karmachoden

Spontaneous expression of thoughts and emotions in words.

Tracksuits in Schools- should it be banned?

At a time when we are talking of wholesome education, quality education, excellence in sports along sides academics and off course value education, there comes a sudden announcement from the Thimthrom about the banning of the use of tracksuits in schools.

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Photo courtesy: Druk School Web Site

Well, anything that is banned calls for reverse reactions from the public and so did this tracksuit thing too. People from all walks of life raised their voice either for or against the issue.

But one thing came out very clear. What is that we are looking for? Can we promote culture and tradition just by banning a tracksuit? Or can we promote wholesome education by allowing the use of it? Or could we have struck to a middle path to maintain the balance?

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Photo Courtesy: DYS Web Site

Could we not have found a way to move towards wholesome education while at the same time maintaining the culture and tradition?

I am always reminded of a conversation I had with my education minister who always shares what he understood from the audience of His Majesty The King. Although I had an opportunity of many audiences with His Majesty, I have never heard His Majesty speaking on this topic or else I would have remembered and talked about it.

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Photo Courtesy: Tourism Council of Bhutan Web Site

But then my Lyonpo had an opportunity and he narrates the address of HM’s speech like this, ‘HM says that while we teach our kids to learn to eat like balling our rice in or hands, at the same time we should teach our youngsters to eat with their fork and spoon too”

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Photo Courtesy: Tourism Council of Bhutan Web Site.

The vision is very clear. As far as I understood it simply means while we teach culture and tradition to our kids, we should also teach them the modern means of moving with the changing pace of the world.

And how can we move with the world when we are so bigoted to think that wearing a tracksuit in schools will wear off the culture and tradition?

How can we even think of moving ahead if our mindset is fixated on just a simple tracksuit? When the whole idea of education could be focused on how to divert our youth from the ill effects of social menace like drug abuse, alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy, and suicides and so on to make them a better human being?

It is one thing to have a Royal Vision, It is another thing how the subjects interpret the Royal Vision. I hope at the end officials working at relevant agencies do realize what it means to interpreting the Royal Vision into ACTIONS.

“The Vision 2020 document enjoins that, ‘education must be guided by a holistic concept based upon the total development of the child and the need to ensure that the innate potential of each and every child is fully realized.” (Vision 2020).

Sports has become very popular all over the world and in many countries has also become a significant source of employment and livelihood. In Bhutan unfortunately, sports is still seen as little more than ‘play’ and many students do not participate even in that. Research proves however that the benefits of sports in school are multi-fold and it is high time this was recognized. (Source: Pelkhil School Web Site.)

Here are some comments on the social media that I captured reacting to the ban.

 Sonam Norbu

Before going into the tracksuit thing, Why is Thimphu Thromde’s Education Conference held in Paro? I think We talk a lot about being financially smart but this kind of small things matter a lot.

And coming to tracksuits, it’s a great idea to be in proper attire for PE classes. The issue is with misunderstanding and misusing of the purpose of children wearing tracksuits. I feel we should be smart enough to have amendments and should be rethinking of how conveniently we can have tracksuits, rather than disallowing. The harsh and rude Banning culture in Bhutan ought to change with time. However we see few schools in tracksuits on most occasions for some other manageable inconveniences also. I feel the purpose of having tracksuits in schools should be given priority and then the use of it ought to be done accordingly.
Let tracksuits be there but for their purpose.

Benji Dorji

Shocked at Thimphu Thromde’s notice banning tracksuits in schools. The Ministry of Education is the ‘competent ‘ authority, definitely not the Thromde!

Tashi Dorji

Another ill-thought ban. Total bungle-up of priorities…what about coming out with good bans such as ban on potholes , ban on overflowing sewage on the roads, ban on dirty, open drains, ban on dirty, drinking water, ban on restricted water supply, oh the list goes on

Tsèyang Nidup

For the life of me… a decision made in Paro, by officials from the THIMPHU Thromde… 🤣 If such decisions were to be made, couldn’t the team have done it from Thimphu itself? Why do we need an Education Conference within an Annual Education conference? The money pocketed for such a ludicrous decision, could’ve been put to better use!!!
And, our country is in debt !!!

Luengten Dem

It really needs rethinking…..its is very troublesome for students and teachers alike…..wearing tracksuit by allstudents is a uniform…it does not dilute any of the cultural aspects…….what about the uniform policemen who hoist and takedown the flag near the Tashichodzong.

Luengten Dem

I am sure the thromde will reconsider n invite wider participation next time . Some rules will only bring more problems and less respect for the more important rules. Is it like gender equality …women playing khuru n archery…or even may be mask dancing..

Sangay Lhamo

Lucky I …will twiddle my thumbs while kids change into their tracksuits and come to do their SUPW.
Pelkhil Dorji

…and here’s the Kuensel article on the issue. So what’s the issue:
1. Are school tracksuits destroying Bhutan’s traditions?
2. Are school sports not important?
3. Are common sense solutions not allowed?

Unfortunately, many schools had tracksuits even though they had no sports programs. The question however should not be “Why are they wearing sports clothes?” but “Why don’t they have sports programs?”

Wide participation in sports in our schools is looking increasingly unlikely unless parents and students begin to speak up.

Chablop PaSsu

Lockers in the school, changing room, bathroom and toilets… first
Then talk about the rest.

Chencho Lhamu

Makes me wonder if we equate cultural promotion with preservation. To me preservation means valuing the past and promotion means to allow the culture to take on new shades and dimensions. Preservation and promotion goes hand in hand but it doesn’t mean stemming the culture from progressing. Honestly, had it not been for the dynamism of RAPA, the Boedra dance would have died. Youth would have long despised the stoic and abrupt dance steps we were taught long ago. But RAPA progressed innovatively, we see our youth take Boedra dance to a new level.

