Friday, October 28, 2011

My take on DHIs establishment

Like most things, the magic is in the details. The issue centering DHI is no different. Let me explain. Ever heard of the Blue Ribbon Panel? This should clarify many questions relating to the existence of DHI. The Blue Ribbon Panel is composed of the prominent nationals such as the Governor, the Secretary, MoEA, Election Commissioner etc who come together to elect the Chairman of DHI. The Royal Charter Mandates that one of the Board Member be a representative of Ministry of Finance. The rest of the Board Members are nominated by the chairman and approved by the Shareholder ( MoF) in the Annual General Meeting, as per the Companies Act of Bhutan. The Board Appoints the CEO and the top Management and so on and so forth like any normal Limited Company in Bhutan operating under the Companies Act. The Chief Difference you will notice about DHI and the other Companies in Bhutan is in Having a Blue Ribbon Panel and an Executive Chairman. The Idea of Blue Ribbon Panel is in insulating any the State Owned Enterprises and National Resources from negative political influence. The intention is not of suspecting the present or any government of ill-intent to the nation but, a precautionary measure, incase such governments do come into power. Political parties have to function under many limitations such as the 5 year tenure, the need to comeback to power and please the voters.

Assume that the State owned enterprises were still under the direct control of MoF. What would be expected of them? Provided Dividends to help the Government pursue its developmental activities and purse social objectives such as rural electrification or rural telephony. A important aspect of the Royal Charter for DHI is to provide Revenues to the Government. Further, annually, the government gives objectives/targets to be achieved by the SoE's as per the governments plans. The Government therefore neither looses out on revenues or the activities to be carried out. The Government instead has the advantage of now needing to interface only with one organization to achieve its interests. This would probably mean fewer staff in MoF to get it all done which is inline with the Governments Policy of lean Civil Service.

Remember the days, when all the SoE's were directly under the MoF. There was a Division of sorts looking into the affairs of the SOE's. There were no mechanisms of target setting, performance measurement, expenditure controls etc. As a SOE's employee, i felt MoF's presence only when Board Directors were to be nominated or when a Salary raise was in question. After DHIs formation, because of the establishment of a institution focused on managing existing SOE's, Control and improvement measures were put in place, more thought was put into having efficient and driven board Directors.

Important Mandate of DHI is investment. The Prime Minister calls DHI the investment Arm of the Government. All of us have heard about the oil rich countries. The oil provides these countries with access to lots of finance for the near future. Recognizing that the access to money is not going to be forever, Soverign wealth and fund management companies are established to make investments which would ensure that the Country in question would have other resources. It is my belief that DHI has been established with similar intent of 'protecting and growing the nations wealth for future generations' . Such organizations will require adequate empowerment. The context of sovereign wealth management becomes more important for Bhutan, because the largest enterprises in Bhutan are all SoE's and private sector is at its infancy.

One look at the Royal Charter, and you will realize that immense wisdom and thinking has gone into the formation of DHI. The interests of ruling governments in SoE are well taken care of. The SoE's in question are subjects to higher requirements of efficiency and accountability. The Nations wealth is being safe guarded for future generations.

For a balanced democracy, the check and balance mechanisms must be in place. DHI in my view, is an institutions set up for such reasons and certainly not as parallel government or centers of power. The avenues to discuss and amicably move forward have been clearly laid out.

If I were the Finance Minister, I would definitely not see any reasons why DHI would 'disrupt the economy'. DHI might take wrong steps sometimes and so might the Government in its intent of using national wealth, but importantly the such of such things have been lowered by many times because of the check and balance mechanisms in place.

I conclude with the quotation from His Majestys Kasho for the LG Elections "In the interest of unity and harmony, I have always encouraged close consultation and cooperation between different branches and agencies of government; between institutions and the public; and among our people themselves. Bhutan is a small country so we must always seek ways to sit together, face to face in the spirit of brotherhood and with unity of purpose, to resolve all issues. We must take advantage of our strength as a small close-knit society."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Democracy as i understand it!

