Tuesday, December 22, 2009

My Preparation For Marriage

Marriage is human bondage created by an illusion called love which wears of after certain period of time. Your partner is your jailor who pretends to care about you when she/ he wants your service and care. Children, as innocent as angels, are nought but rope that tether you to herd curtailing your own freedom. We, as human beings have tendency to sacrifice our own happiness for marriage, family and security though there is no guarantee that they will be near you when you need them.

Keeping all this in mine, I am preparing for biggest occasion of my life i.e., marriage. I want to enjoy after marriage like I am enjoying now( if I can, more than now) without causing disharmony in my relation with spouse. As a first step of preparation, I am reading a book ( Lord be praised for it is first book I read other than textbook) called “how to cheat your spouse without arousing suspicion.” It doesn’t guarantee hundred person applicability but for starter who wants to cheat his spouse, it is excellent book I can recommend to every male who wants to cheat his wife( I know most men cheat but unfortunately some are caught). For me, it is an excellent opportunity to learn arts of cheating and arts of pretension of loving wife if I get bored with her.

Then, I have another book in the shelf tittled, “How to Catch Cheating Spouse’’ as precaution against my future wife if she gets suspicious. This is also good book and I can recommend it to woman who gets cheated but like first book, it doesn’t guarantee hundred percent applicability.

Lastly, I thank my teachers for briefing me every now and then on importance of reading else I wouldn’t have known such idea exist in the books that are beyond textbooks.

***Please wish me luck in my future marriage..hehehe.

PrimeMinister’s Speech at Brazil on GNH

Lyonchhen addresses GNH Conference in Brazil

24 November 2009

Following is the keynote Address by H.E. Jigmi Y. Thinley, Prime Minister of Bhutan, at the 5th GNH International Conference, Itaipu, Brazil

“I and my delegation are most delighted to be here in Itaipu, on the banks of the mighty Rio Parana and Iguacu with its awe inspiring Iguacu Falls. It is an honour and a matter of deep satisfaction for the Royal Government, the people of Bhutan and myself, that the 5th Gross National Happiness (GNH) International Conference is taking place, for the first time in South America, in this vast and great country of Brazil.

Our gathering here bears testimony to the growth of the idea of GNH as an international movement far beyond the confines of a single nation. Your presence here is indicative of your devotion to the search for a better way to live toward making this planet a safer, more sustainable and happy abode for mankind and the many living species which have no voice but whose fate is shaped by our actions.

At the outset, I would like to thank the Itaipu Binacional for hosting this conference, and the Brazilian government for facilitating it. I also wish to express my gratitude in particular to three individuals for the enthusiasm and the hard work with which they brought this important international conference to fruition.

First, I would like to thank Dr. Susan Andrews, Founder and Director of Future Ecological Park. She took on the enormous responsibility of organizing the conference a year ago during the 4th GNH International Conference held in Bhutan. Its realisation today is attributable to her resourcefulness, commitment and, no doubt, her conviction that GNH is good for all of humanity. The amazing work she is doing in this country to promote GNH living, as opposed to talking about it, deserves our heartfelt admiration.

Secondly, I am very grateful to Dr. Nelton Freidrich, Brazilian Director for Environment and Sustainability at Itaipu Binacional for his unstinting support and for promoting inspiration to the conference. Dr Jorge Miguel Samek, Brazilian Director General for the Binacional deserves our sincere thanks for his generous support in hosting the conference.

I would also like to express my gratitude to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, Foz do Iguacu Municipality and Iguacu Binacional. All of us from Bhutan are overwhelmed by the gracious hospitality. Evolution of the concept and practice of GNH As some of you may not be familiar with the evolution of GNH, let me begin with a short background.

Bhutan’s journey on the path of GNH was flagged off in the early 1970s with a simple pronouncement by His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan. He stated that “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

In so doing, he questioned the validity of the prevailing belief that Gross Domestic Product alone is a measure of societal progress. He reasoned that the general well being of his people was more important than economic growth which is the singular activity measured by GDP. Well being, he was convinced, is to be seen in the extent to which the people are happy.

He held the conviction that his responsibility as the king and that of his government was to create the conditions that would enable the people to pursue and increase happiness. This, he asserted could be achieved through a holistic approach to development whereby the needs of the body and the mind are balanced, where one complements the other as opposed to the GDP led growth which has come at the cost of spiritual and mental impoverishment.

It was a refreshingly bold and profound questioning, more so because it came out of the mind of a teenager. The pertinence of his question is to be seen in the world-wide development experience of the last four decades. Much of the rising prosperity has failed to provide satisfaction and subjective well-being, especially in the industrialised, wealthy north where, in fact, happiness level has stagnated.

