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.

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