Sunday, July 10, 2011

College Confirmation...

Those who were selected for in-country institutes,like NIE Samtse and Paro, they have already completed their first half year. Those who are perusing studies outside the country on their won are on their way. They are pretty sure of where and when they will go. Enough of mental preparation! 

Those who are selected for ex-country scholarship too knows which country they are going and the courses they will pursue. But don't know when they have to leave and to which college they will study.  A very long break indeed! 

We always wait for our cell phones to get college confirmation from Scholarship Division. Ask any body and the answer is the same. 
Same is the case for me. Waiting and waiting. What if they call me suddenly and ask me to leave for the college? No preparation! 
But, now, I am no longer worried. I got my college confirmation on July 8, 2011. I now know where i have to go. They have decided to send me to Navodaya College of Physiotherapy, Raichur, Karnataka in India. But before that i will have to go to Scholarship Division in Thimphu either with my parents or a guardian on September 28.  And leave for studies on October 2. 

Soon i will be leaving my comfort zone but i promise to come back with more knowledge and skills.Some friends might be literally jealous about my long break but I admit that it was a long boring break too. 

I was worried initially with whom I should be travelling, as only two of us are selected for this course. But now i am happy as one of my class mates, Thinley Dorji, will be going to the same college.He will be taking B.Sc Nursing. 

I started browsing the net soon after I received my college confirmation. And I found a wealth of knowledge regarding academic Programs, hostel facilities,  college campus, practices that we would get and other facilities like library, lecture gallery, and many more. 

Now I know where and when I have to go, with whom I will be travelling and what I will be studying. I am now mentally prepared too. This is all due to timely college confirmation...

But I still have about three months before I leave to my college. So what should I do????????

Becoming Democratic Constitutional Monarchy: Part III...


On November 1, 2008, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck was enthroned in Punakha Dzong. He received Dar Na Nga ( sets of scarves) from Machhen (sacred remains) of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, founder of Bhutanese Polity. It was the most sacred moment of enthronement ceremony. At 10 am, King was ushered in the chamber of Machhen Lhakhang. Due obeisance offered by Fourth and Fifth kings and Je Khenpo Tulku Jigme Chhoeda by prostrating in front of the Machhen of Zhabdrung. Je Khenpo offered throesel (purification ceremony) to Fifth king as he stood with his father. Then King ascended six rungs stairway to stupa, where machhen was enshrined. Arranged Dar na nga was placed in the window of the stupa. He wore it lifting up on astrologically auspicious moment. It symbolize the reception of scarves from Zhabdrung. And he became the king of Bhutan. Je Khenpo offered dedicatory prayers at that moment.

Dar na nga comprised of five colours: white, yellow, red, green and blue representing earth, water, fire, air and sky. It is said that those scarves were  the same set of scarves received by Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck from Desi Jigme Namgyal. 

Then, three of them moved to the Kuenre, adjacent to Machhen Lhakhang. Only three of them can enter the Machhen Lhakhang. Unlike past ceremonies, it was let known throughout the nation with various religious musics played, though it was not visually broadcast. In kuenre, he ascended golden throne as a chakravartin king (a universal monarch). Zhungdrel ceremony was held, which was followed by offering kusung mendrel by monk body, government, people and armed forces. Mendrel represents ku, sung, thuk, yonten and thrinley (Buddha's body, speech, mind, wisdom and undertaking). His Holiness offered tshelha namsum (images of Bodhisattvas of longevity), then offered five materials;vajra, jewel, lotus, sword and a wheel (empowerment of five Buddhas). It represents indestructibility, wealth, beauty, wisdom and dominion. Then, Tashi zegye (eight auspicious materials) consisting of a mirror, medicines, curd, incense, a bilwa fruit, right-whorled conch, vermillion (cinnabar) and yellow mustard. And was offered seven emblem: wheel of dharma, elephant of fortitude, horse of swiftness, jewel of fulfillment, queen of devotion, minister of wisdom and general of valour. Finally, tashi tagye (eight auspicious symbols) was offered and prayers followed the offerings. After the prayer of Buddha of long life (buddha Amitayas), His Majesty was offered a pill, served little wine and holy water blessed with prayers.

Five days later, the ceremony continued in Thimphu. On November 6, 2008, Fourth HM crowned Fifth HM with Raven crown inside golden throne room. It was visually broadcast. Had you ever seen a king crowning king in the world? Tear-breaking moment!! His majesty already had Dar na nga and was offered all the materials being offered in Punakha Dzong. Only difference between Punakha and Thimphu events was, Dechhog khorlo Dompai (samvara) prayer was offered in Thimphu instead of Buddha Amitaya in Punakha.

Crowning with Raven crown was witnessed by Royal family of Bhutan, Government and security forces, special guest like Indian President Pratibha Devi Singh Patil, the congress President, Sonia Gandhi and her son and daughter, Rahul and Priyanka.