The actual alignment of the road map for holistic and sustainable development in my country was undertaken methodically in the clear light of GNH throughout the reign of the Fourth King. This was done principally through enabling laws and public policies. Believing in the primacy of public deliberation, public dialogue and public opinion in defining any national goal, His Majesty ensured that GNH gained public consensual ownership and subscription not so much through persuasion as by causing introspection.

Such belief and practice logically guided the King and people to set the country on a deliberate path to democracy with an aspiration for the higher goal of an enlightened citizenship. What followed was the abdication of the throne by HM the King, at the age of 51, to make way for complete democratization Working in partnership with His successor, they gave to the country a Democratic Constitutional Monarchy which came into being in 2008.

As such, Bhutanese democracy sprang from the womb of GNH.

His Majesty the 5th King, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who ascended the Throne in 2006, provided further stimulus to GNH. In addition, our Constitution describes the state and government as having to be guided by the philosophy of GNH. Developing the concept of GNH has therefore, gone hand in hand with practising GNH through policies and programmes.

It is thus, only natural that the first democratically elected government that I lead, came to power on a political manifesto committing the party to continuing on the path of GNH.

More recently, we have augmented our attempts to transform and develop institutions that are structurally aligned to apply GNH concepts in policy formulation, programme design and implementation. This, as we all know, is not the normal way in which governments are structured or function.

They normally echo the GDP conditioned development paradigm whereby, it is the practice to have ministries corresponding to sectors such as agriculture, trade, industry, banking and finance that maintain their own separate accounts.

A society’s pursuit of GNH ought to be reflected in the organisational structure of its government. This would mean the creation of ministries or departments that would correspond to those functions or domains which promote or create enabling conditions for GNH. These would typically include such agencies as ministry for psychological wellbeing, community vitality, cultural resilience and ecological integrity etc.

If such were to become true even in one country, then it is conceivable that other leaders and their citizenry will shift to follow suit, just as organisations dealing with environmental issues arose rapidly within the last 20 years. Essentially, my proposition is that form and substance must go together.

Without substance, form, in the case of organizations will ultimately die from lack of purpose and irrelevance just as an idea that has no form to its furtherance will simply dissipate. When likewise, there is no relationship between an organization and the GNH concept, it is likely that at some stage the two will function divergently and become counter-productive.

I am happy to inform that new institutional structures and decision-making processes that reflect GNH objectives continue to evolve in Bhutan. The country’s socio-economic planning office, known earlier as the Planning Commission, has been renamed the GNH Commission and its role substantively altered in order that strategic plans are aligned to support and achieve GNH values. Every policy, programme or project must now have some GNH value. At the very least, it must be GNH neutral. To this end, project screening tools are being tested to ensure that optimal GNH values can be incorporated and realised by way of project designs while removing elements that are opposed to GNH.

How GNH is internalised by the polity and how it is implemented depends significantly on governments that must skilfully direct their resources towards higher goals, primarily by causing an upward shift in collective consciousness. These then will, in my mind, enable people to shape the nature of our political economy, our legal foundation, our health and education systems in ways that will render them distinctively different from the way they are over time.

Concept of Happiness At the core of GNH is collective happiness, which has several characteristics. Over the centuries, happiness has been relegated to the private realm, while provision of many other goods and services of public nature was brought to the fore of public realm.

But like the concept of justice, happiness is a public good, even though it is experienced subjectively. While happiness is influenced by a frame of reference and, in that sense, it is partly relative to a person’s experiences with respect to others or to the past, it is more importantly, relational in character. Happiness is, indeed, more relational than relative because the quality and depth of relationships with others influence our happiness far more than a comparative possession of a commodity. One can be richer than one’s neighbour but apart from a fleeting pleasure, one is back to ‘unhappiness’ in comparing oneself with some one who is even richer and so on. Relative success does not lead to genuine happiness. True happiness which arises from a deeper sense of satisfaction reaches beyond the pleasurethreshold of commodity possession.

Since happiness has so much more to do with relationships than relative advantages over others in terms of money, status, rank or possessions, creation or improvement of conditions that promote relationships deserve far greater time and resources than we have been prepared to give.

People are happier when they are surrounded by others who share their joy. Likewise, the pains of misfortune are far more difficult to bear when one must suffer and weep alone. Loneliness and separation magnify one’s misery and are often the causes that drive people to despair and suicide. Happiness rises when relationships are secure and blossoming.

