Disclaimer: These writings are my personal views and opinions. Any resemblance is mere coincidence, therefore I disclaim any offence whatsoever.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Inspirational Anecdotes

picture courtesy:www.commapost.com
As human beings all of us are same. We have the same faculties and features. But what set us all apart are our actions.

Over the course of history numerous men lived but not all of them are remembered. Those that we remember had either done impossible feats themselves or had been an inspiration for their followers who did the rest.  

Basically some men wrote things worth remembering and some men did things worth writing. Thus legacies lived on.

To put things into perspective, Bhutan is a small dot on the world map. Many don’t even know that Bhutan exists but we do and do it in style. Having read so far on turbulence of imperialism and force of geopolitics, with our army and economy we could not have stood a chance of survival but we did.

We have not just survived but thrived so far, thanks to our leadership, our majesties. Our monarchy is relatively young but dynamic. We have such other leaders of men whom we entrust our faith, love and respect. Not because we have to but because we feel it from within.

How does this feeling from within happen? It is called the “virtuous cycle of inspiration.”

Economically we may not boast of abundance but inspiration we are not poor. K4 is an epitome of inspiration. Generations from now, people will hardly believe, such a king walked the face of earth in flesh and blood. A king who left the grandiose of the palace to lead his armies on the leech infested frontlines. Only historical Ashoka performed this feat in the recent history. Thousands were sent into musing.

K5 the fifth dragon king is no less. During my convocation we were five thousand or more graduates remotely hoping for a regal photograph with the king. The university officials only planned for a group photograph and rightly so. But king being king, handing over the first honors called for the photographer. The crowd broke into a frenzy applaud. King wanted to grant each graduate an opportunity to get photographed alongside him.

This was the critical moment in the lives of these graduates. No grander icing on the cake of lifetime achievement than the king posing for you. As is said, “five thousand of us” and the king is still doing the honors. It started at around 10 AM and continued till 5 PM without even lunch, save few breathers. At the end K5 proclaimed “Do you think I am tired, I’m not, and in fact I am happy for your achievements”. My skin bristled, I got goose bumps. Not on earth, standing for seven or more hours, shaking five thousand hands, posing for so many clicks and still not tired. More inspiring were his final words, “You work hard and I will work ten times harder”. This he already proved it. I came back with nothing but INSPIRATION.

Here is another anecdote from my recent encounter with My Dasho. We put up in our office transit camp and had the fortune to dine together. One day I was late for lunch attending official duties. I got a call from my friend back at the transit camp that Dasho would not eat before I reached. I said I would be late and the team to go ahead with lunch. I again got a call saying that they were waiting for me. For a moment I was baffled. Then I told the driver to accelerate. When we reached the camp, AG and senior officials were seriously waiting for me, the junior most officer in the group. I was awestruck. I did not believe my eyes. There on the dining table I said to myself, “anything for you my DASHO”.

Inspirations such as these keep you alive and give you a sense of direction. These divine forces are etched forever in the heart of the humanity. We need inspiration to do better and not settle for mediocrity.   

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

An Analogy of life

Once upon a time, there was a man called Milue in a hamlet called Jigten. He was a humble man blessed with good health, adequate fortune and a happy family. One auspicious day he decided to go on a pilgrimage to a sacred place called Shamzur which is perched on a cliff. He started to hitch a hike. Mid way through the journey, he stumbled on a piece of rock and fell. He fell off the cliff.

As he fell he shouted Lama Kheno (oh my lama, similar to oh my god)! Thinking that was the end. But miraculously his frantic hands caught hold of a bunch of grass. That was the critical juncture in his life. In that moment a lot of emotions and thoughts exploded in his head. Most prominent feeling was despair and helplessness. All he could see below was a huge ravine with razor sharp rocks. If he fell, he could be ripped apart. Fearing for his life he tightened his grip on the bunch of grass.

As he gleaned around, he saw a huge abandoned bee hive dripping with honey, right under his nose. Instinctually he started licking and for a moment he forgot the fact that he is still hanging on a bunch of grass. Taste of honey was too sweet to let go. He began to suckle like a baby on mothers’ breast. His grip loosened but enough to keep him hanging.

Meanwhile, two field mice were nibbling at the bunch of grass, one white and other black. They were cutting out one blade of grass at a time and ferrying away playfully. Milue saw them but he could not shoo them as he was busy suckling honey.

He also saw people moving up and down the path. Mostly monks clad in maroon going up and lay people coming down. He could not call them for help either. He could not let go of his clinging of honey.

