Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Bhutan : New buses take nature on board

27 October, 2008 - Bhutan’s endangered species like tiger, golden langur, takin, red panda and black-necked crane will now accompany city bus passengers everywhere they go.

Sounds like a safari? Only, the animals are in pictures.

The concept of plastering stickers of these animals and nature elements onto the body of each of the 12 coaster city buses is to create public awareness on wildlife conservation.

The first of its kind to be done in the country, the idea, said World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) communication officer Tashi Tshering, is to reach the public in an unusual way.

“We’re portraying the richness of Bhutan’s natural abundance and hope that the public will understand that we have to create space, conserve and share what we have with others.”

Citing examples of neighbouring countries not intervening on time, Tashi Tshering said, “They’re trying to revive what is lost but we’re trying to do it now.”

The stickers, called decals, are specially treated plastic stickers, highly ultra violet protective, and water-proof, said the designers from Dato Creatives Tenzin Dorji and Rinchen Wangdi.

The medium they used for stickers is vinyl for the body and one-way vision for the glasses. “It took us about two months and, being the first time, it was quite challenging,” said Tenzin Dorji.

WWF country representative Kinzang Namgay said that it was a powerful travelling message. “Seeing is something and hearing is another thing. We hope that people get the message.”

The city bus general manager Chewang Gomdar said that the 19-seater coaster buses will begin service within the city from October 30, while the ten existing ones will ply the outskirts of the city.

The stickers are expected to last about two years if the public do not abuse them by peeling and scratching. WWF spent about Nu 500,000 on the stickers.

“The new concept is also a small gesture from WWF for the centenary and coronation celebrations,” said Tashi Tshering. Information and communications minister Lyonpo Nandalal Rai inaugurated the coaster buses.

By Sonam Pelden

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Bhutan : Graduates’ program graced by His Majesty

“What GNH means will never change but how we achieve GNH will.”

25 October, 2008 - “We would be starting our career and ending it together. We will see each other grow old over time. But more importantly, we will see each other become wiser, more capable, more intelligent, and we will see each other serve our country well.”

Addressing the over 1,220 centennial graduates on October 22, His Majesty the King said, “If the country does well we all stand to benefit. If it doesn’t we will suffer equally. We share the same destiny.”

His Majesty reminded the graduates about national goals and asked, “Why do we want a strong economy? Why do we want to preserve our culture and tradition and to protect our environment? Why did our forefathers work so hard and achieve so much? In the end it is for lasting peace, stability, and tranquillity of our country and the unity, harmony, and well being of our people.”

His Majesty said that if there was no love and harmony between our people, if the happiness and peace that we have today is lost, then somewhere along the way we have failed.

Security, His Majesty said, means more than physical defense of the nation. “I am actually talking about the security that comes when people are united in love for their country and united in their efforts to further secure, consolidate and hand over an even stronger nation to their children,” he said.

His Majesty said the goal of building a vibrant democracy was one of his biggest and most sacred responsibilities. Gross National Happiness (GNH), His Majesty said, “is the philosophy that acts as our national conscience, always guiding us to make better and wiser decisions for our future. It reminds us to always strive and work for the happiness and well being of every single Bhutanese at all times.”

He said it was important because, for a very small country like Bhutan with an even smaller population, it was extremely vital to share a national objective.

“We simply cannot afford to work in different directions. I have no doubt that GNH will always reflect the aspirations of our people and the interest of our nation. Therefore, GNH is our common goal.”

His Majesty said what GNH means would never change but how we achieve GNH would change in the fast changing globalised world, which would present both new opportunities and challenges for Bhutan. “GNH today for us is the bridge between the fundamental values of kindness, equality and humanity and, today, the necessary pursue of economic growth.

“But remember that it is the duty of every generation to find new ways of achieving the goals of GNH,” said His Majesty.

His Majesty said that, for this generation, building a vibrant democracy founded on a strong economy would be the means through which GNH would be achieved and aspirations of the people fulfilled.

