Thursday, March 31, 2016


There are thousands of lighting appliances or systems in the market but one should be SMART enough in choosing the best lighting system that helps personal economy, which consumes less energy and is environment friendly. Following three lighting systems are my THREE SMART systems and you can do more research for your smart systems or simply follow the suit if these systems convince you:

1.      LED  Light Bulbs
LED bulbs are bit expensive but are relatively cheaper when compared with the life span of Compact Florescent Lights and other incandescent bulbs. CFLs contain mercury and pollute the home electromagnetically. One LED bulb is equivalent to five or more CFL bulbs and 13 or more incandescent bulbs. Moreover, LED bulbs consume less energy and are a solution to energy efficient lighting.  

LED Bulb

2.      Daylight Harvesting
This technology uses ceiling or wall to capture daylight. Typically, using transparent or translucent ceiling or wall material can help capture daylight thus reducing the use of electricity. There are more complicated approaches or techniques involved in daylight harvesting like control switch and automatic systems which can be implemented to illuminate our homes based on the required illumination.

3.      Solar Candles or Solar Lantern
Solar candles use photocells or solar panels to derive energy and store in the batteries which in turn lights LED bulbs. This is a best replacement for ordinary candles or kerosene lamps. Solar candles are pro health lighting system while usage of ordinary candles or kerosene lamps poses risk to our lungs through poisonous emissions.

Solar Candle/Lamp

While these are the best lighting systems in terms of individual health and environment, I personally find it very practical and recommend all readers to give a thought of doing something GREEN through simple ways like switching to environment friendly lighting system for the sustainability of our environment. We are bound to exit the EARTH one day but generations will follow, let us safe our environment. Let us commit to reduce pollution and reuse particulars that are reusable. Over exploitation is directly proportional to our own extinction. Thinking green, acting green, eating green, greening homes and cities and so forth are some of the few strategies to avoid our disappearance so, let us all GO GREEN.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Incentivizing Waste Management

Providing certain incentives to the players involved can really reduce the amount of waste going in to the landfill. Some of the classic examples in Bhutan are:

1.      Waste collection competition in Schools of Bhutan
Most of the schools in Bhutan organised waste collection competition among the classes and I find it very amazing idea towards reducing and recycling wastes. Every day, students collect pet bottles and other recyclable wastes and drop to their schools. On an appropriate day, school administration evaluates which class has collected the most and declares top three collectors and awards cash prizes.

Students are involved in some green action while schools are also selling theses recyclable wastes and earning some budget for the school. This approach has created lot of awareness among students themselves and their parents as well. Parents are seen collecting pet bottles for their children and storing it in a safe place. This has ensured reduced amount of recyclable wastes in our surrounding.

2.      B-Mobile Voucher card collection rewards
B-Mobile is one of the most used cellular networks in Bhutan provided by Bhutan Telecom. The B-Mobile voucher cards are quite large in size compared to other international recharge cards. It is actually four times larger than Indian recharge cards and when these cards are carelessly disposed, it really messes our environment. At one point of time, these cards where everywhere from streets to foot paths unattended.
Two year back it was announced that for every 100 used cards, Bhutan Telecom will give away on recharge card worth Nu. 50. Since then people started collecting unattended used cards while some saved the cards they used which were later submitted to Bhutan Telecom in exchange of free recharge cards.
Since then it is very rare to find even torn recharge cards in the street. These cards have become a kind of treasure for many and they are eagerly waiting for the next announcement I suppose.

Personally, I found these techniques very effective in reducing especially solid wastes which can be recycled and reused.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Maintain a Small Garden for variety of reasons.

Maintaining Vegetable Garden, Flower Gardens and plantation in and around your space should be your normal practice making yourself a horticulturist or a floriculturist. By doing so you are promoting the culture of going green and inculcating a green habit within you. This is a best way of spending your leisure time and making some savings from your garden.

Beautiful Blooming Orchid
Orchid Flower in the Front Entrance of a House
Growing vegetables like chilies and other green vegetables in your empty space is a potential saving approach, perhaps a good source of income if you have enough space for gardening rather than keeping it ideal with wastes and bushes making if unsafe environment to live in. spending your leisure time in garden is also a greatest way of refreshing your mind and keeping yourself fit both mentally and physically.  During favorable season growing your own vegetables in your small garden can relief yourself from unnecessary debts at times and can make quite a good amount of savings too. More so, you can enjoy your own organically grown products as products in the market sometime contains high doses of chemicals as they were grown with a profit motive. Growing vegetables for your self is sometimes assuring yourself a good and safe food.

