Showing posts from April, 2011

Media Culture

The first photographs of ordinary Bhutanese families surfaced around the 1950s. The family portraits would be a haphazard collection of children, grandparents and relatives, as and when one ran into a photographer. Or so it seems. Frozen monochrome expressions of the whole family; the patriarch standing stoic behind the family, his head held high, with his wife, children, grandparents and relatives by his side. Every Bhutanese will have family portraits from bygone days, commanding the best place on the showcase. My father also has one of family. He is not in the picture, but he still treasures it, most so because the photograph is the only evidence of his parents’ existence. Surefire - Most Bhutanese families, who had foreign or luxury items would have brought it along for the photo session, to be frozen along in time. Ours, like few families, has a non-descript portable radio in the photograph. A foreign object like a radio would have been the most coveted item in the village. Firs


“The Royal Government of Bhutan has prioritized tourism as one of the lead sectors in view of its tremendous potential to generate employment and promote socio-economic development thereby contributing to Gross National Happiness…” Naturally for 2011, Bhutan is bracing for an unprecedented flow of tourists for all over the world. The government is forecasting around 100,000 high end tourists for this year. Already Association of Bhutan Tour Operators cautioned the number as being too ambitious, and expected only about 60,000 high end guests. However, three weeks ago a distant occurrence in the Pacific Ocean might change that forecast. As the tsunami hit north-eastern part of Japan, it brings to mind ramifications. When catastrophe of this size hits anywhere in the world now, it’s never an isolated event. Aftershocks and ripples will be felt all over the world. The tragedy will manifest in different ways to different sections of society all over the world. As losses run into trilli

Private Sector

It was Adam Smith in Wealth of Nations that said, "The price of monopoly is upon every occasion the highest which can be got. The natural price, or the price of free competition, on the contrary, is the lowest which can be taken, not upon every occasion indeed, but for any considerable time altogether.” The price of monopoly in Bhutan was the highest during the time when it can be got. For a long time, a product monopolized by the masses, sought and was awarded the highest. Bhutan has witnessed over the last 40 years modest beginning of small family run general shop and domestic kitchens functioning as eateries. Due to its difficult terrain and the sporadic import of necessary or luxury goods to the country, shopkeepers took to their own discretion to set the value on items, thus monopolizing specific locality. There was no regulation of price, till the mid-1990s. The uncertainty of product availability, coupled with the sole ownership/provider in the market fueled consumers to

Measuring Success

In so much as trying to explain a teacher in Bhutan, one must first try and understand the cultural construct in which this profession took root and from whence we haven’t been able to discard the linear interpretation of that profession. Yet, when a nation needed to move forward, it was the teachers. Without the zealous loyalty and belief in the government by these groups of people, it would have been difficult altogether to crawl, let alone walk. Initiating a new wheel of learning and schooling, per se, would have required dedicated citizens to believe that wheel was taking them someplace better. Talk to any educated person, from the erstwhile environs of rural life with an understanding that education was the red robes of the monastic body, and you will receive varying stories and impressions of bittersweet- stories of many strange men on horseback, claiming to be government teachers and looking for students to take along for ‘modern’ education; some parents were strong enough

Haunts & Dreams

If there is a way consumed by irony, it would be this way that points to you but leads me away. As I turn to see you find your path, my regret clouds your face and I can’t see beyond my own nose. So this is what it means….that I have to decide to say goodbye to my dreams and hopes. And now, the yearning, the damned yearning which is banging against my resolve…...circumventing in an existence of plain will. I know yearnings are an integral part of being human, and sometimes challenging nature can cause so much unnecessary pain. Yet, my confusion doesn’t lie in the fact that I am yearning for the things I have lost. No, not at all- everything happens for growth. Otherwise, what really is the purpose of it all? What is life, if it is coated in ego, which in turn is coated in inhibition? And what is inhibition when expressed as indifference? I sit now crouched with a desire to let know, but tied down by inexplicable fear of general hostility and indifference. Everything, everywhere and