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Bhutan's Daily Newspaper
Updated: 2 hours 37 min ago

Building mindful and compassionate public servants

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 16:05

In the age of technology and fast-paced globalisation, mindfulness is a new concept everyone is trying to adopt. It has been proven to change lives – be at home, in schools or at work places.

The Royal Civil Service Commission’s collaboration with a global non-profit organisation, Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, to train teachers on ‘Search Inside Yourself’ neuroscience-based mindfulness and emotional intelligence curriculum is a good start.

We need emotionally intelligent, focused, resilient and compassionate teachers, as they deal with young minds. Understanding youth issues and responding to it through soft skills is the need of the hour, especially when youth today are more vulnerable and less resilient.

Youth related issues are getting complicated today. Times have changed, children are fed to, like a social media comment said, almonds and other dry fruits to improve memory, not lopon Dorji’s leather whip, like in the past.

Bhutan is developing at a fast pace. There is not enough time taken to keep things that are important – the values, beliefs and social organisations – in the rush to join the global world. There is an increasing number of people coming forward to seek interventions and medical help on mental health issues. We have drugs and alcohol problems. Recent figures show that more than 1,500 youth are imprisoned for drugs-related offences.

Developing a mindful society could help in tackling the issue. We need parents who could understand how their actions affect their children. Our teachers should not only teach lessons in classes, but also be able to identify personal issues students are grappling with. We need public servants who are empathetic to those coming for services.

The training, therefore, should not be confined just to the teachers but everyone in society. Knowing ourselves and understanding the need of others will strengthen everyone’s service to the nation.

Through softer skills of empathy and compassion, our service providers could help improve service delivery. For instance, it is a good service, if an official helps a farmer find the right office and officer instead of the cold ‘I don’t care’ look.

A mindful community will also debunk the general belief that we need good relationship with doctors or health officials to receive good healthcare, judges and court officials to avail justice and officers to seek police services. The sight of the policemen should ensure security, not fear.

But the challenge lies in how effective the trainings are or what skills trainees acquire and how it would be implemented. This is not the first time an initiative like this was taken. The education ministry initiated meditation for students a decade ago but it did not gain momentum. Only few schools implement it today.

We have always claimed to be different. If we cannot be professional service providers, let us be compassionate and empathetic public servants.

Commuters on precarious road due to lack of budget

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 16:04

The 10km feeder road between Damphu Central School and Chanchey in Tsirang could be the worst stretch to travel on.

Constructed in the mid 1980s, it apparently has not seen any significant maintenance since. Going by the look of it, that is. Travel experience on this disturbingly narrow stretch of road, especially during monsoon, can be life-threatening.

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RBP opens outpost in Merak gewog

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 16:03

The Royal Bhutan Police opened a gewog outpost in Merak, Trashigang, yesterday.

The Superintendent of police in Trashigang, Lieutenant Colonel Sonam Tshering, said the gewog outpost was established to take police service closer to the community.  “It would also help prevent crimes.”

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Bypass road in use for eight months needs maintenance

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 16:02

The bypass road that connects Nganglam drungkhag to the new integrated border gate is worse than a farm road, according to commuters.

Road users claim that the road, which has been in use for the last eight months, takes more than half an hour because of the bad condition. It initially took 10 to 15 minutes only.

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Workshop zooms in on need for food safety culture

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 16:01

Lack of food safety culture and unreported cases of foodborne diseases continue to be a significant and increasing global public health burden.

A two-day advocacy seminar on food safety culture was conducted in Thimphu to introduce and integrate food safety culture as an essential public health function that requires shared responsibilities in the country.

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Bhutan under-15 to take on Sri Lanka today

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 16:00

The under-15 national football team will play Sri Lanka in the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) U-15 Championship at Kalyani Stadium in Kolkata, India today.  

Bhutan is taking part for the fifth time in the competition that celebrates its sixth edition this year.  

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Picture story

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:55

His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen granted an Audience to Their Imperial Highnesses Crown Prince and Crown Princess Akishino and Prince Hisahito of Japan at the Golden Throne Room of the Tashichhodzong yesterday. The Imperial Family were escorted in a ceremonial Chipdrel procession to the Dzong. Following the Audience, the Japanese Imperial Family were invited to lunch at the Lingkana Palace. The Imperial Family arrived in Bhutan on Saturday for a private visit on the invitation of His Majesty The King.