Maintaining flower gardens are hobbies for many and it makes the environment extremely beautiful. Having your own beautiful flower gardens is a way of creating your own space for recreation and learning. Most cities and towns have very limited space for recreation and learning for your children. Besides keeping yourself engaged for a better cause, your children will also learn from your doings and the environment you create for them. Visiting parks and recreational gardens can tax your pocket and having it at your door step is no wonder a great reason for you to relax and refresh.

Flower Garden at My Place

“Think globally and act locally”. When you have enough time and resources to invest on your cars and luxury items, you should think and have plans to invest in making the place you live safe and sustainable. If you are driving a expensive SUV in a highly polluted city it may not be the desirable way of life or living style. May be walking around a beautiful garden filled with beautiful flowers, lawn and trees is the most desirable sort of environment everyone is subconsciously looking for as most are seen complaining of polluted air, polluted water and dirty environment although they are the contributors to that unpleasant environment.

Bamboo Plantation

“Charity begins at home”. Let us all try making our own surroundings clean and livable now onward. Let us go back, check and see how green and clean our courtyards and empty spaces around our houses or apartment are. If you have been practicing what I am suppose to be preaching for a reason, that is great and salute for your continuity. If you haven’t, let us sit back and think what makes your happier. If driving SUVs are not making you happier, I bet maintaining clean and green gardens around yourself will definitely make you a lot happier and bring peace in your mind. Just give a try and see how you feel. Most people even fail to try for which I suggest at least give a try even it is a failure. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Bio-Gas; An Invention Made to Sustain the World!

Getting a Bio-gas installed brings a feeling of empowerment to a farmer. When Bio-gas program was first initiated in Bhutan, many farmers were showing reluctant in perusing the game as they were suppose to bear the 40 per cent of the cost though it came as a government grant program. However, now many Bhutanese farmers proudly cook stuffs on a bio-gas and many of them feels empowered. Their cooking environment has changed from smoky to clean kitchen. Farmers need not have to worry about firewood anymore. More so, as many Bhutanese household heads are women, their daily life style has changed a lot.

A churned mixture of dung and water (in a structure called churner) is filled in a cubical pit dug with certain specific engineering requirements (digester) which is being connected with the stove in the kitchen basically forms the structural component of the bio-gas. The chemistry involves rotting of dung with the help of micro-organisms. It is said that theses micro-organisms undergo anaerobic respiration in absence of oxygen and produces a foul smelling gas called methane. This gas is finally captured for cooking and lighting purposes.

A Complete Set of Bio-Gas Digester Plant

This technique is viewed as an innovative action towards resilience climate change. It does not involve burning of fuel wood thus avoiding carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other green house gasses. I personally find this technology very useful and it is a way of our contribution to the world towards realizing green economy if one could install.

Except for the initial investment there is not much of cost involved. It saves your time besides keeping your kitchen or room free of smoke thus making yourselves less susceptible to diseases. When you have a option to lead a clean life and making impacts to the global concerns through your small contributions, it is worth investing and creating a feeling of joy within you.

Cooking on Bio-gas

Nothing goes as waste. The by-product generated through this technology, generally referred to as slurry is a best bio-fertilizer. You can either use in your garden or dry it and sell it in the market. Bio-fertilizers are gaining momentum in the market as many are concerned of their health and trying to go organic or limit the use of chemicals.

Reduce the impact on natural resources like forest if you can’t afford to plant trees. One of the best ways of gripping dual benefit and reducing your pressure on natural resources is through adopting of bio-gas technology. It does not consume too much of your time as the gas normally becomes operational within three months.

Bio-gas construction

Forest is thinning, water is drying and snow caps are rarely visible. These are due to rapid human exploitation. Everything seems very unsustainable and I guess time has come for us to think of innovative actions and saving the environment. One such simple innovation is bio-gas and I urge everyone support farmers in Bhutan who are genuinely interested in pursuing this technology in the interest of greater cause.  

While writing for a blog I also want to create awareness on responsible living and sustainable future through our innovative actions. More so I want to request readers willing to support farmers in Bhutan in perusing their bio-gas dreams can support either through Department of Livestock or directly contacting the farmers. If interested, leave a comment and I will help introduce to the farmers too.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Why Bhutan is Different from Rest of the World?

1.      Bhutan plants trees to celebrate birthdays while rest cut cakes and drink
It may be hard for people around the world to believe but Bhutanese planted 108000 trees on 6th March, 2016 to celebrate the birth of Royal Prince. This plantation encapsulates wishes and prayers from the citizens of Bhutan for healthy growing and long life of the Royal Prince. I hope this is an inspiration for the rest of the world to preserve and promote environment.

