchen items, the items donated are either slightly used or unused available for affordable price. The shop is located opposite the BDBL behind the craft bazaar.

Corporate pay hike finalised at 19-25 percent

Revision to come into effect from July 1, 2014 

SOE: In what could be considered a Losar gift, the pay revision for state-owned enterprises (SoEs) formally came through, almost eight months since the civil servants’ salary was revised.

According to the February 16 guidelines, the finance ministry issued, the basic pay of corporate employees should be revised between 19 percent and 25 percent within various levels.  The revision will come into effect from July 1, 2014.

Corporate allowance will also be revised from 20 percent to 25 percent.

A finance ministry official explained that, similar to the civil service, the revision would be higher among the lower grades, and as it reaches the top, the revision would slide in proportion.

For instance, those in grades one, two and three would get a revision of maximum 19 percent on their basic salary, while those between grade four and eight will fall into the 21 percent revision bracket.

A maximum of 23 percent increase on the basic salary would be applicable for those between grades nine and 14.  For those below grade 14, the basic salary would be revised by 25 percent.

The official also explained that the ministry has only fixed the maximum ceiling for revision. “But depending on the affordability of the companies, they can go for a lower figure,” he said.  The board of individual companies would decide the revision.

As for the employees on contract, including the chief executive officers appointed on fixed term, the pay scales should be governed by the contract agreement and would not change.

The guideline also states that the position specific allowance, which may be given to employees based on responsibilities, criticality of the position and scarcity of skills, should be capped at three percent of the basic salary as of June 30, 2014, and is subject to annual review by the board.

The board, the guideline states, must ensure that companies with different grading system align their grades, as prescribed by the ministry, based on the pay scale.

If employees have been receiving higher total pay and allowances than the one prescribed on the new guideline, it would be restructured to fit in the revised salary scale, but total payout to such employees shall remain unchanged, meaning they would continue to receive the pay package drawn currently.

The pay and allowance guidelines, however, is only applicable to companies in which the direct shareholding of the finance ministry is more than 51 percent.  The companies are Bhutan Development Bank limited (BDBL), National Pension and Provident Fund (NPPF), Bhutan Agro Industries limited, Bhutan Broadcasting Service, Bhutan Post, Kuensel corporation, Food corporation and National Housing Development corporation limited.

However, companies with equity base of more than Nu 300M, and earnings of more than Nu 500M per annum, excluding grants and subsidies, are categorised separately and its employees enjoy higher pay scales.  BDBL and NPPF fall in this category.

The second pay commission report states that, considering their performance and expenditure growth in past five years, the gross revenue of SOEs will be sufficient to meet the 15 percent increase, except for Bhutan Post and BBSC.

The report also states that, when the first corporations were carved out of the civil service, the pay scales were at least 45 percent higher for the corporate sector when compared to the civil service.

“In recent years, the differential reduced to 30 percent and then to the present 15 percent, which have been reached through certain understanding between the corporate bodies and the finance ministry,” the report states.

In January 2011, civil servants received a 20 percent raise on the salary scale of 2006.  Almost a year after, a 15 percent pay hike, with an additional 20 percent corporate allowance was approved for the corporations.

Meanwhile, DHI has its own pay scales, based on the contractual nature of the appointment of its employees.  DHI’s salary and allowances structure has three levels- professional/corporate, operational, and wage services.

By Tshering Dorji

Picture Story

Back to school: Students and teachers across the country returned to school from February 16, marking the beginning of a new academic session

                                                          

Lone candidate for Mongar gup post loses

Not a single postal ballot was availed in the election

Election: The lone candidate, who contested for the post of Mongar gup in the bye-election yesterday, was not elected.

Tshewang Dorji, 32, returned home disappointed, when it was announced that by 23 ‘No’ votes on the EVM, he had lost the election.  He received 308 ‘Yes’ votes and 331 ‘No’ votes.

The former caretaker of Mongar gewog administration, Tshewang Dorji, said that he had nothing against the people for not electing him, but that the bye-election’s results would have been fair if postal ballots were used.

“The bye-election was unfair without postal ballots,” he said. “I don’t understand why the duration for postal ballot facility isn’t the same for local government elections and other elections.”

The bye-election is conducted as per section 577 of the Election Act, which states that “the election commission shall, when the seat of a member elected to any house of parliament or local government becomes vacant on death or resignation or his/her election to the house is declared void, issue a notification calling upon the constituency concerned to elect a person to fill the vacant post.”

Dzongkhag election officer (DEO), Sangay Dorji, said that he had no authority to change anything but to follow the notification issued by the commission.  He said the whole process of holding a bye-election had to be completed within a month, during which he received no applications for postal ballot.

As per the January 23 notification from ECB, eligible postal ballot voters were given two weeks to initiate application for the postal ballot to the returning officer.

But yesterday’s election, conducted at a cost of Nu 382,200, saw a poor voter turnout in all its six polling stations.  Of the 3,335 registered eligible voters, only 639, about five percent, turned up to cast their votes.  He received 82 ‘No’ votes from his chiwog, Photshorong, and 116 ‘Yes’ votes.

One of the voters, a 23-year old woman, said the candidate has already contested in the 2011 gup election from Silambi gewog and lost. “It shows that he doesn’t have the capability to be a gup,” she said.

But a 34-year old mother of one from Kedikhar village said she voted for him, thinking he would help the community like the former gup. “It’s better to have a gup than to keep the post vacant,” she said.

