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Council’s 19th session begins today

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 17:05

The 19th session of National Council begins today with deliberations on follow-up reports on the resolutions of the 18th session.

The session will deliberate on ratification of two international agreements – the Paris Agreement on Environment Protection and Conservation and the Agreement on Trade, Commerce and Transit between Bhutan and India. The National Assembly passed both these agreements last session.

The Council will also deliberate on the Royal Audit Bill 2017 and the Budget and Appropriation Bill 2017-2018. While the Royal Audit Bill 2017 will be introduced in the National Council this time, it will be deliberated in the National Assembly only in the next session.

“The audit Bill will be forwarded to the National Assembly for deliberation next session,” NC Deputy Chairperson Tshering Dorji said. “We will also deliberate issues from constituencies, if any,” he said.

However, the Budget and Appropriation Bill 2017-2018 will have to be deliberated and passed in the same session as per the Constitution. The house of review will deliberate the Tax Audit of the Tour Operators, Cultural Heritage and Annual Anti-corruption Report 2016.

The house will also deliberate the third pay commission report that will be presented by Finance Minister Namgay Dorji. The pay commission was formed to look into salaries and other benefits of local leaders and diplomats for a possible revision.

MB Subba

Heavy rain floods Bartsham

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 17:04

A windstorm on May 4 night blew off roofs of eight houses in Bartsham gewog, Trashigang. Of the eight, roofs of three houses were completely damaged. No casualty was reported.

The windstorm was followed by heavy rains on May 5 night causing the drains to overflow into a flash flood that damaged farm roads and washed away crops in four of the five chiwogs.

Debris and boulders that washed down the slope where Bartsham central school is located covered the multipurpose hall and partially damaged a hostel after the rain flooded the hostel. No students were harmed since the students were evacuated the same night.

Gup Kelzang Dawa in a telephone interview said the gewog connectivity road was also damaged but the road is now open to traffic while other farm roads remain closed. He said the last time Bartsham saw such a weather was about 25 years ago.

He said a Hilux, which was parked in front of a farmer’s house was also buried under the debris while another farmer’s house, which is under construction was partially damaged.

“The debris washed off all the potatoes and maize, which were ready for harvest and paddy saplings that were just transplanted,” he said. “The houses affected in the windstorm have been provided tarpaulin sheets from the dzongkhag but the affected families are still putting up with relatives or neighbours.”

Kelzang Dawa also said that the students have returned to the hostel. “I will be going to the dzongkhag administration to follow up on insurance,” he said.

Trashigang dzongdag Chekey Gyeltshen said officials along with disaster management team are already assessing the damage to houses and crops. Insurance assessment have already been completed but they are yet to release the payment.

The dzongdag said that most farm roads are also closed and may need to be rebuilt since they are completely damaged. A machine will be deployed to clear the school hall today.

Bartsham is 21km from Trashigang.

Yangchen C Rinzin

15 arrested for alleged gambling

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 17:03

Thimphu police arrested 11 men and four women, aged 28 to 51, for alleged gambling last week. They were civil servants, businessmen, housewives, tour guides and taxi drivers.

The officer-in-command (OC) said police arrested them based on information they received from four different places.

He said three men and a woman were arrested from Hongkong Market on April 30.  They were found playing cards. “Three men were arrested from the Centenary Farmers’ Market for playing dice on the same day.”

The OC said that of the seven detained, six availed bail on May 4.

Each of them paid a bail security of Nu 20,000.

On May 4, Police arrested three women from Motithang for alleged gambling and five men for playing dice inside a Bolero at the Taxi parking area in Changlingmithang. All eight involved were in police custody as of yesterday.

The OC said that some were arrested after police, during patrolling, found them gambling.

Police seized the cards, dice and cash from those involved.

The OC said that most of those arrested claimed that they played the cards and dice for leisure.

“Everyone knows that gambling is an offence yet there are people who gamble,” he said. “There are some who continue gambling even after being detained for the same offence before.”

The OC explained that gambling is graded as a petty misdemeanour in the Penal Code.

Section 393 of the Penal Code of Bhutan 2004 states that a defendant shall be guilty of the offence of gambling, if the person stakes or wagers something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance, or a future contingent event not under the defendant’s control or influence upon an agreement or understanding that the defendant will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.

Section 395 of the Penal Code, however, states that an authorised lottery is not considered to be gambling.

The OC said that police will continue to arrest gamblers. “People are requested to refrain from getting involved in any kind of gambling.”