At sun down, Milue again heard the field mice squeaking and screeching. This time he saw them munching at the last few blades of grass left. In another frantic attempt to strengthen his hold, handful of grass gave way and Milue fell off. His body splattered into pieces and Milue died. Leaving his wish unfulfilled despite having health, family, fortune, human body and help when he was hanging on that bunch of grass.

This is the story of our life. Milue is the personification of human body. ‘Lue’ basically means left behind, when consciousness moves out only body is left. Hamlet Jigten is our ephemeral world which is also slowly going to disintegrate. Milue’s having good health,family and fortune is the embodiment of the infallible law of karma. The sacred Shamzur is the existence of light of Buddha dharma.

Milue falling down accidentally is human birth, which is more or less a rare accident. Bunch of grass is the human life span. Sweetness of honey is the human desire, the more you eat the more you want to eat. The white and black field mice are day and night. Bunch of grass is the total life span, spent day and night, as nibbled one at a time by the black and white mice. The monks going up the path is existence of sangha and lay people going down is the existence of ignorant sentient beings.

Leaving the temptation of the sweet honey and calling monks for help, you can walk the path to the sacred place where there is no need to worry about the bunch of grass and the mouse. Letting go of the sweetness of the honey is the most difficult feat.

Attaining human body in this opportune time when Dharma Chakra is still being turned is rare. Having got it, walking the path along with Sangha and becoming one with Budha is the main objective. Realizing the indestructible nature of mind is the ultimate purpose.
But letting go of this clinging to sweetness of honey is as herculean as ever.

I heard this from my brother in-law. He in turn was told this analogy by one scholar from the Tango College of Budhist Studies. Hats off this beautiful analogy.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Beautiful Ideas - I

Image courtesy: www.ipadartroom.com
All we need are ideas, beautiful ideas. Ideas have this transformational quality. Some people are so full of such ideas. Some ideas are revolutionary while some are radical and destructive. History witnessed both. Do we need such a balance of good and bad, may be so. I really don’t know.

The idea that I am going to write about has come about over a dinner pep talk. Both of us had a conforming discussion. Since we came from similar educational backgrounds and similar moral principles, we had a common thinking that quality of education is deteriorating at the colleges in the country.

My friend Tshewang had one such idea, quality education for Bhutan. Quality education is desirable for all humans everywhere but bit self-conscious being a hard-to-the-core Bhutanese. It is more relevant for us, since Bhutan is precariously sandwiched between two superpowers of the world. Economically, militarily and politically we are belittled. Our Demographics are hilariously at our odds. Our only strength is soft power, quality of people. Quality of people is determined not just by their physical health but more of mental hygiene, of which education is the most critical element.

Education is the numinous solution to all worlds problem. Not only does a man see the world in a broader sense but also can he put things into perspective. Basically world is just same to any man but for a man with right education, he can see it with better precision. To any problem, half the solution lies in correct understanding of the situation. Efficiency of solution depends on his creativity. Creativity is yet another indispensable trait in this age, where resources have become scarce from limited.

I quote K5 “we cannot think of living up to humongous numbers of the world but we should make that up by sheer quality”. Some nations have shown that. Fishing villages transformed into tiger economies. Human thinking seems to be the only limit. We should dare to dream and dare to live by it.

Our previous generation had people educated from renowned institutions of the world. These leaders tactfully maneuvered the tricky political arena and came out winners. Now, the onus is on us and we need at the least to peep into the minds of finest brains to strategize our next phase of the journey. The seas would be unthinkably rough and we must be braced-up for the worst storm.

We need to cultivate a value around education not necessarily around money. Money is one commodity that can answer half our prayers leaving the other half at large. Not everything can be priced, some things are beyond money. They are sacrosanct.  Whole world will conspire against you, if you think it is not.

Bhutan just needs 100 sane thinking commonsensical individuals at a time to lead the way supported by averagely educated men. Now the number is no more a problem, thanks to the growth in the economy and the education policies. It is time we rethink our education policies. 

Build one institution each for each discipline; take 100 best at a time (per year). Recruit 10 finest trainers available in the region. Make them take the toughest test, not just the conventional memory test but rather more of strategic, creative and commonsensical ones. But they should also be sensitized on the value of life and sanctity of humanity. 

Sometimes education in linear and structural thinking educates people out of creativity. We also need to develop non-linear and unstructured thinking, such as art. World so far is transformed by creative people and run by structured thinkers. We need both. 

