Friday, November 20, 2015

Ease of Doing Business Fallacy

Refer to my earlier blog on the Ease of Doing Business in Bhutan. The ranking then for the year 2015 was 125 out of 189 countries. Despite the government's effort to make it easy for the new entrants, there was a drop of 3 ranks from 2014. Per the Doing Business 2016 data, Bhutan's latest ranking stands at 71, a whooping 54 ranks up from 2015.  This announcement also came up boldly in the Bhutanese media.

However, the picture is somewhat different. The government did not waive the magic wand to leapfrog the ranking by such a large figure.The sudden improvement in the ranking is supposedly due to the change in the way it is being ranked. This new methodology which when retrospectively applied to that of 2015 data ranked Bhutan at 70. Infact, the rank has dropped down by one instead of improving.

Source:World Bank Group
Nonetheless, this new rank gives us enough reason to smile and feel proud of our system. Our country ranks at top 100 in the world, which is much better than our neighbours in the region. In the neighbourhood, Bangladesh ranks 174, Pakistan 138, India 130, Sri Lanka 107, Maldives 128, Afghanistan 177 and Nepal 99.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Commemorating 60th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo

The whole nation is in a celebratory mood for the nation witnesses the 60th Birth Anniversary of no other than our Fourth Druk Gyalpo, the 70th Jekhenpo, Trulku Jigme Choeda and Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. There has been array of events happening every now and then in every nook and corner of the country to mark this joyous occasion. I believe many more are in stock to showcase the best of the best in the upcoming days. Of all the initiatives, People's Initiative in Celebrating the Sixtieth Anniversary (PICSA) is the flagship of the nation for commemorating this mega-event.

The celebration takes every form and shape - From  cleaning and greening to dancing and singing. Sadly, I have just been a bystander to all these events.

When the whole nation is in this frenzied atmosphere, I feel discontented to realize that I made no tangible contribution  to any of these events. It is not for the lack of willingness, but for the need of my indulgence for the upkeep of the national asset - the hydropower plant-  which keeps me occupied at all times. Everytime, I prevent or restore the machines from breakdown, it gives me atleast a solace to feel that this is all I can possibly do for the nation -my small contribution to mark this glorious tripartite event. Hundreds of us work late nights in the hydropower plants to ensure that the bulbs of thousand homes are always lit, the foods of thousand families are always cooked and every shows of the PICSA are never disrupted. We might not make it to the limelight for what we have done, we shall remain as un-sung heroes, but all it matters for us is to feel proud for what ever we are doing. Long live the Druk Gyalpo, the Jekhenpo and the Royal Queen Mother.

Monday, March 2, 2015


Today, as I was busy catching up on my work after missing on some of the self declared milestones,  Damcho forwarded me the story "Used vs Loved" in wechat. Scrolling down the whole length of the story, I said "I can't spare my time to read whatever it's all about". On a second thought, I considered reading it as she would never forward it to me if it do not touch her heart. I 'm sure most of you must have read this story, which I believe is going around in social media given the virality of the message. Here I am, reproducing the wechat message forwarded to me by my wife. It is slightly long but worth reading it.

While a man was polishing his new car, his 4 year old son picked up a stone and scratched lines on the side of the car. In anger, the man took the child's hand and hit it many times; not realizing he was using a wrench. At the hospital, the child lost all his fingers due to multiple fractures. 

When the child saw his father.....with painful eyes he asked, 'Dad when will my fingers grow back?' The man was so hurt and speechless; he went back to his car and kicked it a lot of times. Devastated by his own actions.......sitting in front of that car he looked at the scratches; the child had written 'LOVE YOU DAD'.

The next day that man committed suicide. 

Photo source: Google
Anger and Love has no limits; choose the latter to have a beautiful, lovely life.

Things are to be used and people are to be loved, But the problem in today's world is that, People are used and things are loved.

During this year, let's be careful to keep this thought in mind: Things are to be used, but People are to be loved ... Be yourself....This is the only day we HAVE.

Watch your thoughts; they become words. 
Watch your words; they become actions. 
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits they become character; 
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

If you don't pass this on to anybody, nothing bad will happen; if you do, you might change someone's life.

Do you know the relationship between your two eyes? They blink together, move together, cry together, see things together and sleep together, even though they never see each other.

 I'm glad a friend forwarded this to me as a reminder.
God bless you; I hope you are having a wonderful day!