Dechen Tshomo

Druk Ride offers bus tickets online

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 17:01

To help travellers reserve and buy bus tickets without visiting the bus stop in Thimphu, 26-year old Jigme Thinley Yoezer Rinzin has started a service called Druk Ride, a website where travellers can go online to buy the tickets.

Jigme T Y Rinzin took more than a year to develop the Druk Ride website

Travellers can go to www.drukride.com and type the present location and the destination. Once the details are filled, the available buses and the seat layout for the passengers would be shown on the screen. On confirmation, users will be transferred to the payment gateway where they can pay through M-BOB, which is provided by the Bank of Bhutan.

The idea of paperless booking of bus tickets struck Jigme when his friend faced difficulty in booking bus tickets physically. A 2014 B.Com graduate from Dayamanda Sagar Institute in Banglore, India, Jigme said he had always wanted to become an entrepreneur. He said that he wanted to do something about the inconvenience of booking and buying bus tickets by offering the service online. Jigme said that the idea behind the online service is to bring about change through technology.

“There are many inconveniences when people have to come to the counter to buy bus tickets,” he said. “But going online would save people time, fuel and the environment in the long run.”

It took Jigme a year and half to work on Druk Ride. For now, Meto transport is the only public transport provider that has availed the online service. Since DrukRide went live on May 6, he has sold six bus tickets online. Jigme is working on making it available for all public transport providers. “It was challenging for all bus operators to understand the system,” he said. “Hopefully they will all join in and support the service.” On how sustainable his business would be, Jigme said that would depend on how people appreciate and use the service. “If it is used appropriately, I think it will be quite sustainable”, he said.

Through this service, Jigme also wants to encourage youth to come up with such ideas to become valuable and smart citizens.

“I would like to tell the youth to look around, notice problems and to not walk away from it,” he said. “We all have problems. So why not make it a business which benefit others.”

Phuntsho Choden

Olympic Day held in Wangdue

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 17:01

Fifteen-year-old Dorji Dema lifted a cricket bat for the first time. She had only heard of it before from friends in the school.

Dorji found it to be an interesting game, one in which she does not have to bother about not being tall. “I like this sport and it is fun,” she said.

Dorji Dema joined more than 1,500 students from six schools in Wangdue who had gathered at the Tencholing ground to celebrate the Olympic Day on May 6.

A trainer shows the basics of weight lifting

Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) secretary General Sonam Karma Tshering said that every year BOC chooses a different dzongkhag to celebrate the day in keeping with its objectives to take sports to all citizens.

The students and guests participated in 14 sports including a five-kilometer fun run. “The objectives of the celebration are participation in olympic sports, meeting Bhutanese olympians, learning and practicing olympic values and discovering new sports,” he said.

He said that BOC was working intently on making Bhutan a sporting nation, as sports and games could inculcate in the youth, all the values integral to our national philosophy of Gross National Happiness.

Two aspiring boxers give it a go

The different sport federations, who took part in the celebrations capitalised on the occasion to create awareness on their sports.

National Badminton coach, Dorji said that such celebrations gave them the chance to generate interest in youth. While the BOC accepted the federation in 1998, there are only two national coaches today, lack of infrastructure, and has only 17 national players.

Most training and awareness workshops are conducted in dzongkhags by dzongkhag sports committees because of lack of professionals. “We’ve yet to make our mark in international competitions, so we’re training the youth to win us medals,” the coach said.

National Olympic Committees celebrated the day globally based on the three pillars: move, learn, and discover organised sports, cultural, and educational activities to celebrate the day.

Tshering Palden | Wangdue

Book Review: A mother’s challenge

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 17:00

The Morning Sun is a novel based on true story of Sonam Yangki. It tells us a story of challenges to survive against all odds.

A story begins in early winter with a baby being abandoned by her young mother in an apple orchard. Bringing up a fatherless child can be difficult. The child’s grandmother nurtures her and, as she grows, she has to face her fate.

Sonam Yangki stepfather, a drunkard, is no help. It makes her life more difficult. He is forced to work in pubs and drayangs for income. The child she gives birth to has cerebral palsy.

The Morning Sun is about escaping hard times and hoping for a better tomorrow. It talks about modern challenges; it draws a picture of a society that is becoming largely uncaring.

Monu Tamang, the author, began the project of writing this books after his wife Sujata Tamang shared with him Sonam’s challenges.

Thakur S Powdyel, president of Royal Thimphu College, launched the book on May 4 at the Nirmal Lodge, Thimphu.

Tashi Chophel

Merak and Sakteng get sheep and power tillers

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 17:00

It was a new beginning for Aum Doren. The last time she reared cattle for her family was a decade ago and the thought of having her own flock of sheep again made her anxious.