Then, there was three days celebration in Chalingmithang with various cultural dances being performed. His Majesty addressed the nation on 06 November in Changlimithang, Thimphu.

Therefore, our nation became Democratic Constitutional Monarchy. This is the end of three parts of my post. I did research on it by referring old newspapers. When I mentioned about the coronation of only Fifth King, it does not mean that monarchy in Bhutan was established only in 2008. Monarchy in Bhutan was established since 1907. I acknowledge Google for I took out photos from there.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Becoming Democratic Constitutional Monarchy: Part II...

Making of the Constitution...

The constitution of the kingdom of Bhutan is "the supreme law of the state."
No one is above the provisions of the constitution.But how many of us know how we got our constitution?

His Majesty the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuk stated the need to draft a constitution of Bhutan in his Royal Decree in September 4, 2001.  Following his command, Constitution Drafting Committee was formed, chaired by Chief Justice of Bhutan Lyonpo Sonam Tobgye. Committee comprised of 39 members with representatives from monk body, people, judiciary and the government. Fourth King inaugurated the constitution drafting process on November 30, 2001. 
On December 9, 2001, First constitution draft was submitted to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo. And second draft of constitution was submitted on June 11, 2003. And first draft of Constitution made public on March 26, 2003. The draft constitution, on November 22, 2004 was handed over to Lhengye Zhungtshog by Fourth King. The draft Constitution with sky blue cover was distributed nation-wide on March 26, 2005. Then on, Fourth King commenced nation-wide consultation meeting from Thimphu on October 29, 2005 and ended on May 24, 2006 in Trongsa. Third draft finalized on August 4, 2007. From May 8, 2008, Joint Session of first democratically elected parliamentarians started discussing the constitution. They proposed June 2 to be Constitution day coinciding with Fourth King's Coronation Anniversary, on May 30, 2008.

July 18, 2008 Events...

The day broke with unfurling of two Guru Thongdrels and a Neten Chudrue Thongdrel at the courtyard of Tashichhoedzong at 6 am. Thousands of people gathered in their best attires to receive the blessing. By 8.30 am, Ministers, MPs, Senior government officials, representatives of armed forces and international organisation started entering Kuenrey of the Dzong. Former president of PDP Sangay Ngedup was also there. Chairman of Drafting Committee placed the Constitution at chhoethri at 8.50 am before the altar of Toenpa, Kutshab Ternga and Zhabdrung Khamsum Zelnon. By 9.00 am Royal Family arrived at kuenrey. Fourth king arrived at 9.10 am.

His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wamgchuk arrived at 9.43 am, venerable lopons, the Thimphu Dzongda and Drangpon received HM at second entrance gate of Tashichhoedzong. Then he entered Goenkhang to offer prayers with Dorji Lopon and prostrated thrice in front of Toenpa where constitution was placed. Then, Fourth HM ascended golden throne. And fifth king started Royal Address at 9.57 am.

HM signing constitution of the kingdom of Bhutan

It was Friday morning, 15th day of the fifth month of the male Earth Rat year, our country became Democratic Constitutional Monarchy. HM signed gold written constitution from 10.06 to 10.09, four momentous and sacred minutes forever. Light from altar behind threw radiation on the gold written dark shona paper. Gathering stood, hand folded, when monks performed prayers. Buddha Sahyamuni statue glowed as Fourth King watched history being made, standing beside the Golden Throne. In silent prayers, fifth king vowed down after signing both Dzongkha and English versions of the constitution.

10.18 am, Prime Minister Lyonchen Jigmi Y Thinley was invited to sign the constitution, followed by ministers and MPs, Chief Justice was the last person to sign the constitution. Fifth King stood, guiding signatory for more than an hour.

11.57 am: His Majesty and fourth Druk Gyalpo left the Kuenrey. All people gathered to view the constitution of Bhutan. Some sought blessings and some took pictures of it. We had our beloved kings, so selfless, power awarded to the people.

At around 4.00 pm, signed constitution was taken to Gyalyong Tshogkhang (Assembly Hall) in a simple procession. Members of Parliament stood up as Tshogpon Jigme Tshultrim received the signed constitution and placed in front of the Golden Throne.

Becoming Democratic Constitutional Monarchy: Part I...

Article 1, section 2 of the constitution states:

The form of Government shall be that of a Democratic Constitutional Monarchy.

This section of the Article shall not be amended by Parliament except through a National Referendum, according to the section 26 of Article 2 of the Constitution. So, through three subsequent posts in my blog, I would briefly write on how our country became Democratic Constitutional Monarchy.