I wish our political masters of the day and age to think beyond the confines of domestic party lines. I also wish they stretch their vision beyond five years and think of Bhutan as one boat full of likeminded people whose common aspiration at the end of the day is “happyness”. The current state of affairs is like clustering at one side of the boat to imbalance the other side, with a distorted view that saving your side will save the boat. But the fact is saving one side doesn’t save the boat; it rather will sink both the sides and the whole boat. The boat needs expert sailors; sailors who have the ability to think that the boat is one whole and not just two sides. The sea is getting rougher by the minute. Sailors are made not born, so let us make them.

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Personal Note, A Reflection

Dear Sir, 

Hope this note finds you in good spirits, knowing fully well you would  not be settled as yet. Should this trigger homesickness, it's  not intended. Otherwise work is going good here.

I know in life nothing lasts long, not even our troubles. Fleeting still was our time together but bumping into you was one of the best things that had ever happened in my professional life, so far.

As you go away I have mixed feelings. Sad, because I can no more have your guidance, happy because you are going for good. You are going to a place which is still a dream to many. Deep within I think you are going to a place where you belong. Such a professional gentleman, deserve a professional place to work. May Norwegians treat you good!

Not very far in the past, when I was a probationer, one very common feeling was intimidation. But entrusting on assignments independently an inexperienced probationer, only you could have done it. It still rings in my ears, when you said, “I am taking a risk, and you better conduct like an officer”. I don’t know if I have done justice to your expectations. The fact is, young people needed such support and blind-trust.

The day we departed you said, “Work has to be our inspiration”. You said this, only this time, but the whole time in office you lived by it. I remember us driving home late, seldom me and always you. Your exceptional professionalism separated you from the rest. I always liked to emulate your ways but often unsuccessfully. The maxim “good begets good” is quite right. Today good is after you.

A person dynamic in thought, diligent in action and ethically upright. A young officer needed a model and I saw the perfect (discounting human imperfections) person in you. Every ship in the vast sea, looks up to the north star for direction. You were my north star, today I rue the loss! Four years running, I don’t remember a day I doubted your ways. Yours sincerely!

Life has its own ways; gathering and departing are some of them. Life goes on but some people leave an indelible mark on your memory lane that refuses to fade.

On June 5,2015, Near Banquet Hall at 3:54 pm during tea break of the Conference
On August 11, 2015; Your Last Day in Office at 2:55 pm moments before you left

You used to say “together we can change the way we conduct things”. You also said you liked young officers, because “they are receptive to change”. You were right fourth year of focus we managed to get the harvests. People started talking about CFID, there was something that sparked people to talk. 

To a man with conviction and dedication, success is not a remote ideal. At this juncture all I can do is wish you get bountiful opportunities; there is no doubt that you can’t do it. Because earth is round and Bhutan is a small place, I will definitely catch up with you. 

Some men leave legacies while some leave mere footprints. I will let you imagine which class I have put you in.

Although I would like you to be back with us but in style you would sign off one day. That day has to be one day too and today is also one of them.

To conclude, I got some this favorite phrase of mine, from one of my best movies, “Some birds are never meant to be caged”, because their wings are too beautiful.

Until next time, signing off with happy heart!

Sincerely Yours

Friday, August 14, 2015

Reminiscing Independence Day 2014; Reproduction of my speech to Hon'ble CAG of India

Good morning!!! Honorable CAG of India Mr. Shashi Kant Sharma and Mrs. Sharma, DG of the national academy Mr. L.V Sudhir Kumar and Mrs. Kumar, Senior officers, fellow Officer trainees, Ladies and Gentlemen.

First of all, let me take this opportunity to congratulate the CAG and the IA&AD for securing the berth on the UN board of Auditors once again. Congratulations sir! 

Well! Today I speak with conviction that experiences that we gained during the course of the training are of three classes. Within the academy we were exposed to sessions directly related to our work, that is auditing and accounting and its contemporary issues. 

Attachments with institutions like NIPFP and IIM broadened our perspectives on how policies impact the common people and functioning of an economy. We were exposed to fundamentals of taxation, PPP and various special purpose schemes. We could also appreciate how issues in design of schemes could lead to undesirable outcomes and as auditors, how we can improve the overall system of governance by providing constructive reviews.

Visiting treasury offices bridged the missing link between government accounting sessions and practical procedures in the field.  Further, a week-long trekking program brought us all humanely close together. We realized how we could achieve common goals by merely sticking together as a cohesive unit.

If all these exercises were to groom future leaders, I have a strong feeling we are moving towards that direction. For that, we would like to thank DG sir, directors and all the staff of the academy. Thank you for making everything possible!