The 56-year-old and a mother of six, said her family had several yaks a decade ago. “Severe windstorm and cloud suddenly engulfed the area where I was with my cattle,” she said. “I lost everything there.”

Women and children join their community to welcome the Prime minister and the agriculture minister

Since then, Doren and her husband have been surviving on the little they saved and by selling their traditional attires and handicrafts. “I was told that I would be receiving four sheep that Lyonchoen will provide today,” she said. “I can’t wait to take the sheep home and restart our lives again.”

Merak residents wait with parasols for the PM’s chopper to arrive

Prime Minster Tshering Tobgay and agriculture minister, Yeshey Dorji during a daylong visit to Merak gewog in Trashigang on May 6, gave 60 sheep to the community.

PM addresses the gathering

The sheep were donated to encourage sheep rearing in the community. Merak Gup Lama Rinchen said residents without cattle were selected as the beneficiaries. “It is expensive to buy sheep wool, which is used to weave our traditional attire,” he said. “Looking at the difficulties of the people without cattle, we decided that they will receive the sheep this time.”

Agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji hands over a power-tiller to a gewog

A total of 15 individuals received four sheep each. The gewog also received two power-tillers. However, Gup Lama Rinchen said that of the five chiwogs in the gewog, Khashateng and Khilliphoog chiwogs are more involved in farming than the rest.

Students queue for the event

“These two chiwogs grow maize abundantly and we decided to give them the power-tillers,” he said. “Since we don’t have much agriculture in Merak toed, Merak maed and Gengo chiwogs, the one power-tiller we have here is mostly used for transportation of stones and firewood.”

Agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji distributed sheep to residents

Merak Gewog in Trashigang has seen several developmental activities in the last five years. Considered to be one of the most remote communities in the country, the gewog is equipped with almost all the basic amenities today.

Families take home the sheep

Lyonchoen informed the community that of the total Nu 22.86 million (M) approved for the gewog in the last three years, Nu 22.799M was spent on developmental activities.

He said the government has done its part in providing all the necessary facilities to the community and it was now time for the community and its people to make optimal use of the facilities provided.

He assured the residents that the gewog centre road towards the community is also being looked into as requested by the people of the gewog.

Gup Lama Rinchen said the gewog has requested the government to delay the blacktopping of the road and instead focus on setting a proper base-course.

“There is a certain section of the road where the soil is not stable because of the continuous runoff water. We want that area to become stable before it is blacktopped,” he said. “Along with setting a proper base course we have also requested for an effective drainage system in the area.”

A similar programme was also held at Sakteng gewog. Two power-tillers and 60 sheep were also distributed to the residents of Sakteng.

Younten Tshedup | Merak

Creating jobs needs showing more than telling

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 17:00

Joblessness in our small society is one colossal lie. We have employment opportunities myriads in different sectors. But we also have a serious problem. We have not been able to encourage our young people to take the jobs that are made available to them. That’s why youth unemployment is a serious challenges in the country.

But our youth are also enterprising. Only we do not recognise them for all the initiatives they take. Parents also tend to be misguided and vastly uncompromising. Many still view civil service as the ultimate job provider that will guarantee success in the lives of their children. Our classroom education view success and employment not much differently. Dashos, engineers, doctors, and administrators – these are the examples. Anything less than these positions in the society is bad if not a total failure. We need to change this thinking.

The good thing is that we are witnessing gradual change in the way we look at employment. We need to appreciate this shift. With appreciation comes acceptance.

Ugyen Phuntsho, a young boy, has taken up sewage cleaning as an opportunity. He and his small group of friends are doing well. They individually make more money in a month than an average civil servant. What is wonderful about such projects is that money can be made while doing important social service.

The government has initiated quite a number of employment programmes. When a large number of people who come to the urban centres for employment are jobless, it’s not a good sign. Although overseas employment is taking off, we need to look at the ground realities. Will all those who go abroad for employment be considered fully employed when they come back? How will this impact our overall employment picture in the future?

We need to do a lot more. Career expos and awareness is one thing; changing the mindset is a different thing altogether. And that is what we need – showing how differently our young people can engage themselves productively.

Creating employment and engaging our own people will be by far more productive than just holding career expos. We need to look at unemployment from a whole new perspective.

More than telling how, we need to show.

Fire claims a life in Tsirang

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 17:00

A 78-year-old lay monk from Tsirang died en route to Thimphu referral hospital on May 5 after he suffered third-degree burns.

The man sustained the burns when he was performing a ritual in a neighbour’s house.

Sources said the incident occurred around 6pm when thangkas, scrolls, hanging on the wall in an altar of a family residing below the district court office in which the lay monk was performing the ritual caught fire.