Thank you Dear for forwarding it to me. This will serve as a gentle reminder to be watchful of my thoughts and actions.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Rastafarian Wave in Bhutan

The "Rastafari Movement" is some kind of religious movement which was developed in Jamaica in the 1930s. In the 1990s, it was believed to have more than one million Rastafaris worldwide. The Rastafarian way of life encompasses the "spiritual" use of Cannabis and the rejection of the degenerate society of materialism, oppression and sensual pleasures. The members of the Rastafarian way of life are known as Rastas or Rastafari. Bob Marley, the famous Jamaican Reggae singer was a hardcore Rastafari. 
Although I had heard about it before, it was not until I came across a blog-post covered by the notable blogger PaSsu titled "Rastafari in Primary School", that I became aware of its existence in Bhutan. This tri-color (Green~Yellow~Red) flag can be seen anywhere, everywhere thesedays. But how did this wave travel all the way from Jamaica to hit Bhutan? I can think of only three possible reasons:
  1. Idolizing Bob Marley by the younger generation
  2. Widespread use of Marijuana/Cannabis
  3. The attractive tricolor combination.
Malcolm Gladwell in his book "The Tipping Point" has mentioned about how the famous Hush Puppies brand of shoes took the "Tipping Point" in late 1994 when it was at the brink of being phased out. A couple of kids simply wore these shoes when they went out in the streets of New York, and in so doing, exposed other people to their fashion sense. This is how the brand got spread to the rest of the world. The same may be the case with the Rastafari movement - Being caught up in the fashion wave. 

The tri-color can be seen mostly on the trucks, tippers, dumpers and vans constantly plying on the road. It is quite disturbing to see growing number of vehicles being adorned in this tri-color banners. Has the RSTA gone RaSTA too? This (in)famous pattern has also made its place on the caps, beanies, shirts, scarfs, wrist bands and the likes. I once saw a monk proudly moving around wearing this tri-color beanie - A complete contradiction in the ideology. The more you see this tri-color, the more observant you become. A couple of days back, I was driving from Phuntsholing to Thimphu. I must have seen atleast a dozen of these tricolor exhibits. There was this family in one of the roadside restaurant, who I assume, had come back from a pilgrimage to India. I was shell-shocked to see all of them wearing sungkeys in this tri-color. Who ever made it, I sincerely hope it was a mere coincidence on the choice of colors and in no way meant to propagate the Rastafari ideology. Having been boggled by this sight, I resumed my journey only to see several reflective stickers in this tri-color combo pasted on the crash-barriers somewhere near Chapcha top. 

The following are some of the Rasta apparels :

What ever may be the reason, I hope this tri-colors found in Bhutan are only a symbolic representation driven by the fashion wave, and in no way meant to commit towards being Rastafari or to propagate its ideology. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Reality and Illusion

Where do we draw the line between reality and illusion? We agree that all dreams are illusion, however, even this state of awareness is but an illusion. On a metaphysical level, the ultimate Reality is realized only when one becomes Awakened. It is not only in the Morpheus' world, the concept is widely preached in the doctrines of Buddhism.

In our dreams, we exactly portray our thoughts, emotions and infact everything, as if, it's happening in our conscious state of body and mind. The same level of fear, anger, joy and pleasure overshadows our subconscious mind. It is hard to trigger our thought into believing that, it is simply a mind trick.
You don't get the option to take the blue pill and wake up in your bed. It's the mind taking its own forms and figures.

Likewise, it so happens even with some events which occur in our state of awareness - It just feels like it's in our dreams. Everything happens rapidly that you hardly have the intellect and time to think it is a reality. Is it a dream? Was it in my dreams? - You are perplexed beyond doubts. Reality becomes molded into a dream. Every good and joyful moments occur in a fleeting moment, and are often short-lived. The sorrows and miseries are, however, exponentially over-driven in time. That's one compromise in life or just a variant of Murphy's Law. If not, would there be any charm with the joyfulness? If gold was in abundance, it would not be precious any more. This is how I see it. Precious moment it is for it's rarity.

If the moments're harsh and distressful, time becomes the best healer. If it's joyful and pleasurable, it settles down as a moment to be cherished later on.  It is the grey matter, medulla oblongata or anything related to the neural system which places such moments onto the memory lane. Whenever you can, take a break, reminisce those moments and smile back at the joy you had along the journey of your life.

PS: Blogging through my small (5 inch) Samsung galaxy OLED screen using the disproportionate qwerty keyboard.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Celebrating the National Reading Year 2015

The Government of Bhutan has declared year 2015 as a "National Reading Year" to commemorate the 60th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. This year-long event was graciously launched by His Majesty the Fifth King, Jigme Kheser Namgyel Wangchuck in the presence of thousands of students and teachers.

I suppose, preparations are underway to make this event a grand success. However, I, on an individual level, might not be able to contribute significantly to this national undertaking. Nevertheless, it would be my sincere commitment to read (atleast) the following books this year as my small little contribution to this big event.

