DNC president attends Solidarity meeting
National Congress President Mr. R.K.Dorji attended the
solidarity meeting on Burma, organised by South Asian
Forum For People's Initiative on 30th May 2005. Mr. Dorji
while expressing solidarity for the Burmese people on
the occasion of Burma's Depayin Massacre 2nd anniversary
said, "The people of neighboring countries of India
look upon the Indian people and Indian Government to ameliorate
their condition through solidarity and sharing of democracy
ideals." He also informed the delegates that Bhutan
has released a draft written constitution which DNC has
welcomed in spite of its shortcomings.
He also stressed on the impotence of Tract II policy of
people to people level interaction and the need for frequent
meeting amongst the South Asian people beyond ideological
boundaries and differences, to discuss various social,
economic and political problems affecting each country.
Druk National Congress's Central Committee, which met
today in Delhi, India under the chairmanship of its President
Rongthong Kunley Dorji deliberated on the draft Constitution
of the Kingdom of Bhutan, released on 26th March, 2005.
following resolution was adopted and passed unanimously.
PROPSED CHANGES IN THE CONSTITUTION OF BHUTAN
I. BASIC PRINCIPLES
The Constitution proceeds on the basis of following principles:
The genius of the Bhutanese people should be reflected
in the Constitution.
The institution of the monarchy should be retained, inclusive
of all its privileges but subject to the retirement of
an incumbent till the age of 65.
The principle of representative-democracy with responsibility
to people through elections is to be given its due place.
Clear recognition should be given to guaranteed Fundamental
Rights to be read with, but not subordinate to the provisions
on Fundamental Duties and the Directive Principles of
An independent judiciary shall uphold the rule of law,
democracy and civil liberties.
Provisions dealing with emergency shall ensure that 'emergent'
powers shall be exercised within the rule of law, democratic
principles and with due respect of fundamental rights.
The censure of preventive detention is not under lined.
Due reference shall be given to guarding against arbitrariness
Local government shall be part of the dispensation of
the Constitution itself.
People's participation shall be ensured through periodic
elections and national referenda.
While accepting the role of political participation, the
Constitution shall place the national interest above party
Although these broad principles are generally acceptable,
various concerns have been expressed other than those
relating to the genuineness of the exercise; and the need
for an active and responsive consultation.
PRINCIPLE AREAS OF CONCERN
There are various broad areas of concern
A. The spiritual heritage of Bhutan should include Nyingmapa
and Kagyupa. Following points must be looked upon. i.e;
Article 3(3) separates religion from politics and places
religious institutions and personalities above politics.
Article 3(4-5) goes on to empower the King to appoint
the Je Khenpo [Article 3(4)] and four Lopens [Article
3(5)] and Article 3(7) to provides the state funding of
Dratsang Lhentshog in the direct contravention of section
3 against the separation of religious and politics. Thus,
all religious institutions should register and function
as Trusts. Drukpa Kargyupa Institution (Dratsang Lhentshog)
should also function as a Trust and be given complete
freedom to function as per their own tradition. The four
Principal Lopons should select the Je Khenpo and there
should be no government/King interference in the selection
process. The King being the upholder of the 'Chhoe Sid'
may as a matter of tradition only solemnize the appointment.
(i) While tradition may require the retention of the Monarchy,
there may be a need to examine two crucial areas -
(a) The extent of privileges to be retained.
(b) The King's continuing hold on governance.
As far as the continuing Royal privileges are concerned,
these will be monitored by the Privy Council (and a regency
where the Monarch is not of age) with extensive powers
with two persons nominated by the King and one person
nominated by the Prime Minister (Article 2(14)). But the
powers of the Privy Council shall extend to "royal
projects" (sub clause (e)) and "any other matter
commanded by the…King" (sub-clause (f)). Since many
commercial activities are being taken up by the Royals
and the 'any other clause' is wide, this is an ever expanding
set of clauses.
As far as the King's constitutional powers are concerned,
there are several areas that need clarification -
(a) The Prime Minister and Cabinet shall be responsible
both to the King as well as Parliament (Article 20(7)).
This has wide ranging implications including the possible
power of the King to sack his Prime Minister or cabinet.