Sources also said the fire started after the scrolls caught fire from the 108 butter lamps lit in the altar.

Sources also said the family members tried to contain the fire but the altar was filled with smoke, they rushed out leaving the deceased in the room.

Tsirang dzongkhag disaster focal person, Sonam Phuntsho, said the deceased, who suffered from hypertension, must have become unconscious because of the smoke. “He was taken to Tsirang hospital and was referred to Thimphu but he died en route.”

Staff reporter

Picture story

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 12:00

Forty-one book vendors are participating in the three-day national book fair in Mongar. The 10th book fair, organised by KMT Press, began on May 6.

Picture story

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 11:57

A Thai Friendship Medical Mission to Bhutan (TFMMB) treated more than 600 ENT patients (Ears, Nose and Throat) in Trongsa and Thimphu from May 1 to 7. While the camp was conducted in Trongsa from May 1 to 5, the nine ENT specialists and four nurses, along with four volunteers, also conducted ear drum damage surgeries in Thimphu. The medical mission, which started conducting ENT camp since 2009 will return in February next year to conduct head and neck cancer camp with ear surgery.

A society to which the needy turn for help and comfort

Sun, 05/07/2017 - 12:12

“There is nothing more comforting in the life of a cancer patient than having someone who understands your suffering and gives you hope.”

Twenty-seven-years-old Yetsho (name changed), lives with one of the rarest cancers, rectal cancer.

One evening two and a half years ago, she suddenly vomited, felt dizzy and lost appetite. She was rushed to Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital. She was diagnosed with cancer. From that night, Yetsho’s life changed completely. Not a day has gone without pain.

She breaks down in solitude as her body fights the pain and depression, and most often dreading treatment that has eaten in to her body. Losing hair from the chemotherapy, watching what she eats.

She has undergone a lot of transformation: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. She suffered stigma. Estranged by loved ones, she lives alone. Yet she has long forgiven them all.

“Every breath is important for me and I intend to use it to fight this disease till the last minute,” she said, her voice beaming with optimism and confidence. “I must count my blessings not troubles.”

While her own have left her, many have embraced her offering every possible support, even looking after her child. She says that she has been lucky with her friends and well wishers. The Bhutan Cancer Society pays half her rent and members come to visit her occasionally with hygiene kits.

“The support system is critical for the patient to win this battle,” she said.

Not many know about cancer in the country, she says, which is why Bhutanese generally view people living with cancer differently. “We’re no different from the normal people and given the care and support there’re people with cancer living longer than the normal ones.”

Dorji Yangzom, a 34-year-old single mother from Trashigang, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013. She thought her life was over. The year before, she had lost her husband to a liver disease. After two years of treatment, she has overcome the disease. Today she is cancer free although she has to go for regular checkups. Her family members once also thought she would die.

Most cancers can be treated if they are detected early. The most common problem in the country is that the cancer would have advanced when most patients seek medical help, which makes treatment difficult and expensive.

Children participate in observing the World Cancer Day

Cancer is becoming a major concern for the health sector and the steady increase in cancer cases in the country is fast emerging as a major burden on the national coffer. In 2015 alone, Bhutan saw 231 cancer cases out of the total of 900 plus cases reported till February 2016.

Although poor diet and alcohol, among others, have been blamed for the rise in cancer cases globally, no proper research has been conducted in Bhutan. The society is in the process of mobilising fund for a research to locate the causes of cancer in Bhutan.

The most common cancers in Bhutan are cancers of the stomach and food pipe, cervical cancer, cancers of head and neck (mouth, throat and nose). Lung, liver, breast, colorectal and prostate cancers are also common in the country.

Lighting butter lamps during the World Cancer Day

According to health experts 25 percent of cancers are caused by preventable infections, such as HPV (cervical cancer), Hepatitis B (liver cancer) and H.pylori (stomach infection). Public health officials believe lives can be saved through affordable and timely cancer services.

Meanwhile, with support of the Bhutan Cancer Society and the health ministry, public awareness on cancer and support for patients are expected to improve. Despite human resource and fund shortages, the society conducts prevention campaigns and provides nutritional support to cancer patients. While cancer patients need a lot of protein, some cannot afford to take the required amount of protein-rich foods.

The society is the only non-profit organization established for the benefit of a cancer patient, caregiver and general population.

It provides palliative care to the patients as well as the caregivers beginning at diagnosis and continuing through treatment, follow-up care and the end of life. We also support the cancer patients financially which includes transportation allowance and basic amenities.