2.      Happiness in the ultimate goal
Bhutan values happiness over money. All plans, polices and programs in Bhutan is guided by a development philosophy called Gross National Happiness. This philosophy takes care of unique features like psychological well-being, Time use, cultural resilience and promotion and environment which are rarely captured in other development philosophies. This philosophy also sinks very while with Buddhist teachings as both seeks towards eternal happiness over temporal materialistic well-being.
Partial View of Dichula Pass
3.      Democracy was a gift while rest of the world has to fight for it
Who does not love to have power? If given the opportunity, everyone wants to rule their country on their own will. Democracy is viewed as the best form of government but even at this age we see some countries fighting for it. While in Bhutan democracy came as a gift from the throne. Neither we asked nor did we fight. The Fourth King of Bhutan voluntarily introduced democracy in 2008 through the adoption of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan.
Kings of Bhutan

4.      Bhutan do not have auto traffic systems though we can afford it
Well, developed countries want everything to be fast and automatic and many developing countries aspire to be. However, everything in Bhutan is cool. Bhutanese live by the principles of Buddhism and we do not intend to harm each other thus everything, even the traffic gets into systematic form through mutual understanding.

5.      Bhutan believes in sustainable future
Bhutan can become rich over night if it cuts down all trees and peruse industrialization, but we don’t want to become rich. Bhutan accords paramount importance to its environment as it is the component that provides life supporting elements. Nature is very uncertain and if calamities hit Bhutan, there would be left nothing back to rely on. Our economy of scale is small and we will be doing things that are best for us.
Fresh Water which connects to Thimphu Chhu
6.      I don’t claim organic but Bhutan’s products are natural
Bhutanese practices sustainable agriculture and the use of chemicals in highly regulated thus ensuring natural agricultural products like rice, vegetables and fruits.  However, Bhutan is also working towards going 100 per cent organic through National Organic Program by 2020. If this is to happen then Bhutan will be the first country to go 100 per cent organic.
Eco-Friendly Dustbin

Waste in Bhutan

Bhutan is relatively clean as compared to some of the neighboring countries, yet Bhutan is fighting hard to manage its waste. Thimphu city alone generates more than 65 tonnes of wastes daily. More so, city peripherals are challenged of rampant waste mounting. This is contributed due attitude and behavioral aspects of the people residing in the city. People take it for granted when government is spending millions of Ngultrum for waste management every year. Therefore, it is high time for our people to think and take things more seriously.

Random Dumping of Waste near the stream

There are few young entrepreneurs venturing into waste management business in Bhutan like Greener Way, who has been doing well. However, there is need for awareness on waste management and business opportunities in waste management. This can help interested unemployed youths to venture into the business which will contribute towards sustainable environments.

We have institutions and legislation in place to foster proper management of waste. Still we see lots of waste lying around our surroundings and nobody cares. Waste management begins at individual or household level. If one is responsible for the wastes he or she produces, there is no doubt we can have clean environment. Every day we see papers, cans and rubbishes thrown along the foot paths or nearby places despite having designated places with proper segregation dustbins in place.

Stream drying up due to over exploitation

While many are talking about preservation of environment and its importance, there are just couple of people taking the responsibility of managing wastes. It is important that we appreciate their efforts and cooperate with them if we are not in a position to manage our own wastes. We should learn to acknowledge and be thankful for the efforts few people are bringing in for the better cause of all.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Environmental Education Basics and Brief on Bhutan's Initiatives

What is environment?

Who does not know the definition of environment? You are very familiar with the environment as it is a thing that you daily interact with. It is the surrounding you live and from where you derive oxygen to breathe, water to drink and other elements that coexist with us like plants, animals and so forth.
Promising Vision of Dorokha Community
Why is environment important?

Our environment is composed of dynamic ecosystems and food chains providing basic life supporting services for all the creatures. Humans, being part of this ecosystem, are immensely benefited and any disturbances caused will bring harmful consequences affecting everyone in the system.
Humans are virtually greedy and are exploiting their environment on daily basis for their comforts and luxury causing imbalances in the environment. The visible effects of frequent landslides, windstorms, prolonged dry periods and unprecedented heavy monsoon rains on agriculture and biodiversity are already evident thereby making us even more vulnerable to climate risks. However, these effects can be greatly reduced by perusing sustainable development goals and mainstreaming environment into any plans and programs.

What is Environmental Education?