(b) The King's legislative powers are extensive, including
his independent power to send messages (Article 10(8)),
convene extraordinary sessions (Article 10(12)), power
to nominate eminent persons constituting 20% of the other
house (Article 11(1)(b)), power to block bills even if
passed by both legislatures (Article 13(10)&(11)).
(c) Residuary legislative power is vested in the King
(d) Article 2(26) that prohibits the parliament from amending
the King's Constitutional power (or whole of Article 2)
needs redrafting to impart flexibility to Article 2.
King's appointments powers are partly disciplined by advice,
but not always so.
(Note the provisions of Article 2(19) on various appointments,
Article 11 (on nominations to the National Council), Article
19 (Interim Government - inevitably so), Article 24 (Royal
Audit Authority), Article 26(2) (Anti-Corruption Committee),
Article 28 (Attorney General) - all holders of constitution
office (Article 30(2))).
Fourth, principle of federalism concerning local government
deal with a devolved structure to be devised by Parliament.
There may be a need to introduce this provision with the
Constitution - with a list indicating the powers of the
Fifth, the principle of accountability is damaged if,
as pointed out earlier, the King has residuary powers
not provided in the Constitution and under any law (Article
Sixth, the emergency power provisions are too wide and
are not limited by a time clause (Article 34).
Seventh, there are some concerns about the independence
of the judiciary, which need re-drafting. Presence of
the Chief Justice in recommendation group for the appointment
of Chief Election Commissioner, The Auditor General, The
Chairperson and members of the Royal Civil Service Commission,
The Chairperson and members of the Anti-Corruption Commission,
will surly affect the fair discharge of Justice.
Eight, fundamental rights clause are overbroad in places
and needs examination.
Ninth, the principles of political party de-politicisation
is unevenly worked out. While the Constitution recognizes
'political Parties' (Article 15), the Opposition party
(Article 18) and anti-defection provisions (Article 15(9)),
the Oppositions role may have been over-circumscribed
(Article 18) and leave the parties vulnerable to being
dissolved (Article 15(10)). Article 11(3)['All the candidates
for membership to the National Council shall neither belong
nor have affiliation to any political parties], non-political
representation in upper house makes the upper house undemocratic
in spite of being the elected since there is no opposition
and no consensus. Upper House can pass the bill irrespective
of Lower House and also the "review house",
an extra power irrespective of Lower House [Article 11(2)]
and Article 15(3) pose some serious concerns.
Tenth, there has been some concern about the election
process (Article 23), the disqualification of person if,
'terminated from Public service' [Article 23(10)(c)],
age limit of 65[Article 23(9)(e)],'is convicted for any
criminal offences and sentenced to imprisonment' [Article
23(10)(d)], ' is in arrears of taxes to govt…' Article
23(10)(e)], and "Article 23(10)(f)". The provisions
for election disputes and disqualification. The Article
15(5 and 6) should be changed into single-phase election.
Article 12(2) on delimitation of elected member for the
National Assembly and Article 17(5) on the delimitation
on the ministerial post is undemocratic. After all, a
democracy ideally operates on a one-man-one vote principle.
Although, the Article 11(1))(a) deviates this provision
on the ground of federalism representation reasoning and
to some extent acceptable since it is the National Council.
For example, Tashi Gang has 168,000 people comparative
to Gasa, which has 4000 people. By the virtue of Article
12(2), then the every voter in Gasa will be equivalent
to about 12 voters from Tashi Gang. Which gives each voter
from smaller sized constituency a greater voice than one
in a larger constituency.