Last but not the least; it was on this day in 1947 that the people of India have celebrated their political independence. But today on the solemn occasion of the Independence Day, as an outside observer I can safely claim that India is not just celebrating political independence but also progress & leadership on many fronts at the global level.  

So, on behalf of His majesty the king, Royal government of Bhutan and Royal Audit Authority in particular and people of Bhutan, I would like to express our heartiest felicitations on the occasion of the Independence day! Happy Independence day!

Thank you!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Substantive Gender Equity; A perspective.

Image courtesy:http://www.aldeparty.eu/
It is easy in this century to be a man. But it is way too difficult to be a woman. You have to think like a man, act like a gentle lady, look like a young girl and work like a donkey. And worse is you don’t get paid for almost everything you do. Only thing that she gets at the end of the day is sense of relief that she could perform the roles. Nothing else! Sometimes not even a pat on the back. How inhuman? Hypocritical human beings!

Societies so far has discriminated women based on their sex being the inferior of the two. Therefore in every society we see even the professions are divided based on gender. If somebody says the surgeon in that lab is good, in our head it is a man. And if people say that nurse is rude, we visualize a woman. We are conditioned that way. But now people challenge these conventions.

People have started this movement against gender discrimination, since late nineties. Virginia Woolf in 1941 in her book “Room of one’s Own”, rues at the absence of books by women authors on the book shelves which are largely dominated by men often writing negatively about women.  

After the depression years some progress is made in the US in terms passing legislation's addressing women’s issues. But progress at the international level is made only in the later part of the century.

First conference on women was held in Mexico (1975), then in Copenhagen (1980), Nairobi (1985), and Beijing (1995). First convention was ratified and adopted in 1981 by 64 countries. This was the land mark “CEDAW (convention on elimination of discrimination against women). All these happened under the support of UN.

Since CEDAW and other activism propounded women issues in particular, it drew criticism saying that world is pitching women against men. Now this has changed as “gender equity” which is inclusive of all the genders. But under the garb of gender, world is still discussing women issues. Truly so!

The reality world over is women are repressed and almost treated as properties. Since I have a mom, sisters, wife and nieces, I acknowledge the fact that the situation is true but they deserve to be treated as at least equal human beings. Beyond biological differences almost everything is identical if we remove the chauvinistic male lens.

Someone remarked “equality may be right but no power on earth can make it real” but this is true only in a vision-less view. Some ventures take generations on end to complete but not impossible.

Sex is natural and Gender is socio-cultural. Sex is based on the genitals we were naturally born with but gender is the “blue and pink” that society has given. Sex cannot be changed to some extend (changed under circumstances) but gender can definitely change, since it is just in ideas.

I was always fond of “the place where we have started”. Basically everyone has different stories to tell because we have all started from different points. When we talk about equality we basically mean the finish line. There is no question on where we began. Since inequality stretches back millions of years into history, the rhetoric of same finish line is unfair. Therefore equality is not the right answer to bring the fabric our existence (women) at par with men.

For few generations world might have to help them reach the same starting line. And then we may talk about the same finish line the “equality”. For thousands of years women were marginalized as stepping stone for men folk. They were deprived of opportunities, not their innate inability.  We have given some space and they excelled.  Therefore, we can dare to dream a world where all men and women walk shoulder to shoulder without having to give a second thought.

To get there we have to break stereotypes, discard unfounded beliefs and remove unfair mental barriers. World needs to come together and give our women and girls more than equality “substantive equity”. If we get them on board then the road to humanity may be less troublesome and more merriment.

Image courtesy:http://equalityandjustice.eu/

But we need a lot of courage especially the men folk to internalize this fact. It could jeopardize our religious belief systems and traditions. Faith in some spiritual pursuits may be shaken. We might have to wage wars. But in the end we know that religion, culture, society, economics and politics are nothing but the ideologies of mankind. Therefore, it can be changed and changed for good and good of mankind.

It could definitely take generations to bring the best in our women but slow and steady will win the race where humanity wins. But audacity of hope must quell the timidity of doubt. It must be reminded that this journey must be painful but for me I take it as a sweet labor of love. I would start at home, will you???   

Friday, May 15, 2015

Slaughter houses in Bhutan; my perspective!

Slaughter houses in Bhutan; my perspective!

I have blogged quite a lot on vegetarianism. Made few advocacy presentations and been a lacto-vegetarian myself for some time. So it’s not impossible to become one. I also feel that I have some experiences and understandings to share.

For some time now, this slaughterhouse business in Bhutan is making rounds on social media. I read few opinions but never a comprehensive one. The most prominent response towards this is monastic bodys’ appeal to the PM and an open letter by a foundation on animal welfare.

