Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Why is RSTA still doing this?

Tomorrow is the deadline. Tomorrow vehicle owners must have the ownership of their cars transferred to their names. What will happen if it's not done? What is the intention behind pushing it so much now? What is the excuse of not having it done so far? Who are the victims?

There was one very striking article on bBay by Tshering Wangdi about the issue, it has covered everything that I ever wanted to pour out on this matter and because bBay is about buying and selling second hand stuff, I let the article be there only to see it go viral. Within a day it has gathered over 200 comments and shared over 20 times. Therefore I would like to reblog this article:
RSTA comes up with stupid rules once in a while. It required taximeters in all taxis in 2007-2008. The taximeters cost Nu. 8000 and you had to buy it from RSTA-approved supplier. Many taxi drivers were fined huge amounts for not having taximeters. Now, 3-4 years down the line, RSTA totally forgot about taximeters and

nobody uses a taximeter. Who paid the price of a bad policy by a government agency vested with authority and power (which it used with full force on some taxi dr
ivers who didn't comply or who doubted the taximeter idea). In the end, taximeters neither helped the customers, nor the taxi drivers? It was the poor taxi drivers...who had to bear Nu. 8000 each, and our country as a whole which lost more than Nu 40 million to taximeter makers in Taiwan and Thailand.

Now, they want people to change ownership of vehicles. What is the reason - simply police or RSTA can't find owners. Well, when vehicles are registered, RSTA and Police should update details like Id card and mobile phone numbers in their database. Hit and run cases and criminal activities in your car will be charge to the owner? How many hit and run cases are there in Bhutan, or how many criminal activities are carried out without drivers in the car? If crimes are committed when the vehicle is used, you should catch the driver of the vehicle (not the owner). You also have the option of seizing the vehicle.

Now, RSTA is charging 5% for vehicle sale tax - which comes to about Nu. 10-20,000/- for small vehicles and about 50-100,000 for luxury vehicles. Same vehicle, taxed two times or more. Most people don't make money on selling their cars, so why sale tax again and again? What if vehicles are sold 3-4 times, who is going to pay the tax? One of the reasons people don't change ownership is because of the high tax incurred every time ownership is changed. RSTA should have a flat administrative fee of Nu. 1000 for ownership change and standard fee for new bluebook issued by RSTA. Sales tax should be levied only on brand new cars. (In Bhutan, many brand new cars are purchased by high level civil servants with quota and previous MPs, they never paid single Nu. as sale tax. Now, why second hand car should pay sale tax?)

I tell you RSTA will forget this within 1-2 years about ownership change...only loss will be people who pay 5% for ownership transfer.

I drive my uncle's vehicle. I will not change the ownership, because no where in the law says that a nephew is not allowed to drive uncle's vehicle. Sorry RSTA, you will not get my money.

PDP government should stop RSTA from harassing the people. This is my humble request to PDP government...I am sure lots of other people feel the same. RSTA is doing an exercise in futility and innocent people are paying the money.

Now, they want people to change ownership of vehicles. What is the reason - simply police or RSTA can't find owners. Well, when vehicles are registered, RSTA and Police should update details like Id card and mobile phone numbers in their database. Hit and run cases and criminal activities in your car will be charge to the owner? How many hit and run cases are there in Bhutan, or how many criminal activities are carried out without drivers in the car? If crimes are committed when the vehicle is used, you should catch the driver of the vehicle (not the owner). You also have the option of seizing the vehicle. 
Now, RSTA is charging 5% for vehicle sale tax - which comes to about Nu. 10-20,000/- for small vehicles and about 50-100,000 for luxury vehicles. Same vehicle, taxed two times or more. Most people don't make money on selling their cars, so why sale tax again and again? What if vehicles are sold 3-4 times, who is going to pay the tax? One of the reasons people don't change ownership is because of the high tax incurred every time ownership is changed. RSTA should have a flat administrative fee of Nu. 1000 for ownership change and standard fee for new bluebook issued by RSTA. Sales tax should be levied only on brand new cars. (In Bhutan, many brand new cars are purchased by high level civil servants with quota and previous MPs, they never paid single Nu. as sale tax. Now, why second hand car should pay sale tax?) 
I tell you RSTA will forget this within 1-2 years about ownership change...only loss will be people who pay 5% for ownership transfer.
I drive my uncle's vehicle. I will not change the ownership, because no where in the law says that a nephew is not allowed to drive uncle's vehicle. Sorry RSTA, you will not get my money. 
PDP government should stop RSTA from harassing the people. This is my humble request to PDP government...I am sure lots of other people feel the same. RSTA is doing an exercise in futility and innocent people are paying the money.