  1. The Tipping Point -Malcolm Gladwell
  2. The Fault in Our Stars -John Green
  3. The Glass Castle -Jeannette Walls
  4. Wild - Cheryl Strayed
  5. Fifty Shades of Grey - E L James
  6. What If? - Randall Munroe
I would also encourage my wife and our kids to read, after all "There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of book is the best of all." as Jacqueline Kennedy puts it. So, have you made a reading list too?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ease of Doing Business in Bhutan

How easy is it to establish a business in Bhutan? This is the first question any aspiring entrepreneur should ask before anything else. Likewise, multinational companies who wishes to set up Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) businesses in Bhutan would definitely ask the same. The present government's effort and their drive is towards making it easy to do business in Bhutan - as far as my understanding goes. Some Nu. 5 billion has supposedly been injected as a Economic Stimulus Plan (ESP), which I believe is mainly to curb out the INR shortages. A special taskforce has been constituted to oversee this undertaking. The controversial Bhutan Opportunity and Information Center (BOIC) has also been established to fast-track the processes. However, the result sums up otherwise.

According to the 2014 World Bank report, the ease of doing business ranking for Bhutan was 122 out of 189 countries. In 2015, it has fallen down to 125, much against the hope and efforts put in by the government. Bhutan falls miserably in the lower segment of countries where doing business is considered to be difficult. While the rank on starting a business has improved considerably, the same has fallen down significantly on enforcing contracts.

Source: Doing Business, World Bank Group
Hopefully, there would be a time when businesses would boom and compete against the imported products. If we are to be self reliant, then the government must make it conducive to whoever chooses to make a difference. "It is not the question about whether we can or cannot, it is more about whether we do or do not", as His Majesty puts it in his visionary speech to the nation.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The English-II quandary

"To be or Not to be is the question" is what Bhutan Council for School Examination and Assessment (BCSEA) pronounced as Big-C(a popular mega-store in Bangkok) has been going through ever since the English II paper got leaked. By now, dozens of bloggers have posted on this topic and also covered largely in all forms of media.

However, I am not here to blame on what has happened - which is pretty much easy to do. What ever happened has happened and I find no use crying over spilled milk. Carelessness and complacency of some individual(s) has resulted into this but what is the wayforward. It is time for some strategic decisions to be made and it matters most at this juncture. Examination papers have leaked in the past too, and it is sure to happen in the future if the concerned authorities do not wake up. What is amusing is in the fact that, the swaying decision of the council has left the parents and students utterly bemused.

The earlier decision of the board, in its "wisdom" was to award the same marks obtained in English I  -which to me was utterly rubbish. No matter whether the correlation between the two papers was close to unity or not, they are still two different papers. I can understand the pressing need of an immediate decision for the board to make but did they evaluate the cascading implications.

Now, the decision has been made to evaluate the English II paper which is still not fair enough. Did the council consult the stakeholders? They might or might not have done it. The general opinion of the public, if we go by the poll on this issue conducted by Kuensel, was that the English II exam should be re-conducted. There is no doubt that it will have some financial implication in re-conducting the examination for this paper but atleast it would bring in fairness.

The kuensel poll as on 14th January 2015
I would not be surprised if the board again decides to re-conduct the examination. To be on a safer side, it would be wise on the part of those poor students who did not benefit from this blunder to be prepared for a re-sitting. 

P.S: This is just my personal opinion and is not intended to tarnish the name and fame of any individual or body related to this issue. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Perfect Business Pitch

The Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit was held from 11th-13th January 2015 at Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India. Galaxy of high profile figures like Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General, John Kerry, Secretary of States, USA, Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India and notable business leaders and tycoons from around the world attended this mega event. Likewise, our Prime Minister was also on an "economic pilgrimage", as he puts it, to this Business Hub. It is quite interesting to note that his address in this summit took the gathering by surprise. Soon after his address, news got spread in the Indian newspapers and social media about his impromptu speech which won the hearts of the people gathered there.

The Economic Times puts it "Vibrant Gujarat: The spot light turns on Bhutan's PM Tshering Tobgay". The Hindu says "Smallest Country" Bhutan makes a big splash at Vibrant Gujarat. The Quartz India expresses "Vibrant Gujarat's showstopper wasn't Modi, Ambani or Kerry". It further goes on to say "On a stage bursting with chief executives of some of the world’s largest companies and politicians who hold sway over billions, the biggest applause came for the leader of a small Himalayan country wedged between India and China..."

I could not wait but look out for his address in youtube and other websites. Thanks to the person who uploaded it, I could get his full speech. I watched it over and over again. To me, that was the perfect business pitch in which the message was clear and loud. He truly caught the attention of the crowd through his witty remarks and interjections made in Hindi. I could see the Prime Minister of India gleefully smiling during his captivating address. In the interest of those who have still not watched it, I will not point out his key messages here. Rather, I recommend you to watch it for yourself on the link provided below.

I salute you, Your Excellency, for making us proud. 
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