Thukten Yeshi

I wonder how a track suit designed as a uniform for a school is any different from uniforms worn by our military personnel. And our national anthem is sung in all sports meet where Bhutan participates. This rule is as ridiculous as the ada racha rule.

 

Hands that reach out

Yesterday on 22nd March 2017, Bhutan Red Cross Society under the Royal Patronage of Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen was launched coinciding with the commemoration of the World Water Day 2017.

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2017 World Water Theme was ‘Why Waste Water. In line with the theme twenty-two institutions and communities under the wise leadership of Bhutan Red Cross Society (BRCS) adopted the Chhubachu Stream that starts from upper Mothithang and ends at Wangchhu. A cleaning campaign was conducted as the first activity of the BRCS.

“Acknowledging the theme of this year’s World Water Day – Why waste water? there could not have been a better day than this to launch this very programme of “Cleaning Campaign and adoption of Chubachu stream”. Said the Chair Person of the Working Committee of the Bhutan Red Cross Society- Dasho Tashi Wangmo, Emminient Member of the National Council of Bhutann.

17475445_10154612042130547_1143704256_oDasho further said “This cleaning campaign along the Chubachu stream is the direct outcome of Her Majesty’s personal attention on preserving the pristine environment and Her Majesty’s deep concern over our fresh river waters getting polluted by various forms of wastes that has adverse impact on the bio-diversity and the ecosystem.”

BRCS was formed with the blessings of Their Majesties The King and Queen out of Their Majesties deep concern for health and well being of the citizens.

17453334_10154612042885547_931689005_o“The Bhutan Red Cross Society is mandated to work in the fields of Disaster management, Health promotion, and Social services. With Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen as the President of the Society, the activities of the BRCS will mainly be executed through community volunteerism and memberships”, said Dasho Tashi Wangmo in her opening speech during the launch of the BRCS.

His Excellency The Prime Minister had flown all the way from his eastern Bhutan tour just to grace the day not because he had the luxury of travelling from east to west in a helicopter but because this was an important programme close to his heart. In his address he said that the natural resources of Bhutan means a lot to him and all the citizens of Bhutan should equally appreciate, preserve and protect them.

17499816_10154612043130547_40121419_oLyonchhen mentioned that Bhutan is gifted with clean air, clean water and beautiful flora and fauna and each one of us must work towards maintaining it the way it is now by not polluting our water, air and by preserving our forest and conserving our natural resources.

And as usual our men and women in orange uniforms were present to lend our helping hands in the cleaning campaign. His Excellency The Prime Minister while thanking the volunteers who were present on the day specifically mentioned that desuups who represent His Majesty The King are always present in any kind of voluntary work be it fire fighting, disaster management or cleaning campaign.

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And that meant a whole lot to us.

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I hope all our desuups realize the significance of that representation when in the orange uniform. I also hope our desuups realize that when in the orange uniform, we are not an individual but we represent the office and we represent His Majesty The King.

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Finally I hope our desuups realize that we are the hands that reach out in support not the hands that snatch.

17495611_10154612043325547_543668248_nBy the way just to let all our desuups know that henceforth any desuup who volunteers will be recorded in the system with the desuung office. The system will record the kind and number of voluntary works each desuup has carried out. And please just don’t volunteer for the sake of volunteering. It was good that our coordinator yesterday took the attendance at the end. It was found that half the desuups who were there in the beginning had disappeared.

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Children of the Lesser God

A beautiful Sunday just can’t be wasted by being a couch potato at home in front of the wide screen watching nothing in particular but still shuffling through the various channels. A Sunday out in the field makes your day worthwhile if you get there with a purpose. And our purpose was to take basic foodstuffs, clothing and shoes to some people at Khariphu village in Khasadrapchu, Thimphu living below the poverty line. Can you imagine people in Thimphu Dzongkhag living in poverty forget about being below the poverty line? And it is just about 40 minutes drive from the glittering Thimphu city.

From the outskirts it will appear that no people would be living in poverty. One will find huge houses in a very beautiful village. But once you get into the interior you will find the ramshackle huts without proper door and basic necessities to live a decent life.

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It was a project initiated by my two wonderful friends – Choki Tshomo and Ugyen- and thanks to them I got a chance to contribute my service in my little ways. I owe these wonderful couple a bunch of thanks for making it possible for me to see the realities of around 10 households in Khariphu. They have collected rice, oils, soaps, clothing and even plates and mugs to be distributed for the families in need of the help. I too did a spring-cleaning of my wardrobe and contributed clothes and shoes of our entire family members and got some good new stuff from my friends in Shop No 7 in Olakha too.

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We met aum Dago Bidha, a small stunted old lady who did not even know her age. She was bare feet and looked like she has not taken a good bath for ages. We were told that she lives with her two children one of whom is stunted like herself. Ugyen and Choki handed over a bag of rice, cooking oil, soaps, some clothes and shoes to the lady and for her daughters too. We got hold of two local boys, gave them a pair of shoes and sought their help to help carry the old woman’s stuff till her house.

17430663_10154569343681849_1011360143_oThen we met Zam and Tandin- a couple who makes lime out of limestone and sells it at Thimphu. They did not seem to have some decent clothing on their bodies and two little kids of theirs were shabbily dressed. We distributed some clothes and stuffs to them.

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We then went on further to stop over at Paydey and Choden’s shack. The mother-daughter duo with their children lives in a small hut and looked a bit complacent. Nevertheless, they looked very much in need some clothes for a change. So once again we opened our car trunk and sorted out the clothes of their size.

17408472_10154569346916849_1438193986_oThe most interesting person we met was app Dhew. He came out with huge smiles on his face and little short in a very cold and windy day. We immediately took out a nice long pant and shirt and got him dressed up immediately. He looked much smarter in those outfits and had even greater grins on his face.