It dissipates with relationships that suffer erosion of trust, affection and care. Relationships can be conditioned by the physical environment even though they are largely creations and products of an individual’s character, personality, behaviour and social skills. Having resilient and enduring relationships and creating organisations and settings that breed such positive relationships, is a crucial challenge and responsibility for the state that aspires to raise the well being of its people. In this regard, I am convinced that relationships thrive best in the rural setting where interdependence is a way of life and where living in harmony with nature is a compulsion.

It is disconcerting to find that rural urban migration is universally, an irreversible trend. Within the last century, the world has become more urban than ever before, with almost 50% of the global population living in urban settings. As our social networks transform from small, rural settlements into a more urban lifestyle, there is an obvious dislocation and breakdown of community and social life – and the values that underpin community vitality.

Urban growth is not inevitable. Urbanisation or rural urban migration, in particular, is an escape that is compelled by the failure of states to plan and achieve holistic, balanced and equitable development. It becomes appealing when rural populations feel deprived and frustrated by lack of opportunities, see obvious disparities and fall prey to the illusions of a better and more exciting life in the cities.

The way out of this is through the localisation of production and the scaling down of planned urban expansion particularly where it is avoidable.

But that is easier said than done. It is in the cities and its peripheries where all forms of economic activities take place, it is where people like to do their hustling and bustling, because it makes economic sense. But gleaming sky scrapers of steel and glass – icons of engineering feat and symbols of prosperity conceal in their shadows a story that is not as radiant. Disillusionment, despair, crime and slums of misery are often a reality among a disproportionately high number of inhabitants.

The deep carbon foot prints and ecological horror that are discernible to the caring eye are the outcomes of population concentration and consumerism that thrives best in cities.

Food that feed the urban millions travels perhaps, the longest distance, leading to the longest “food-miles’’ which, very often, stretch not just from one urban area to another part of the country, but from one city to the most distant parts of the globe.

It is a nightmarish challenge for city managers to dispose of the stupendous quantities of urban waste, much of it hazardous, and cannot be metabolised by the concrete and metal ecology of the urban settlements. Above all, the consequences in terms of breakdown of the social links and communal affiliations that urban life entails are no less severe. It is here that the paradox of loneliness amid crowds occurs in stark reality. And it is city life that spawns the nuclear family.

There is much that is being done and much more that needs to done to enhance the quality of urban structures, urban services and urban ecology. Much more resources need to be spent on efforts to improve rural life.

For most of us, the pleasant sensations of the five faculties (touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight) are the sources of happiness and satisfaction. However, happiness of the nature that depends on external stimulants is not only ephemeral but even dangerous for the most part, unless it is balanced with inner contemplation or meditation to generate internal sources of contentment and happiness through the understanding of the true nature of our mind. The very nature of the market within a consumerist society is to keep the flow of fleeting pleasures from external stimuli continuous and rising.

This happens through more and more extraction of earth’s finite resources to produce more and more of what we actually need less of so that more and more can be consumed or wasted through alluring commercials.

Ultimately, even as insatiable consumerists, we as an otherwise intelligent beings, will have to reconcile with reality and come to terms with the idea of a ‘sufficiency condition’ for the survival and happiness of our own selves and, if we have any moral conscience, for the sake of future generations and humanity itself. We will come to understand that, beyond a certain level of affluence, acquiring more cannot enhance happiness. We will realise that our greed is destroying the ecology that sustains our life. There is no boundlessness in the source of our material wealth that must come from nature whose capacity to give is fast depleting. Our level of material demand and consumption must be determined by the capacity of the specific ecology of our setting at an objective level, and by what is intelligently and responsibly deemed sufficient at an individual level.

The balance between economy and ecology is a key consideration in GNH.

A Happiness Oriented Society I shall now try to explain how the pursuit of happiness is a good thing to do not only for one self but for society and why the ‘collective’ is an inseparable part of the concept of GNH. The experience of happiness is not static over the life cycle of an individual. Its meaning changes with sensitivities and with our understanding and appreciation of interdependence.

We cannot be truly happy as an individual while there is suffering around us even though we may have nothing to do with it. The broader the horizon a person has, the more sensitive and holistic he is. The more he realises his happiness is connected to others, the more encompassing his ethical motivation for enabling happiness of others becomes.

A happy person is one who not only values happiness for himself but for others, even if it sometimes costs him individually. The good thing is the pursuit of happiness is also consistent with moral and ethical notions. As social creatures, our reasons to be happy often involve undertaking morally right and worthwhile endeavours.