7th April, 2005
Druk National Congress welcomes the unveiling of the draft
Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan on the 26th of March,
2005. We view this as a very positive development towards
the establishment of democracy in Bhutan under Constitutional
Monarchy, and we extend our sincere gratitude to His Majesty
for the initiative taken to bring this about. We will
be studying the details of the draft Constitution and
submit recommendations, if any, which we expect will be
given due consideration.
it was founded in 1994, the Druk National Congress has
been ardently campaigning for the establishment of democracy
in Bhutan under Constitutional Monarchy. It has also been
strongly advocating for the drafting of a written Constitution
in order to safeguard the rights of the Bhutanese people,
and to enshrine in it, the guidelines for the realization
of a democratic, vibrant, responsible and accountable
society, -- a society of equal opportunity, a society
that respects the rule of law, cares adequately for its
underprivileged and its minorities, is devoted to preserving
the country's rich cultural heritage and is committed
to protecting the security and sovereignty of the Bhutanese
unveiling of the draft Constitution is an irretrievable
step towards realization of evolving Bhutanese aspirations
and we have no doubt that all Bhutanese will collectively
continue to pursue the well-being of Bhutan and the Bhutanese
National Congress also urges the Royal Government of Bhutan
to resume the refugee verification process that was stalled
in 2003 as soon as possible, in order to effect a lasting
solution to the decade long refugee imbroglio through
the eventual repatriation of genuine Bhutanese refugees.
We believe this is the only way forward to avert inevitable
adverse consequences that result when such problems are
23rd April, 2005,New Delhi
Indo-Bhutan Friendship Society's Executive Committee which
met today at Gandhi Peace Foundation, under the chairmanship
of its President Shri Satya Prakash Malaviya, former Union
Minister, welcomed the step of the Royal Government of
Bhutan for releasing draft constitution of the Kingdom
of Bhutan on 26th March, 2005 for eliciting public opinion.
committee hopes that the constitution when finally approved
and adopted will transfer real power to the people. The
resolution adopted at the meeting further said that the
constitution should provide elected, democratic and representative
system of government responsive and accountable to the
people at large and that the King should emerge as constitutional
(PRESIDENT OF IBFS)
of Executive committee Meeting held on 22nd April, 2005
Executive Committee Meeting of Indo-Bhutan Friendship
Society was held on 22nd April, 2005 at Gandhi Peace Foundation,
Deen Dayal, Upandhaya Marg, New Delhi from 4.30 P.M to
discuss about the draft written constitution of Bhutan
released on 26th March, 2005. President of the society,
Satya Prakash Malaviya, a Former Union Minister, presided.
those who attended the meeting were SarvShri Prof. Balraj
Kumar, Sudhindra Bhadoria, Ramesh Sharma, Rongthong Kunely
Dorji, Rajiv Aggarwal, Vijay Gupta, Smt, Renu Gambhir,
Arvind Chaturvedi , Dr. DNS Dhakal, Laxmi Narayan Dhakal
, Pema Tendzin and Karma Duptho.
Prakash Malaviya, President of IBFS informed the members
of committee that on 26th March, 2005, the Royal Government
of Bhutan has released the draft written constitution
of the Kingdom of Bhutan for eliciting public opinion
and he also read out the editorials and news cuttings
on the same from Indian newspapers. He gave a brief account
of draft constitution and asked Dr. DNS Dhakal, General
Secretary, Bhutan National Democratic Party to share his
views on draft constitution. Dr. Dhakal commented that
the release of draft constitution is major breakthrough
in the Bhutanese political process and was optimist that
solution to refugee crisis will be found near future.
President of Druk National Congress informed the committee
that the release of draft constitution is a big achievement
for the pro-democrats and well-wishers of Bhutanese community
and welcomed the positive move of Royal Government of
Bhutan. He also cautioned that one shouldn't take the
word of Royal Government of Bhutan at face value since
the very basic form of constitutional monarchy with the
parliamentary democracy mechanism is still vague and more
or less absent in the draft constitution. He also informed
the committee members that he has already requested Dr.
Rajeev Dhavan, Senior lawyer and constitutional expert,
to suggest how the draft constitution could be improved
to include the true spirit and meaning of Constitutional
Monarchy with parliamentary democracy mechanism and requested
the members to submit their comments if any, to be fully
discussed and to find the feasibility of such amendments
in proposed draft.