It is approach through which individuals and communities interact and have understanding on myriad issues taking part in various actions for the purpose of balancing or making the environment better. It basically covers awareness and sensitivity; knowledge, skills and attributes concerning environment; and participation.
View of Phuntsholing town and Indian town

Why is Environmental Education Important?

Future of any nation or a community heavily depends on the quality of people or youths they have. Environmental education will better prepare our children to have innovative and intellectual leader who will help sustain our environment for generations to come.
Literature show that many nations fail to have better environmental literacy. An environmentally educated individual will always weigh the economic prosperity, benefits to societies, environmental health and our own well being. Having environmentally educated population is as good as having them prepared for any kind of uncertain natural calamities thus nurturing them as person who manages environment responsibly and sustainably.

Brief Introduction of the Blog and my country Bhutan
Scenic beauty of Dochula Pass

Therefore, I have planned to blog regularly on environment thus educating individuals, communities and world at large. I will blog more of theoretical aspects of environment but not forgetting the practical experiences and events from Bhutan who is committed to maintaining 60 per cent of its land under forest coverage for all times and being carbon negative. 

Bhutan is a unique country. Happiness of the peoples is more important than their economic status. Bhutanese plans and policies are based on a unique development philosophy known as Gross National Happiness (I would call it as a paradigm shift). This philosophy is built concerning the general well being of the people rather than focusing on the country’s GDP. It is build on four basic pillars: socio-economic well being; tradition and cultural; conservation; and good governance. If you look closely into these pillars individually, you will realize Gross National Happiness is in real important than Gross Domestic Product.

Bhutan is committed of staying carbon negative. Commitment does not seem like a piece of cake but in Bhutan things are moving fast. As stressed earlier, Bhutan forest coverage is more than 70 per cent. Bhutan also planted close to 50000 trees on 2nd June 2015 thus breaking a Genius World Record. Similarly, to mark the Royal Birth, Bhutan planted 108000 plants on 6th March, 2016. These initiatives are awesome especially when the world is fighting to climate change and environmental management.

Tent out of Yak Skin
“Think globally, act locally” is my best quotes. Follow my blog posts regularly to get updates on our local initiatives and to get yourself environmentally literate. Best of luck and enjoy reading.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Bhutanese Culture and Tradition

Bhutanese ways of physical, verbal and mental conducts are defined by a code of etiquette called the Driglan Namzha. Drig denotes order, norm and conformity; Lam literally means the way of having order and conformity while namzha refers to a concept or system. It is a concept that refers to good manners, which are adopted by individuals and heavily influenced, by the concept of Buddhist good conduct.

As part of the effort to preserve traditions Driglam namzha is passed on to children in schools as well from parents to children in almost all families as a way of life.

Bhutan is a tobacco free country. A person may import tobacco for personal consumption (limited to 800 sticks of cigarettes or 150 pieces of cigar or 750 grams of other tobacco products) upon 100% tax payment of the value of the product. Smoking in public places or offical events is forbidden.

Arts and Crafts
An essential part of Bhutan's cultural heritage is the thirteen traditional arts and crafts that have been practiced from time immemorial. These arts includes;
1. Thag-zo: the art of Bhutanese textile weaving
2. Tsha-zo: the art of weaving cane and bamboo products
3. Shag-zo: the art of turning wood and making wooden products
4. Shing-zo: the art of wood work for timber and construction
5. Do-zo: the art of stone work
6. Par-zo: the art of carving on stone, wood and slate
7. Lha-zo: the art of painting
8. Jim-zo: the art of making clay products
9. Lug-zo: the art of bronze casting
10. Gar-zo: the art of blacksmiths
11. Troe-zo: the art of making ornaments or objects and products from rare materials
12. De-zo: the art of making the traditional paper
13. Tshem-zo: the art of tailoring

The national language is Dzongkha, which literally means the language spoken in the Dzongs, or fortresses that serve as the administrative centers and monasteries. Two other major languages are the Tshanglakha and the Lhotshamkha. Tshanglakha is the native language of the Tshanglas of eastern Bhutan while Lhotshamkha is spoken by the southern Bhutanese.

Bhutan is linguistically rich with over nineteen dialects spoken in the country. The richness of the linguistic diversity can be attributed to the geographical location of the country with its high mountain passes and deep valleys. These geographical features forced the inhabitants of the country to live in isolation but also contributed to their survival.

Dress and Clothing
One of the most distinctive features of the Bhutanese is their traditional dress and clothing made from unique garments that have evolved over thousands of years.