This feeling of happiness is a direct response to such action. In the conceptual structure of GNH, happiness is truly multidimensional; it is constituted by many elements and domains in life. If every individual is assumed to want happiness only for himself, GNH would be no different from the concept of the well-known utility for maximising figures in economics, motivated only by their need for personal satisfaction.

The pursuit of GNH means the endeavour to create a society or nation in which the facilitation of progressive collective happiness is the goal of governance. To serve this purpose, society which adopts and adapts to changing goals and thereby defines itself, must want it against barriers and competing ideas that may have the force to push society in different or opposing directions.

The meaningful enjoyment of life as a whole is hindered not only by individual circumstances, cognitive fallacies and our lack of positive will, but also by the legacy of past generations in the form of structural conditions which can either prevent – or help us – in achieving the harmony of existence or certain pursuits.

Thus, building consensus, motivating, creating and maintaining a truly conscious wish to pursue collective happiness among the people becomes a major function of government.

This is what has been the case in Bhutan, where a King raised the consciousness of the people of their own single most important desire and articulated it as the national goal. GNH is not a goal willed by the King on the people but a shared vision the King helped to articulate.

The endeavours of a society that is guided by GNH must be to promote a successful life-cycle of birth, living, ageing and dying, quite unlike ‘the biological trap’ of which Hemingway writes. Successful birth must mean achieving a minimal infant and maternal mortality rate, followed by a happy childhood, education and upbringing with equal doses of firmness an affection. This can come mainly from good parenting afforded by a secure and stable marriage.

Successful living means a healthy, productive and fulfilling working life in which one earns a living from doing what gives satisfaction without the cost of moral or ethical compromises.

Building and enjoying strong and genuine relationships is what makes life good. Successful ageing means remaining vital in our advancing years, without succumbing to early infirmities; without having to suffer the indignities of being marginalised by society; and without suffering the lack of respect, love and supportive care from those one considers family.

Finally, successful dying is about a natural, calm and soft passage from a life without regrets amid dignified mourning by those who must bear the loss. I am of the mind that true greatness in people is to be seen in the moment of death – in the wisdom with which they embrace the ultimate truth-not with resignation.

At the most fundamental level, collective happiness and wellbeing depends on two absolute imperatives that we must nurture, value and protect: relationships and the environment. I have already elaborated on the first fundamental variable.

The second imperative is the natural environment, without the integrity of which life itself cannot be sustained.

Yet, the very sustainability of nature itself has become questionable. Its brilliant colours are being polluted to turbid hues. The soothing silence interspersed with nature’s own rhythm and melody no longer exist or have become less visible and audible, for we have been numbed and deafened by shocks of every-day life and the noise of rising ‘decibels’.

I remember how in my youth, we would hear the resonance of the approaching earth quakes in our valleys before they actually struck. The air we breathe is progressively being laced with a range of emissions carrying noxious fumes and particles. Our rivers are either running dry, or unable to withstand the poisoning from toxic effluents, dying along with much marine life forms. Yet with benign neglect, we make adjustments, among other ways, by coining strange new terms and practices such as ‘detoxing’ our bodies.

There are many other worrisome trends. As I mentioned earlier, consumerist aspirations will keep rising to exhaust our resources and the chances for survival of future generations. Population will continue to rise.

Climate is changing to bring erratic weather behaviour that is confusing man, animal and crops to yield catastrophic results. More frequent and havoc wreaking floods, land-slides, drought, fire, pestilence are the order of the day. Rising sea levels are a growing threat. And relocations and migrations away from coastal settlements are separating families, undermining traditions and eroding culture and social systems.

Then there is the steady collapse of biodiversity, emergence of vectors and viruses in hitherto unfamiliar territory, acidification and so on. All these threaten to undermine everything we have achieved so far, socially and economically. Nature is dying. Ours is an ailing planet. The restoration of the quality and purity of air, light, noise, water and soil are urgent not only for our well being but our very survival and that of all other species.

We need to begin a restorative and de-contamination process. We must work fast, and on every level: individual, communal, national and global against the root causes of these challenges.

We might presume that well-being and good health can be, to a large extent, purchased through higher income and better medical care and treatment. Breakthroughs in public health engineering and bio-science discoveries have given us access to treatment for an increasing range of ailments. But most treatments are for non-communicable diseases, the result of unhealthy lifestyle and the cost of not devoting time to cultivate healthy relationships. The nature of our lifestyle, shaped by broader systems, if you will, have imposed a huge hidden cost on us.

Roughly 64% of global mortalities are from non-communicable diseases. Some 450 million people – 12% of world population – suffer from mental health problems of one kind or another.