The same writer has worked on the probable cost of transferring the ownership as follows, which by all Bhutanese standards is too high.
Alto/Santro - Nu 10000-12000Swift/i20/A-star - Nu 20000-25000Tucson/Grand Vitara - Nu 45000-60000SantaFe/HondaCRV/Hilux - Nu 75000-90000Prado (GX) - Nu 95000-110000Prado (TX) - Nu 175000-220000Land Cruiser old model - Nu 220000-275000Land Cruiser V8/Range Rover - Nu. 300000-450000 
An honest Bhutanese's monthly salary is far lesser than what workers in Australia earn in 24 hours and buying a second hand car from that salary is impossible without taking loan from a bank, loan that will haunt us for five longest years. And just when you thing you have a car you are asked to pay 5% just to change the ownership is too much to digest for any Bhutanese. Where will so much money come from?

From BBS
Public comments on that article on bBay clearly show how disappointed people are, it almost seemed like people are protesting against RSTA, but shockingly 900 people have already obeyed the rule leaving the rest on their own. People have openly expressed displeasure against this rule and given the weight and mass of public opinion RSTA ought to withdraw it but looks like they are badly and shamelessly in need of huge money.

People have even pointed finger against the ruling government, whom they thought was responsible for this sudden stiffness in rule but Prime Minister came on TV to say that his government has no hand in it. He rather questioned why it was not done as required. The government of the day may not have their hand in this but as people's government isn't it their duty to at least put their feet in it when so many people are affected in the face of economic bad times?
 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Emotional Little Girl

Watch this 48 sec movie my five year old niece shot herself and try to understand the emotion this little girl is experiencing as she sings the song. Later she explained that she was thinking of her parents growing old and her little two year old brother becoming helpless. I could not really explain this but I sure laughed with eyes full of tears. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2003 Guilt

Where were you in December 2003? 

I asked this question to myself again on 15th December 2013, when I watched the heart breaking documentary of His Majesty the Fourth King during 2003 war in the south? It pained me so much to see our beloved king so dejected as he spoke to the brave army then. Every word his majesty spoke seemed to break a piece of me. I was melting with shame and guilt in front of the TV screen. I felt like spitting on myself. 

Our beloved king
In 2003 I was selected into teaching and was deployed as apprentice teacher to Haa. Upon reaching my home front with all the happiness in the world, I was shattered when I was sent to Sombaykha, a good four days walk from Haa and way off from where I wanted to be. After about 10 months in isolation, on December 17 morning in 2003 we declared the students' results and on the eve of homecoming we heard on radio about the victory over insurgents in the south. 

This, I know, cannot justify anything now but as I write this I feel a strong sense of relieve and courage to forgive myself. Tomorrow when I pass Dochula and see the 108 chortens I will be less guilty... but still guilty. I know time will still spit on us. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Happy 17 December


 I would like to wish fellow Bhutanese a very meaningful 17 December. May you spend the day in recounting 106 reasons why you are proud to be a Bhutanese. Do something memorable today!

106th National Day
Of late I have been changing my blog banner to celebrate certain occasion or day or person and I noticed that after I change it I don't have the banner stored anywhere in my blog, therefore I would like to start a new series of posts where I will post the banners when I change them. Let this post archive the recent banners.

Her Majesty's Birthday
Election 2013 (This was not original)

November 11 2013


Ninzi's 4th Birthday

Celebrating ourselves

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Extremism and Buddhism, Sex and Liberation

Extremism and Buddhism are two words not even meant to be written on the same page but over time the two were crossing paths or perhaps the inconvenient truths that always existed are finally surfacing in the awakened society. There are a certain ideology in Buddhism that are truly extremist in nature and I know many would deny it like a blogger friend, Karma wrote in his radical piece "Confessions of a Trulku’s Mistress: Lies and Whispers"
Lust

Trulkus are born lucky or made lucky, I don't even care. They are after money, unexpected yet ok, they know they are humans after all. They want women, men are men see, but why trulkus always have to be men? That's something to wonder but it's not what I am going to stress on.


Recently I was listening to a friend who is highly religious. She is young and beautiful and you won't expect her to be someone who has already made countless trips to all the holy sites in India and Nepal. I have high regards for her deep faith in religion but I pity her greed for blessings. She has lavished so much in her lamas and monasteries that she is barely surviving now, and ironically she thinks that she has sinned in her past life.