Here we are talking about food, economy, evolution, philosophy and science together in meat eating and production. 

Humans evolved into meat eaters but anatomically our digestive system is built for plant eating. We have flat teeth to grind and not sharp canines like tigers. Our digestive tract is long enough to accommodate plants that take longer time to digest. But we are said to have started eating animal flesh and with time we seem to have adapted because we can now eat without any immediate problems. But in the long run meat eating is related to many ailments.

Buddhist philosophy reasons that life is dear to every living being, therefore no killing because karma is there to kill you if you kill other animals.  That would also mean, we should not eat as well. Buddha never told his disciples not to eat meat but he reminded them to practice compassion towards animals. We should not blindly follow just because Buddha said so. One should exercise one’s own judgment. If one is compassionate one should not be the cause for killing. If you don’t eat they don’t get killed. If there are no buyers there will not be sellers, as simple as that.Quite logical. 

Simply because you are a vegan doesn’t mean you are a Buddhist or just because you eat meat you’re not a Buddhist. Don’t get shocked if you hear a story in which Buddha was an assassin. Buddha sacrificed his body to save a starving tigress when he was born a prince. He killed a man to save ship full of people when he was born as a compassionate sailor. In Buddhism your view is the most important. Sin I believe is not an appropriate word to use. To be precise we should use karma in place of sin.

If you are shocked by the news of mega-slaughter houses in Bhutan, I am not. As one guy commented on Facebook, If at all  should we have, I believe we should have it at the clock tower in glass houses, so that everyone can see the gruesome life cycle of our delicacy “Shakam”. Everyone needs to take informed decisions.  After seeing the way it is produced, people should reject the meat from the slaughter houses. Then people should only feast on animals that died naturally. Eventually slaughter houses should shut down and people should turn vegan. Imagine an enlightened society, if you may like a Shangrila of “Ema” not even “datsi” since it is an animal by-product too.

Economy is the responsibility of a government but starting slaughterhouses is not a desirable area to start with. There are other avenues that need attention and that can make huge impacts. For instance, undertake a major exercise to bring all the citizens under the radar of asset declaration, not just hand-to-chin civil servants. This would broaden the tax base and keep an easy check on black economy. At the current rate of growth, banks and insurance business are getting filthy rich and getting higher bonuses for work of equivalent value to all others by using our money. The CIT on Banks and Insurance companies should be increased and their spreads should be reduced.   On the rupee front, we should get Bhutanese to work on hydropower projects even if it means paying exorbitant wages. This way Rupee remains here. Tweak a bit on tourism royalty and operate other landing strips for international flights. There you go, millions of dollars above the foreign currency reserve bench mark. Use this excess hard currency to correct the BoP issue. Growth in tourism would also reduce unemployment.

Bhutanese now are adopting healthier diets, thanks to improvement in living standards and exposure. Thanks to health advocacy programs people are now trying to reduce meat and including more of green vegetables on their menu. People have already started pure veg restaurants and tofu processing plants. Who says we are so dependent on meat? There is a positive shift in fact.

This meat is a recent re-development. We were raising pigs back then, later it died down but again picked up lately due to easy availability from across the border not having to do the dirty job.We also have not seen how they are raised and slaughtered.

Meat is established to be a major cause of heart diseases and also has carcinogen. Saturated fat on the so called good “Shakam” and “Sikam” is like consuming raw cholesterol. It is quite ironical that we go for zero cholesterol cooking oil but we don’t mind eating 5 pieces of fatty Sikam. Dzongsar Jamyang Khentse remarked to one of the questions on vegetarianism, “How many legs of other animals would you stuff in your mouth just to sustain your body?” Isn't that selfish!

The debate on plants vs animals, who should we eat?, has lasted quite a long time. While both of them are living because they both grow, it is established that plants do not have nervous system. Which means a blade of grass doesn’t feel pain when it is cut. But when you slit the throat of a goat it is so much painful, like we clench our teeth just to pierce a syringe on our skin. It is also debated on the existence of life force. But unfortunately or fortunately science has never proven the existence of consciousness. There is also desire to live. When sane we so desperately don’t want to die. On the same plane fellow earthlings might also desire the same thing. There are video footages of animals that let out tears when lined up for slaughter; they definitely might not want to die.

 Although as sane individuals, it is our fundamental right (enshrined in the constitution) to choose what to eat, as long as it doesn’t infringe the right of another lawful citizen or agency, however on the strength of reasons as aforementioned, it is seen undesirable to have slaughter houses in Bhutan. I would go veg, I have done it 3 times already lol! I still can make another attempt.