17430812_10154569349201849_235567066_oIt is such smiles on their faces that make our hearts smile too. We met Choden and her little daughter who seemed to be doing much better in the village.

We then went on to meet Dago Dem and her daughters whose conditions we felt were the worst scenarios of all. The mother and daughter came with three little kids. We took the maximum time at this place to sort out clothes for the kids and parents. We were touched by the conditions of the children living in abstract poverty. Both the parents looked healthy and the daughter specially turned out to be very pretty and at a very productive age. But we learned that they were bit complacent and spoiled by alcohol. We were like these innocent kids did not deserve the kind of life they are being provided with. It is one thing if the adults choose to live their life by drinking but then it is completely another thing to be dragging their children in the kind of life they are living.

17356934_10154569351821849_1782503171_oWe advised the young mother to be more mindful from hence onward and to take care of her children. Well, the least we could was this.

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The last household we visited had around twenty-three members living under the same roof. Imagine the living condition? It is too harsh to out in words here. We found a little boy of PP doing a huge pile of dishes and it appeared like he was going to take the entire day to finish the dishes. The remaining of everything was equally distributed among the family members lest they fight after our departure.

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All in all, it was an experience of a lifetime. You not only get to explore places and learn the ground realities of the people but you also get to do something good for the society and the community which is a part of bigger Bhutan. And what more, finally I got to eat the specialties of my friend Choki Tsomo’s culinary skills. It was kind of outdoor fun with a purpose. Nothing better than whiling your Sunday sitting in the corner of your home when you can get out and get things done.

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And most important thing we found out was that these people need more of educational programmes in the form of counseling, awareness and knowledge of what they are surrounded with and what they can actually make out of it. There is lots of productive age group who are found to be simply wasting their lives by abusing alcohol.

Khariphu is a beautiful village with access to road, have limestone quarry and the people have cultivable land. It is found that most of the lands are left barren and we did not find even a single person working in the filed. The one good thing we learnt was that the person who operates the quarry (Khuenphen Norden Mining) has not only taken roads to the doorsteps of each household but also provided the village with a school bus to drop and pick the children to and from schools. Most of the children I believe go to either Sisina Primary School or Khasadrapchu Middle Secondary School. It was the only ray of hope we saw for the little kids of the famished family.

17407850_10154569356221849_1423173466_oWe believe that these people need some serious educational programmes. Relevant agencies could really look into the matter. After all it is about the future of those little kids we met today.

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Hon’ble Sherig Lyonpo meets the B.Ed graduates from Paro College of Education and Samtse College of Education.

17353304_1022778397853135_8665468679168125272_nHon’ble Sherig Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk on 15th March 2017 met with 279 B.Ed graduates from Paro College of Education and Samtse College of Education including 68 Contract teachers who have been placed as regular civil servants under the umbrella of RCSC.

Lyonpo talked on the role of teachers, how the roles of the teachers are perceived as by not only the society but also teachers themselves. And how these thought perceptions could be changed by, ‘Leaving a Legacy.’ Lyonpo says that one can leave that legacy simply by supporting the legacy building of His Majesty The King.

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“Whenever you come across any situation where you feel low and frustrated, always remember that you are connected to a higher legacy…the sacred legacy of His Majesty and that will lift your spirit”, said Lyonpo to the graduates.

Lyonpo also talked on the challenges of today’s time in the face of changing geopolitics, economic development, climate change and how Bhutan fit in these changing times. At a time like this education plays the most scared role in preparing our children to face the challenges posed by the time. This is where teachers come in with their sacred duties. Teachers should seek the answers to these challenges in the classrooms, to prepare our children for much bigger role than cleaning the toilets somewhere in Australia. If we have to build Bhutan’s future, we have to first build it in our classrooms, said Lyonpo.

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Lyonpo said that the quantum leaps in terms of development and technology are very huge. There is a huge jump in the mechanization, in the society’s aspiration and expectations even in today’s Bhutan. In such a time, how do we prepare our future generations? Lyonpo urged the graduates not to be relaxed in what is at present that the things are changing by leaps and bounds. He also went to say that people here are so relaxed while elsewhere in Singapore, people are talking about preparing their future generations and in Japan people are talking about technology.

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Lyonpo said that in education system, the change can start with School, Curriculum and Teachers. Lyonpo informed the floor that changes in the system, curriculum and professional development for teachers have already started at different levels starting from school to Dzongkhag and at the National level. He mentioned that our present education system is not sustainable. It is not possible to construct 600 schools and sustain them. That’s where the Autonomous and Central School come into the scene. We are not even able to deliver quality education to our children. We will not able to give quality education in all the 600 schools because we won’t be able to provide resources adequate for all the schools. However, we can provide that in 120 Central Schools. We have found out that 120 central schools are adequate enough to fit in all the children in Bhutan. That way we can ensure quality delivery of education too, because we can afford resources in 120 schools.

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Lyonpo advised the teacher graduates to think positive and lead a positive life- to follow the concept of Think-Feel- Speak-Act theory and urged them to have that fire in them that will inspire the future generations.

 

Sherig Lyonpo welcomed the teachers in to the family of education and urged them to always remember His Majesty’s vision for the country. He said that His Majesty’s vision brightens up in the classrooms. That is the place where humanity develops and that is the place that talks of the sacrifices of our teachers.

“You are going to join the committed bandwagon of sacrificing teachers and that is where we have hope in education. “ concluded Lyonpo’s address.

inspiration qoute

Orange is my SKIN

Well, I was woken up to the sound of excited children around my neighborhood. I was like why there is so much noise especially on a Saturday morning when I should be having a quiet and longer slumber. But then my daughter says, ‘either you sleep or wake up to a beautiful snowfall.’ And no sooner did she say that I got up, looked out of my bedroom window and Lo and Behold! Snow alas… I couldn’t contain my joy and before I realized I was dressed up fully in warm clothes ever ready to get out of the room and feel the falling of the flakes on my face. I had not even brushed my teeth and washed my face. But who cared when the snow was there.