To me, choice is clearly indicative of a compromise. The pros and cons are there are its for us to see and given the circumstances we choose the one we believe most suitable, and sometimes its choosing the lesser evil. Democracy is a choice of governance, the lesser evil. It seems to be the choice of governance given its highest levels of success and fairness. Democracy reposes faith in us as individual beings in exercising the individual right to vote and responsibly elect representatives who inturn elect leaders. The powers concentrating as we climb higher in the pyramid of representation. It would be utter chaos, unimaginably high expenses if there was a need for voting by all everytime there is a need for a decision.
With institutional checks and balances in place, the executive, the legislative and the judiciary and other smaller check and balance institutions are expected to independently function to ensure that power is not abused or misused, and every one works towards the betterment of the country and its people. With such a system in place, one essential ingredient for a successful democracy is the creative friction. Difference of opinion is expected and should be fostered and must be dealt with respectfully.
Unfortunately, in the want of a giving an opportunity for the best to rise, the defined period of being in power brings with it the unwanted issue of vested interests and bias. This would not be the case of a assured unlimted tenure in an authoritarian government, however, such unlimited power can be a cause of huge distress in the wrong hands. The examples are of China where, implementation if relatively easier with the 'power of god' vested in them, while in India, because of the higher fairness and stronger voice of democracy, often, even essential and good decisions get delayed in implementation because of the many interests in play. All this being said, I guess the idea is of smaller sacrifices in the name of democracy over a autocratic government which someday might fall into the wrong hands and destroy all that's been built and carefully nurtured.
In my opinion, Democracy has a better chance of fairness and equality in the long run. The essential ingredient would be a good educated mass who recognize the responsibility to their own future. A successful democracy would be in place when the mass are able to vote for the best candidate instead of candidates who are related or are friends.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fairy Tale Marraige

Reading the happily ever after stories of charming prince and princess never once made me question whether such charms existed in real life. I took it for granted that they are just for books and movies. I wonder why. Was it lack of imagination, was it my practical nature automatically screening it off as a impossibility?  The little innocence and  idealism that I had as a child is nearing its end and as if it is to re-kindle the innocence and idealism, the Royal Marriage is all aspects a fairy tale charming love story. I was fortunate to have heard from His Majesty himself during an audience along with my office colleagues how under a beautiful starry night, by the side of camp fire, how this love story began 13 years ago. The innocent pledge of " if I am single and you are single at an age when we are both marriageable, we shall be be together " was made. Celebrations on October 13, 2011 fulfilled all those commitments.

His Majesty the King announced to the nation at the opening of the 7th session of parliament  that he would marry in October this year. “As King, it is time for me to marry. After much thought I have decided that the wedding shall be later this year,” His Majesty announced. This announcement with the shyness and humility of a son informing the family would have floored anyone. The traditional celebrations that ensued later and the whole nation coming together to celebrate the marriage of their most beloved son was nothing short of a fairy tale.  The kiss sealed it as an occasion than would mark it as a special moment for many to remember and tell their children stories about.

Special mention to the efforts put in by the Government and everyone else to make the occasion a success. The police force deserve a special mention for the peaceful cold nights and tiring days leading up to the occasion as well as during the celebrations.
Tashi Deleg to His Majesty and Her Majesty Ashi Jetsun Pema.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Group of people together assigned to a task will produce a rightful leader by a natural process. The hierarchy system in any organization is a man-made process taking into account to recognize experience as a valuable asset which should generally lead to higher productivity. This system is often abused and sometimes the experienced one does provide the necessary leadership.

Allowing a natural process  to select a leader would be a interesting sight, most likely chaotic. In some form, this is evident in the many game of thrones played in England in the past centuries and also in Bhutan with so many Debs and Desi.

There is no right way, but perhaps the optimal way is the man-made way with additional system checks in place for ensuring that the leaders provide leadership.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


What does it mean to be educated? Getting a degree? sit in a class long enough and with enough patience everyone will probably have one after about fifteen years of education if you take the standard approach locally available. Well to many, i have a feeling it is means sitting in a class room setting with a lecturer teaching or guiding. I think many fail to understand that the years spent in schooling is a means to an end. Schooling is probably expected you to read, write comprehend and probably help in thinking and researching on your own. There is no way any form of schooling can prepare you for the many facets of life. Schooling will probably impart you with few skills that can get you started, but it is important to evolve and rise to the occasion that will frequently present itself as you play out the many roles in life.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The remuneration dilemma of the Corporations!

Yup, its here. The long wait is finally over. We have 20% increase in salary. Yes, and this time too it is an allowance. The salary in the corporations have now become near incomprehensible with all the differently named allowances.
I wonder what is the reason for the affection for allowances by our corporate decision makers. I know for sure that the implication is on the accumulating Pension and Provident funds. As it stands today, with the 20% increase in allowances, the Civil Servants enjoy larger long term benefits than the Corporate employees simply for the reason that the Civil servants have a higher basic pay than that of the Corporations. I don't know whether this is a conscious decision of making it so or just a weakness on the part of our corporate decision makers to take strong decisions. If it was finally going to be just an increase in allowance, the question in my mind is, why did it take so long for them to arrive at such a simple decision? I can understand more complexity would be involved an increase in Basic salary or a total delinking from the civil service salaries.
I think its time the Corporate Decision makers sat down and really gave this issue a strong thought. All indications from the Government is that of a salary at par with the civil servants. If that is fair, then so be it. If it is not fair, then a stance should be taken and decisions taken accordingly. Our Bhutanese mentality of a neither here, nor there stance should be done away with. The Corporate Employees often argue of being more efficient and harworking than the Civil Servants. Perhaps, then the differential salary between the Corporate employees and civil servants should be a variable pay based on targets and achievements.
All said and done, I know for sure that Corporate employees certainly do not deserve to have lower pension and provident fund accumulation than that of civil servants. The Government will understandably be pro-civil servants atleast for the short term, given our hardened bureaucratic politicians, no matter what the rhetoric on importance of the private and corporate sector. Its for our Corporate Decision makers to work for the development of the corporate sector and protection of its interests in the long run.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The start of the 30's