The society works on creating a network of cancer survivors and cancer patients to help create a sense of community and because we feel it is important for peer-support. It has also created a platform where cancer patients can visit our office and share their concerns in full confidentiality and where we try to solve their concerns when needed. As cancer treatment is provided only in Thimphu, most patients are in no position to manage accommodation while undergoing treatment in Thimphu. At present it is seeking funding to mobilise resource to operate and manage a four-room transit home for patients in Thimphu.

Health officials say most cancers are caused by behavioural factors and can be prevented by adopting healthy lifestyles like refraining from consumption of alcohol and tobacco. It can also be reduced by avoiding exposures to chemicals from the food that we eat and from environment we work or live in.

Hepatitis B virus causes liver cancer, which can be prevented by adopting healthy sexual practices like avoiding multiple sexual partners and use of condoms, among others.

As for cervical cancer, regular PAP smear examinations for women between 25 to 65 years could help in early diagnosis and treatment. To protect women from cervical cancer, Human Paplloma Virus vaccine is given to schoolgirls in class VI and at 12 years of age for those out of school.

Cancers of the head and neck, followed by hematological and cervical cancers topped the list of referral cases to India. The report states that in the past solid tumors involving gastrointestinal, hepato-biliary and the respiratory system would also comprise a substantial number. Now with the availability of specialists, including oncologists in the country, cases have reduced significantly.

“We’re fortunate that the healthcare is free,” Yetsho said. While on referal outside the country where every medical service is charged, she has witnessed how patients and escorts suffer to access simple services. She had travelled to Kolkata alone. Her next review is pending and is dependent on the condition of her health.

She recalls that her ailment had helped her realise the value of life. She prays everyday, whenever possible. Often she is sedated from morphine that she has to take to overcome the pain and have to travel between hospital and home.

“I would like to help any cancer patient if I recover,” Yetsho said. Miracles can happen, she says.

Bhutan Cancer Society (BCS) is a Public Benefit Organization registered under the Civil Society Organizations Authority. It was launched in February 2015 coinciding with World Cancer Day. It is the only non-profit organization established for the benefit of cancer patient, caregiver and general population in Bhutan. It primarily works under the three major pillars: Care and Support for cancer patient and caregivers; Advocacy and Cancer Prevention and Cancer Research.

MISSION

The mission of BCS is to improve cancer care and reduce the incidence of cancer in Bhutan, through cancer control activities (education and prevention and research) and providing psychosocial support to those people affected and effected by cancer in Bhutan.

OBJECTIVE 

Inline with the mission the following objectives are formulated to guide the organization;

Optimizing prevention of cancer in collaboration with national and international stakeholders through education, advocacy and research.

Advocating and mobilizing resources for cancer prevention, treatment, care and support.

Enhancing quality of life for terminal cancer patients through provision of social, spiritual, psychological and financial support (where needed).

Sharing reliable and accurate information

Tshering Palden

With support from Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation and Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy (BCMD)

Why one should join a gym

Sun, 05/07/2017 - 12:11

Dear Sir, 

Is it absolutely necessary to join a gym? 

Nima 

Hi Nima,

No. It’s not absolutely necessary to join a gym. But then again, what is “absolutely necessary” in life?

I can make a case why one should join a gym.

 

1. Inspiration: There is no place like a good gym to inspire you, plenty of well-built physiques and energised people working out daily. You would have to be crazy not to be inspired in an ambiance like that.

2. Knowledge: It is one of the best places to exchange knowledge and witness the practical applicability of physical exercises, the variation people use, and learning different ways to train and chisel the best physique you can.

3. Equipment: A well-equipped gym will have many tools at your disposal to use. The more options you have, the more likely for you to find a programme that you like and that is most productive for you.

4. Well-educated trainer: This is the place and playground for passionate, experienced and well-educated trainers.

Their duty is to educate and guide you to build a physique safely and most efficiently. Make sure you give equal importance to a trainers resume, their physique and testimonials from current and former clients of theirs.

Stay relevant: Staying relevant with the current times is necessary. A gym is where you will see the first signs of change, change in equipment, training methods, new science, nutrition and supplementation, among others.

Tshering Dorji (three times Mr Bhutan winner), is a certified fitness trainer and specialist in performance nutrition

Tashi Zegye

Sun, 05/07/2017 - 12:10

Tashi Zegye (བཀྲ་ཤིས་རྫས་བརྒྱད་) or aṣṭamagaladravya are eight auspicious items which are associated with the different events in the life of the historical Buddha. They were offered to the Buddha at different points of his life and blessed by him as sacred substances which bring about auspiciousness. Like the eight auspicious signs, the eight substances also have a pre-Buddhist prototype but in Buddhism, they are sometimes seen as symbols of the Noble Eightfold Path. In the Vajrayāna tradition, they are personified as eight offering goddesses.