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I had my daughter take my Nuchu and Bumo out to feel the snow. After that is done, we took our much-desired walk around Mothithang area feeling the snow all the while and occasionally making snowballs to hit back to the street snow balls attacks.

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Once I reached back home and checked my phone, I saw a number of alerts and notifications one of which says there is a disaster at the Changlimithnag RENEW Mega Fair and Desuups are wanted for support.

Well, quickly I brushed my teeth, washed my face and got myself into my Desuung Uniform. Grabbed a quick breakfast and then walked down the lane to Changlimithang as I didn’t dare drive in the snow.

It was snowing at full force and there were few desuups, RBP Forces, RENEW officials, officials from Gyalpoi Zimpons’s Office along with Secretary of the Ministry of home and Cultural Affairs and Cabinet Secretary and Dasho Dzongda of Thimphu to console the bereft shopkeepers who have come all the way from India, Bangladesh, and Nepal for the Mega Trade Fair here in Thimphu.

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We were there the entire day drenched in snow and water trying to see how we could sort out the mess while providing moral support to the traders. We felt encouraged by the support from the highest office (HM’s Secretariat) and the presence of the Prime Minister boosted our Morales even more. The lunch and refreshment at the site was provided from the Secretariat Office of His Majesty for everyone. Later His Excellency the Prime Minister and Aum took us to a hot coffee treat at the Ambient Café. The very gesture touched our hearts so much so that the feeling of being in that orange uniform brought in a huge sense of pride and fulfillment.

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My desuup couple friends and I decided to take a ride to view the snow-clad Thimphu at the end of the day since we really missed it during the day. So we took a ride towards Dechenphug and ended the day singing our lungs out at a Karaoke. In a way the 2017 snow fall turned out to be one of the best experience for me.

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The next whole day Desuups along with RBP, RBA, City Corporation, Officials from Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Thimphu Dzongkhag, Bhutan Power Corporation, Cabinet and HM’s Secretariat helped evacuate the goods and relocate them properly in a safe place. The ground seemed to be decorated in orange. The flood of men and women in orange seemed to over power any other forces on the ground.

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Every single desuup worked back breaking on the day but nothing can soothe our tired limbs and body than to hear a lady from RENEW saying “Now I know the real value and meaning of being a desuup. I am inspired to take up the desuung course.” My dear fellow desuups, now that’s what I call a real compliment and imagine the joy of being a desuup! At the end of the day the real satisfaction comes from having done good for the society and this is what we the desuups have done on the last three days of the mini disaster that had fallen on RENEW Mega Trade Fair.

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Kudos to all my fellow desuups. We earned a good sleep for the weekends and what is more- The note by our Desunng Director sums it up all for our action. Orange indeed is our skin and it definitely is my skin. We are the Orange Skin Squad. (the term courtesy- my friend Charmi Chheda)

International Women’s Day 2017- Be Bold For Change

The last public International Women’s Day Celebration that I celebrated was at Trashigang in 2011 under the auspices of RENEW Bhutan. I was coordinating an Art Competition amongst the students from various schools. Since then I have celebrated the day very quietly either treating myself to a good massage in a saloon or cooking my favourite dish at home. Either ways I always tried to pamper myself on this day. On some days I treated myself to a full new set of attire that I had always wanted to wear. And I tell you awesome women out there, it really feels good to be treating and pampering yourself.

2017 International Women’s Day on March 8 is one I have embraced it wholeheartedly. The fact that the campaign theme for the year happened to be ‘Be Bold For Change’ made me bold I guess. The theme for 2017 International Women’s Day is “Women in the Changing Work Place- Planet 50-50 by 2030.

The moment I decided that I would indefinitely celebrate the day with the inmates of Dawakha gave me some kind of inspiration- something that you feel from the deepest core of your heart. And immediately I made a post on FB seeking for financial support to uplift the spirit of the women who feel they are outcast and treated differently. My only wish was to celebrate the day with them so as to empower them and make them feel that they are no different from anyone of us and that they too can live a life like anyone of us.

I felt overwhelmed with the support that I got from all walks of life to help these women celebrate the day. Today if I celebrated the international Women’s Day, it is due to all those caring souls that made it possible and happen. With your generous contribution, I have been able to support the female inmates of not only Dawakha but also Tshimasham female inmates as well the residents of Tshimasham to celebrate the day. A big THANK YOU to all who made it possible. (Shall post a list separately when I am done with the final list)

I celebrated the day with the inmates of Dawaka Open Air Programme along with Ashi Mendarawa Dorji, Sonam Choden Tenzin and Tashi Payden Tshering. In the company of some amazing women!!!

We easily joined in the laughter and smiles of the females colleagues who were filled with joy and excitement. They swayed their beautiful moves to the music of Boedra, Zhungdra, Rigsar and Lhotsampa Dance. They played games starting from musical chairs to marble and spoon race to brain test for the NFE learners. And most of all we ate continuously from the time we reached there till the time we departed. All those yummy stuffs were prepared by themselves with each one taking the role over their speciality.

It was a day filled with love, respect, fun and encouragement for each other as we blended in together.

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Here is my English version of the talk, which I actually delivered in DZONGKHA to a group of female colleagues at Dawakha:

Dear fellow women,

A huge Tashi Delek to you all on the International Women’s Day. My colleagues and I are very privileged to be escorting Ashi Mendarawa Dorji who has come to grace the International Women’s Day with you all as a Chief Guest. Ashi has supported us with Nu.10,000 for the programme.

You may be wondering who the other two ladies are here wth us. We have with us Sonam Choden Tenzin who is also one of our greatest sponsors. She works in BNBL and she managed to collect Nu.11, 555 for today’s programme from the staff of BNBL.