Men wear the Gho, a knee-length robe somewhat resembling a kimono that is tied at the waist by a traditional belt known as kera. Women wear the Kira, a long, ankle-length dress accompanied by a light outer jacket known as a Tego with an inner layer known as a Wonju.

Bhutanese wear long scarves when visiting Dzongs and other administrative centers. The scarves worn vary in color, signifying the wearer's status or rank. The scarf worn by men is known as Kabney while those worn by women are known as Rachu.

The Rachu is hung over a women's shoulder and unlike the scarves worn by men, does not have any specific rank associated with its color. Rachus are usually woven out of raw silk and embroidered with beautiful patterns.

Food is eaten in general with hands. Family members eat while sitting cross-legged with food first being served to the head of the household. Before eating, a short prayer is offered and a small morsel placed on the floor as an offering to the local spirits and deities. Traditi
onally dishes were cooked in earthen ware.

Rice is the staple meal with vegetables or meat dishes often cooked with chili and cheese often accompanies the meal as a side dish. Chili dominates all Bhutanese food. The famous traditional vegetarian dishes in Bhutan are Ema-Datsi (chili and cheese), Kewa-Datsi (potato, cheese and chili) and Shamu-Datsi (mushroom, cheese and chili). People of Bhutan relish Yak meat along with pork, beef, fish, poultry, goat and corn dishes. Bhutanese butter tea (Su-ja) is a popular beverage in Bhutan. However, different parts of the country have different types of cuisine.

Political System in Bhutan

In 1907 the people unanimously enthroned Ugyen Wangchuck as the first hereditary King of Bhutan. In November 2001, on the advice of the Fourth King, a committee chaired by the Chief Justice of Bhutan, was formed to draft the constitution of Bhutan. The Constitution of Bhutan was launched in 2008 and with it a parliamentary democracy introduced.

The organs of the Bhutanese government now comprise of the Legislature, Judiciary and the Executive.

The legislative body or the Parliament comprises of the National Assembly and the National Council. The National Assembly comprises of 47 elected representatives from 47 constituencies of Bhutan. The National Council has 25 members of which 20 members are elected by the people as representative of each Dzongkhag (district) to National Council and 5 members are nominated by His Majesty, the Druk Gyalpo.

The Executive is central Government (ministries, departments and autonomous bodoes) and Local Government (Dzongkhag Tshogdu, Gewog Tshogde and Dzongkhag Thromde Tshogde).

The courts in Bhutan include the Supreme Court, the High Court, the Dzongkhag Courts, and the Dungkhag (sub-district) Courts. The Supreme Court is the highest court of law in Bhutan and the guardian of the constitution and the final authority on its interpretation. It is presided over by the Chief Justice of Bhutan while Dungkhag court is the lowest formal court in Bhutan.

Traditional Relationship with the Environment, Bhutan

The environment has always been greatly respected by the people and many still prefer pristine mountains and valleys to towns and cities. Many who live in the remote parts of the country have depended for generations, upon the environment for sustenance. People still retrieve lumber, fuelwood and other non-wood forest products such as mushrooms and herbs from forests, gather rocks from the open and draw water from rivers. This traditional mindset of the people was further helped when the government enacted a law ensuring that the country shall maintain at least 60% of its forest cover at all times. Today, approximately 72% of the total land area of Bhutan is under forest cover and approximately 50% of the land area falls under protected areas comprising of 10 national parks and sanctuaries.

Bhutan is a country deeply instilled with traditional values which stems from having Buddhism as the chief religion. The environment has always had a great significance in terms of history and religion as Buddhism emphasizes the respect for all forms of life including the environment. Tales of Guru Rinpoche flying to Taksang on a tigers back and of him planting Tsenden (Cupressus Torulosa) seeds as he traversed the lands with his walking stick are known to all Bhutanese. Even the religion of Bon, which was the main religion in Bhutan prior to Buddhism, was mostly based on respect for nature. The people of Bhutan still maintain traditional practices in certain areas of the country. In the concept of Ridum, certain areas of the forest remains closed during certain times of the year. Certain areas of the forest also exist where no felling of trees is allowed as those are believed to be the residences of local deities and these areas are known as Neyda Zhida locally.

Certain traditional issues regarding the environment do exist currently as well. Dependence on firewood as a fuel source has been historically prevalent. Although a great portion of the country now has hydroelectric power, there are still some areas where the only energy source is fuelwood. Across Bhutan, traditional farmers and grazers have continued to face human-wildlife conflicts such as crop and livestock depredation. These conflicts are complicated by problems of overgrazing and wildlife protection. Tseri Agriculture, a type of practice where land is cleared and farmed intensely until it becomes unproductive and ultimately left fallow, still exists in some areas although it was outlawed in 1969.