Later, His Majesty took photographs with the graduates and interacted with them during the cultural program. His Majesty also granted lunch and ate together with the graduates.

Most graduates, Kuensel spoke to, say they were humbled by His Majesty’s gesture of coming to meet and talk to them, and share a meal with them.

“Nowhere around the world will you find such a modest and approachable leader or King. I feel lucky,” said Sangay Zangmo, a lab technology graduate from Chennai.

Dechen Wangmo Jigme, an electrical engineer and MBA graduate of Texas University, USA, said that the very fact His Majesty had taken time to address the graduates, that too at a time when coronation was just two weeks away, was an indication of utmost importance given to graduates. “It was very inspiring,” she told Kuensel.

Tashi Tenzin, a Simtokha graduate, said His Majesty sitting with them in the scorching sun and dust, to watch the cultural program, was most humbling.

“I was motivated by His Majesty’s advice and guidance of working together and achieving our country’s goals together,” said Pema Lhazin, a graduate from Delhi. “His Majesty is a natural orator as well.”

A Sherubtse graduate said Bhutanese were lucky to have selfless Kings until now. “Today, we’re assured that we have a young dynamic King to lead us further ahead,” he said.

By Rinzin Wangchuk & Kesang Dema

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Bhutan : Dzongkha text-book current status? – Making the best of a botched job

20 October, 2008 - The revision of the error-filled Dzongkha textbooks for classes IV to VIII has begun but education ministry officials say that these textbooks will not be withdrawn and reprinted for schools in 2009.

Department of school education’s director, Tshewang Tandin, said that textbooks would not be recalled because the cost implication would be huge and, instead, teachers would be instructed to correct the errors. “The textbooks are being proofread and then instructions on correction will be given to respective teachers,” he said.

To introduce the new dzongkha curriculum for classes IV to VIII in schools this year, the education ministry spent about Nu 1.84 million on the printing of books alone. About 75,000 dzongkha textbooks for classes IV to VIII were printed in 2007.

The errors were recently discussed and debated when education officials met with the dzongkha subject committee in Paro last week.

“According to the subject committee members, major errors weren’t made on the textbooks,” said the director, who cited the short period of time given to officials to develop the textbook and curriculum as one reason for the errors.

The subject committee members said that dzongkha was an evolving language and dzongkha development officials were in the process of standardising the language because of which, teachers felt, the errors were made, according to the director. “The correct spelling or sentences used in the textbooks were all debatable,” he said, adding that the dzongkha development commission was now working on standardising the language through a guidebook.

However, teachers said that the new textbooks were filled with numerous mistakes. Teachers and parents pointed out various spelling and grammatical mistakes, typing errors, poor sentence structure, and wrong use of words in the textbooks.

Education officials said that, to make textbooks error free in future, the textbooks would be proofread and copy edited before producing the final version. “We’ve also decided to set the copy editors accountable if errors are found on textbooks distributed in schools,” said Tshewang Tandin.

He also said that adequate time would be given to officials to develop the curriculum and revise textbooks.

Dzongkha teachers said that they had been correcting the mistakes while teaching, but failed to spot the errors in the textbook sometimes. “It’s risky, because students, especially in the lower grades, study what’s on the textbook and don’t identify an obvious mistake. Students should be given error-free textbooks,” said Karma Wangchuk, a dzongkha teacher in Thimphu.

By Phuntsho Choden /

Bhutan : New tourist hotspot – The spas of Ura

20 October, 2008 - What was earlier a mere hot spring source at Duethang in Ura, Bumthang, will soon be a major tourist attraction site after being converted into a public establishment offering hot spring baths.

The hot springs, flowing from two different sources (known as male and female), will be brought together through pipelines and collected in big containers.

The entire site development was being initiated by the Thrumsingla national park (TNP) as a component of tourist package and would be handed over to a tour operator group in Ura.