Given that such loss of life and happiness are preventable and avoidable, it is a sad commentary on the society we live in. Unfortunately, people will continue to slide into unhealthy lifestyles and relational failures at a rate that will require increasingly more resources for the treatment of the preventable and the avoidable.

GNH emphasises a fundamentally healthy lifestyle over treatment and cure. This is no small aspiration because it will demand a huge shift in our work-life-leisure balance, which in turn will demand major changes in the structure of the economy and organisation. Most certainly, such an approach will require in many cases, fundamental shifts in the development strategies of societies.

Our work-life is inevitably influenced by organisational norms and culture. There is, therefore, merit to be accrued in bringing changes to the work place not only to improve the happiness levels of employees per se but because there is direct productivity benefits that translates into organizational growth and sustainability. A happy worker is a productive worker.

It would thus make sense to orient human resource development and management systems as well as organisational structures along GNH considerations. To begin with, at the micro level, there is considerable room for the rules of personnel management, training and service conditions, reward and incentives to be restructured and reoriented to give cause for maximization of happiness in organizations. Over the long term, a GNH oriented society must receive impetus from both the education system and the media, as they are the two most powerful factors influencing people’s understanding, perception, behaviour and decision-making. They must become spheres of influence that are promotive and supportive of collective happiness.

The media must take upon itself the role of providing an ongoing commentary on contemporary issues from a GNH point of view, so that people will as often as possible, have a GNH perspective on their own life and that of society and events which affect them. For the young, GNH values and practices have to be infused into their textbooks.

Here, it may be of some interest for you to note that the media in Bhutan is officially recognized as the fourth and independent branch of governance. As for education, a conference is being held in early December, next month to infuse and embed GNH values into the system through each subject including maths and extra-curricular activities.

Economics of GNH As economics and public finance are the key means to influence and shape any society, any discussion on GNH will not be complete without spending a few moments on this topic. Here, the role of government is supreme in any society as manifest in the way it makes vast expenditures and the laws it makes, follows or ignores.

If collective happiness is a vision to be pursued primarily through official expenditure, our fiscal system has to be consistent with that goal. But if budget allocations, rules, taxes and other fiscal measures are based on conventional criteria devoid of GNH considerations, it would be a futile pursuit as the results will be inconsistent with GNH.

This makes strong the case for a national budget formula and process that is radically different and gives taxpayers incentives to pursue GNH. Such activities as those which promote social capital formation, green technology, family integrity etc. are deserving of special consideration.

Behaviour and preferences of ordinary people, as expressed through their spending patterns, are conditioned by two factors. The first is the relative price of goods and services. The second is media content. Price and media change consumer notion of value and behaviour.

As powerful instruments, their critical role in the cultivation of GNH values and behaviour needs to be fully appreciated. Unfortunately, prices and media content at the moment do not reflect the real environmental and social costs, or the psychological, communal, cultural and other costs. As a result, the choices people make have little to do with creating real value or promoting behaviours that engender happiness within a sustainable environment.

It is imperative that full-cost national accounting which takes into account, among other things, an ecological footprint analysis, becomes mainstream practice. Such a new form of accounting should fully reflect cultural, social, and ecological costs as I have often urged and as outlined in the recent Sarkozy Commission’s Report. This will allow us to arrive at realistic costs of goods and services leading to determination of a more accurate pricing system which in turn, can become the basis for a more meaningful and truly responsible fiscal system.

Of all the strokes that went into the painting of the last century, two brushes provided the most defining lines. First, it was democracy and second, it was the abrasive stroke of GDP. Quite appropriately, 20th Century may be referred to as the century of democratisation and the period (last half) of GDP fetish. While the former has done much to promote individual right and freedom, the latter brought worshippers of all faiths to kneel before the altar of consumerism in the cathedral of the ‘omniscient’ market.

GDP was adopted unquestioningly as the indicator to measure the growth of economies whereby human individuals have been reduced to consumer entities and progress of societies understood to mean just economic growth. It has been assumed that as economies grow, people become happier even if it means growing inequity, more pollution, crime or disease. What matters under the ethos of GDP is production and consumption of goods transacted on the canvas of markets.

Nothing is to come in the way of the free market, and Democracy served to bring down resistance to the dominance of the market.

Speaking of democracy and freedom, government policies have to respond to deliberative preferences and choices of the people. These are influenced by the public criteria we adopt and popularise as indicating success. It is in this context that we need to question whether the public criteria of success associated with GDP are serving us well, and whether they are orienting us towards good governance and development.