The election was held following the death of the former gup Dechen Yeshi in a car accident on January 8 this year. “As per the act, a by-election to fill any vacancy shall be held within a period of ninety days and, for local governments, it shall be held within a period of thirty days from the date of occurrence of the vacancy,” DEO Sangay Dorji.

The election petition period begins today.  The declaration of results and submission of results to the Druk Gyalpo will also be done today.

On January 25, of the three candidates from Photshogrong chiwog, Tshewang Dorji was selected with 76 ‘Yes’ votes to contest for the post.  The other nominees, Tshewang Penjor from Wengkhar-Yagpogang chiwog, was disqualified for filing his nomination late, while Sherab Tenzin from Kidekhar chiwog was short by three weeks to complete a year after he transferred his census.

After completing class X from Gyalpoizhing higher secondary school (HSS), Tshewang Dorji, worked as a messenger for Mongar HSS from 2006 to 2011.  From 2012 until his resignation this year, he worked as a caretaker.

By Tashi Phuntsho, Mongar

Piloting organic mushroom production

DSC_5217HI Chairman explains how the technology works at the MoU signing yesterday

Project: With technical support from a Japanese mushroom producer, Haruka International Co. Ltd. (HI), Druk Holding and Investments (DHI) will start a pilot project on organic mushroom production in the country.

The pilot phase will begin at the National Mushroom Centre where spawns of shiitake, oyster and king oyster and wood ear would be grown on trail. Once the project gains momentum, the spawn would be distributed to potential mushroom growers in the country.

Haruka International and DHI in collaboration with Alliance Forum Foundation (AFF) and the agriculture department will promote the project.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between DHI and Haruka International yesterday evening in the presence of the agriculture secretary Tenzin Dhendup.

DHI officials said mushroom, in particular Shiitake is popular in Bhutan, and mushroom production is an essential income source for farmers. “However, a substantial gap exists between demand and production for mushroom for commercial purpose mainly owing to lack of technology,” an official said.

Haruka International, DHI officials said has extensive experience in producing high quality organic mushroom with simple technology.

The chairman of Haruka International Kosou Inoue, said, mushroom business in Bhutan has potential. With technical support, Kosou Inoue said, the project is expected to improve production and quality of mushrooms with the country even producing mushroom for the international market.

“With such technology, income from mushroom for farmers would be five times more,” Kosou Inoue, said. “We will be sharing our expertise with Bhutan for the success of the project.”

By Kinga Dema

Opposition party against police frisking youth

Public opinion on the issue is divided 

Security: Despite concerns raised by the opposition party that frisking youth after 10pm would be equal to the suspension of freedom of movement and criminalisation of youth, the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) will continue the already enforced measure.

The opposition leader, Dr Pema Gyamtsho, in a letter submitted to the home minister yesterday, asked for a review of the measure and consideration of alternative ways to reduce youth related crimes.

The police introduced the measure, which was announced in a press conference last week, to address increasing incidents of battery or violent incidents involving youth.

RBP media liaison officer, Major Chogyel, said that the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code (CCPC) already gives the police the right to stop and frisk persons.

As per chapter 8, section 166 of the code, a police officer can upon reasonable suspicion of involvement in a criminal offense, stop a person moving about at odd hours in a public place, and a person who cannot give a satisfactory account of him/herself.

Major Chogyel said that the police will continue to frisk youth because of the increasing number of youth crime and the type of weapons involved.

Under the new measure, police are frisking youth in groups of two or more found after 10pm.

During the press conference, the police chief also said that individuals could also be frisked if police personnel find them behaving suspiciously.

The police would like to see two further measures implemented, one is a ban on the sale of knives to youth, and the other is a time restriction to prevent youth loitering late at night. However, for this they require the approval of the home ministry.

Major Chogyel said that the proposal has been submitted and that the police will await directives.

In its letter to the home ministry, the opposition party while acknowledging the “good intent” of the measure, warns that there will be “serious repercussions” on the moral, dignity, and self esteem of the youth.

The opposition party also cautions that the measure creates a high possibility of law enforcement personnel resorting to “overzealous application” and “use of excessive force”. The party states that this would damage existing “good will and cordial relations” between the youth and police created through the Police-Youth Partnership Program (PYPP).

There are a little more than 5,700 students signed up for PYPP, not inclusive of youth who volunteer during major events.

The opposition party also questioned whether the measure would have a positive outcome. It argued that the measure would instead demoralise the youth, alienate them from society, and breed unnecessary resentment, fear and mistrust in law enforcement agencies. “In essence, it would tantamount to suspension of freedom of movement and criminalisation of our youth.”

The party instead recommends strict enforcement of existing laws like closing bars and entertainment establishments on time, age limit for entry and sale of alcohol in such establishments, sale and distribution of drugs and other substances, inspection at entrances of public events and facilities, among others. It also recommends strong advocacy and awareness programs.

According to police statistics, 70 schools including more than 83,000 students have been sensitised so far.

Public opinion has been divided on the measure.

One camp of thought is that the measure is an invasion of privacy and that it could lead to other measures in the name of security. “At the first look even I thought it was an excellent approach by the RBP but what about the negative long term consequences of such stop and frisk,” wrote Pema Thinley on social media. “If a police man walks up to you and suddenly starts frisking you on the basis of suspicion, wouldn’t you feel humiliated, disgusted and above all wouldn’t you feel your right to privacy being violated?,” he asked.

The other camp of thought is that the measure is timely and relevant. “Let RBP do their duty with full public support. Frisking is better any day than getting stabbed or your phone or bag (getting) snatched or car windows broken,” said another social media user, Ugyen Tenzin.

By Gyalsten K Dorji