As I listened to her narration of biography of each trulku she worships, she talked about a certain Rinpoche that I couldn't digest. She proudly told me that the Rinpoche must sleep with 108 girls and liberate them from their sins. I almost screamed, "In which book is it written?" 
She explained that she heard it. 
I told her, "Your Rinpoche must be the reincarnation of a breeding bull then."
She left.

I know she is religiously innocent. She was made to believe that. And perhaps she was intending to be liberated some day. Religion is such a bait that even the smartest of people can be hooked. Sex is good for health but how can sex liberate one from sin? Have you heard about such extreme application of Buddhism? Buddhism is about mind, when did sex become a chapter? How can rapist deliver liberation? Who is playing Drukpa Kunley? 

If such trulkus got away with this so far they are lucky, because they only met with blind faith, if they think they can screw the world and screw the very essence of Buddhism itself they will have to face the fate of Asaram Bapu of India. They can be charged for Deception, Rape, molestation, wrongful confinement and defamation of religion. 
You shouldn't Copy me!
P:S: This is written with due respect to the great Buddhist masters who protect and uphold the teaching of Buddha with heart and soul. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Boto to Remember 11.12.13

People say 11.12.13 is a special date and I don't let go such dates pass by without doing something special to mark it. But today I wasn't able to do anything different because I was deployed on exam duty to Punakha. However, when I reached home by afternoon I heard my daughter crying from inside. I froze there for a while, I have this biological inability to react quickly. She has fallen off our bed, she seemed to have jumped in excitement when she heard me coming and landed on her forehead. This is not the first time she fell but the swelling of that size was new to her. She cried badly, and cried worst when we tried to apply ice pack. She always hated ice pack. She only loves ice in her mouth in the form of ice cream.
Ninzi with Boto
I took her to the mirror and showed her new face with the boto and she laughed. We laughed for quite sometime and it helped in healing my broken heart. Now I know why parents age sooner. Children fall and rise but every time they fall a piece of parents' heart is broken.

She asked, "Apa, will this boto go away?" almost crying.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Celebrities to Visit Bhutan

Bhutan is a nice place to visit for celebrities who are sick of attention because Bhutanese don't really celebrate celebrities. Our own actors, singers, writers, journalists, TV hosts, DJs, etc walk among us on the street and nobody cares to say, "Wow, hi, I am your fan" even when they are. Instead we let them pass and watch them from the corner of our eyes.

The Cricket God Coming to Bhutan
Date: Not Decided
 The younger generation who were born near the TV set are a little different, they have the honesty to express their admiration openly but the two celebrities who, I heard, are coming to Bhutan are Bryan Adams and Sachin Tendulkar and therefore the honest kids won't be so excited.

Bryan Adams Coming to Bhutan in 2014
Date: 23rd April
Venue: RTA,Thimphu
Bryan Adams is a musical legend for our generation and older. Our children hardly know about him. His songs are seldom heard anywhere these days, but when we hear one our world stops for a while. Sachin may be cricket god but Bhutan loves football, when Baichung Bhutia couldn't impress our kids so much Sachin can freely walk our streets. Of course Sachin will be coming here as UNICEF Ambassador. 

But personally I am very excited about seeing them live in Bhutan and I know thousand others will be. And interestingly many Bhutanese will wear a different attitude when it comes to seeing international celebrities. Many will show their childish honesty and openly scream "I love you Bryan..." "I am you big fan Sachin..." and our own celebrities will think "Wow, our people are capable that."

Bryan will sing some songs and leave, sachin will hold a bat perhaps and say, "Wash your hand" and go away. In few days dust will settle on normal life. Nothing will be changed. I wish and pray for someone who could change our nation to visit us, inspire us, and leave his footprint in Bhutan forever. And the person on my mind is Mr. Bill Gates. Wait, wait, I am not eyeing his money and his 'World's Richest Man' status, he comes to my mind because of his Microsoft company, Gates Foundation and the countless lives he changed in the developing countries. I have a feeling that he can transform the rural schools over night. For now I only pray that he comes here once. I hope someday he will read the invitation tweets I sent him...(seriously).
Bill Gates, Please come to Bhutan 

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Nelson Mandela and Zhabdrung Rinpoche

This morning we woke up in the world without Nelson Mandela. The entire world felt the pain of losing him, and perhaps the entire universe must have known that someone so dear has passed away on earth. This is a life well lived. This is how we must strive to live.
Zhabdrug

While the world today celebrates Mandela's life and remembers him in million different ways, I, a Bhutanese pay tribute to his great life by comparing him to Zhabdrung Rinpoche. Zhabdrung lived four hundred years before Mandela yet there is something so common between the two- Zhabdrung unified Bhutan as a nation state while Mandela unified different races to make South Africa one strong nation. Zhabdrung fled to Bhutan to escape arrest in Tibet where he was supposed to be the rightful leader. But after he became powerful in Bhutan he never sought vengeance against people in Tibet who wronged him, just as Mandela reconciled with people who imprisoned him 27 years.