Assistant forest officer of TNP told Kuensel that a caretaker would be deployed and made responsible to heat stones and warm water. Dining hall and changing rooms would also be constructed.

“Once these constructions are done, we’ll fix an amount as tariff to be imposed on local people and tourists,” he said.

Earlier, people in the community bathed at one of the sources called Khandomai Drupchu, that flows from the left. The one on the right, called Guru Rinpoche’s Drupchu, was located a bit farther away.

Today, Guru Rinpoche’s Drupchu is being collected in a wooden rectangular container placed in the middle of the cliff from where a pipeline is connected.

Lam Thinley from Gaydhen said that Guru Rinpoche’s Drupchu, also known as Brakchu (water from the cliff), was very popular and it was believed that one must bath in the drupchu at least once a year.

“I heard that many people, who suffered from different diseases, got cured after taking bath in the drupchu,” he said. Locals said it helped in curing arthritic ailments, stomach, shin and eye disorders.

The old belief is that the drupchu contained magical power which could cleanse, just by drinking and bathing in it, impurities of body and soul.

By Nima Wangdi

Friday, 17 October 2008

Bhutan : Centenary Farmers Market inaugurated

October 17: The new vegetable market or the Centenary Farmers Market was inaugurated by Her Royal Highness Ashi Dechen Yangzom Wangchuck yesterday.

Cabinet Ministers, Senior Government officials, local leaders and members from the international agencies also attended the ceremony.

The new market will however be functional only after two weeks.

The Centenary Farmers Market is dedicated to a centenary of peace and prosperity for farmers under the Wangchuck Dynasty.

After the inauguration of the Market, Her Royal Highness Ashi Dechen Yangzom Wangchuck and the guests visited some of the facilities.

Built on an area of more than 82,000 square feet, the two storied vegetable market will accommodate about 460 vegetable vendors.

There are separate stalls for fruits, beetle nuts, dry fish, diary products and vegetables.

The market also has wholesale stores, meat stalls, coffee and tea shops and washrooms. It also has shops for agriculture tools and seeds.

The new market boasts of three ramps that will enable customers to use trolleys while buying vegetables from the upper floor. A glass house for Druk Seed Corporation built right in the centre of the upper floor will house flowers and plants for sale.

The Agriculture Minister Lyonpo Dr. Pema Gyamtsho said the new vegetable market has been constructed for the convenience of both the vendors and buyers.

The Works and Human Settlement Minister Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba said the name “Centenary Farmers Market” given to the new vegetable market is suitable since Bhutan has enjoyed unprecedented peace and prosperity under the successive monarchs.

A committee comprising of members from the Agriculture and Works and Human Settlement and Thimphu City Corporation have been formed to look after the new market.

The committee will be responsible for the maintenance and everyday functioning of the market. Vendors will be charged a nominal fee for regular maintenance and improvement of facilities.

Under a comprehensive waste management plan, the City Corporation will transport all organic waste to the compost plant in Serbithang and non biodegradable waste to Memelakha.

With more than 2,000 applications for stall space and only 458 stalls available, the committee is yet to allocate the stalls.

The vendors on the other hand are expecting individual stalls. The vendors said they are eager to occupy the new space.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Bhutan : His Majesty arrives in the capital

October 14: His Majesty the King has arrived in the capital after a 10 day tour to some of the eastern and central Dzongkhags. Their Royal Highnesses the Princesses Ashi Sonam Dechan Wangchuck and Ashi Dechen Yangzom Wangchuck accompanied His Majesty during the royal tour.

Last week, His Majesty the King visited Punakha Dzong and Talo Lhakhang and offered prayers and butter lamps for the peace and prosperity of the nation and the well being of the people.

His Majesty also visited Lekeythang Higher Secondary School and Ugyen Academy in Punakha and met with the students and teachers.

On October 9, His Majesty visited Endruchholing Dzong in Trongsa, the resting abode of the Machen of Terton Pema Lingpa. While in Endruchholing, His Majesty met with the students, teachers and people of the community and granted soelra to them. The students and people of the community presented a cultural programme to welcome His Majesty.