Economic growth, measured in GDP, and the emphasis on economic efficiency has given rise to the highest ever level of aggregate wealth in the world. Yet the absolute number of the victims of poverty and their vulnerability to all kinds of threats are at a peak. Not only natural calamities are striking with greater fury and frequency because of collapsing biodiversity and climate change, many other man-made disasters resulting from systemic failures of our macroeconomic structure have begun to affect all of us who are integrated in a world globalized by trade and finance.

Even the rich are not immune as clearly demonstrated by the global financial crisis which exposed the illusory nature of wealth as GDP would have us define.

For far too long, GDP and the market have deluded us into thinking that they are the measure and source of our wellbeing. We have all been under their influence and pressure to evaluate our national performance and social preferences within the framework of growth-mania. Any upward movement in GDP figures meant success for society and higher approval rating for government and leaders.

Let me repeat. We have cared little to understand that what is measured is largely the sum of goods and services produced and exchanged in the market place which in turn are communicated in quantitative and relative terms.

Such information convey nothing about crime, drug abuse, suicide, traffic accidents, stability of family, integrity of our ecology, justice and equity and, above all, the level of happiness among our people. Because we have become economic animals and abandoned our reasoning to GDP herd mentality, we have lost sight of the other more important changes and events that actually mean more to human beings.

It is time to change this set of public success criteria. To this end, we must find the will and utilize the genius within us to develop and adopt a more truthful and humanistic definition of wealth and growth that would encompass the values for which we ought to strive. These should be measured in terms of the value domains within which society can, for all times, abound and prosper amid happiness. I would humbly like to submit that Bhutan has been propelling its national development through four strategies commonly known as the four pillars of GNH. These in turn are founded on 9 value domains (eg. mental well-being, community vitality, cultural resilience, balanced time-use, and environmental awareness) that comprise 72 measurable variables which when aggregated form the national happiness indicator.

Returning to the metaphor, what the 21st Century painting needs is a third brush that can bring out the best from the brushes of democracy and GDP and add a variety of hues and lines that will embellish it with glowing ripples of happiness. Quite plainly, we need, in this new century, a composite yardstick that incorporates good governance and material growth as parts of a comprehensive set of indices to induce and measure holistic societal progress and what matters most: human well-being and happiness.

No human institution can serve us for all eventualities without undergoing change even as they themselves are the agents of change. It is imperative that we do not delay further our efforts to transform and build new systems and arrangements. These should be so designed as to achieve the goals of true human progress while averting all the threats and dangers that will render unsustainable our achievements. In this respect, the general dissatisfaction with the global economic system which is at a cusp, should give us cause to feel encouraged.

Having become aware of our self destructive way of life, the growing search for a new, macroeconomic architecture that is neither completely free market as understood in the neo-liberal sense, nor completely socialist, gives us reasons to be optimistic.

It fills us with the hope that this quiet, ceaseless energy as evident in this gathering, will carry our society into an era of reason and enlightened living.

Let me conclude. A society as a whole, as opposed to individuals, cannot advance coherently without a unity of purpose. Would anyone really wish to argue against the vision of a collective happiness? I am aware that there are sceptics who would contest that the subjective nature of happiness does not allow the concept of happiness to guide the governance of any society. Here, we must distinguish between subjective data and subjective interpretation of data, as these are two entirely different things.

Subjectively biased interpretation of data is unscientific in general, just as in GNH. On the other hand, subjective data is the only information that can reflect a first-person account.

Subjective states are, by definition, not captured by objective data. I would further argue that the category of subjective data, when appropriately elucidated, can be the primary information that represents the reality of our feelings and consciousness. There is no other way of knowing how we feel about happiness.

Such distrust of subjective data has been the main deterrent against the inclusion of happiness in governance and development planning. It has obscured happiness in the realm of governance. Where real unhappiness exists, surely something is wrong.

I see no point in waiting for a series of objective data about people who are unhappy, when we know that the reality of the subject is ultimately subjective. Neither do I see any conflict between giving happiness a larger focus in policy making with rights and freedoms. Rather, in the context of GNH, a larger focus on happiness places what all beings value at the centre for policy making.

I believe our generation not only has the moral responsibility but the opportunity to correct what is wrong with our way of life. The next generation may not have time on its side with all the wrongs having reached an irreversible point.

How can we be happy when we know that succeeding generations will face progressively higher challenges to survive, much less be happy? We must start to live again as a human race, as a civilized being, as beings whose needs are not those of the body alone but of the mind as well.

Thank you for your kind indulgence.”