I have heard the phrase " you are the future" so many times, that i think it has got me into a trance and I lived my life with that in my subconscious, until the day of the awakening, when i realized, i am no more the future but the present and probably will become the past soon. :) I remember a teacher telling me that the teen phase will feel the longest and the twenties will just fly by before you know it. Very true, I am on the thirties journey now.
Its a reflective moment as I am at a loss to judge how the journey till the start of the thirties is to be measured. I think the most appropriate question as frequently asked on advertisement is, HAVE I MADE MY LIFE LARGE?
On a personal level, i guess, the best measure would be family. I haven't started mine, so i wonder if i have failed. I see some of my married friends and i know i haven't while some of them make me wish i had started my journey on that front too.

On a professional side, i think i have fared decently with no guilt of wasting time, un-justified salary or the training and travel hunger. I have contributed and in my own ways of measurement, left my mark.
I have met lot of people, have lots of friends and have had my crazy moments. Life could have been better had i strived harder, but I think, in many ways, i consciously chose not to.

I m probably half way through and with my thirty years of experience, I m going to make sure that i make my life as LARGE as possible.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Taking away GNH

I remember a remark by the Lyonchen after his visit to Brazil that he was impressed with the way they were applying GNH into their lives. He then comes back and orders that ways and means be employed to do the same thing in Bhutan. Including it in education curriculum, trying to get in a forced angle of GNH in everything the Govt does, including the phrase in all important official letters was the only way they saw. Sad and petty! Simple and the most fundamental of it all would be to enact fair and just laws. The tobacco act has taken away so much GNH from people. We are a small country, a small society, where most are relatives others are good friends, friends of friends atleast. Anyone effected by this horrendous act has effect on the GNH of the others. God save us all.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Record for reference during voting!

As normal and ordinary human being, we generally prefer to react when something is before our eyes. The other humane quality of forgetfulness and forgiveness generally let go on the incident after sometime. So, this is a quest to maintain some kind of record for future reference of the whats being done by the political parties, the good, the bad and the ugly! The decision in who to vote for will be clearer with more information. This is a late start as democratically elected government has been in power for about 3 years. So, whatever is recorded here about whats happened before this day is all out of memory. What happens here after, it will be my constant effort to timely update the here goes:

1. I remember clearly although i was not in the country , the results of the first elections were declared, DPT won by a landslide majority and PDP cried foul and the two MP's threatened to resign. I felt then that PDP was being very irresponsible in accepting the defeat. A beautiful and peaceful transition to democracy was at the danger of loosing its image with the international community.

Negative points to PDP here

2. I also remember reading in a international news paper ( newyork times probably) that one of the founding members of PDP was having no qualms in talking to the international news reporter a day before the elections, with a beer can covered in a news paper, in a bar/restaurant. A day before the elections is declared a dry day by the election commission.

Negative points again to PDP

3. The first democratically elected government was established and then the important role of endorsing the constitution started with the first session of the elected representatives in the NA and NC. The entire country was now faced with the result of what they had done. It started with the total disregard for the proposal of having the Deputy speaker from the opposition.
Poor quality discussions in the NA with closed ears for good suggestions from the opposition party because of their minor presence was the result of what the people had chosen. The acts on the table for discussions were the most important acts, which would have implications not only to the present population but to the future generations as well. I felt sadness and wished it was less of teachers and inexperienced ( probably unemployed) graduates and more of experienced professionals researching and giving their views. I also wished for more debate which was probably lacking because of the minuscule opposition. All constitutional issues surrounding the CDG and the taxation might be a result of inadequate debate

Negative points to DPT and the voters.

4. Approving and hiding of the CDG

The DPT showed the power of their absolute majority in the house. My personal opinion on CDG is that it gives focused political mileage and will probably ensure hereditary politicians. If the intent was really in trying to help people, there are established mechanisms to allocate the fund to the required people. I feel that the whole idea of CDG was for the money to flow from the MP's hands into their constituency. On a positive, I think the CDG will ensure that voters continue having the will to make lots of effort in going to vote. My biggest fear in the intent of the CDG by the ruling government came when they tried to hide the CDG fund in getting the budget approved. This was as sick as it could get and even the best of intent executed in such a way will not have the faith of the people.