Today, when Mandela dies I am reminded of Zhabdrung's death. He died in 1651 but his death had to be kept secret for 54 years fearing his absence might disrupt the unity of Bhutan. He was the unifier and things were in place because of his presence. Country saw numerous civil wars and assassinations of leaders after that until monarchy system was established in 1907. Zhabdrung couldn't be immortal and therefore the unity and peace he brought were threatened after his death.

Mandela RIP
Mandela too is mortal, and in the age of TV, Facebook and Twitter his death cannot be kept a secret, in fact world knew he passed away the moment he did. Now the question is, will his absence affect South Africa? He was 95 and sick, every moment he was kept alive was in deed torturing him. It's best to let him rest in peace after the Long Walk to Freedom. He needs to be freed from his aged body. And if South Africans truly wants to honour him live the freedom he fought for, keep the torch of his legacy burning. Let him live forever in the hearts.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

10 Businesses that flourished and perished in 90s Bhutan

Everyday I set up a new business in my head. To me it’s so real that I would have visualized that font on the signboard to the color on the wall. When it’s all set I travel in time to see how far it goes but as always I am too romantic even with business, which makes me a bad businessman even in my imagination.

I have thought about enough business ideas that would work in Bhutan to fill up a book, some very crazy and original, and many adapted from outside. The book will be published some day if I fail to translate the ideas into real businesses myself. Let them remain business secrets for now.

While considering certain ideas I couldn’t help travelling back in time to see the good and bad businesses of the past. And not surprisingly you don't have to go so much in the Bhutanese past to find out because there is nothing much beyond few decades.

Surprisingly, within the last fifteen years so much has changed. The hottest businesses in late 90s are now
no more. They flourished and perished without warnings.

Following are the 10 Flourishing Businesses of 90s that have perished now:

  1. Video Cassette Shops: Every town had several Video Cassette shops that would hire a movie for Nu.20 per day. These shops used to be full of posters and the countless shelves were filled with movies from across the world. I used to wonder where they got so many movies from, but now I wonder what they did with all the cassettes. Perhaps woven bags out of the reel.
    If you have seen this, you have lived it!

  2. Video Halls: Those days if you had a Video Screen and a Deck you would be considered rich. Many owners found it very lucrative to turn their video set into a money making machine. Just put the video set in an empty room with any movie in it and people will rush in with Nu.10. There were video halls in every third building in any town.
  3. Music Cassette Shops: These shops were very noisy, they will play the latest Bollywood song at top volume and the setting was quite like the video cassette shops but here we can’t hire music we have to buy.
    I feel nostalgic...
                                       
  4. Music CD Writing Shops: In the last days of Music cassettes there came a new business, the business of writing music onto a CD disk. Back then one CD could only hold 8 songs and it would cost Nu.150. This business died even before people knew it existed.
  5.  Telephone Booths: Telephone booths became rampant in every town. Tiny glass booths were squeezed into many shops, and hotels. Some had electronic billing system and other would charge us as they wished. There were terms like local calls and trunk calls. Making trunk calls, calling inter-Dzongkhag, were more expensive than calling SAARC countries today.
  6. Wishing Card shops: Exam Wishing Cards, Love Cards, Valentines Cards, New Years Cards, Birthday Cards, Friendship cards,… so many different types of cards that could fill up a whole shop, and people would flood in during occasions like now you see at meat shops before the holy months.
  7. Bollywood Post Cards: Before I watched any Bollywood movie I knew most of the actors through the post cards. Post cards were a stand alone business but it was like doma, every shop sells it and every child buys it. It cost Nu.1. At the back of the card there used to be a box for pasting stamp but we used it for writing “For Get Me Not”- each word on the four corners of the box.
  8. Photo Studios: This was a big business. Photography was very expensive. A roll of film cost Nu.100. Developing the film into negative cost Nu.50 and each photo cost Nu.10. Interestingly the photo studios will give two copies of each photo, regardless of how the picture came out. We can have our photos taken in the studio too with amazing backgrounds- I bet everybody from my generation and older had such a picture taken.
    Do you have one such picture?
  9. Commercial Photographers: Anybody who had a camera was a businessman. The business was so lucrative that even a school boy does that. We would go requesting for certain number of reel and even the place and time. And wait for ages to get our picture, which has to come from Phuntsholing. Each picture cost Nu.10.
  10. Torch Battery: This is not a business on its own but it was one commodity that sold like salt because it was used in torch, radio, and tape-recorded. Though pencil battery still exist the big brother of our time is gone forever.
    Where are you now?
Anybody from my generation could relate to these stories but if you are born in 90s perhaps this will be like a history note for you, because when you were born they were gone.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Made in Bhutan Apps (BHUTANews)