Source: www.cabinet.bt

Story of Loving Madam Bella

“She is beautiful,” exclaimed the boys in the class in whispers as she walked into classroom. She was holding our english textbook in her left hand as she thanked male teacher who accompanied her till threshold my classroom. She was most pretty and gorgeous girl I ever saw in my life. Her slender body, shapely bottom, medium height, two melon-like frontal mountains and long silky hair intoxicated my desire and blurred my reasoning faculty. I wanted to hold her atleast once in my arms to see how it felt. I wanted to propose her at first opportunity I get.

She was so young and probably at my age. She walked into the class. Nobody stood up. Few raised their eye brows as students usually do on seeing new student. “Hello everybody, I am Bella,’’ she announced.

“Hell of confidence for newcomer,’’I thought. But her next line jolted me out of dream. “I am your new langauge teacher. I called myself Bella after character I played in High School Drama’’ Everybody stood up amidst rumbling noises of shifting chairs.“Goodmorning Madam,’’ they chorused. I stood up reluctantly after them in show of respect.

My dream was shattered in one cruel moment. She was my teacher and I was his student. That was end of my love story. From that time onwards, whenever she came to class, I lost myself in dream. I couldn’t concentrate on what she taught. She caught me many times inattentive in the class but was forgiven as female teachers usually do.

But one day, she got furious with me. “ why are you always daydreaming?Get out of my class if you don’t want to study.’’

I stood up lazily reluctant to leave the class. “Get lost,’’ she thundered. “Madam,’’ I muttered slowly, “I can’t concentrate because love you. I love you, the moment I first saw you.’’

She looked at me for long time and her expression got softened. “Sit down.Don’t daydream again,’’she said sweetly. “yes Madam,’’ I replied sitting down dejected.

But that whole year I sat in the class dreaming about her. Later, I heard she was married. It broke my heart. But then,it is life. So, now I joined my heart with super glue and am using it. You can still break my heart if you want. It is so fragile.

(it is fiction)

Toilet; A Right Place to Think

In the Quiz Show ‘Dos Ka Dum’ hosted by indian superstar Salman Khan, there was question which he asked to actor Deepika Padukone( of Om Shanti Om fame)and director Farah Khan (of Om Shanti Om fame); what percentage of Indians think in the toilet. Honestly, I don’t rember the exact figure but it was more than 60%. People think more in the washroom than we know.

Lately, I have been mulling over the idea and I found myself thinking while I was doing toilet. Washroom is really a nice place to think. It is peaceful place. Nobody disturbs you except for your own moaning trying to pump out waste. With 4/5 feet space, there is not much space that diverts your attention. In the room or outside, you get lost in beauty of scenery,in disorderness of your room furnishment, disturbances from your family and so on. But in toilet, you are alone left to yourself even if it is for five minutes.

Great many ideas can be conceived while you are in the toilet. It will be even nice place to pray, if God doesn’t feel desecrated to come to listen to your prayers. We live twenty hours every day.We don’t take even a minutes to think about ourselves in a productive way. Our thoughts get either astrayed by physical beings we see or by noises we hear. Atleast, we can take time to think in the toilet.

There is only one problem that may not let you think in the toilet. That is your own shit with nauseating smell(if it is) or your own toilet with shit piled over the years(if there is). Otherwise, it is nice place to think. Hope, many of you are doing the thinking.

My First Anger this Year

My First Anger this Year

I was fuming. My body shook like being shaken by storm. I was really annoyed. When I left my room,I never thought, I would lose my temper like I did today. I never lost my temper without pre-plan. Anyway, today I am really pissed off.

As usual, I was late for the college.As I hurried by, college gateguard asked me for ID proof. They had been asking for my ID proof since one week ago. I told them,I was never given the ID card since a year ago. Previously they used to let me in after registering at gate register book but today I was warned I will never be allowed in the college campus.

It really boiled me and I barged in cursing Director’s hated name and blaming everything to college management. Three guards tried to pacify me but I walked directly into office without even registering my name.

The seed for my anger was sown one year ago. I asked college Chief Proctor cum Welfare Dean to renew my ID card. They took my old ID card and was asked to meet after two weeks. After two weeks, they told me to wait for another two weeks. Since then, many ‘two weeks’ have passed and even four welfare deans have been changed. They kept on procastinating till I wrote to director, 8 pages letters of dissatisfactions, three weeks ago.

Management started shifting blames to each other.still, I was not given ID card asking me to meet next day on one pretext or another. Sometimes, they lied they forgot the key. Another time, they would asked me to wait and slipped away from back door. Still at other times, they will simply asked me too meet at evening which meant they would run away while I was in the class.