DHI to ride on the wings of technology

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:54

The Druk Holding and Investments (DHI), the commercial arm of the government has recently instituted a new department called the innovation and technology department to collaborate, build programmes and invest in relevant technologies.

To embrace technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, data analytics and block chain that are changing the landscape of business, governance, and societies, DHI also plans to establish a research and development (R&D) and technology centre of excellence through the new department.

The new department, according to the director Ujjwaldeep Dahal, would undertake research and development in specific areas relevant to Bhutan, data management and building technology-based platforms. This, he said would diversify investments the DHI make while building expertise.

DHI’s Chief Executive Officer, Dasho Karma Y Raydi, said the country need to seize opportunities and manage the risks of utilising and developing technologies. “Building human capacity and re-skilling, lifelong learning programmes considering the opportunities and challenges of future technologies are important,” said the director.

The Thimphu TechPark Limited (TTPL) under the DHI’s umbrella is already in momentum towards establishing itself as a national information and technology hub and in the medium term poised towards developing into a software and systems development excellence.

Dasho Karma Y Raydi said that DHI aims to pursue innovation and creativity in society, build a technology “body of knowledge” for the nation, inculcate STEM education and provide a platform to understand and explore research initiatives.

These technology-centric initiatives and activities, he said are aimed towards economic diversification. The building block, he said lies in human capacity and understanding the dynamics of how technology and innovation is changing economy and job market.

Thimphu TechPark would also assume a new role to study relevant technologies and opportunities for development and investments looking at long term benefits for the nation and the system’s sustainability.

“Learning, unlearning and relearning is the only tool that would ensure sustainability and more so for technology,” Dasho Karma Y Raydi said. To ensure sustainability, he said investments have to be made both in systems, education and skill development.

DHI has also called for collaboration and support from all stakeholders in the country in providing a platform for innovation.

“Exploration of technologies and its applications is a journey and never a destination,” the CEO said adding that Bhutan has the foundations in good leadership, education base, literacy rate, the explorative mindset of youth and opportunities to leapfrog.

The focus on technology was guided by His Majesty’s audience the DHI received on July 19. His Majesty The King emphasized on the role DHI could take to leverage technology for digital Bhutan, inculcate a research and development culture and drive investments in niche areas of technology.

DHI, which was formed under the Royal Charter in 2007, plans to invest in sectors that are strategic, purposeful, necessary and impactful.

Tshering Dorji

MoE to create scholarships for TVET

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:52

Ministry of Education has earmarked 15 percent of the undergraduate scholarship for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for the first time.

This is one of the six key deliverable areas targeted in its Annual Performance Agreement for 2019-2020.

Incorporating Prime Minister’s suggestions during the ministry’s APA review on July 30, Education Minister JB Rai signed the APA with the Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering yesterday, followed by the signing of APA between education secretary and department heads.

Initially the signing of APA with education ministry was cancelled after the ministry had not incorporated changes and suggestions discussed during the review.

Education Secretary Karma Yeshey said that as suggested by the prime minister and considering the importance of TVET, the ministry kept 15 percent of the scholarship slots in the field of TVET from this financial year. “The graduates are expected to teach in a technical training institutes after the completion.”

Director general of Department of Adult and Higher Education, Kesang Choden Dorji, said that keeping slots for TVET is not to duplicate labour ministry’s plans and that the scholarship slots for the rest of the undergraduate fields would remain the same.

“The scholarship for TVET would be a diploma course or advanced diploma, which would be equivalent to a degree,” she added.

Karma Yeshey said that the ministry would establish 115 new Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) across the country. The centre will be funded by UNICEF and Global Partnership for Education. “This will be an addition to the ECCD planned by the Local Governments and established by privately.”

The ministry’s APA for the first time has earmarked five percent of undergraduate scholarship for teachers to be sent to the developed countries to experience world-class education, according to the Secretary.

With the signing of APA, the ministry has also targeted to recruit teachers and to improve efficiency in the deployment system to reduce teacher shortages. The secretary added that this was based on the suggestion made by the prime minister.

One of the success indicators also includes adequate number of teachers by subjects (shortage reduced) where the targets are to reduce Dzongkha teacher attrition to 400 from 571, Science teacher to 80 from 150, and 66 from 111 general teachers. Another success indicator is to decrease the number of youth in conflict with the law from 487 (2017) to 390.

Another two key areas the ministry will focus are providing 40 hours professional development programme to all teachers as per the Teacher HR policy 2014 and start TVET as an optional subject from 2020 academic year.