Besides them, we have supporters from all walks of life for this programme. We have many generous people who came forward to support our today’s programme.

As we come together to celebrate this day here, let me tell you that your colleagues along with the residents of Tshimasham are celebrating the day too.

I want you all to know that it is the benevolence, kindness, love and compassion of His Majesty The King who wished that his fellow women be given a second chance to redeem, reform and rehabilitate by being in the open air as opposed to being locked up in traditional cell. Thus, it was in July 12, 2013 that 52 of you got the opportunity to breathe fresh air and be as open in all its sense of openness. You were given the gift of being in a programme called ‘Agriculture Based Female Open Air.’ It was the progarmme designed to prepare you all for a life after prison. To make you all ready to fit in the society. To ready you all to be part and parcel of the society so that you don’t feel out cast, ignored and left out.

By this very gesture of His Majesty, you all should feel grateful and pave a way towards being a responsible person so that everyday life out here becomes easier for everyone. The fact that you have been given a second chance in itself should be your guide to lead a daily responsible life. And how can you show that gratitude for the gift that has come from the throne? It is simple. All you have to do is follow the rules and regulations of the system, be disciplined in your every day life affair, listen to and cooperate with your supervisor, and maintain cordial relationship with your colleagues thereby making life easier for everyone here.

Today I want you all to know that every person who are in prison are not a bad person, it is just that their one bad decision brought them here. You change that one bad decision and you are like anyone of us who are living freely.

Also remember that not all who go to prison are criminals. Deep down all human beings are good, all human beings have compassionate heart and not all human beings intend to do bad things intentionally.

Many of you may be feeling sad, frustrated and depressed. Many of you may have your husbands leave you, many may not have family and siblings visiting you and you may feel let down. You may think of resorting to many evil ways to over come these emotional humdrum by getting into drugs, and alcohol and may end up being further punished.

All I want to tell you today is to focus on your positive talents, skills and knowledge. There are many things that you can do here. You are surrounded by beautiful nature and many of you are talented and skilled. I just saw how beautiful and smart you are, how beautifully you all dance and how beautifully you all have displayed your talents and skills in the forms of many products.

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Well, this is the area you have to focus on. Remember that when you get out of here, you should be able to integrate with the mainstream society and deal with people out there and live your life. There is so much you all can do here. Those of you who are educated and learned can either read books or write essays and poems. Who knows by the time you come out of here, you may even become an author having published all the works that you have composed during your stay here. Remember, Cervantes published his most famous book ‘Don Quixote’ while in prison.

Those of you who are skilled in weaving can focus on weaving, those who are talented in knitting can focus on that area, and those of you who are skilled in making products out` of waste materials can come up with different products. Channelize your energies in such areas which will benefit you all in the long run. If you need help in marketing the products, I will be more than happy to support you all in this area.

There are many famous people who have been in prison and its ok to be here. So focus on your positive outlooks, focus on your skills and talents whenever you feel sad and depressed.

I want you to know that International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on 8th March through out the world to commemorate and celebrate the success and achievements of women in social, economic and political arena of women. However, over the years the day has not only come to celebrate such success but also to pay our love and respect to women across the word for the role that they play for just being a woman.

It is on such occasion and day that only a woman can come forward to support another. That’s why we are here to celebrate the day with you all to show our support.

Today I am glad to have this opportunity to celebrate the day with you all- my fellow women beings. Its such a privilege and a huge satisfaction to know that you and I can together celebrate the day and be one in all and all in one.

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Kadrin Che.

Who can be called a STAR or a National HERO?

Lately, I have been wanting to write so much on who can actually be called a star especially in the midst of all those people who either claims a star title or who have been placed on the pedestal just so one can come in the limelight even at the cost of naming and shaming our nation.

Let me start with the story of a chilly pounder.

Jigme Namgyel-the Chilly pounder whose pounding was heard loud and high by then the Trongsa Poenlop was the force behind the unification of Bhutan after he took over Trongsa Poenlop. He is none other than the father of first King of Bhutan Sir Ugyen Wangchuck whose coronation took place on 17th December 1907 thus bringing forth the great Wangchuck Dynasty. Remember, in the whole of Bhutan we have only one person who has been knighted so far and deserves the title of ‘SIR’ and that is our first king.

Since then Bhutan has been enjoying the peace, stability, tranquility and happiness both at individual and national level. Let me not even talk of the roles played by our forefathers to bring Bhutan to where we are now. All of us have read history and we know very well the heroic deeds of our leaders.

Our Kings are beyond the title of the so called STARS. They are our living gods.

Just a decade and four years back on 15 December 2003, His Majesty The Fourth King by the code name of Hotel Mike led a team of armed forces and few militia volunteers to flush out the militants from the densest of forest in the south east of Bhutan. Now for me those are the guys who deserve to be called national heroes. They are the stars amongst us- sons and daughters who fought for the peace, security and sovereignty of the country. The people who lost their lives in the operation, those who are surviving without hands and limbs, those who are amongst us now but on wheel chairs, for me these are the real heroes.

Remember the tourist guide who dived into Mebar Tsho to save the life of a tourist. For me he is a star. The policeman who risked his life several times saving the lives of the people deserves to be called a national hero. The lady who goes out of her way to preserve the national environment of the country is our STAR.

The teacher who walks several days and nights to reach to his destination so that education can be imparted to the unreached children residing in the remotest of our country is a STAR.

A graduate who instead of complaining of no jobs in the country but takes up modern farming is a STAR.

An artist without claiming any publicity but quietly training hundreds of more artists in the country is a STAR for me.

A person who without any inhibition goes around cleaning the poops of others and public toilets, is a STAR to me. Someone who quietly picks up the garbage thrown by others is a STAR.

