Bhutan: In the News

I visited Bhutan from the 14th to the 20th of December, 2015. The two newspapers were purchased during that week.

With a thunder dragon on each side of KUENSEL ( clarity),  Bhutan’s national newspaper has <That the people shall be informed > as their slogan.

DSC00695It was the earliest and the only local newspaper until 2006 when Bhutan Times and Bhutan Observer popped up. Founded in 1974, the publishing mechanism for the newspaper was developed and in 1986, it was reformatted and published weekly. There is also an online version of the newspaper as well as a very active online forum. Kuensel’s website started in 1999. That was the year when Internet first came to the Land of the Thunder Dragon.

Apart from the information which gives a solid insight into the everyday happenings and issues concerning the country, the size of the newspaper is what I like best. Normal-sized newspapers are a hassle so Kuensel is just perfect. I can’t think of another country where the newspaper size is easy to read and manageable. The traditional newspaper size must be changed since it is not easy to read and invades other peoples’ reading space.

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The front page always contain the top news. The top two things that were discussed during mid December 2015 was about the new Tobacco Act (fines for any venues caught not regulating smokers and of course fines for smokers who puff down a cigarette or two in public areas). The other is about Bhutan’s concerns and presence at an international summit where the issue of climate change was thoroughly discussed. Located right between two giant neighbours who are more well-known for pollution than environmental protection, Bhutan, like all nations in the world, has every right to be concerned.

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This is the front page for the weekend edition (seen by the colour- green). The political cartoon at the left-hand side shows a Bhutanese official turning down Bill Gate’s CV saying that ” you are not quite qualified enough.” It is tricky and difficult for foreigners to land a job in Bhutan since requirements are high. Short-term volunteering and project involvement are possible but scoring a job is strict since your CV and experiences will be carefully looked at. Although it would be great to land a job in Bhutan, I can understand why Bhutan places such a strict requirement on employment. Unemployment is an inevitable challenge facing this small kingdom so if the locals are not being looked after first then why should a foreigner be given top priority? This “protectiveness” and respect for their own people is fair as seen by the National Day experience where Victoria and I were asked to stay behind since “Sorry madam, we must let our own people in first.  I hope you understand. But don’t worry, you will attend our celebration.”

Another huge topic for discussion- something that is also ongoing is about the tourism bill/debate- “Should the country open up completely to visitors? Should there be changes made to the daily tariff?”  My answer: Don’t increase the daily tariff please but keep tourist numbers down.

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So there is a full page dedicated to the tourism policy in Bhutan and an interesting article about women in politics. Compared to other Asian nations, female foeticide, infanticide, that sexist and ridiculous preference of boys over girls ( I had to deal with this growing up and I can never forget nor forgive my paternal grandparents for the pain) as well as honour-killing and/or dowry murders are unheard of/ rare in Bhutan. It is also a cute idea that properties are passed down to the daughters and not to the sons. Despite women enjoying fairly equal status, I still wish to see more women working across various sectors and I’m sure a kira or two in the Bhutanese Parliament will be a splendid sight.

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This page shows the views from you average reader and I do enjoy the photos under  “My country-My town” features quirky images captured by locals.
20160315_132356The International News reminds me that I’ve successfully escaped from the deadly smog in Beijing. China has never issued a red alert before. The first time that they did, I was in Bangladesh (still polluted, PM2.5 was nevertheless better than the ones in Beijing). For the second time, I was surrounded by pristine nature in Bhutan. What a shame that my old country is now associated with the word- pollution? It wasn’t always like this. When my maternal grandparents were at university, they told me about clear streams, singing cicadas, green trees and blue skies. I guess it is always easy to destroy something precious..something that we took for granted.

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Really cute advertisement, a quote from my favourite buddy Shakespeare, local Dzongkha vocabulary and other interesting facts or two.

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Another “Diversity” page- quote from Buddha, a yoga move, comics, crossword and Parliamentary Dzongkha vocabulary.