Balraj Kumar gave critical elucidation on various provisions
that merited in-depth analysis. Sudhindra Bhadoria expressed
the view that it seemed that Bhutan, a neighbour and very
good friend of India was finally heading towards the path
of democracy and that the Indo-Bhutan Friendship Society
is elated, and believes that the friendship between two
countries through people to people level will be enhanced
further. Arvind Chaturvedi and Ramash Sharma were also
positive in their comments and the committee unanimously
passed the resolution welcoming the release of draft constitution
copy of the draft constitution was supplied to every member.
the end, the members condoled the death of Shri Ramesh
Chandra Srivastava, a senior advocate of Supreme Court,
a well-wisher of the Bhutanese and also a prominent member
of Executive Committee of the Indo-Bhutan Friendship Society.
He passed away at Delhi on 2nd March, 2005. All members
present at the meeting stood in silence and prayed for
peace for the departed soul and shared the grief of his
family members in their bereavement.
the Dzongkha Constitution.
was reported in The Kuensel, weekly daily of Bhutan, that
the King commanded the constitution drafting committee
to simplify the draft constitution that had been written
in Dzongkha, after receiving feedback that the people
were finding it difficult to understand the text of the
draft constitution. This is an unfortunate development.
In the first instance, the text was not completely written
in pure Dzongkha format, and secondly this must be also
attributed to the lack of corresponding legal and political
terms and concept of English into Dzongkha.
language itself has originated from "Chokey",
and it is only natural that difficulty would be created
for those who are not fluent in either of languages.
Tobgay, the Chief Justice of Bhutan commented that common
people are not expected to fully understand the provisions
of the constitution and it is the lawyers and judges who
interpret it. If every common citizen was not entitled
to know, then the King's proposed tour to every Dzongkhang
to meet the common people to seek views and recommendations
on draft constitution before a national referendum on
the matter, appears to be just a propaganda and an eyewash.
To hear such baffling comments on record from the "Chairman
of Drafting Constitution Committee" is shocking.
This also reflects his inner true intent that Bhutanese
people must not understand and grasp the meaning of the
Dalip Mehta, a former Ambassador of India to Bhutan in
his articles published in Hindustan Times writes, "he
(Bhutan King) lives in a modest log cabins, has no interest
in the conventional trappings of monarchy, and instinctively
rejects everything pompous, grandiose and glittering"
and "such as frugal habits" and "enormous
compassion". This sort of insinuating and purported
misinformation targeted to the world and particularly
to the Indian masses by the "respected" former
Ambassador of India to Bhutan is disgrace to the Indian
people and disheartened the people and world over who
have visited and seen the royal palaces in Bhutan.
one has completely fallen in love with the King's prowess
of governance and is bewitchingly charmed by the aura
of King's personality and "frugal habits", then
best that he/she could do is worship it within the four
walls of his/her establishment. When one proclaims the
adoration to the world and especially in the case concerning
an important person in an important position, there is
always the underlying design to gain something in return,
even though one may vehemently reject such gainful return.
The reality of something to be gained cannot be neglected.
This sort of propaganda campaign prior to the King's arrival
in India for Indian's Republic Day celebrations in January
2005, explicitly shows the ulterior motive. One must visit
Bhutan or open and see the very front page of Bhutan telephone
directory which displays the numerous palaces' phone numbers.
Ask the local people about the owners of most or all successful
business enterprises in Bhutan, and don't get surprised
if you find out that the owners are either members of
the royal family members or their distant relatives.
CODIFIED LAW OF BHUTAN
(Rongthong Kunley Dorji)
natives of Bhutan were confined to their locality due
to hostile topography of the steep terrain of the Himalayas
and dense forest in Bhutan and people continue to live
in primitive state for several hundreds years. Bhutan
was then divided into several principalities and each
had their own code to follow. As in history, the wishes
of powerful men have always been exerted upon the unsuspecting
masses to show their dominance and to continue their legacy,
and this practice is no exception in Bhutan. There was
never an opportunity among the people to get together
to establish "law", since jurisdiction was limited
and hostile topography contributed to it. With Guru Rinpoche's
arrival in Bhutan in the 8th Century and the subsequent
spread of Buddhism, religious code of law came to existence,
and later on, several "Lamas" established religious
laws in their own religious style.
the seventeenth century, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, founder
of Bhutan, instituted the first ever-Bhutanese law as
per the tradition of the Drukpa Karyupa religious code,
"Michoe Tsangma Chudrug" based on Buddhist philosophy.