It's so shameful to discover that Bhutan couldn't produce one person capable of programming a simple computer software that we could proudly talk about in the world. Forget about a full scale software we haven't developed a mobile phone application so far. Somewhere I read that an 11 year old has developed an application for iPhone. I personally have lots of guilt because I entered computer lab back in 1999 and ever since I have been in touch with computer but still today I am dealing with Microsoft Office. I was never prepared for that. Exam was our only concern.

But wait, what have we here? An Android App made in Bhutan! The makers of Sherig Collection has pioneered an android app called BHUTANews. It's the first of its kind in the country and perhaps the alarm clock to us all. The app, which for now is available only on android devices, is capable of giving up-to-date news compiled from Bhutan's major newspapers, magazines and blogs. It's a one stop shop for news in Bhutan, and if you don't want to miss anything you should get it. It's free! Apple device users should have to wait.
Download it for free!
Like their Facebook Page to Ask Questions and Post Feedback

While I and my generation failed to make any significant impact on Bhutan's IT history, I have great hope in some of my students. They will do what I couldn't and when that day comes you will read about it here on this blog. You already read how much they have done during the School Club Exhibition.

Also some massive changes are coming the IT education in Bhutan, which has the potential to produce first generation of Computer programmers in Bhutan. I will write about this later. For now you download the app.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Born in November

My Daughter Ninzi is born in November, yes right at the end of November, which makes her one of the youngest four year old this year. November is a special month for Bhutanese because of November Eleven, birth month of a great king in our history. End of November is even more special because it's the beginning of long holiday and when my daughter entered this world at this time in 2009, by right I would have only five official days of paternity leave to dedicate to my newborn but because there was nothing important to do in the school her father got all the time in the world to spend with her. That was the good part of being born in November.
Now, the bad part of being born at the end of the year is that you get your age only at the end of the year, which makes your younger than everybody born in the same year. Being younger or older shouldn't be a problem if it wasn't for the school admission policy. Admission in PP requires the child to be 6 years of age which means a child born in 2009 should be going to school in 2015, but my daughter will be eligible only in 2016.

I know one year night not make a difference, but if you have noticed, kids of this generation are unusually brilliant. My daughter, like many children of her age, is already ready for school. In fact if you give them the standard PP test they will easily pass it. Then what's the logic in holding them back till 6? What will my daughter do for the next three years at home?

Can something be done with school admission policy? Because things have changed so much over the years. Or should I, like many parents, do something with my daughter birth certificate? In my school, I have noticed that most of the students in class ten are between 14 to 16, which means they began school at 3 to 5. How did they do that?

My friend Ugyen Gyeltshen once confronted with a similar situation said, "I don't want to begin my child's education with a fake document", and I don't think I want to do that either.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Thank You BCSEA for the colorful Paper

In December 2010 I posted an article following a visibility issue with computer studies practical question paper.  As a subject teacher I grow equally excited about exams when my students sit for exam on my subject, but when they come out with teary eyes it pains a lot. That year my students who went into the exam hall with so much confidence came out like beaten dogs. It wasn't their problem, not mine either. The paper was supposed to have several picture of webpages but because it was printed in black and white the picture were invisible altogether. Students had to see the pictures in order to program something like that but since they couldn't see a thing they were shattered, so was I.
The Colorful 2013 paper

But this time to my pleasant surprise the pictures were printed in color, for that I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to BCSEA. It's not my childish fancy for color that I am thanking, color rather brings out the clarity in the pictures that are intended to be colorful, thus making the question very vivid. Now if students still can't answer the questions then the fault lies either with themselves or we the teachers who taught them.

Therefore, thank you for the colorful paper!

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