Prior to visiting Endruchholing, His Majesty hosted a lunch and granted audience to 63 student beneficiaries of Royal Kidu at the Thruepang Palace. These students, many of whom are orphans or were raised by single parents, come from the most vulnerable sections of society. His Majesty told them that they should not be afraid of hard work and challenges. Instead they should strive for academic excellence which aide them to avail better jobs to serve and support themselves, their families and ultimately the nation.

Later His Majesty the King and their Royal Highnesses granted soelra to the students. His Majesty also visited Sherubling Higher Secondary school and Taktse Middle Secondary School to meet with the students and teachers.

On October 10, His Majesty visited Trongsa Dzong. In the Dzong, His Majesty granted audience to the Gups and the geog administrators. While in Trongsa, His Majesty visited Ta Dzong as well.

On the October 8, His Majesty visited Kurjey, Jambay and Tamzhing lhakhangs in Bumthang to offer prayers and butter lamps. His Majesty then visited Jakar Higher Secondary School and joined the students for lunch. In addition, His Majesty granted audience to 62 student beneficiaries of Royal Kidu. His Majesty also visited Jakar Dzong and the construction site of Royal lhakhang at Tang Dechenpelrithang.

Afterwards, His Majesty visited Chumey Middle Secondary School and spoke to the students. His Majesty said that for a better future of the country they must always keep in mind the peace, unity, sovereignty and security of the country and people, a vibrant democracy, and Gross National Happiness.

His Majesty said that students must learn to love the country in the most intelligent manner. His Majesty said that students are the wealth of the country and they must excel in their studies as education is the single most important thing in life.

On October 6, His Majesty visited Monggar Dzong and Monggar Higher Secondary School. His Majesty granted audience to 75 student beneficiaries of Royal Kidu from schools across Mongar. Later in the afternoon, His majesty visited Gyelposhing HSS.

On October 5, His Majesty visited Lhuentse Dzong. Following the visit, His Majesty granted audience to local leaders, Dzongkhag and survey officials.

His Majesty said the cadastral re-survey taking place in the Dzongkhag would solve many land related problems. His Majesty said it is crucial to ensure that there is no corruption involved in the survey.

On Bhutan’s transition to parliamentary democracy, His Majesty said that democracy must start at the grassroots and that its ideals should be nurtured and instilled in the minds of every Bhutanese.

While in Lhuentse His Majesty the King visited Tangmachu Middle Secondary School. Speaking to the students, His Majesty expressed that each student must strive for academic excellence. His Majesty said every student must contribute and make a difference.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Bhutan : The other side of the conservation coin

13 October, 2008 - Of late, cattle herders of Merak and Sakteng have been looking for a solution to a new problem that they say could slowly threaten their livelihood.

Yak and cattle herders in the remote dungkhag say that their pastureland is slowly shrinking after a huge portion of it was absorbed by the 650 sq km Sakteng wildlife sanctuary.

Herders say that, because of the sanctuary, clearing of forest for pastureland had also been stopped. The problem is not so much disallowing felling of trees as the fast spreading forest coverage, according to herders. “Our pastureland grazed for centuries is fast shrinking,” said a farmer, Wangda, at a meeting with forestry officials last month.

“The juniper trees, if not controlled, grow and spread very fast,” said Wangda. Herders lopping branches were also levied fines by forestry authorities. Recently, as a part of land management and forestation programmes, the park has also planted trees.

“Our animals are our only means of survival. If they don’t survive, then we’ve nothing left,” said a villager at the meeting. “How will we survive if the pastures continue to become smaller with each passing month?”

Brokpas (highlanders) of Merak and Sakteng feel that the conservation plan has become a double-edged sword for sheep and yak rearing families. Also, with forest coverage increasing, livestock is more exposed to predators, according to brokpas.