Bhutan is currently developing at a rapid rate and could lose some of its pristine environment to make way for development over the years to come. However the people of Bhutan are determined to preserve this resource for all time and along with some hard work from the people and the visionary leadership of His Majesty the King, we believe that we can indeed succeed. 

Orchids of Bhutan

The final volume of the Flora of Bhutan on Orchids of Bhutan, published in 2002, was authored by N. Pearce and P.J. Cribb.  The authors recorded 579 species, which included records from the neighbouring Indian states, West Bengal and Sikkim in particular, and recorded 369 species of orchids known to occur in Bhutan. However, this publication was just the beginning of the orchid diversity study in Bhutan. Fourteen species of these orchids were recorded as endemic to Bhutan.

In 2006, D.B. Gurung published ‘An Illustrated Guide to the Orchids of Bhutan.’ The guide book added 54 new records for Bhutan, raising the confirmed species number to 423 species. As the orchid study continues to attract researchers both from within and outside the country, the number of orchids found in Bhutan continues to change, and the number is growing. The current figure of confirmed orchids found in Bhutan is 430 plus. A couple of these species like the Vandagriffithi, V, alpinia, and V. chlorosantha have been revised.  With the current research being carried out by the researchers of the National Biodiversity Centre, Serbithang, the number of endemic orchid species has also come down from the original list of 14 species mentioned by Pearce and Cribb. However, there are some species that require recognition, which will increase the total orchid species number.

Significance of orchid diversity in Bhutan is commendable. Orchids like Dactylorhizahatagirea are used in traditional Bhutanese medicine formulation. Some orchids like Cymbidium group are eaten as vegetables. While the orchid floriculture in Bhutan has not yet started, considering the orchid trades in the neighbouring Indian States of West Bengal and Sikkim, potential for orchid trade in Bhutan is very high. However, this requires policy support and long term investment.

Bhutan has beautiful orchids like Paphipedilum fairrieanum and P. venustum, which can attract orchid tourists to observe them in the wild. This would require niche ecotourism product development that would benefit local rural communities.

Environmental Education, Bhutan

The Royal Government of Bhutan has made a significant commitment to protecting Bhutan’s natural environment by establishing an extensive network of protected areas and biological corridors covering over 51% of the geographical area of the country.  In addition to the protected areas and biological corridors, a nature recreation park has also been established and more nature recreational areas are planned in different parts of the country for conservation, recreation and educational purposes.

Bhutan is home to many internationally recognized threatened species including Bengal Tiger, Red Panda, Snow Leopard and Himalayan Black Bear, yet the integrity of   the country’s natural environment is threatened by forest fires, unsustainable use of natural resources, climate change, habitat loss and fragmentation, changing land use practices, increasing urbanization, human-wildlife conflicts, poaching, and pollution. In order to address these environmental issues, it is essential to gain support and active involvement from a wide range of stakeholders including politicians and other decision-makers, rural and urban communities, householders, students as well as members of the monk body and the armed forces.

This is consistent with the Article 5 of the Constitution of Bhutan, which regards every Bhutanese as a trustee of the Kingdom’s natural resources and regards it as a fundamental duty of every citizen to contribute to the conservation and protection of natural environment and adopt environmental friendly practices and ethos.

Environmental education has been recognized internationally as a way to help people understand the functioning and significance of the ecosystem in which they live, to provide experiences that will assist people develop positive feelings for their natural environment, and inspire them to care for the well-being of their environment. 

Bhutan’s nature recreation areas are recognized as ‘living classrooms’ and are ideal locations for establishing environmental education programs. In fact, environmental education has been identified as an important component of recreational area management in Bhutan and is one of the important mandates of the Nature Recreation and Ecotourism Division under the Department of Forests and Park Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests. This Division is the focal agency for facilitating and coordinating environmental education programs in the protected and recreational areas.

In order to promote and strengthen environmental education and nature interpretation in the country, Nature Recreation and Ecotourism Division uses Royal Botanical Park at Lampelri as a center for excellence in the country for environmental education and nature interpretation due to its close proximity to the capital city Thimphu.

At present, there is a lack of strategic environmental education programs in the recreational and protected areas of Bhutan for both formal and non-formal audiences. The development of a strategic environmental education master plan would ensure environmental education in Bhutan’s protected areas, biological corridors and recreational parks. Nature Recreation and Ecotourism Division has prepared as a discussion paper which require discussion with all park managers, relevant departmental staff and government organizations.