The White Conch Shell (དུང་དཀར་གཡས་འཁྱིལ་)

After the Buddha experienced the profound and blissful nature of enlightenment, he remained reclusive in the forest for seven weeks fearing that no one would be able to understand and share his experience. The celestial king Indra offered the Buddha a white conch shell spiraling clockwise and asked him to share his experience and teach the dharma. The Buddha blessed the conch shell as a symbol of the resounding words of dharma.

The Nutritious Yogurt (བཅུད་ལྡན་ཞོ་དཀར་)

When the Buddha stopped six years of mortification, the cowherd girl Sujata offered him the condensed yogurt which revived the Buddha’s physical health and splendour. The Buddha blessed yogurt as a sacred nutritious substance. He used this to avoid the extreme of physical mortification, just as he avoided self-indulgence by renouncing his palace life. It is one of the “three white food” mentioned in Indian culture alongside milk and ghee.

The Durva Grass (རྩ་མཆོག་དུར་བ་)

As the Buddha approached the Bodhi tree to sit under it in meditation, the grass cutter Maṅgala offered him durva grass, which is considered special in Indian culture. The Buddha sat on the grass and practised meditation through which he reached enlightenment. The durva grass, which some identify with kusha, is blessed as a sacred substance and symbolizes the adamantine seat and stability. The kusha grass is used for sleeping on in some tantric rituals.

The Bilva Fruit (ཤིང་ཏོག་བིལ་བ་)

The bilva or bael fruit has a very sacred place even in the pre-Buddhist Indian culture for its medicinal value and spiritual origin in Vedic mythology. The celestial overlord Brahma is said to have offered the fruit to the Buddha. In some accounts, a tree goddess is said to have offered this fruit to the Buddha when he was meditating under a tree as a young prince. The fruit was blessed by the Buddha as an auspicious substance.

The Vermillion Powder (ཚོན་མཆོག་ལི་ཁྲི་)

The vermillion or sindhura powder of cinnabar or minium having orange-red colour is widely used in ancient Indian culture. It represents love and passion and is a substance for magnetizing activities. The Brahmin named Jyotisharaja is said to have offered the vermillion to the Buddha and the Buddha blessed it as a sacred substance.

The Clear Mirror (གསལ་བའི་མེ་ལོང་)

Being an open and pure object which reflects all things indifferently, the mirror represents the open, luminous and empty nature of the mind in which all empirical experiences are reflected naturally without distortion. The offering goddess Prabhavati is said to have offered a mirror to the Buddha who blessed it as a sacred symbol of the enlightened mind.

The Giwang Medicine (སྨན་མཆོག་གིཝང་)

Giwang or bezoar of animals, particularly of an elephant, is considered to have a high medicinal value to cure many diseases and poisoning. The elephant Sasrung or Norkyong is said to have offered bezoar to the Buddha who blessed it as a sacred substance with a power to heal and stimulate supramundane power.

The Mustard Seed (ཡུངས་འབྲུ་དཀར་པོ་)

Mustard seeds in addition to being an important household item particularly for producing oil is known for their sacred power to alleviate problems and annihilate evil forces. Vajrapani is said to have offered the mustard seeds to the Buddha, who blessed it as a sacred substance to get rid of negative energies and exorcize evil forces. It is widely used in tantric rituals of exorcism and subjugation.

The eight substances are offered to generate auspiciousness during important events.

Dr Karma Phuntsho is the President of the Loden Foundation, director of Shejun Agency for Bhutan’ Cultural Documentation and author The History of Bhutan.

Adopt a Dog!

Sun, 05/07/2017 - 12:09

Kuzuzangpo La,

My name is Puki and I am new at the shelter.

I think I have the chance to be in this column because I am small, young and tiny and people here don’t want me to get sick from the other dogs. They told me that the best place to catch a disease is at the hospital! So the sooner you feel better, the quicker you need to go home or in my case… to find a home!

That is why I am lucky to show my white face here before some of the older inmates. They do not mind when they say: many of them are strong dogs from the city streets or the countryside who had a rough life before and good genes which help them to fight sicknesses and ailments. But us little pouch and breeds coming from outside, we are much more fragile and susceptible to all kind of bugs that the strong Bhutanese fellows just brush off their shoulder.

So here I am: 6 months, 5 kilos, white head full of curly locks and a little black nose to smell your hand when you come to meet me. There is a few  of us cute puppies at the shelter at the moment, but I was chosen to be in the Kuensel because everyone says I am very cute. But us doggies, we do not care about that. We focus on inner beauty: great personality, good manners, kindness, faithfulness and intelligence.