The comedians of the likes of Gyem Dorji, Gem Tshering and Phurba Thinley who bring smiles and laughers in the lives of people- they are the STARS for me.

The forester, who works in the midst of jungles without even seeing the glitters of the city life to save our forest and endangered species, is a STAR in my eyes.

Someone who works 24/7 to monitor the glacier lakes somewhere in the most coldest region of Bhutan having to stay away from his near and dear one, is a STAR as far I am concerned.

These are the people who actually serve at the ground level making a lot of impacts on the lives of people around them. For me they are the stars and without a second thought I would call them as our National Heroes.

A real hero is the one who does so many things for the well being of the country without claiming any ‘STAR’ title. There is no greater a hero than those people who serve the Tsa- WA – Sum (King, Country & People)  with utmost loyalty, integrity, and who knows the value of Tha-Damtse- Lay-Jumdrey.(Trust and Faith)

So just because someone has the gift of the gab, is vocal, can talk about freedom of speech and talks about protecting the rights of someone considered lesser, cannot be called a star. And especially not someone who belittles the very country that fed him/her to gain self-publicity or be in the limelight. It is like “Et tu, Brute” (BETRAYAL)

But “time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides: who cover faults, at last shame them derides.”- William Shakespeare.

And which of the birds is a star anyways- The parrot who jabbers nonstop claiming to be the know-all or the silent eagle who soars high having done great deeds?

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Book Review Title: A tale of Sikkim told by two

Book Title: Smash & Grab +Sikkim-The Requiem for a Himalayan Kingdom

Authors: Sunanda K.Datta-Ray & Andrew Duff

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Same story of Sikkim told by two people differently based on their level of involvement and research. While Sunanda K.Datta’s was of a personal account of the experiences in the capacity of a journalist based in the area, Andrew Duff’s work was that of a highly and richly researched works along with that of interviews and also the world of information that he retraced from the exchange of letters between the two Scottish head mistresses- Martha Hamilton and Ishbel Ritchie who served in Sikkim at the time.

The only difference is the way it has been reflected in the title…while the one portrays very aggressively as ‘Smash and Grab-Annexation of Sikkim’, the other one mildly puts as S’ikkim-the Requiem for a Himalayan Kingdom.’

As much as one can understand the stand of Sunanda K. Datta on the last Chogyal of Sikkim and Sikkim itself so is the requiem for the Chogyal by Adnrew Duff as much as the requiem was for Sikkim.

Both the books tell the story of ‘Divide and Rule’ –the basic concept of colonization adopted by the British India. Thondup –the last Chogyal of Sikiim is portrayed as failure, the victim and having died a very tragic death. On the other hand the uncanny Kazi Lhendup Dorji and his Scottish wife Kazini of Chakung-Elisa Maria Layford-Rae were portrayed as having played the opposition role to the Palace thus showing them as the main villain.

Sikkim left to see its 12th and the last King – Palden Thondup Chogyal (23 May 1923 – 29 January 1982) who had a fairy tale wedding with a 23-year-old American wife Hope Cook in 1963 when he was at his 40s. The marriage called in controversy in the midst of Indo-China Cold War. Hope Cook was looked upon as American Spy, which was to India’s bad taste. Fueled by the opposition of the Kazi and Kazini, Sikkim ultimately landed with the annexation by India under the governance of then Indira Gandhi in 1975 especially under the influence of the cold car that went between India and China in 1960s and 1970s. Sikkim thus became the 22nd state of India.

The way the stories are narrated leaves one with wanting to know more, leaves you in doubt and more so in reflection.

At the end of the book one is left wondering whether the people of Sikkim were pulled into deception, exploitation or betrayals. One is also left wondering the role of RAW and the shrewdness with which India annexed Sikkim with the help of its political officers based in Sikkim and off course the works of RAW.

Both the books are nothing short of a thrilling reader or a movie with lots of intriguing twists as reflected in the plots as it unfolds.

However, for a Bhutanese, the books are a must read. As a Bhutanese as I unfold every chapter of both the books I couldn’t help thinking about how our Monarchs dealt with the situation in the midst of over powering neighbhours and especially at a time when the neighbhoring small kingdom like ours was not only going through severe turmoil but eventually got annexed.

I as a Bhutanese could not help being more grateful to our Leaders who played a very significant role in preserving the security and sovereignty of the Kingdom in the light of all that was happening during the most vulnerable time.

This is the very reason why I chose to do this book review as my pledge to my Gyalsey- who symbolizes the continuity of peace, progress and sovereignty of our country. Our kings have never failed us in the past and they will ensure that the future kings will be even stronger. Gyalsey in that way is very special. HRH Gyalsey has the blessings, love and guidance of not only their Majesties but our Great Fourth, Their Majesties the Royal Grand Queen Mothers, Great Grand Parents from both the sides of the family and love of the people of Bhutan.

Wishing HRH Gyalsey a very happy 1st Birth Anniversary. My sincere prayers for Gyalsey’s Happy growing up with wisdom, grace, intellects, and compassion that befits the future King.

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In the Footsteps of my King

FB_IMG_1481288003573.jpgAs Bhutan marks and commemorates the 10th Year of Glorious reign of His Majesty the King, I would like to pay my tribute too as an ordinary citizen, desuup and alumni of RIGSS. Before, I say anything, I would like to reiterate a quote from the Coronation Address of His Majesty where he said, “Throughout my reign I will never rule you as a King. I will protect you as a parent, care for you as a brother and serve you as a son. I shall give you everything and keep nothing; I shall live such a life as a good human being that you may find it worthy to serve as an example for your children; I have no personal goals other than to fulfill your hopes and aspirations. I shall always serve you, day and night, in the spirit of kindness, justice and equality. As the king of a Buddhist nation, my duty is not only to ensure your happiness today but to create the fertile ground from which you may gain the fruits of spiritual pursuit and attain good Karma.”