Sakteng brokpas said that more than 20 sheep were snatched recently from their sheds at night by wild animals, mostly wild dogs and bears.

Dorji Tshering, 32, from Merak, has lost half his flock to fara (wild dogs) and bears. “The bears even come close to homes and take away sheep. We can’t do anything,” he said.

Norbu Wangdi, 36, who lost nine sheep, said that the fara and bears were everywhere. “I’ve lost three sheep from the village and six at the nobrangsa (area where livestock are kept, especially in the jungle). The fara come in groups and, once they attack, they kill more than one at a time,” he said.

Although no research has been done, herders claim that the wild animal population has increased because of increasing forest coverage. “While our pastures are becoming smaller, wild animals are coming nearer our villages,” said a brokpa.

The park office earlier compensated livestock killed by tiger and bears but, since last year, compensation was only given for animals killed by tigers.

The Sakteng gup, Phurba Wangdi, said that, because of the change in compensation, villagers do not report attacks by predators on their livestock. “There are attacks by leopards, bears and fara on horses, sheep and yaks, but the reports are very few,” said the gup.

“Tiger attack is almost non existent, so we should also be compensated for other wild animal attacks,” said a villager.

Villagers say that bear attacks have increased in recent years. Herding cattle or travelling alone has become difficult with frequent attack from bears, according to villagers. Laydra, 42, from Merak, nearly lost his right eye when a bear attacked him in July last year. Pema Wangchuk, 32, from the same village was also attacked but escaped without injury.

Forest officials, however, said that wild animal attacks increased because villagers were hunting them, which could have disturbed their food chain.

Records with officials show that between 2007 and 2008, more than 20 traps were found and destroyed in Merak range alone. The risungpa (local forest guard), Tashi Phuntsho, said that villagers still hunt bears, musk deer, and other small wild animals despite strict vigilance by park officials.

“Hunters have even moved deep into forests to set traps,” said the deputy ranger, Jambay Dendup, of the Merak Park range.

They said that locating animal sheds amidst thick forests also made livestock vulnerable to predators.

By Tshering Palden

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Bhutan : Coming to terms with America

7 October, 2008 - In America you have to look up more often. That is if you are a male under 5 feet 5 inches. A thick-soled pair of hush puppies might take that frame to near average stature at home. Here, it does little to heighten physical presence.

Being vertically challenged can be a bit of a strain on the neck when making conversation and on the legs as well when rushing to the bus stop; everyone seems to get there quicker although you are literally running.

Visitors cannot help wondering whether this has something to do with the servings of food – they are enormous. You need both hands to hold a medium sized drink. So you stuff yourself in an attempt not to waste food as the brain works out the ngultrum-dollar conversion. This, according to some people, is one reason why the visitor from a developing country tends to gain the pounds, overtime. The food is very rich, best seen in widespread obesity.

Ordering a meal can be a mind-boggling experience. It’s hard to catch the accent and understand what is being said and a desperate attempt on your side not to look like a fool. But it does not take long for the Bhutanese belly to crave for a ‘real’ meal – rice and chili. It drives you to walk the extra mile looking for that chili, which can give that familiar sensation from entry to exit.

The urban American, in general, does not seem to spend a lot of time in the kitchen although most homes have spacious kitchens and bookstores sell numerous cookbooks. A lot of the food is readymade and many prefer to eat out on what Bhutanese may consider snack food.

If you are into cooking, you can get almost everything here that you get at home. Only that it does not have the same flavour and organic food costs a lot more. Like the food, the choices seem endless whether it is books, artistic and cultural performances or just sprays to reduce snoring. Deciding what to pick could eat up all your time. Equally amazing is the diversity of people. If you wanted to you could probably meet people from every country in the world in America.

It is also a society where there is no shortage of information. Keeping abreast of daily happenings is hard work; there is so much to read and the only difficulty in finding information is to know where to look.