I am very impressed with the dogs from Bhutan; yes, they can be rough looking, scarred and a little shabby sometimes but their heart is often of pure gold and if you give them a little care, they will love you and care for you forever! Please come and see us at the shelter! You will see me first: I look like a snowball made of cotton, but my mates are as cute and nice as I am if you look at them twice!

Focus point

Sat, 05/06/2017 - 14:01

Police to establish the missing boy’s death

Sat, 05/06/2017 - 13:59

Thimphu police is yet to find out how the four-year-old boy, whose body was found by the banks of the Thimpchhu near Terma Linca Resort, died, the deputy chief of police for crime, Colonel Dorji Wangchuk, said.

He said police had initially registered a missing person case after the boy was reported missing. “But by then we had a woman, who Terma Linca Resort staff claimed was attempting to commit suicide, in police custody to undergo suicide prevention case.”

Colonel Dorji Wangchuk said the boy’s relatives, who are also related to the woman, came to take the woman home saying that she was the last person to have been seen with the boy and that she might know about the boy’s whereabouts.

“But the next day, we found the boy’s body,” he said. “It is a must that police probe into the case and establish how the boy died.”

The deputy chief said that since it was learnt that the woman was the last person to have been with the boy, it is important that they get her statement. “But the woman is in the psychiatric ward and we are waiting for psychiatric report on her mental condition.”

In an earlier interview, Thimphu city police said that the woman kept changing her statement when asked about the whereabouts of the boy.

Thimphu referral hospital’s medical superintendent Dr Gosar Pemba, said the hospital couldn’t disclose the patient’s personal health information.

“We cannot say that a patient is suffering from a certain disease unless we receive a court order to disclose it or the patient’s consent,” he said.

A health official with the national referral hospital’s forensic medicine department, Kunzang Norbu, said that there was no physical injuries found on the body of the boy.

Kunzang Norbu said it appeared that the river current washed the body for about 300 to 400 metres away. “If the body was washed away for about a kilometre or more, there could be physical wounds such as cuts or bruises because of the water current and debris,” he said.

He said that the body was found in the middle of the riverbed and drowning caused the death.

He said that if a person has died of drowning, there will be water in the person’s stomach and lungs. “We don’t have autopsy facility in the country so we cannot say that there is water in the boy’s lungs.”

Kunzang Norbu said that their finding is based on physical examination.

He said it had been more than six hours that the boy had died when the forensic team did the physical examination around 9:30am on April 28. When they reached the scene, the rigor was also fully developed. “Rigor mortis is one of the recognisable signs of death caused by chemical changes in the muscles, which cause the limbs of the corpse to stiffen.”

Dechen Tshomo

South Asia Satellite to boost regional cooperation

Sat, 05/06/2017 - 13:58

The South Asia Satellite or GSAT-9 was launched yesterday from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, India.

Following the launch, a video conference was held among the Prime Ministers of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay in his remarks said that the launch of the South Asia Satellite is a historic moment for our region.

He thanked India for building and launching the satellite for the common progress of the South Asia region.

He also said that it is an important milestone ushering in a new era of regional cooperation that seeks to harness space technology and its applications for the greater benefit of member countries.

The launch of the satellite lays the foundation to forge stronger partnerships and regional cooperative mechanism for space activities and technology applications.

Speaking on the benefits of the satellite, Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay said it would boost regional co-operation and encourage joint collaboration to support sustainable development goals and address many of the regional challenges that we face particularly in eliminating poverty, managing the environment and natural resources, understanding the effects of climate change and building resilience to natural disasters.

He also said that it is an invaluable asset in disaster management especially for a country like Bhutan, which is geographically located in the Himalayan range that is seismically active and highly vulnerable to natural disasters like earthquakes.

The South Asia Satellite is a geosynchronous communications and meteorology satellite. The satellite has 12 Ku-band transponders (36 Mhz each) and has been launched using the Indian Geosynchro-nous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV Mk-II.

A press release from foreign affairs ministry stated that satellite will enable full range of applications and services in the areas of tele-communication and broadcasting applications viz television (TV), direct-to-home (DTH), very small aperture terminals (VSATs), tele-education, tele-medicine and disaster management support. “The satellite is also expected to help support the water conservation initiatives, by providing data, forecasting weather and sending alerts on natural disasters.”

The total cost for the satellite amounting to INR 235 crores has been fully financed by the Government of India.