“In collaboration with relevant agencies, we’re finalising curriculum. Construction of workshops are expected to complete before the academic session and trainers are also being trained,” the secretary said.

The ministry has also changed its target from reducing attempted suicide to identification and prevention. The ministry will seek, identify and implement a plan to provide services to avoid suicide attempts among students.

While singing the APA with the minister, Lyonchhen said that the suggestions he made were only to make sure that plans were incorporated with new changes and not to undermine the ministry’s work. “I could not go through the APA in detail. However, in future the approach to APA should be changed. If possible I would like to dedicate one month to APA activities.”

Lyonchhen said that he was in dialogue with the Gross National Happiness Commission and finance ministry to rework on APA and to remove the plan if they are not important or necessary.

“Education is important. National impacts are mostly dependent on education. We should bring a systematic change,” Lyonchhen said.

Yangchen C Rinzin

Health ministry signs APA with PM

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:49

Health ministry’s annual performance agreement (APA) success indicators are in line with the government’s mission to provide people-centred quality and timely health services to people.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering signed the APA for the current fiscal year with the Health Minister Dechen Wangmo yesterday, about three weeks after the ministry’s APA was reviewed.

During the signing, health minister said that the success indicators at the ministry level were narrowed down to 43 from 73. “But, a lot of focus in the last exercise has been to enhance the quality of our success indicators.

“We had an opportunity to look at our performance, reflect on what we have achieved, and also look at some of the strategic information that is currently available within the purview of health and then redesign our APA.”

In doing so, she said that the ministry managed to align APA with the 12th Plan and the government’s major reforms in the health to provide people-centred quality and timely comprehensive health services to the people.

“We have six broad objectives focusing on health promotion and disease prevention where we primarily focus on accelerating mother and child health services in Bhutan,” Lyonpo said. “This will be our top priority in the coming years.”

The second objective is to strengthen the medical services where the focus will be on demand-driven success indicators rather than supply-driven.

“We are going to do a lot of outreach activities in the community where the people are,” Lyonpo said.

In terms of the objective to strengthen the health workforce, Lyonpo said that the ministry is planning institutional governance reforms by focusing on having a small division with the ministry to look after and take care of the interest of health workforce – nurses and the allied health professionals.

Strengthening traditional medicine services, quality of health services, and achieving the 12th Plan flagship are the other objectives.

In terms of the health flagship, Lyonpo said that the ministry had completed the concept and was in discussion with the Gross National Happiness Commission to finalise the programme.

On the demand side, Lyonpo said the focus would be on the refractive errors. “This is taking a cue from the Prime Minister’s State of the Nation address that we must intensify our target within a limited time period.”

In one year, all school-going children will be screened for refractive errors and then provide them with eyeglasses if required. “We are also looking at a geriatric population that we are targeting in this programme,” Lyonpo said.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering urged the health officials to go through the success indicators at least once a week, if not daily.

“If you can gauge yourself and see where you have reached, then probably we will not miss the target, because all the success indicators will ultimately directly result in benefitting our people,” Lyonchhen said.

Lyonchhen said that from next year the APA would be made differently. A detailed review of the APA would be carried out before the budget for the fiscal year is appropriated. Only after agreeing on the prioritised activities of the agency or the ministry, the finance ministry will approve the budget.

“I thought this would be the most effective way to plan things and the most effective way to spend our limited resources,” Lyonchhen said. “Then we try to capitalise on that and see how best we can use this APA for making our governance more effective and to make ourselves more responsible and answerable.”

The APA would be used as a tool to assess the ministers and the ministers could use it to rate his or her executives.

Lyonchhen said that taken seriously the APA could be a vehicle that would take Bhutan from a third-world to the first.

“We are open to feedback and suggestions,” Lyonchhen said.

Dechen Tshomo

Jomotsangkha hospital in need of separate space for an indigenous clinic

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:48

An indigenous clinic in Jomotshangkha hospital, Samdrupjongkhar, is in need of separate space to improve and enhance its services.

The clinic is delivering its services in a small room at the moment and provides only vaccinations and medicines.

The clinical in-charge, Pema Wangchuk, said indigenous health workers are trained on various indigenous medical treatments and instructed to start the services in their respective hospitals, as there are policies to enhance the indigenous medical services in the country.

He said the clinic has been shifting from one room to another since it started its service in 2009. “I could not start most of the medical services in the hospital because of space issues.”