America is also a verbal society. That human beings have two ears and a mouth to talk less and listen more is a logic that holds no ground in an American classroom. Students are expected to contribute to discussions and are graded on classroom participation. This requirement can be quite a challenge for the quiet Bhutanese, who believes that one should speak only when necessary or is cautious about expressing a different point of view. Here, silence is not golden. Here, we separate the idea from the person expressing it, say the Americans.

Words like “awesome”, “wonderful”, “excellent” are used so frequently, you cannot help thinking what is so “excellent” about handing in an assignment on time?

Yet again when commuting by public transport system people seldom talk to one another. It’s all about ‘my space’; nobody touches anybody, nobody looks at anybody. The ears are plugged to music and commuting time spent on reading classroom material, books or newspapers. Time is everything. Everybody is busy working to pay for college, house rent, buy essentials and things they fancy and plan a holiday.

At the same time, it is almost a ritual to be asked, “How ya doin’?” However, no one is interested in the reply. They have moved on before you can say anything. It is just a greeting.

Also very noticeable is the absence of hierarchy in the social structure. When the Pulitzer winning professor walks into the classroom, students do not stop munching on their snack or straighten up their sitting posture. Everything is done in such an informal manner it can throw you off, depending on where you come from. The only time you hear the word ‘sir’ is when someone asks if you have loose change to spare or when paying up in a store.

Here the consumer is king. You can return a product if do not like it without any hassle, the mailbox gets flooded with advertisements on the best shopping deals and something new and supposedly better is churned out every day. It’s all about “in the dollar we trust”.

But there is also creativity, innovation and new ways of thinking in an environment of dynamism and competition.

“We are defined by what we do” is how Americans identify themselves. It is all about “to do” by yourself and compete, values common to the western world in contrast to collectivism, cooperation and stability of Asian cultures.

Americans say that its senior citizens prefer to live alone because it would be against their belief system to have their children take care of them. About six percent of senior Americans live in old age homes.

What can be learnt from America? When it comes to aspects of behaviour and lifestyle, some of us have picked up well.

By Phuntsho Wangdi

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Bhutan : Bhutan Post CEO post in limbo

6 October, 2008 - “This is still news to me,” said Bhutan Post’s chief executive officer select, Tseten Geltshen, responding to the Anti Corruption Commission’s (ACC) revocation of his new appointment.

Tseten Geltshen, former deputy secretary of the ministry of information and communication (MoIC), said that he did not receive any information about his appointment being “revoked” and was aware of it only after media coverage.

“If my results were revoked, the government, which issued the order, should have informed me,” he said, adding that he was appointed by the government and was to join office starting October 1 as per the office order.

At the moment, he said he was in the process of handing over the administrative responsibilities in his former ministry and would be assuming his Bhutan Post office next week.

The appointment had come under scrutiny after one of the unselected candidates alleged in the media that the selection procedure held last month was flawed.

“As per the announcement, I applied for the post, was called for an interview and selected. Later I received an order from the government to join, starting October 1,” said Tseten Geltshen.

The chairman of Bhutan Post board of directors and officiating secretary of MoIC ministry, Phala Dorji, said that it would be an unfortunate development if what media printed was true.

“Then the integrity of the board of six panels is being questioned,” he said. “We’re all responsible members drawn from various organisations and whatever we did was collective and not a one man show where we could expect foul play.”

However, Phala Dorji confirmed that they have not received any directives following the approval of the appointment by the minister of MoIC, which was the sector ministry for Bhutan Post.

He said that all members of the board were called and questioned by ACC and every member had responded accordingly but was not served with a letter or verbal instruction about the “revocation”.

“We still believe that the decision of the sector minister holds good,” he said.

Meanwhile, ACC refused to make any comments but sources confirmed that the commission had submitted the report to the finance ministry for appropriate action. Finance ministry officials were not available for comment.

