Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Prime Minister of Bhutan on TED

Soon after our Lyonchen (Prime Minister) delivered a captivating speech at the TED Talks sometime in February 2016, I wanted to make a mention of it on my blog, but somehow, it took a while for me. Was it due to my overly busy schedule or my inexorable laziness? Either of it or both of it is to be blamed for this inordinate delay. As we say -"Better late than Never", I am finally doing it now as it would be quite unfair on my part to brush it aside. Few weeks ago, two of my friends; one South African and one Indian, forwarded me the link to this TED talk with much appreciations to our Lyonchen. I had then decided to post it here.

Titled "This country isn't just carbon neutral -it's carbon negative.", the talk can be watched on TED website as well as on Youtube. I have watched it over and over again. Every time I watch it, I learn something new from it. You can watch it right away on the video insert below.

As is customary to every Bhutanese, he begins by paying homage to our extraordinary monarchs who have shaped Bhutan to what it is today. The second obvious thing is to make a mention of Gross National Happiness (GNH). Bhutan is mostly known to the outside world for the famed philosophy of GNH and not touching upon this subject would make Bhutan's story incomplete.

Lyonchen, with his exemplary oratory skills, donned in a bright yellowish sersho gho, introduces Bhutan to the outside wide world as a tiny nation sandwiched between the two most populous countries. However, he says we are surviving. Not just surviving but thriving. Throughout his talk, the audience remains glued onto him. The crowd bursts into laughter when he says we have the biggest pocket on earth and draws out a cellphone and a book from his hemchu. Thank you, Your Excellency for making us proud. It is only through such forums that people know Bhutan as a country and not just another state of India.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Big-Ma Throws Her Mighty Fist on Bookstores

Rules, for obvious reasons, are framed, implemented and monitored, either to bring in decorum in the system or to provide a level playing field. However, at times rules are framed too stringent that it makes more harm than benefits. The Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan was one typical case, which went to the extremes of defaulters getting slashed with lengthy prison terms for selling few tobacco products. Ultimately, it had to be amended with certain relaxation on the penalty part.

The latest commotion is from the bookstore owners. The Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) Act mandates all the stakeholders to register internationally published books. According to those concerned bookstore owners, they say that every book they import should have BICMA registration number on the first page. The registration comes with a fee of Nu. 5 for every book title. This truly is Big-Ma's act which to many sounds illogical. Ever since I heard about this requirement, many questions have been circling in my head. Is it because our government wants to promote our indigenous books? or Is it to filter out certain books from reaching the readers? If it is all about banning those books perceived as having potential to sow discord in the society, BICMA could easily circulate a list of blacklisted titles with an order to refrain from selling such books. Wouldn't that be far more easier? Ofcourse, those involved in framing this act, must have thought a lot about it in their highest wisdom. The Act also mandates all book houses to submit a copy each of every publication ( brought down from three copies). I would imagine that a decade into the future, BICMA would be running the biggest library in the country.

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