The Great Fourth

[Here’s what I wrote on 31st October 2015 and I’m reproducing it here –]

What A man can do? How can A man achieve the impossible? How can A man be architect of a nation? How can A man put his own life for the nation’s sovereignty? And many more ! All the un-answered questions are what defines The Great Fourth, His Majesty the King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the fourth king of Bhutan.

November 11, 1955, a boy destined to rule Druk-yul, the land of Thunder Dragon was born to His Majesty the third king of Bhutan Jigme Dorji Wangchuck and Her Majesty Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck. A boy, upon whom the responsibility of guiding his people and developmental activities of the nation fell upon his shoulder at the tender age of 17, when His Majesty the third king passed away. Seventeen! When I was 17, I didn’t even know what was good for me and what was not, let alone differentiating between the two for the nation, but the young Prince did – Amazing! An IMPOSSIBLE is achieved.

When the young Prince inherited the country, the country didn’t see much of the infrastructural development – I would rather say, there were not much of the developmental processes. Forget the air transport, only few pockets of the country were connected by motor-able roads. Economically a poor nation but culturally a rich nation was inherited. The young Prince initiated many developmental activities in the nation – hydro-power plant was built to boost the local economy; agricultural activities were encouraged for self-sufficiency; motor-able roads were built for easy access; free health care and education facilities started; gifted democracy to his people; instituted the constitution; and an internationally appreciated developmental philosophy of Gross National Happiness was instituted. His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo crafted the nation and showed to the world, ‘what A man can achieve’.

When the nation’s sovereignty was at stake, His Majesty himself lead the nation’s arm forces to flush out the militants. I didn’t read anywhere of a leader of the nation leading the war and putting his own life at risk for the sovereignty of the nation. A true Leader!

His compassionate nature, love for his nation and people, the way he crafted his nation, gifting democracy to his subjects, experiencing the life of an ordinary Bhutanese whenever he visited his subjects, living by example and leading a simple life –  The Great Fourth was born and loved by his subjects. It is difficult to believe, the kindness and love the Great Fourth has for his subject and the nation.

The Great Fourth, known to the young ones as the source of inspiration and a person who seem to have answers to all the queries one has in mind. The Great Fourth known to the older flocks as a true son of the Druk-yul, who makes no mistake in designing the country. The Great Fourth known to the world as a true leader. The Great Fourth, made the country economically sound not compromising the environment and the culture. Who on the earth would have known how to balance these components?

As one of his humble subjects, I could only pray that The Great Fourth live longer; I could only pray to have strengths to change myself to present The Great Fourth with the nation he wanted to see; I could only pray that The Great Fourth be always protected by our protective deity.

Mee-Wang-Chok-Ku-Sey-Ring-War-Sho La

Palden Drukpa – Gyal – Lo!!!


Problem Roads of Bhutan

With every monsoon, Bhutan’s road give their way affecting the flow of traffic. There are some stretches of roads in Bhutan, which is a problem to the commuters every year and I have to admit that for the last decade, the same story appeared in the same news media from the same place. This made me to wonder on the amount of money our government must be pumping in to these places every year from our already stricken economy.

The fact that we are in young growing mountain doesn’t help our geology and this is further aggravated by monsoon. However, there are some stretches of roads in Bhutan, which has always been a nightmare for commuters as well as for our road workers and the government: Reutala in Zhemgang; Dzongkha Lumpa in Trongsa; Ossey  and Box Cutting in Sarpang and other areas which slides almost always.

Since these stretches has become chronic slip lands, I was wondering if we could follow something which were not pursued [excuse me if it was tried]. If I may, I would suggest going for constructing series of terraces in these land slips prone zones or spraying cement mixed with seeds of some grasses/pioneer species. I’m sure, such thoughts might have come to the minds of our responsible agencies and individuals, but might have dropped due to some un-foreseen challenges.

I believe, tunneling in these areas were also tabled, however I’m not certain about the inner geology of that area as I believe that it might turn out to be disastrous should the geology do not support such activities. Whatsoever said and done and whatever ideas are or were tabled for discussion, it is about time for us to finally get over this chronic monsoonal problems.