The press release stated that the proposal for a regional satellite, which was first discussed by the SAARC Information Ministers in April 1998, has now been realized with the launch of the South Asia Satellite.

“As a world leader in space and satellite technology, India has played an important and leading role in taking the initiative to fruition for the benefit of the region,” it stated.

It also states that the satellite launch augurs well for the region, especially for a small country like Bhutan that has limited technical capacity and resources or capacity to launch its own satellites and spend considerable amounts for various satellite services.

“The satellite technology will enable Bhutan to venture into new areas such as Navigation & GIS systems, earth observation and help overcome the challenges to progress in the scientific field,” it stated. “It will also serve as a critical communication links during times of natural disasters.”

Meanwhile, the mission life of the South Asia Satellite is estimated to be around 12 years.

Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay, in a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office stated that in Bhutan, the services rendered by this satellite will expand broadcasting and communications; advance education and telemedicine; improve land management and urban planning; enhance environmental management and weather forecasting; and better-equip us to fight natural disasters.

“This satellite will help improve the happiness and wellbeing of our people,” Prime Minister stated.

He also said the satellite will also yield regional benefits. “Better management of our forests and watersheds mean that the entire region will benefit from a healthier environment.”

The press release stated that the satellite will boost regional cooperation, encourage collaboration and provide a platform to address common challenges together. “This generous gift from India is an example of true friendship and cooperation. And it is bound to bring about the common progress and development of our region.”

Staff Reporter

 

Fire razes six temporary sheds in Thimphu

Sat, 05/06/2017 - 13:56

A fire that started around 10am in the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) compound in Changzamtok in Thimphu yesterday gutted six temporary sheds.

No casualties were reported.

A victim, forty-three-year-old Bim Badhur, who is a plumber, said that he was inside the house when his mother came rushing with the news. He immediately carried the two LPG cylinders out of his kitchen.

“I have been living here for 13 years and, now, everything is gone,” he said.

Bim Badhur’s younger sister, Balika Bishwa, said that her mother was taking a stroll behind the temporary sheds when she saw the flames rising up the roof of the second shed where a cook used to live.

The cook’s wife, Dawa Zangmo, said that there was no one home when the incident happened. “We had gone to the National Memorial Choeten around 9:30am to offer butter lamps,” she said. “Everything was burned when we reached home.”

RBP personals, Desuups, and volunteers doused the fire by 11am. It is believed that electric short circuit caused the accident.

The Office of the Gyalpoi Zimpon and Thimphu Dzongdag provided the six families, affected by the fire essential items including uniform sets and books for family’s school-going children. The families were also granted semso of Nu 10,000 each from His Majesty The King.

The RBP repaired a temporary shed for the affected families and provided each of family five mattresses, blankets, and pillows.

Dechen Tshomo

The affected families were provided immediate relief materials

Dealing with fire accidents

Sat, 05/06/2017 - 13:54

A fire accident in Thimphu yesterday rendered six families homeless. Although no casualties were reported, it was a reminder that if we are not careful accidents like this can be disastrous and painful.

The Royal Bhutan Police, Desuups, and volunteers who helped douse the fire deserve our commendations.  But there is a need to ask some serious questions. This time too, like each time there is a fire accident, electric short circuit got the blame. If we are a little more careful, disasters that destroy properties and lives and cause untold pains can be prevented.

Bhutanese homes have unsafe wiring. If electric short circuit is the major cause of fire accidents, it is time we explored ways to make sure our settlements, homes and office and lhakhangs have safe wiring. Spending a little more on safety aspects of wiring can greatly minimise the risks.

We haven’t forgotten fire accident that damaged Gasa Dzong, Wangdue Dzong, Wamrong town in Trashigang, Sarpang town, and the repeated fire accidents in Chamkhar town in Bumthang.  People are still struggling to rebuild their homes and lives.

In the bigger towns like Thimphu and Phuentsholing, people living on the fringes take power through unsafe wiring. In the labourer’s camps, the picture is the same. Wires can be seen in tangled lumps, dangling ominously overhead. These can spark off major disaster anytime. With rising inflation, people who are not able to afford decent housing in the cities and towns are forced to live in temporary sheds.

Royal Audit Authority’s fire safety report paints a very unflattering picture of our security and safety initiatives, particularly in the dzongs and public offices. Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) personnel operating smoke detecting devices and alarm systems in the dzongs are inadequately trained to understand even the basic functions of the devices.  The report warns that the rising number of users has far crossed the capacity of the wiring, thus, posing risk of short circuit.

We can have stringent routine of monitoring power lines in homes. Regular advocacy and education will go a long way in minimising the risk of fire disasters.

These are viable measures.

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