Farsighted monarch, Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck, commenced democratic process long time before the actual establishment of democracy in Bhutan. His concept of decentralization of power was just a beginning. He established DYT (Dzongkhag Yargye Tshogdue) in 1981 and GYT (Gewog Yargye Tshogdue) in 1991 to encourage grass root level participation in developmental activities. After its success, he announced his plan to abdicate the throne and start democratic form of government. The announcement was made while celebrating the National Day in Trashi Yangtse in 2005.  

For the first time in the history of the world, power was rendered to the people, willingly, by a king. Ripples of activities followed soon. By June 2nd, 2007, All People’s Party (APP) was formed in Thimphu. Names of four former ministers were linked to it. Election Commission of Bhutan announced no primary round of election since there were only two parties, on July 15, 2007. By July 29, 2007, Guidelines for academic requirements for political aspirants were drawn. On August 5, 2007, seven ministers resigned to join politics. It was moment of sadness mingled with happiness. Sad that seven ministers resigned but happy that they, with experience, joined politics. Then, APP became DPT.

Two parties were PDP and DPT. PDP President Sangay Ngedup contested from Talo-Kabji constituency in Punakha with Tshering Penjor of DPT. And DPT President Jigmi Y. Thinley contested from Pema Gatsel with PDP’s Jigme Dukpa. By September 16, 2007, familiarization Campaign was in full swing in all the constituencies. On October 14, 2007, ECB announced rules for Campaign Finance. Both the parties confirmed all their 47 candidates by January 13, 2008. On February 13, 2008, DPT released its manifesto. And on the same day, two party Presidents clashed in their first televised debate. On February 24, 2008, PDP released its manifesto too. By then, second round of campaign have already started: PDP from Thimphu and DPT from Trongsa.

National Council has already been formed. A member each was elected for 20 Dzongkhags. The remaining five members were appointed by His Majesty the King.

Thousands of voters travelled to their respective polling stations to cast their votes on the poll day. March 24, 2008 was the day of victory and defeat. Out of 47 constituencies, DPT celebrated landslide victory by winning 45 seats in the Assembly. Lyonchhen Jigmi Y Thinley became first democratically elected Prime Minister. The only two member opposition in the assembly is the smallest in the world.

The electoral process however was completed only on 27 June, 2011, following the Local Government election. Then only a complete democracy was set up in Bhutan.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

In support of state funding for the political parties...

Since the day we elected our government in 2008, we all are in great expectations: we want government to function perfectly without hindrances. Even when they are doing so much, we still want them to do more. On their good works, very few extend their heartfelt gratitude. When we can talk so much on Tobacco Control Act, why don’t we sometimes talk about the achievements made under their reign? It would encourage them to work even harder. Therefore, let’s appreciate their accomplishments as superficially as we criticize them on unsatisfactory works. We must learn to appreciate when we can criticize.

Our aim of establishing vibrant democracy is possible only with vibrant political parties. To have vibrant political parties, vibrant broad-based political system is essential. It means party’s representatives must function even in the grassroots level. Otherwise, twice in a year visit to their constituencies would be too less to understand the problems of the people. Those caught for TCA, pleaded for their innocence and unawareness of the Act. It is an urgent call for party offices in grassroots level to keep our people more aware about the happenings in the parliament.  Looking at the present scenario of both parties in financial crisis, I am afraid how many more parties will come forward.  We don’t want good political parties to dissolve, just for the financial constraint. Some argue even if present parties dissolve, some aspiring politicians would come in future. It is as easy as saying it only!

According to DPT party officials, Pushkhar Chhetri of Bhutan Observer (06-13 May, 2011) reported, party’s overdraft from BoB shoot up to 20 million with interest accumulation of Nu. 0.25 every month and other liabilities worth Nu. 3 million. Every month MPs contribute 10 percent of their salaries to run party offices amounting to Nu. 0.22 million. And PDP has more than Nu.20 million loans and other liabilities worthNu.3.8 million. In consideration of financial difficulties, ECB gave an option to do away with dzongkhag offices but DPT refused as it is crucial. PDP has only head offices. Only solace is, our first parliamentarians didn’t go for general round of election, where they didn’t receive Nu.9.4 millions from the Election Commission of Bhutan.

With good intention of future political parties, government proposed twice for state funding for the political parties once in 2008 and in 2011. But, both times National Council called it unconstitutional as per the Article 15:

A political party shall not accept money or any assistance other than those contributions made by registered members.

With ceiling fixed for contributors and most members from rural area, we can’t expect our parties to be sufficient. They all are working for the state. They are not working toward their individual aspiration. For how long our MPs share their salaries with party workers. It is disheartening that present parties were blamed for designing posters with less content during campaign. Present parties did more of educating people on democracy than their campaign. We should appreciate their efforts.  Hope national level committee will find good reasons to support state funding in next session of parliament.

It should be in such a way that state funding is allocated without impact on the cost of developmental activities. Any credible political parties in future must receive state funding to establish vibrant democracy. Otherwise, instead of formation of new parties, even the survival of present parties would be very hard.


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