Today 10 years after the reign of His Majesty, we have seen and understood the real essence of the above quote by His Majesty delivered during the Coronation Address in 2008. Since then we have seen His Majesty in action. From giving land kidu to the landless, providing home to the homeless, food to the starved, and sustenance to the devastated to travelling in sun, rain and snow through the nooks and corners of the country, leading the mitigation and restoration team in flood, fires, and earthquakes, inspiring and motivating students and teachers alike in all his school visits, His Majesty has done it all. Through his actions, His Majesty has sown the seed of compassion, empathy, sympathy, kindness, love, care, responsibility, diligence, and discipline of being a good human being and a responsible citizen.

His Majesty has also initiated many Royal projects such as Desuung, Royal Institute for Governance and Strategic Studies, (RIGSS), Royal Academy, Royal Institute of Law etc to model excellence, heightened intellectual capacity, and enhanced sense of volunteerism, ethics and values of community service, integrity and civic responsibility towards playing a greater role in the nation building.

I am fortunate to have got the opportunity to partake in both the training programmes envisioned by His Majesty The King. I look back with fond memories to those two weeks and one month of rigorous training at Tencholing Military Training Centre and at The Royal Institute for Governance and Strategic Studies in Phuesntsholing respectively. It was a training of both mind and body and the nurturing of my heart and soul. Since then I have had the privilege of many audiences with His Majesty and each one brought me closer to understanding the royal vision for the nation’s peace, prosperity, security and sovereignty. In one of the audiences I remember His Majesty telling us that we can contribute to nation building in so many ways. It can be as simple as reading a book, sharing the knowledge, keeping our surrounding clean, maintaining cleanliness at home, taking care of children and family to a bigger role of strengthening the economy and achieving prosperity for all our people.

I have come to know of His Majesty as being a voracious reader and I have been collecting every book that His Majesty has recommended us to read. I have finished reading some of those books but I am yet to get my hands on the many others that I have bought and desire to read. Ever since His Majesty declared 2015 as a National Reading Year, I have started to review every book that I read and I share them in my blog as well as in ‘Read RIGSS’ Website and ‘Desuups Read’ Face Book Page. This has inspired me to facilitate a ‘Reading Programme’ for the students at the Camp RUF (Camp Rural Urban Friendship) during the winter of 2015 to take the royal vision for reading to our children. We started with the book, “The Prince Siddhartha” gifted by His Majesty to the campers. This has also inspired me to collect many books to take to the children so that they can either start reading if they are a starter or continue reading if they are already into it. I am already in my pursuit of collecting books to be taken to the children for the Camp RUF 2016.

By virtue of being an alumni of both the institutes envisioned by His Majesty, I have taken to more volunteerism activities either physically, financially whenever I could or in the capacity of panelist in many panel discussions organized by various organizations sharing my opinion on many issues that we are faced with.

To live up to his Majesty’s words of wisdom “Where we live must be clean, safe, organized, beautiful, for national integrity, national pride, and for our bright future. This too is nation building”, I also took up to cleaning public toilets in Thimphu under the aegis of Bhutan Toilet.Org and worked towards raising funds for the group. As an inspired desuup, I joined my fellow desuups in every tree plantation and cleaning campaign to keep our country clean and green. Well, these are little things that we do that are not so visible and tangible but impacts the lives of people around us.

And today I am proud to call myself a Desuup, a Citizen Volunteer, A voracious reader, a Columnist, Book reviewer, a passionate cook, a super mom besides being a diligent civil servant at the service of my nation. His Majesty has truly lived by his coronation address in the last 10 years teaching ordinary people like me to make a difference through small or big steps but to take a step.

May His Majesty The King live long for the peace, prosperity and sovereignty of our nation.

 

 

 

Desuung-The Guardians of Peace and Harmony

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With Prayers and Joy for the Successful and Glorious 10th year of His Majesty’s reign

It is 3.30 am. I get up, rush to bathroom hopping to catch an empty one so that my precious few minutes are not lost. I get a shower and clad myself in the orange dress with the orange cap and the most famous DMS boot.

I look at myself in the mirror and find a new person there. I find a Desuup ready for “Fall In” at 4 a.m listening to the instructions of the Peljab (Sergent) who would use all means to get us right, both mentally and physically. Some days, he would make us stamp so hardduring drills that he would want the entire Rinchengang hill shake.

The Gopa(Corporal)is more ferocious than the Peljab. He would call himself the devil of Tencholing Training Centre and would command us that our stamping should shake the entire mountains of Bhutan. The word “Fall In” means a lot more than how it may appear or sound. This is the word with which we start and end the day. This is the word that keeps ringing in our ears long after the training has been completed.

Starting from the morning yoga, running, walking, drills, firing, rappelling, rafting, river crossing, games of all kinds to a coffee night jam session, cultured dinner, recruits nights, limited alcohol dinner to unlimited alcohol dinner, cooking competition, games and sports competition, best shooter to being the best marathoner, the entire training keeps one so occupied that we don’t realize how time passes by.

This is the “Guardian of peace” in the making at the Tencholing military training ground.

This is what I underwent under the Integrated Desuung Training Programme in the cohort of 13th batch from 8 to 20 September 2014. We were 121, which included 17 ladies with the senior most being Sangay Thinley, Dasho Dzongdag of Bumthang who was actually superannuating right after the training.

FB_IMG_1481290893215.jpgEnvisioning the important role of civilians in the protection of the nation’s peace and sovereignty and maintaining national unity and harmony just as militia personnel used to, His Majesty the King initiated the De-Suung Integrated Training Programme.

The programme was launched on 14th February 2011 with 125 candidates that included 80 men and 45 women.