Impact of Social Media in Bhutan

Social media are Internet-based tools for sharing and discussing information.   It includes: Social Networks (e.g., Facebook, Google+, SinaWebo), Blogs (e.g. Huffington Post, PaSsu Diary], Wikis (e.g. Wikipedia), Forums (e.g. Bhutan Speaks), Podcasts (e.g. TED Talks), Content Communities (e.g. Youtube), and Microblogs (e.g. Twitter, WeChat).  It is different from traditional media -- such as newspaper, TV and radio – because it is not a broadcast medium. Social media is a Web 2.0 platform for collaboration and co-creation.

Social media has been described as 'an essential tool for hundreds of millions of Internet users worldwide and a defining element of the Internet generation'.  It is also an enabler of social, economic and political change.

Social media has been credited to helping us 'return to neighborly communications' in a globalizing society.  With social media, distance is no longer a barrier to having social relationships. Social media has also facilitated the creation of 'intentional' groups – collections of individuals with shared recreational, social, political, or religious views or interests.  Contrary to those who see social media as encouraging selfishness, a recent study concludes that Facebook encourages “some aspects of empathy” and that Facebook is “primarily a tool for staying connected, (rather) than self-promotion”.

Social media also helps the economy grow.  It enables businesses to improve consumer focus, enhance collaboration in the production process, and better marketing of goods and services.  One research firm suggests that improved communication and collaboration due to the use of social media in the enterprise could add $900 Billion to $1.3 trillion in value to the US economy alone (A Study by the McKinsey Global Institute, MGI, entitled the Social Economy, Unlocking Value and Productivity through Social Technologies, 2012). Social media is also enabling millions of people across every sector of the economy to join forces in self-organized collaborations to produce dynamic new goods and services.

Social media has also become a tool for good governance.  Governments around the world are using social media to reach out to their citizens to get feedback on service delivery, seek inputs into policy making, and create community based programs. The use of social media in government creates greater transparency, a collaborative relationship with the public, a stronger sense of ownership of government policy and services.  These lead to greater public trust in government.

But social media also brings challenges.  It has been used to spread material which defame abuse or threaten others.  Children who use social media expose themselves to danger.  Social media encroaches on privacy - once information is posted to a social networking site, it is no longer private. It has also facilitated the spread of inappropriate content.

Social media has great potential as a development tool and it can also do a lot of harm to individuals, communities and societies.  This way it is important for government to develop a policy that would harness the potential of social media to do good and mitigate its dangerous effects.

Since the introduction of internet in 1999, the number of internet users especially the social media is gaining popularity among the urban educated population. Many of the users use social media on a daily basis to interact, network and share information. Social media is also widely used to “express views and opinions on socio-political and economic issues” Bhutan Information and Media Impact Study (BIMIS), 2013.

The highest number of social media users (40.1%) falls between the age group of 18 – 24 years followed by 25 – 34 years (32.4%) as per the BIMIS study report. Owing to the lack of internet literacy and in the absence of a code of conduct to guide the general public in the usage of social media, we have observed people misusing social media.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

What Makes a Great Content for Blogging for AdSense?

I still wonder what makes a great blog content to get it approved by AdSense. I was wondering my blogging site to modify everything and write something for the last two year and still I am rejected by AdSense team. I know I am not an expert technologist to learn thing at one go but I was trying to get thing in my head for the last two year and yet I failed.

I know my writing skills are not that good but I am writing consistently to improve on a regular basis yet Adsense finds my content inadequate. However, I am trying to be consistent on the blogging site these days and hoping to get my Adsense account approved. I have learned quit a lot through online tutorials but I think I will need the help of a person who regularly uses Adsense.

I would like to seek the wisdom of your expertise and experience in getting my Adsense account approved. I tried writing for iwriter as well but my account was recently suspended for receiving poor ratings. Everything seems at stake for me.

Thank you.

Gender Roles in Bhutanese Agriculture

Gender refers to the social roles that men and women play and the power relations between them and is not based on biological differences between men and women or sex. Gender is shaped by culture, social relations, and natural environments. Thus, depending on values, norms, customs and laws men and women in different parts of the world have evolved different gender roles.

Bhutan is a predominantly agrarian economy with 60.20% of the total population practicing subsistence farming. Agriculture sector contributed 15.70% of the over-all GDP in 2011 and 60% of the labour force as per Labour Force Survey 2011. However, gender studies especially focusing on agriculture are limited and the key role played by women in agriculture is still largely unclear or unacknowledged. Further, National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) states that many government organizations considers “the household” as the economic and social unit for data collection and  thus information available does not specify how assets, resources and works are allocated among the male and female members of the household and their decision making power.