Tattoos and Selection Criteria


Royal Bhutan Police Selection Criteria

It was in 2016 I was exposed to the tattoo “punishment” in Bhutan. Yes! You read it correct – “punishment”. I never imagined that an ignorance of young and wild minds will turn out to be a life changer while applying for jobs or training when they attain maturity. In the BBS issue of 6th September 2016, I read of a young graduate interested to join police officer, but was disqualified as he had tattoos on his hand. The reason of not wanting people with tattoos in armed forces: tattoos and social stigma. (more…)

Education; Text books; Students and Quality in Bhutan

Education in Bhutan began with monastic schools and it was during the reign of the second King of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Wangchuck that Bhutan opened its first secular schools with “Hindi” as the medium of instruction borrowed from India. Recognizing the importance of communicating with rest of the world, it was the third King of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, in 1960s, introduced English as the medium of instruction in schools. This laid the foundation for modern education systems in Bhutan. Today, the education system in Bhutan includes formal, non-formal and monastic schools and government provides free education to all students till grade 10 and scholarships to students meeting the requirements for higher studies. (more…)

Trash reaches the SACRED place in Bhutan

Having had the merit to travel to some of the developed nations on earth, I can proudly claim that there are lots of beautiful things about our country, the DRUK YUL. However mounting pressure of trash is sadly not among those things. Great beings of the past referred to Bhutan as the Lho Jong Meen Jong, The land of medicinal herbs. Besides the innumerable values of our rich natural environment, our natural heritage was the setting for the discovery of many spiritual treasures by the realized masters. Alas! our natural settings and “pristine” are gradually turning out to be beautiful stories as Bhutan is beginning to develop at breakneck speed with majority of Bhutanese not having slightest hint on the escalating problems of trash the country is exposed to. Phew!!! (more…)

Sad end to the sacrifice, torture – turning animal trophies to ashes

Kenya invented bon fire to reduce the stock pile of ivory in 19 July 1989 when they reduced about 12,000 kg of ivory to ashes. Similar burning was again pursued in 2015 and 2016 when Kenya burnt down 15,000 kg and 105,000 kg respectively of ivory and rhino horns. Kenya’s invention was followed by number of countries likes Belgium, China, France and USA by destroying stockpiles of illegally traded elephant ivory and rhino horns that were seized and confiscated. However, another big burn after Kenya was by United Arab Emirates in 2015 when they destroyed 10,000 kg of ivory followed by Malaysia in 2016 by burning 9500 kg of ivory. (more…)

What is it that we want to conserve?

Bhutan is known to the world for being leader in conservation arena and often regarded as a carbon negative country whose people are dedicated to remain carbon neutral for all times to come. Bhutan first pledged to become carbon neutral at COP15 held in Copenhagen in 2009, but went un-heard. However, Bhutan’s pledged gained much required attention at COP21 held in Paris in 2015, when Bhutan reiterated its promise. Bhutan may as well be the only country in the world having constitutional mandate to conserve 60% of the total geographical area under forest cover for all times to come. With population explosion and per capita landholdings bound to become smaller with time, this may look daunting, however having 50% of the country delineated as protected area net-work as of now looks ever more promising. (more…)

Medicinal Plants Vs. Bhutanese

Bhutan was known as Lho Jong Men Jong [Land of Medicinal Herbs] to the Tibetans, and sure enough our land is bestowed upon with diverse medicinal herbs. Modern medicine came to Bhutan, probably in the 1960’s with the coming of first motor-able road in mid- 1960’s. However, Bhutanese knew to rely on medicinal herbs to treat any forms of diseases and even now, good percent of Bhutanese prefer traditional medicine to modern medicine. We have a place dedicated only to promoting indigenous treatment and making medicines. Though, I was never into traditional medicine, my parents and my wife was into it for quite some time and I have to admit of hearing them feeling better. (more…)

Cordyceps – the priced medicinal fungi

Alpine areas of Bhutan now has about 4000 seasonal visitors thronged to collect cordyceps – the highly priced medicinal fungi.

Ophiocordyceps sinensis is the name by which it is known in the scientific community but commonly known as cordyceps; and or Chinese caterpillar. In Bhutan it is called by the name Yar-tsa Gun-bub (summer grass and winter worm) or just bub (worm). Owing to its market value, every year close to 4000 Bhutanese comb the alpine pastures of the country hunting for it. Since only about 10% of it will be out of the ground, collectors have to be on their knees, crawling, trying to spot it as they are well camouflaged in the midst of dried grasses and herbaceous twigs. For an un-trained eye, everything brown would either look like cordyceps or everything brown might look like dried twigs. (more…)

Biodiversity Conservation in Bhutan

Many reports depict Bhutan as one of the 10 global biodiversity hotspots, but nowhere did I find that Bhutan is recognized as stand-alone hotspot. However, Bhutan does form part of biodiverse Eastern Himalayan region as identified by international conservation organizations [hotspots; endemic bird areas; crisis eco-regions; last of the wild] to prioritize and allocate conservation efforts. (more…)