The Zhabdrung's code was in force until the 63rd Deb Raja.
Even after the establishment of hereditary monarchy institution
in Bhutan, first King Ugyen Wangchuck and second King
Jigme Wangchuck continued to follow the "Zhabdrung's
after the enthronement of the 3rd King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck,
a modern justice and political system evolved in Bhutan
with the institution of National Assembly in 1953 at Punakha,
the then capital of Bhutan, and the first ever comprehensive
codified law code, "Thrimzhung Chhenpo" was
enacted in 1958. Thrimzhung Chhenpo as basis of law is
still followed in Bhutan and no fundamental rights of
the citizens are recognized in this law. The recent draft
constitution (Tsa Thrim Chhenpo) contains the basic structure
of Thrimzhung Chhenpo with few additions such as fundamental
rights and constitutional monarchy, etc.
1970, the 3rd King issued a Royal decree to the National
Assembly that a two-third's majority of the National Assembly
could force the King to abdicate his Throne. This decree
was operationalized twice in National Assembly in the
early 1970s, where in the first instance, three votes
went in favor of King's abdication and in second time,
thirteen votes went against. The 3rd King also ordered
the National Assembly that a Privy Council consisting
of representatives from the Dratsang Lhentshog, the Lhengye
Zhungtshog, the Lodeo Tshode and a Royal family member
will govern the country until the Crown Prince attained
twenty one years of age. Even the ministers' post was
subjected to election in the National Assembly after every
Present King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck became the King of
Bhutan when he was seventeen years of age, and promised
to uphold the principles set by his father, and to continue
political reforms. It is sad to expose that his promises
are proving to be empty and utterly disrespectful of his
father's wishes. The election of ministers after every
five years, and the provision for the King's possible
abdication was made invalid. Instead, ministers continue
to hold office for as long as the King desires. It is
apparent now, that the King never wanted to share his
father's governance policy.
a consequence of the episode Yanki in 1974, many senior
leaders from army and public service were killed or imprisoned.
The implementation of Citizenship Act in 1985 and revolt
by Lhosampa against the Government in 1990s led to present
predicament refugee imbroglio. Many innocent citizens
other than Lhosampas were also victimized for various
fabricated allegations in 1990s. I was also imprisoned
for fifty days where inhuman torture was a routine ordeal.
I fled to Nepal and wrote several articles and books on
the human rights abuses and ultimate need for the establishment
of democracy in Bhutan to redress these malaises. I came
to New Delhi in 1995 and 1996 to campaign for our cause
and to seek solidarity from Indians friends and Government
of India. With same expectation and belief that India,
a very close friend and trusted neighbor of Bhutan and
democratic country would give solidarity to our cause,
I along with my delegation came to Delhi in 1997 to seek
support for our cause, instead I was arrested and detained
at Lampur beggars House for more than fifty days and subsequently
imprisoned for fourteen months at Tihar jail and am still
facing extradition charges here in Delhi. The sad thing
to note is that key Government of India witness, Mr. Damendra
Kumar, the then FRRO who in fact has issued the statement
on record that my case was political in nature has not
at all bothered to appear before court for last five years
in spite of umpteenth court summons. I have full faith
in Indian judiciary.
my imprisonment in Delhi, my political partners and followers
including in Eastern Bhutan held a peaceful demonstration
against the Government of Bhutan in 1997 to press for
the establishment of human rights and democracy in Bhutan.
Followers of the Buddhist Nyigmapa's sect ardently supported
our cause. Many people were brutally thrashed and two
people were also murdered in cold-blood. The murderer
is still walking freely in Thimphu and occasionally seen
dining with ministers and royal family members. Seventy-eight
people are still imprisoned in Bhutan with sentences ranging
from 4 years to 25 years for simple "crime",
speaking against King. They have never demanded for the
overhaul of Monarchy institution in Bhutan. They simply
wanted the change in the autocratic system of the existing
Government. International Organizations must pressurize
the RGOB to release all political prisoners unconditionally.