He said there is no separate designated clinical space for an indigenous medical clinic in hospitals and it affects service planning. “It’s important to have at least two rooms for all the indigenous clinic services in the country.”

Pema Wangchuk said people from Lauri and Serthi gewogs come to avail services from indigenous clinic but he could only prescribe them some medicines. “People from India who lives nearby also come to avail services.”

He said more than 20 people come to visit the indigenous clinic every week and it is mostly the elderlies, who prefer for indigenous clinic services. “Elderlies come to get herbal steam for skin disease, nerves and jaundice but they have to go back home without availing the service.”

Samdrupjongkhar dzongkhag health officer, Pema Tshewang, said a separate clinic for an indigenous medical service is included in the 12th Plan and they will construct the clinic in Samdrupcholing hospital in the current fiscal year.

He said that the separate clinic for an indigenous medicine in Jomotshnagkha hospital will be constructed in the next fiscal year if possible.

Kelzang Wangchuk | Jomotshangkha

Plugging the loopholes

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:47

When it is time to file the annual income tax next January, another important document the revenue and customs department would look for is rental receipts issued to tenants.

The receipts will help officials know how much the taxpayer has earned through rental income. It will help prevent under-declaring of income or, more importantly, tax evasion. The simple receipt is crucial even as we are talking about reforms in our taxation system.

Housing is a big issue in the country. It had been for a long time. The common complaint is the soaring rent driven by a shortage of housing. Rents are increased at the whims of the landlords even with a Tenancy Act in place. But when it is time to file their returns, landlords drag their feet. They look for connections at the tax office, reduce the rent in the tax papers and even request officials for manipulation.

Just having a simple paper will prevent this. Officials will conduct surprise compliance check and penalise defaulters.

However, this is not a new rule. The notification from the tax office is a reminder. The rule had been in place since 2012. The only difference is it was not followed or implemented as intended.

How much effective the reminder is will be determined by how it is monitored. It is not like the civil servant income where tax is deducted at the source. Strict monitoring and cross-checking will help here.

The responsibility also falls on tenants, who so far had been crying foul in the house rent debate. If they insist on receipts, a portion of the “exorbitant” rent they pay will get into the government coffer.

If tax officials are serious, the rule should not stop with issuing receipts. It has to be cross-checked. Although house rent is not tax-deductible, cross-checking the rental income declared with the receipt issued to a tenant could expose under-declaration or tax evasion. Most tenants also pay income tax.

The new government has tax reforms in its election manifesto. There is pressure from donors and development partners to improve our domestic revenue generation. While taxing the people for revenue is not a popular move, loopholes have to be plugged. There is a leakage of government revenue because of the way we conduct business or implement rules and regulations.

The business income tax, for instance, is one area. While big businesses have the proper paperwork to prove income and expenditure, it is difficult to assess other smaller business. Taxes are imposed based on visual inspection. This is why when it is tax time most shops hide their goods in stores. Empty or half-filled shelves indicate the business is not good. Therefore, tax imposed is less.

Then there are other businesses, which we call “informal business”, that is not taxed. A growing number of Bhutanese buy directly by placing orders online. From toys to vehicle spare parts, online stores deliver goods at our doorstep. Nobody is paying tax.

Some businesses function from homes with the help of social media. These informal businesses are illegal because they do not pay tax. And it is growing even involving third-country imports.

DRC asks landlords to issue rental receipts

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:43

The Department of Revenue and Custom (DRC) has asked landlords to issue rental receipts to tenants which is expected to help declare the personal income tax (PIT) accurately.

It has been noticed that proprietors do not declare PIT in according to their income.

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RCSC conducts training on ‘search inside yourself’ for teachers

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:42

A total of 104 teachers are participating in ‘search inside yourself’ (SIY) training in Thimphu.

The five-day training that began yesterday is expected to help individuals nurture the practice of mindfulness to develop emotional intelligence, improve focus and to become more resilient and compassionate.

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Dairy business picking up in Trashiyangtse

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:41

Every gewog in Trashiyangtse has an interested dairy farmers group, supplying more than 700 litres of fresh milk to the milk processing units.

This has resulted in an easy availability of dairy products for the town and Doksum residents.

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Bumthang farmers ask for a potato auction yard

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:39

Farmers in Bumthang are busy harvesting potatoes. The harvest comes after five months of hard work and guarding against wild boars, pest and unfavourable weather.

