In school there was a popular joke about Bhutanese way of doing business; we sell a kg of potato for Nu.5 to India and same potato will be fried into chips and sold back to us, only this time we pay Nu.5 per potato. But the serious part of this joke is those highland potatoes are second to none.
I remembered this joke from my childhood on seeing one news on BBS. A bold lady has initiated a green program of recycling papers. She is receiving impressive support from government offices and schools in Thimphu. Of course, who would not want to give away their waste? She is spreading happiness by creating employment, taking care of others’ waste, dealing with environment problem and still making money herself. Hope she will receive recognition for role in reducing waste and pollution.
You might wonder why I remembered a joke on such a wonderful act. Well she is not recycling the paper. She is just sending it out. When I saw jute bags full of papers ready for loading, I wondered how much would each bag fetch. Not more than Nu.100 or Nu.200. There in each bag should be enough paper to make 100 Notebooks, and when it comes back to Bhutan after recycling we will be paying them over Nu.5000. Fifty folds! That’s beyond potato and chip story.
Bhutan will never make microchips or jetfighters but history tells us that we were the makers of world’s strongest paper. We have the history but we failed to move forward. We are still making world’s strongest paper but with technology we used 100 years ago and at the same old pace- hope this is not what we call preservation of culture. Jokes apart, we need not make the machine to make paper, a country can afford to buy one and contribute toward socioeconomic development.
How long are we going to go on doing potato and chips business?