Today, it was different. I was made to wait for five minutes. I waited at reception room just to be confronted by Security Chief. I plainly shouted at him asking him to ask their bosses. Those bosses who were nearby looked at with wide- eyed. I just told them I paid Rs. 15000 every year as foreigner fees on top of three lakhs tuition fees and I wasn’t asking for their favour. I was asking to do their duties only.

Five minutes later Academic Dean called me and told me that I should wait till evening. I plainly told her that I wasn’t going to budge an inch from her office till she gave me ID card. I was fed up waiting for them to call. After many calls here and there, I was given ID within one hour. “here is your ID card. Are you satisfied now?’’ she asked. “Yes, here it is. In my country, I would have been granted Audience of king twice in this duration of time if I request for.’’ I walked with angry glance at her furrowing forehead.

Then I walked to gate and showed my ID to guard telling them I was not terrorist and asking them never to ask me again. The security chief studied my serious demonic countenance and mumbled, “ koi baat nahi sir, apka khayal rakna.’’

To cool off my hot head, I went for cold drinks. There one of my Bhutanese friends asked me, “you know tomorrow is Nganpa Guzom(meeting of nineevils)?’’

I wondered if it was effect of Nganpa Guzom because village elders used to tell me one should quarel in this day to ward of evil.

“Have Nice Nganpa Guzom’’

From FD on 22/ Dec/ 2009

Origin of Polygamy in Bhutan

Lamaism and polygamy probably might have entered into Bhutanese soil at the same time. There is no written record of Polygamy before propagation of Buddhism in Bhutan. The credit goes to Guru Rinpche (Precious Teacher) for propagating Buddhism in Bhutan around 746AD. It was Nyingmapa (old/ancient) sect of Buddhism which actually was tantric in nature.

Through out the legend and history especially in Buddhist hagiography, the kings and emperors were considered rich if he had many consorts, concubines and mistresses. Even thousand Buddhas were said to be sons of one king once in previous eon and Chana Dorji was said to be thousand and oneth in buddhist Namthars and hagiography.In one way, one could say that polygamy for temporal ruler were almost celebrated wealth and acceptable though it was obscure for disciplined Budhist practioners especially in acient India.

In Bhutan, polygamy by prominent Buddhist teachers started with visitation of Guru Padmasambhava. Guru Rinpoche was invited to Bhutan by King Sindhu Raja of Bumthang to cure his incurable illness. It was said that Sindhu Raja was king of Indian origin who fled India and settled in Bumthang Chakhar Dzong ( nine storey fortress). During invasion of Naoche, a rival king from Duars, Sindhu Raja sent his son Tagla Mebar to war. Before the war, king made offering to local deity Shelging Karpo invoking its power to protect his son and army in the war. However, his son was killed by Nachoe’s force. King in anger and desperation desecrated deity’s abode. It is believed thence, he became sick as deity had stolen his life force (rSog). No doctor could cure him and had to invite Guru himself.

Guru who already had few consorts and two main consorts like Mendarawa and Yeshi Tshogyel visited Bhutan. To lure Shelging Karpo to come out of cave, Guru made king’s daughter Trashi Khyeuden to carry water in the vase. After subduing of deity, King offered his teenage daughter as gift to Guru Rinpoche. Trashi Khyeuden was believed to be re-incarnation of one dakini, though one could agree that every consort of imminent Buddhist teachers were believed to having sign of dakinis. The arrival of Guru Rinpoche thus was arrival of both religion and lamaic polygamy.

Although Guru Rinpoche used to have many consorts, his was more of namesake and for wellbeing of individuals or sentient beings. Guru, though might have many consort, he didn’t leave behind his legacy or descendant. However, the need for polygamy in later period was more than religious.

In later period many Tibetan Lama came to Bhutan propagating Buddhist religion as well as spreading biological seeds. They went back with alms and left behind their love child. Still in later period, Lama like Phajo Drugom and Drukpa Kinely took numerous consort claiming that pretty girl posessed sign of Dakinis and were destined to be his mistress or wife thus providing him sons. For Drukpa Kinley, it was way of his teachings and he never used his illegal children to consolidate his power and leave behind his legacy.

But Phajo’s case was different. He used polygamy deliberately to enhance religiously, politically and socially. He made social connection through polygamy. He used his son to rule the regions he got from devotees. He used his son to consolidate Drukpa religion and his power, so that Lam Khanga never waged war again. Out of this polygamy, people were educated, preached and taught goodness. Still Polygamy is polygamy and in Bhutan polygamy, in my view, first introduced by Buddhist Scholar.