Druk National Congress (DNC) from its inception in 1994
has campaign vigorously that there is no written constitution
in Bhutan. Finally on 26 March, 2005, RGOB reciprocated
our call by unveiling the draft written constitution to
the world and the Druk National Congress welcomes this
positive development. DNC's comments on the draft constitution
was release on 16 June, 2005 and it is available in this
Bhutan Today Issue. In overview, Constitution Drafting
Committee (DCC) has letdown the aspiration of Bhutanese
people. The power of Prime Minister is relegated to a
nominal player and very basis of Constitutional Monarchy
is made mockery, where King could sack the Prime Minister
and Cabinet if they lose the confidence of King by the
Draft constitution provision Article 20 (7). Instead,
DCC has offered extensive and exclusive power to King
who will still wield the existing absolute authority and
will be above law. Although, Total and absolute immunity
is granted vide Article 2 (Institution of Monarchy). I
suggest that Constitution should be such that it not only
safeguards the rights of people but also of the King and
the institution of monarchy. In order to achieve this,
the Constitution should be above all, including the Tsa-Wa
Sum (King, Country and People). Both people and the King
must uphold and respect the Constitution. The marriage
between these two crucial provisions will ensure peace,
stability and safeguard the sovereignty and integrity
of Bhutan. The new codified law of Bhutan drawn from the
Constitution will no doubt be in a better position to
protect the Sovereignty and guarantee peace and prosperity
Drafting Committee members have limited the electoral
advantage of the majority as delimitation of elected members
of National Assembly is restricted to minimum of 2 and
maximum of 7 vide Article 12(3) in the Draft Constitution.
For example, Haa District or Pema Gatshel have a population
of only 9000, where as Tashi Gang has 168,000. By the
virtue of Article 12(3), one constituency in Haa district
has 4,500 people where as a single constituency of Tashi
Gang constitute a population of about 37,000. Finally
when democracy and exercise of adult franchise will become
the tool to voice their community's interests, the DCC
has cleverly denied the people this advantage. There are
always discrepancies in the delimitation of electorial
constituencies in other countries due to various reasons
like regular population increases, migrations etc., but
such disadvantage is well compensated by development activities
in that constituency.
constitutional right to an electoral advantage for the
majority in Bhutan is founded in profound, genuine and
rational reason. In Bhutan, the populous communities have
to toil for free and have contributed tremendously to
nation building. A mandatory free-labour service to the
State was prevalent during early stages of the building
of modern Bhutan. Free-labour forces from populous communities
have built Tongsa Dzong, Punakha Dzong, Wangdicholing
Dzong, Kunga Rabten Palace, Tashi Chholing (Domkhar, Bumthang)
Palace, Dechencholing Palace, Lami Gonpa Dzong, Wangdi
Phodrang Ma-Khang (Military Compound), Younphu-la Ma-Khang(Military
compound), Tashi Chhodzong and infrastructure like roads
and bridges are all built with Dug-dum, Sum-dum and Chunni-Dum,
Zhabtolemi - a free-labour workforce. Zhabtolemi, voluntary
labour service to the State is still prevalent in Bhutan
and many district officers including ministers misused
this service. Although, it is nomenclatured "voluntary
service", the Government interprets it as mandatory
and is as a result thrust upon the ignorant public.
populous communities have toiled so much for nation building
and the denying of an electoral advantage by virtue numbers
will be unjust and unfair. DCC as acted partially and
on biased grounds. Democracy operates on a basis of a
one-man-one vote, so such partial provisions will be unacceptable
to people of populous communities.
National Congress is of the opinion that King's proposed
visit to Dzongkhangs to seek public opinion and a referendum
on the draft constitution is and will be a futile exercise.
The first reason is that a large number of Bhutanese are
unwilling to pass any comment since speaking against the
King or any such acts is a punishable offence under the
National Security Act (1992) with customary punishments
of life imprisonment sentences. If the King sincerely
wants to seek the consultation of every Bhutanese, then
he should first institute an independent judiciary and
guarantee the freedom of the Courts and freedom of speech
and expression so that every Bhutanese citizen could actively
participate in a dialogue and express their opinion and
give recommendations. In the absence of freedom of speech
and expression, the people will not be forthcoming in
expressing their views.
the DNC believes that the idea of a referendum should
be scraped and a Draft Constitution with modifications
as suggested in DNC's comments should be introduced in
Parliament for approval, and there shouldn't be any delay
in the implementation of Constitution as King has already
accepted to function as a Constitutional Head under a
system of Constitution Monarchy, and the general will
of intellectuals, the general public of Bhutan and many
exiled political parties and their leaders have welcomed
the acceptance of an Institution of Constitution Monarchy.
