Druk National Congress - Political Organization of Bhutan

Religion & Culture


Human Rights



Bhutan History

Bhutan Today

Press Release






(APRIL- JUNE) 2005

Vol. VII


General Secretary Appointed.






Druk National Congress celebrates its Foundation Day.

On Thursday, 16the June, 2005, Druk National Congress members along with Indian, Nepalese and Burmese friends celebrated the 11th anniversary of the Druk National Congress Foundation Day. It was on Thursday, 16th June, 1994, that the Druk National Congress, a political party with dynamic objective of establishing human rights and democracy in Bhutan was born. Since then, it has always campaigned vigorously for the establishment of Constitutional Monarchy in Bhutan. The unveiling of the draft constitution on 26th March, 2005 is a breakthrough in the Bhutanese political process. Befitting the occasion, the Indo-Bhutan Friendship Society's Executive Committee member, Mr. Rajiv Aggarwal hosted the dinner to celebrate DNC's Foundation Day.


DNC president attends Solidarity meeting

Druk 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.


Press Release

16th June, 2005

The 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.

The following resolution was adopted and passed unanimously.



1.1 The Constitution proceeds on the basis of following principles:

Principle 1
The genius of the Bhutanese people should be reflected in the Constitution.

Principle 2
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.

Principle 3
The principle of representative-democracy with responsibility to people through elections is to be given its due place.

Principle 4
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 State Policy.

Principle 5
An independent judiciary shall uphold the rule of law, democracy and civil liberties.

Principle 6
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.

Principle 7
Due reference shall be given to guarding against arbitrariness and corruption.

Principle 8
Local government shall be part of the dispensation of the Constitution itself.

Principle 9
People's participation shall be ensured through periodic elections and national referenda.

Principle 10
While accepting the role of political participation, the Constitution shall place the national interest above party political interests.

1.2 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.


2.1 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; -

(i) 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.

B. Third,
(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.

(ii) 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.

(iii) 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 (Article 2(16)(e)).

(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.

(iv) 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))).

C. 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 local government.

D. 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 2(16)(e)).

E. Sixth, the emergency power provisions are too wide and are not limited by a time clause (Article 34).

F. 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.

G. Eight, fundamental rights clause are overbroad in places and needs examination.

H. 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.

I. 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.

Kesang Lhendup
(General Secretary)



7th April, 2005

The 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.

Since 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 Nation.

The 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 people.

Druk 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 left unattended.

Rongthong Kunley Dorji


Press Release
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.

The 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 monarch.

Satya Prakash Malaviya


Proceedings of Executive committee Meeting held on 22nd April, 2005

The 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.

Amongst 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.

Satya 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.

Mr.R.K.Dorji, 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.

Prof 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 of Bhutan.

A copy of the draft constitution was supplied to every member.

At 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.


Simplifying the Dzongkha Constitution.

It 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.

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.

Sonam 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 'Constitution'.


Height of sycophancy?

Mr. 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.

If 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.


(Rongthong Kunley Dorji)

The 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.

By 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 Code".

Only 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.

In 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 five years.

The 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.

As 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.

After 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.

The 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 in Bhutan.


Electoral delimitation.

The 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.

The 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.

The 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.



Druk 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.

Instead, 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.

The 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.

Second 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.

Second 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 of Bhutan.

Third 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.

The 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.

In 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.

From 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.

The 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.


Latest Accusation on Mr R.K Dorji and DNC

The 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".

Mr.Dorji 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.

The 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.


Losing faith.

The 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 to Bhutan.

The 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.

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Mr. Kesang Lhendup was appointed as a General Secretary of Druk National Congress with effect from 16th June, 2005. He hails from Mongar, eastern Bhutan and joined the party in 1994. He also holds various post including being in-charge of Druk National Congress office in Kathmandu, Nepal.