As the farthest dzongkhag from the auction yard in Phuentsholing, most of them say there is a need for an auction yard in the locality.

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FCBL employees surrender their subsidised LPG

Tue, 08/20/2019 - 16:38

In line with the “Citizen’s Initiative: Our Genkhur,” employees of Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited (FCBL) in Phuentsholing voluntarily surrendered their subsidised Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders for non-subsided cylinders on August 16.

A total of 46 subsidised LGP cylinders was surrendered and officials availed 64 non-subsidised LPG cylinders.

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Picture story

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 16:41

In honour of the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi’s visit to Bhutan, a Royal Luncheon was hosted at the Grand Kuenrey of the Tashichhodzong.  His Majesty The King, His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo, and Members of the Royal Family graced the event, at which the Prime Minister, government officials and representatives of the two countries were present.   A cultural performance by school students, the Royal Institute of Performing Arts, and members of Bhutan Film Association, themed around Bhutan-India friendship, preceded the Luncheon.

Bhutan-India ties: An example of bilateral relations

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 16:39

The state visit of Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi, who left the country yesterday afternoon, is an example of bilateral relations between nations in the entire world.

PM Modi and Lyonchhen inaugurates the commemorative stamps marking five decades of hydropower cooperation

Dowsed in emotions, the Indian Prime Minister said that his two-day visit to Bhutan is an unforgettable moment and even more is the warm gesture and compassionate hearts of the Bhutanese.

In his address to the students at the Royal University of Bhutan he said: “No other countries understand each other so well.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was enthralled by his visit to Bhutan’s first Dzong in Semtokha and his audience with both His Majesty The King and His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo, from where he claimed to have received guidance on Bhutan-India relations in the times to come.

Semtokha Dzong for the first time in history hosted a bilateral meeting.

Inside the Dzong, PM Modi sat down before the statue of Buddha and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to pray for few minutes.

In his press statement, he announced Bhutan could keep the 250-year-old statue of Zhabdrung, housed in the Asiatic Society building in Kolkata, for another five years.

The statue measuring six feet tall is believed to have been found by a British officer, captain Hadyat Ally during the Duar War that Bhutan fought with the British in 1864 and donated it to the Asiatic Society in Kolkata. The government of India has initially loaned the statue to Bhutan for a year.

India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also is fortunate to find a friend in Bhutan who has shown the way to pursue economic development in cognizance of nature, environment and culture. In short, the Gross National Happiness.

In his address to the youth, the Indian Prime Minister expressed his gratitude for having seen the past, lived the future with visionary leaders of Bhutan and blended with the future in two-days-time.

He was overwhelmed with the gesture that the people of Bhutan has shown in welcoming him and the hospitality the country has extended to make his stay as comfortable despite the limited resource.

Students and residents of Paro and Thimphu, all-delighted, lined the highway greeting the Indian Prime Minister, wearing smiles until the last vehicle of his convoy passed.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi, known for his sense of humour, said a lecture on Sunday could be burdening, as he prepared to talk at the RUB hall yesterday.

He left the country in a special aircraft bidding farewell to all the senior officials and minister present at the Paro International Airport.

“Let alone the Prime Minister, who has to return to India, even the officials and media representative do not want to leave this beautiful country for polluted cities,” said an Indian journalist who came to cover the visit.

Meanwhile, Lyonchhen Dr. Lotay Tshering thanked all the officials, students, teachers and other volunteers for making the visit a successful one.


The new course

Irrespective of whichever government comes to power, both in Bhutan and India, the ties between the two countries will never diminish.

This was the underlying message leaders and officials of both the countries have been trying to convey.

Before the inception of first Five Year Plan in 1961 His Majesty The Late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck has maintain a cordial relation with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India. India fully funded the first Plan (1961–66) comprising of Nu 107.2 million. Bhutan is now on the verge of graduating from the least developed country by the end of 12th Plan.

At a press conference by the Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale on August 17, he said that India is delighted for the people of Bhutan, who have worked hard to graduate. “We are partners in helping but ultimately it is the achievement of people of Bhutan, the government and the two Kings,” he said adding that India would continue the partnership even if Bhutan comes out of LDC.

Cooperation in the field of hydropower is exemplary. However, the whole focus of the visit is to diversify the bilateral relation into sectors like health, education and technology.