Are Bhutanese really happy?
The Concept of Gross National Happiness has been heralded
as the better alternative to measure the development index
of a country as compared to the economic index. In order
to see Gross National Happiness in Bhutan, we need to
analyze following points.
first pillar, "sustainable and equitable economic
development: the development in Bhutan is limited exclusively
to the western region. Equitable distribution of development
activities and building of basic infrastructure is absent
in Bhutan. Visitors from outside are denied the entry
to the east and south of Bhutan on the ground of "sensitivity",
except a select few who are herded to prefecided destinations
by government guides. The recent debate in the National
Assembly only corroborates this. On 9th June, 2005, the
Tashi Gang Chhimi asked the National Assembly to sanction
the Kholong Chhu Hydel project (Located in East) to face
the challenges of an increasing consumption of power in
eastern region, to which Yeshi Zimpa, Prime Minister replied,
"apart from the cost, the construction of Kholong
Chhu Hydel Project would not be economically feasible
since Assam, which was near East Bhutan, had a power surplus.
This meant that power would have to be supplied to West
Bengal and there would be a loss of power in transmission
and hence a revenue loss". Instead Yeshai Zinba said
that government was concentrated in building PunaTsangchu
Project (located in west). Surprisingly though, power
minister of Assam, Pradyut Bordoloi on June 8, 2005 admitted
that there is a power crisis in Assam and that he will
urge the Centre to allocate a portion of the power it
gets from Bhutan.
point is that Dungsum Cement Project (DCP) located in
Nanglam, Eastern Bhutan was to go into operation in early
1980s after discussing the modalities of loans and markets
with India, but it never came to life. The initial reason
was that of a presence of ULFA insurgents but it can be
easily deduced from latter years that Government never
wanted the DCP to be implemented since it feared that
the people of east will be economically well-off and menial
workers and cheap labour force for west will be lost.
The Cement Project in Gomtu, South west of Bhutan houses
three Cement factories. The price system in Bhutan is
not uniform throughout the country. For example one bag
cement costs about Rs 150 in the west whereas the eastern
region has to pay double for the same bag citing transportation
charges, thus making it economically unfavorable for any
construction enterprise. The RGOB simply sits in Thimphu
as a mute and blind spectator, while east and central
region are economically exploited and deprived.
Pillar: Conservation of the environment: In this front,
the Government has failed miserably since deforestation
and land degradation takes place continuously because
trees are felled in large number and minerals are mined
indiscriminately by a select few for short-term economic
gain. Although Bhutan has envisage a sustainable development
model, natural resources like rocks and silts from the
riverbeds in Bhutan are also exported without considering
the adverse effects it will have on the fragile ecology
pillar: Preservation and promotion of culture: So far
the present regime has only preserved and promoted the
"culture of praising and singing eulogy to the King".
Singing praises for the King has become the sacred duty
of every Bhutanese citizen. The followers of the oldest
religion of Bhutan, the Nyingmapa followers are persecuted
and their tradition and culture is endangered in Bhutan,
not to mention deplorable incidents that have occurred
in Southern Bhutan.
Fourth Pillar: Good governance: In the first place, the
Royal Government of Bhutan is not an elected government,
and secondly transparency and accountability is totally
absent. Furthermore, un-elected legislators and the absence
of an independent judiciary speaks louder than words about
the functioning of government. What can be more apparent
than such a government trying to futilely exhibit "symptoms"
of good governance.
the recent nationwide census conducted in 30-31 May, 2005,
a questionnaire with 6 questions were distributed where
in every citizen has been asked to describe his experience
of Gross National Happiness. This attempt to establish
an index of Gross National Happiness is questionable.