It was His Majesty’s noble vision that the programme be a value based personal development program with the main objective to encourage all citizens to be active in the greater role of nation building. The underlying premise of the training programme is built upon the spirit of volunteerism and the positive influence of ethics and values of community service, integrity and civic responsibility,”according to TashiTobgye, Director of Desuung Office.

Since its inception, the Dessung office has trained 21 batches with 2,516 Desuups being trained so far under the vision and guidance of His Majesty The King.

Amongst many initiatives ever since His Majesty took over the responsibility in 2006, Desuung has taken a very prominent place in terms of realizing His Majesty’s vision of encouraging citizenry to be active in the greater role of nation building, providing useful and appropriate skills and knowledge in the field of disaster management, instilling a greater sense of community, harmony and co-operation as a group and individual members of the society besides providing value based personal development programmes and instilling enhanced sense of volunteerism.

Sharing the Royal vision, His Majesty, during His address to the 18th Batch Desuups on 21 January 2016, said that their (Desuups) service to the nation would help build the kind of future that we envision for Bhutan.” (Face Book Page of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.)

The men and women in orange, as many would call, has since played an important role in search and rescue, helping during natural disasters like floods, fires, road blocks amongst others across the country in keeping with their honour code – “I as De-suup will keep service to my nation before my own safety and comfort.”

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One of the greatest disasters Bhutan has seen in recent times was the most unfortunate fire, which reduced Wangduephodrang dzong to ruins on 24thJune, 2012. Along with six officers and142 NCOs and OR from the Armed Forces, nine Desuups from the 4th batch bravely fought the fire and saved 17 trucks of precious relics from the dzong. These nine Desuups were later awarded the Drapoi Norbu Yoesel (Light Treasure of the Armed forces) medal by His Majesty the King on 21st Feb 2013 at the Dechencholing Palace.

In every address to the Desuups, His Majesty shares the royal vision behind the programme and inspires every Desuup to play their part in nation building and in serving the country. “Your character and attitude towards work and disposition towards service will shape our future. You are the guardians of peace, stability and happiness of our country, and the custodians of our National Identity,” His Majesty The King said on 29 April 2015 to 15th Batch Desuups.

Inspired by His Majesty’s selfless dedication to his people’s safety and comfort, the Desuups under the leadership of His Majesty played a very crucial role in the mitigation and restoration work when late monsoon this year flooded southern parts of the country recently.

It was His Majesty’s vision to extend the service of the Desuups across the border when Bhutan’s friend and neighbour was devastated by a massive earthquake in April 2015. Under the Royal Command,15 Desuups left for Nepal to offer medical assistance for the earthquake relief operations along with other Bhutanese team on 27 April 2015. Seven more Desuups partook as a reinforcement team based in Trishul, Nepal on 5th May 2015 with the blessing of His Majesty The King.

Besides the presence of orange uniform in disaster management, Dessups are also seen controlling crowd, serving refreshments or meals, taking care of senior citizens at every festive occasions or at places of large gathering. Desuups also took active border patrolling duties at India border in the South and China border in the North to understand the significance of porous borders and its impact on Bhutan.

During the Royal Address to 15th Batch Desuups on 29 April 2015 that lasted for over an hour, His Majesty inspired the volunteers to contribute to nation building through various ways, big and small-from reading everyday to increasing the overall knowledge of the society, and aspiring to create clean, well managed and beautiful surroundings that contribute to national pride and integrity, to larger visions of strengthening our economy and achieving prosperity for all our people. (Face Book Page of His Majesty The King)

“Where we live must be clean, safe, organized, beautiful, for national integrity, national pride, and for our bright future. This too is nation building.” His Majesty The King said at the first ever Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition in Paro Ugyen Pelri Palace on April 1 2015.

Taking His Majesty’s wise words of wisdom by the letter, Desuups also volunteered to be the permanent members of the Clean Bhutan and pledged to keep our country clean and green. Thus, Desuups took up several cleaning initiatives as well as planted thousands of trees at various places across the country.

Today, Desuup sare volunteers from all walks of life starting from students of class X and XII, university graduates, teachers, health workers, members of parliament, civil servants from various organizations, private and corporate personnel. “Being trained as Desuup not only teaches self discipline, compassion, being helpful to the community, and providing support in terms of disaster, but it also helps you as a teacher to communicate these values further to thousands of students in the schools,” a teacher Desuup, Pema Wangchuk, said. “You train one teacher Desuup and in turn you train thousands of students.”

Desuung has also bonded so many people from all walks of life irrespective of posts, titles, and designations at their cohort level and also amongst other cohorts of Desuups. Each cohort of Desuups remain connected through creating group on social media. This connectedness has helped Desuups to respond to emergencies at a faster rate.

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Desuup Karma Tshering, an eminent member of the National Council from 13th batch says, “I feel privileged and proud to be able to give back to the community through this service and be in such inspired company.”

Desuung has further provided a platform for individuals to contemplate and reflect on their daily life routines, thoughts, and ways of living. “Joining Desuung was like experiencing the other side of life. It was about finding your strength and weakness. It was the test of patience, perseverance, commitment and loyalty,” said Desuup Tshering Choki, 2nd batch. Desuup Kinley Tshering from the 9th batch further reiterates this spirit of self awareness “Desunng training has helped me understand the value of life by helping others, respecting the senior citizens and come forward for any cause.”

“Through the De-Suung course and participating in various other De-Suuung activities, I have learnt and experienced the values of, “Brotherhood, self-discipline, responsibility, mindfulness, team work, mental and physical fitness, initiative, patriotism, selflessness, service to Tsa-Wa-Sum”, DesuupTshering Wangmo, 17th Batch.

“Nothing has been a greater achievement for me than to see thousands of individuals graduate as Desuups and most importantly realizing the Royal vision of His Majesty The King in creating a pool of committed nation builders”, says Tashi Tobgye, Director,Desuung Office.

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