Therefore, this study aims to find out roles of men and women in agriculture including different socially determined ideas and practices which define what roles and activities are deemed appropriate for men and women (gender division of labour) and their relations, dynamics of how different resources that are generated within, or which come into the household are controlled and accessed by its different members (intra-household resource distribution), and decision-making processes as men and women often use resources differently and manage their resources in different ways. The outcome of this study would identify different needs of men and women facilitating gender mainstreaming in agriculture plans, policies and programs. 

Bhutanese Farmers

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Culture of Chenta (Art of performing rituals to get rid of sickness)

In a typical lotshampa household in Bhutan when one suffers from any kind of sickness, their foremost reaction is seeking a refuge from a local spiritual personal (typically called as dha-me) that performs Chenta. It is believed that the spiritual personal has some sort of power and mantra to please and chase away unseen spirit that causes sickness.

Dha-me and his helpers will prepare some structure comprising of curved bamboos and bunches of tree leaves. These bamboos and leaves are arranged in such a way that it resembles to alter. The spiritual person will sit in front of that structure and says out his mantra. He also bangs a drum and a copper plate to produce noisy sound. Neighbours will join the household to witness the event and seek blessings from the dha-me to prevent them from getting sick in future.

Trip to Lingshi – A Torture (Just an expression for recreation)

It was in May 2013 when I and Dawa decided to go to Lingshi on an official tour to gather data on rural-urban migration. We knew it was going to be a difficult trip for us as we were going to climb as high as 4000 plus meters above the sea level. However, we were excited as we were going to Lingshi for the first time.
Snow Caps in Bhutan

We started our journey as early as 5 in the morning to avoid ourselves in a cave or a dense forest. On our first day, we landed in Barshong in the late afternoon where there was small village comprising of about seven households and a primary school just with single teacher. We were told that we will land up sleeping under the caver if continue from there and the teacher was kind enough to rent her space for us for a night hold. Later in the evening we were also treated with delicious red rice with hot chillies for which we heartily thank the teacher as it is very difficult to reach ration and other necessary items to a place that requires walking for hours.

Jomolhari Mountain
We contacted the local leader of Lingshi gewog (sub-district) to help us reach Lingshi as we did not have a guide and interestingly, we were first timer to the place. Gup, the local administrator was kind enough to arrange our second night stay in his no-jangsa (a place where headers stay) as there was no one residing along the way until we reach proper Lingshi. As advised by the Gup, we started early from Barshong and luckily there was only one route. It was almost dark when we were received by the Gup at his no-jangsa. We were completely exhausted and signs of altitude sickness have already prompted in us as air was becoming thinner with altitude. We decided to take rest for day and Gup was kind enough to take us to Cordycep collection site where we had a chance to see how cordyceps were collected and experience the nature of nomadic life.

Overview of Lingshi Village

On the fourth day, we reached Lingshi after walking for about 9 hours. Finally, we made it to Lingshi which had just around 15 households with a primary school and a BHU. The Jomolahari Mountain was right in front fully covered with snow and we were literally shivering despite our efforts to keep ourselves warm through bukhari (metallic box used for heating using firewoods). We rushed to our works as we were felling completely isolated. Cellular network has reached but our mobiles were out of battery and I don’t know electricity will give hopes for Lingshi people.

Ruins of Lingshi Dzong destroyed by Earthquake

Both of us were completely exhausted as we were literally eating just noodles and chocolates throughout our trip (daytime). It was difficult for us to carry rice and cooking utensils as we were already loaded with official papers and our cloths. But I won’t ever in my life forget to acknowledge the teacher and the Gup who graciously offered us with delicious dinners. It is going to be a liability for the Gup if we had prolonged our stay as it is extremely difficult to reach ration to Lingshi. It takes exactly three days of continuous walking and it is hard to imagine your faith walking with loads of ration on your back. So, we decided to return as soon as our work was complete.
On the sixth day we decided to return from Paro track via Soe (name of a place) and we did just in one Day. We were back to Thimphu on the sixth day but foots were full of bloody blisters and hardly able to move ourselves.

The trip of adventurous but we suffered more than enjoying the beauty. I am sharing this experience so that anyone planning to visit Lingshi needs extensive preparation before the trip. Ours was ad-hoc and we were just able to breathe while climbing through Jomolhari base.