To this effect, the Indian government, besides committing to issue 1,000 MT of LPG every month, has also committed to support the financing of super specialist hospital in Thimphu. Various MoUs have also been exchanged between the educational institutes and agencies of both the countries.

The Indian foreign secretary also added that there are number of areas to enhance economic ties. For instance, the government of India has committed Nu 4B for trade support facility. This, he said would be largely used to help traders, manufacturers and small entrepreneurs of Bhutan to modernise their production to be able to compete in the Indian market.

The Indian government, he said has also extended its currency swap facility from USD 100M to USD 200M, until the SAARC currency swap comes up. A currency swap is an agreement in which two parties exchange the principal amount of a loan and the interest in one currency for the principal and interest in another currency.

From digital payment to disaster management and technology, the Indian Prime Minster said he would like see more such collaboration between Bhutan and India.

During a press conference in the ceremonial lounge at Paro Airport right after the departure of the Indian PM, Lyonchhen Dr. Lotay Tshering said hydropower is just one of the events that happened in this relationship.

With regard to the ongoing hydropower projects, he said that two governments have committed to bring to all activities to a conclusion as soon as possible. “Both the governments are very positive on Sunkosh project. Experts from both sides are working on it. So we have not discussed anything new. We haven’t taken any new stands on hydropower this time,” Lyonchhen said.

Meanwhile, Lyonchhen thanked all the farmers for not letting loose their cattle on the roads during the visit of the PM.

Tshering Dorji

Find your real calling: PM Modi calls

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 16:36

Of the several milestone undertakings that commenced during the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s two-day state visit, Bhutanese youth was a major focus of the visit.

Addressing the students of the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) yesterday, Prime Minister Modi said, “There is no better time to be young than now.”

Recognising the importance of youth, PM Modi said that the world today offers more opportunities than ever before. “You have the power and potential to do extra-ordinary things, which will impact generations to come,” he said. “Find your real calling and pursue it with full passion.”

Speaking at the RUB convention hall filled with avid minds from across colleges and schools in the country, PM Modi stressed on the role of youth in capitalising on the emerging technologies to help the country develop.

“Today, I stand here among the best and brightest youth of Bhutan,” he said. “His Majesty told me yesterday that he interacts with you regularly and had addressed the last convocation. It is from you all that Bhutan’s future leaders, innovators, business persons, sports persons, artists and scientists will emerge.”

As all tasks would be laden with challenges, he said that the young minds have to find innovative solutions to overcome them. “Let no limitation constrain you.”

Observing the dynamism and the energy radiating from the youth present at the hall, PM Modi said that he was confident that the youth would shape the future of Bhutan and its citizens. “Whether I look at Bhutan’s past, present or future, the common and constant threads are – deep spirituality, and youthful vigour. These are also the strengths of our bilateral relationship.”

PM Modi lauded Bhutan’s efforts to harness the benefits of technology in various sectors and reassured his support to help continue the progress.

He said that going beyond the traditional sector of cooperation, Bhutan and India are seeking to cooperate extensively in new frontiers – from schools to space and digital payments to disaster management. “Our cooperation in all these sectors will have a direct impact on young friends like you.”

In the age of globalisation, PM Modi said that it is crucial to connect scholars and academics beyond borders, to share creativity and talent of students and to bring them at par with the best in the world.

He said, “As Bhutan soars high in these endeavours, your 1.3 billion Indian friends will not only just look on and cheer you with pride and happiness, but also they will partner you, share with you and learn from you.”

PM Modi went on to say that it is the positive relationship between the people of the two countries that has stood the test of time. “India-Bhutan cooperation in hydro-power and energy is exemplary. But the real source of power and energy of this relationship are our people. So, it is people first, and people will always be at the centre of this relationship.”

He added that no other two countries in the world understand each other so well or share so much. And no two countries are such natural partners in bringing prosperity to their people.

“It is natural that the people of Bhutan and India experience great attachment to each other. After all, we are close not just due to our geography. Our history, culture and spiritual traditions have created unique and deep bonds between our peoples and nations.”

Known to the world as one of the happiest countries, PM Modi also commended Bhutan’s developmental concept of Gross National Happiness. “Bhutan has understood the essence of happiness. Bhutan has understood the spirit of harmony, togetherness and compassion. This very spirit radiates from the adorable children who lined the streets to welcome me yesterday. I will always remember their smiles.”

He added that Bhutan’s message to humanity is happiness. “I go back with a lot of happiness and positive energy from you all.”

Younten Tshedup