By Kesang Deman &
Tenzin Namgyel

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Bhutan : Lyonchhen meets Nepal’s new PM Prachanda

4 October, 2008 - The two prime ministers, Lyonchhen Jigmi Y Thinley and prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) of Nepal met on the sidelines of the 63rd session of the UN general assembly. The lyonchhen said that they discussed how the importance and diversification of the relationship between the two countries “should not be held ransom by this single issue of people in the camps”.

“The Nepal PM and I have agreed to give everything a fresh look. We share the same kind of challenges as well as opportunities, both bilaterally and multilaterally,” said the Lyonchhen. “I told the Nepal PM that we should keep on discussing and resolve the issue.”

This was the first ever meeting between both prime ministers of Bhutan and Nepal. Both the prime ministers were recently elected to power.

Lyonchhen Jigmi Thinley informed the Bhutanese media that more than 4,000 people have been resettled in the United States, Canada, and Australia. “I think it’s fairly good progress. We talked about it and we did agree that we would give this our high priority,” said the Lyonchhen.

The Prime Minister also met some world leaders and Bhutan’s development partners, including the Prime Ministers of the Netherlands, Australia and Iceland among others.

He also met with the secretary general of the United Nations, heads of the UN agencies, the vice president of the World Bank and others.

“They were heartened by Bhutan’s experience and there were incidences of assured continuous support from these countries and the agencies,” said Lyonchhen Jigmi Thinley.

The delegation, led by the foreign minister Lyonpo Ugyen Tshering, had separate meetings with other foreign ministers.

Lyonchhen said that it was very important for him to attend the 63rd session of the UN general assembly because this is the first time that Bhutan was participating as the youngest democratic member of the UN. He said that the world had been pleasantly surprised and inspired by the peaceful manner of transition, quite unlike the experience of other countries.

“As a least developed country, as a country that is still aid-dependent, it was very important that not only we tell the world our stories but give cause to our development partners for satisfaction in the way in which they have indirectly supported this whole transition,” said the Lyonchhen.

He said that he also attended the dinner gala of the Bhutan Foundation (involved in raising funds for NGOs in Bhutan) and gave them a briefing on how they can support Bhutan’s development. The PM was also the guest of honour at the inauguration of the Dragon’s Gift: Sacred Arts of Bhutan, in New York. He said that, according to the organisers, the number of participants exceeded that in any of the earlier events.

Lyonchhen Jigmi Y Thinley also met with the growing Bhutanese community in New York and explained to them the developments in Bhutan and assured them of the government’s full support.

The Lyonchhen said that the government would launch the GNH indicators, which have been developed by CBS sometime this month. “Once it’s launched, we intend to incorporate them in the 10th Plan and we’ll be measured against these happiness indicators,” he said.

By Tenzing Lamsang & Phuntsho Choden

Friday, 3 October 2008

An overwhelmingly large crowd for the Bhutanese Star shows

October 02: The top ten singers of the Bhutan Star are touring the Dzongkhags staging shows. They are currently in Paro attracting an overwhelmingly large crowd.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the cinema hall in Paro as the top ten Bhutan stars prepared for the show.

As the cinema hall had a seating capacity of over 200 many had to return home.

Our reporter Karma Choden who has been following the event says the hall was packed with people making it almost impossible for people to walk in and out.

However, the organizer rearranged additional night shows to accommodate the remaining audience. Nidup Dorji, the organizer from Jigdrel Trophel told BBS that they will stage the show for the third night in Paro upon request from the public. He says the crowd is overwhelmingly large.

The crowd was all cheers as the singers performed different songs in Zhungdra, Boedra and Rigsar.

Organizers said the program will help build the confidence of the singers. The tickets were sold for one hundred Ngultrums each. Nidup Dorji told BBS that the proceeds from the show will be used to offset some of the losses the company has incurred.

It will also be used to sponsor the cash prizes for the top five winners. The team will be performing in Wangdiphodrang today. It will then head to Trongsa, Bumthang, Phuntsholing and Gedu.

Meanwhile, the Bhutan Star voting lines are still open and the results of the top five best singers will be declared once the tour is over.