Given the reality of retribution for speaking against
the King and government, it is obvious that an affirmative
answer with regards to GNH will emerge, and government
officials would spare no effort in intimidating the people
to bring this about. This desperate measure setout by
government to bring out statistics on GNH in Bhutan to
show to the outside world that Bhutan really is basking
in happiness is appalling and unacceptable. It can also
be concluded that social indexes or any result based on
this data collected during this survey is false and it
is simply an eyewash to divert international attention
from the core socio-economic problems affecting Bhutan.
above observation, it is more than obvious that the four
pillars of this imaginary GNH are absent. However, the
concept of Gross National Happiness is workable measure
of a nation's achievements, but will find support from
the Druk National Congress only if the concept is implemented
in good faith.
gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots'
has increased manifold in Bhutan. The current drive of
privatization will further increase this wide gulf. DNC
believes that privatization policy as of now needs to
stop since wealth will centralized only with members of
royal family and its coterie. In such an environment,
it will is not possible to imagine that the Bhutanese
population is happy. The fact that more than 100,000 Bhutanese
are exiled and are living as refugees in camps in Nepal
and between 15-20,000 Bhutanese are living outside country.
A majority of the population living in deprivation and
poverty inside Bhutan substantiates the fact that GNH
is presently a fallacy.
Accusation on Mr R.K Dorji and DNC
desperate measures are being employed by the RGOB with
a new PR exercise by its spin-doctor, wherein Mr. Rongthong
Kunley Dorji is portrayed as separatist and the Druk National
Congress as separatist organization. The initial allegation
in 1990s against Mr. Dorji was "running away from
country for non-repayment of loans" and "classified
reports that he is ally of ULFA".
refuted the charge, and spelt out it was the RGOB who
was indeed the ally of ULFA. With stern pressure from
Government of India against RGOB, it was finally forced
to carryout the operation "all clear' in December
of 2003. The latest accusation is only to assassinate
the character of Mr. R.K Dorji and discredit the DNC.
DNC under the leadership of R.K Dorji is voicing the equitable
distribution of development all over the kingdom with
specific attention to Eastern Bhutan where the people
continue to live in same life style as that of hundreds
of years ago in comparison to people of west. Furthermore,
DNC has never asked for the division of Bhutan on the
grounds of creed or ethnicity, instead it has strived
for the unity of Bhutan and encouraged all Bhutanese to
safeguard the sovereignty and independence of Bhutan.
It also believes that a suitable Constitution will be
enable the Bhutanese to tackle the upcoming challenges
in the 21st century and will safeguard the sovereignty
and ensure peace and prosperity in Bhutan.
other reason for the RGOB's latest attempts to portray
Mr. Dorji as a separatist must be to stem the support
and sympathy of the international community and visiting
dignitaries of Mr. Dorji.
few intermediaries who continue to hold a feudalist outlook
and attempt to continue their dominance and safeguard
their own privileges, which they get by associating with
the royals, is to blame for present state of affairs in
Bhutan. The King must awaken out of such a creeper's cocoon
to hear out the aspirations and vision of Bhutanese intellectuals
and politicians, to bring proper development and happiness
people to people level interaction between the people
of India and Bhutan in its borders is lagging behind.
Either side of the border, the people are unwilling to
develop a cordial relationship, and many people are reluctant
to forge any sorts of friendship, other than to carry
out usual normal business. There is an atmosphere of mistrust
and doubt. Is it the doing of RGOB or GOI? The RGOB's
mechanization is apparent to a certain extent since present
regime continues to perceive a threat when Bhutanese people
share and become intimate with Indians. The draft constitution
has been released wherein seeping democratic changes is
inevitable, so there seems certainly no wrong or possible
threat to the monarchy when the people try to learn democratic
ideals and electioneering from a friendly democratic neighbor.
The other plausible reason may have to do with Indian
officials at the border areas who may be harassing "marked"
Bhutanese citizens due to requests from the RGOB to keep
them under check. In the name of doing small favours to
counterpart officials, the public opinion of Bhutan is
ever likely to shift from present blind faith of trust
and confidence bestowed on India.