Negative points to DPT!

5. who is the big daddy? - Irresponsible decisions.

With a landslide victory and huge representation in the NA, the ruling government is making the most of it. First, it pushes for a revision in tax with out NA approval and then riding on their ego and pride they decide to appeal against a high court ruling which reiterates that the tax revision is illegal. What seems to come on this issue is that, no MP ever thought about direct and indirect taxes when the constitution was being endorsed ( probably because of lack of proper debate).

Then comes the infamous law on the huge restrictions on smoking which is subtle way of banning smoking. The intent is good here, but a ban against smoking is a law for irresponsibility. A smoker at the most is being irresponsible in managing his health. I think there are bigger irresponsibilities that the ruling government should be worried about such as alcohol. I would infact be really happy if such a strong law is framed for the corrupt. But no, in the country today, its more dangerous to be smoking than to be corrupt.

I bet talibanism started on that note too. With very good and religious intents. The danger is of a precedence being set, which can open the doors for many drastic, puritanic and sadistic laws.

There was again this case of salary increase where the MP's were given more than approved and later when the media highlighted it, the government withdrew it citing it as a typographical error.

The most recent issue was that of changing the time for the party goers. Minister MoIC, buys beautiful dress for his daughter and asks her to party at home and so, he feels justified that others should do the same too. Ego Centric or plain stupid???
Negative points to DPT.

Uptill not, to me it seems like a bad start by PDP, a good start by DPT with the present situation being the exact reverse.

I know they say it is the doer's who get criticized and its very easy to be sitting in a chair and commenting on what others do. But the state of things are such that, it really makes me wonder, what if PDP was in power.

A voters dilemma!

I exercised my first power as a empowered democratic citizen. I went to vote for the Mayor. All the events that led to the day of the vote was interesting. There were friends who were trying to coerce me to vote for a particular candidate, I was trying to exercise my independent judgment on who I should vote for, and there was the general population talking about the preferred candidate. These factors make voting a very complex decision.
I think many of the eligible voters were going similar dilemma as some of the voters i talked to while standing in line to vote hadn't decided who to vote for. Very interesting!

My independent analysis was confusing too. One candidate to me, by his qualifications seemed to better in probably making holistic decision for the betterment of the city. I didn't know him personally. The other candidate, i know him personally to an extent, but i know him very well professionally. In case of need of some services in the future, this candidate would definitely would be able to help me better as I can personally approach him because of our acquaintance. I have enough knowledge about his professional doings to know that i shouldn't vote for him.

The voting day came and i voted for the candidate who i thought would be better for the city than for myself. The candidate i voted for, lost unfortunately! I think i exercised my first democratic vote in a responsible manner. Today, when people ask me who i voted for, I say only god knows!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Smoke in the air!

I am not talking about the smoke that we see in the mornings covering the thimphu city because of the bukhari's. I am talking about the smoke that we inhale and psychologically experience some pleasure.

It is a sad day for me today. I am onto my last packet of cigarette i had kept as stock incase it would be difficult to get a packet. I hoped that i would be able to quit by the time this stock finishes. Alas, my urge to smoke remains the same and in a day or two, legally, i am a criminal and playing my role in smuggling by buying cigarettes. It really saddens me that I am going to do something illegal, as i really aspire to be a law abiding productive citizen. I guess, a time comes when we are tested. For better or for worse, because of the will of the PASSIONATE lawmakers, i now stand at the gates of becoming a criminal, caught in act or not is a altogether different issue. In-principle, i already am.

I really wonder why the government did not take moderate steps in first banning the smoking in public places and imposing higher taxes. This method failing, i feel they could have taken drastic measures as they have now. The authorities proudly claim that they don't see smokers in the streets and public places now. The question is, couldn't they have achieved this by banning smoking in public places and placing huge fines for the defaulters?

If the intent was of being a responsible government in helping people do the right thing, shouldn't the government have proposed the banning of tobacco, alchohol and doma as one single act? I think our passionate law makers have really lost it this time, and principally, increased the number of un-law-abiding citizen in the country. I really wonder about the long term effects by this law. I m guessing it would probably increase the number of people, who take on to criminal doings, for what is the difference between breaking one law or more laws. As breaking the law becomes a norm and as smuggling becomes lucrative during times of high un-employment, the whole culture of the way people function might change drastically.

For the want of international recognition, i wonder if the government has faltered hugely and really changed the course of the way people think and behave.

In hope of a divine intervention!