Saturday, 31 December 2016

Reflecting on the Beauty: 2016 in Journey.

Inaugural of New Bridge and Road for Darilog.
It all began with simple resolutions of striving to live how I lived thus far without changing, to stay contended with what life has given me, and to embrace each day with happiness. And beautifully as the 2016 set its voyage, I saw myself taking the cruise happily. The fair weathers days brought me more closely to relatives with more social gatherings; visiting the temples for virtuous offerings, taking part into meritorious promotion ceremonies, being part of important inaugural ceremonies at the village, I saw the beautiful spontaneous development of life. 2016 is remarkable for my remotely isolated village as our people, once disconnected were finally connected with permanent bridge and farm roads, bringing more joy to my fellow villagers.
All set to Trek from Phobjikha to Adha.

Technically, 2016 was also very active and busy year for me, though I had to take the leave from JSWNP family halfway. By far, I have traveled to all the villages under JSWNP except for Reti. Probably, I also had some of the longest treks within the park, walking all the way from Phobjikha to Adha, Adha to Rukha and finally exiting from Taksha in a small and efficient entourage, monitoring the progress of WWF funded project activities, for which I am the focal. Such beautiful journey though tiring, are also the most satisfying journeys as I could connect my soul with nature, people and livelihoods, the combination of which is vital for successful conservation efforts.
GIS Training in JSWNP

Focally, I had the privilege of organizing important and strategic training workshops for my fellow foresters at JSWNP. For the first time, JSWNP could have a week-long GIS training to equip our friends in map making, followed by SMART-ly training our conservationists for patrolling and then rapidly assessing the Human-Wildlife Conflict issues in the park. As such, the three major trainings not only made us independent GIS analysts, but also strategic conservation scientist and innovative social negotiators, which are vital instruments in protected area management.

Internationally, I was lucky to be part of His Excellency the Minister for Agriculture and Forests, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji’s entourage to attend the 3rd Asia Ministerial Conference on tiger conservation in New Delhi in April. Other members were Hon’ble DG of the Department, Mr. Chencho Norbu, Director of UWICE, Dr. Nawang Norbu, Mrs. Singye Wangmo Sr. FO, RMNP, Mr. Tandin FO, WCD. So I becoming part of such a great team was a real blessing. Since I joined DoFPS, I have been actively engaged in many field works of camera trapping tigers and also had been a part of National Tiger Survey 2015. The opportunity was right for me as I could learn more about the status of tiger conservation in all the 12 other tiger range countries. Sadly tiger was declared extinct in Cambodia, while global tiger number saw a rise. While in DoFPS, I was always a core minute keeper, be it Forest Conference or National Park Conference so I also had the privilege to learn how firmly we should frame resolutions from such big conference.

Professionally, I saw the lights for my further study when I received the confirmation for my pre-selection for M.Sc. Landscape Ecology and Nature Conservation (LENC) at the University of Greifswald on 27th January. I applied for M.Sc. LENC under German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) funding in December 2015. I was anxiously waiting for the final selection results, but all at a surprise I received a telephone call from the course coordinator without prior notice, to which I had to give an interview which lasted over 25 minutes. Luckily that day I was working in my office and not in the field. Dr. Tiemo asked me everything and my he seemed to be contended with my response as he gave me a hint that I would be selected. “I look forward to see you soon in Greifswald.” He said before dropping the call. And few days later, I received the final confirmation for enrolment to the university on 8th March. For DAAD scholarship, you will have to first apply to the University, which will finalise the required candidates. Once selected for enrolment, there are fewer things to do with DAAD, the scholarship provider. By last week of July, I had to bid farewell to my office, and then to my friends and relatives, with new dreams and aspirations. I had landed in Greifswald in 29th of July. For an orphan who lost the Daddy without sight, DAAD is now taking care of my 26 months long stay in Germany.
Greifswald Days.

Studying in Europe has its own charm and this would cover many more posts in my blog, which I will share occasionally. However, the 2016 highlights from Europe is that I became student after four years and also a free bird. Without compromising the classes, I could visit the capital cities of Belgium, Denmark, France, Netherlands, of course Germany, and the city of Malmo in Sweden. Life really has turned out to be journey through woods and many more and each travel gives better exposure and experiences, which I would share in subsequent posts.

Paris and the Eiffel. 

And beautifully the wonderful 2016 is coming to an end today. The journey as I embraced from day one has been beautiful and the voyage ended without much turbulence of waves, all owing to many wonderful people that surrounded me. Therefore, I thank you all. I thank my parents and relatives for your love, trust and confidence in me which bolster my disposition to be a better human being; my chief, mentors, teachers and field colleagues for your guidance, encouragement, and supports, which strengthened my aspiration to be a better forester; my friends in and beyond social media for being a wonderful companionship and helping me overcome obstacles, celebrate success, finding solace when emotionally struck, for life is never a bed of roses. Having landed in a faraway place, I feel blessed being Bhutanese, I thank my motherland for my identity and our great Druk Gyalpos for having secured our identity. 

And as we begin a new year tomorrow, I wish everybody a happy and wonderful 2017. May we happily achieve your New Year resolutions, may we embrace more success and excellence, may 2017 be filled with love and laughter, health and happiness, peace and prosperity. May the misfortunes and grief lost its track before reaching us. 

Wishing everyone Happy New Year

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

National Identity and Unity: The Beauty of Small Bhutan

With a size equivalent to renowned Switzerland, Bhutan is also compared to Switzerland when it comes to landscape beauty and natural aestheticism. Besides the beautiful mountains, Switzerland and Bhutan have one thing in common: Happiness. Switzerland ranks top in the World Happiness Report and Bhutan is by far a country of happy people. Being world’s leading economy with highest nominal per capita, Switzerland’s Happiness is attributed to their developed status of the country.  Switzerland has population of over 8 million people. Bhutan is a least developed country with a meagre population of 0.8 million. Being comparable to developed world when it comes to Happiness gives us a pride and humility as a Bhutanese. As such the beauty of Bhutan lies not only in its serene forests and pristine mountains. It indeed lies in its unity as a nation with common goals and aspirations.

The value of unity in Bhutan is deep. We Bhutanese believe in the karmic actions and bonds. The unity of Bhutanese as a nation first emerged 400 years ago when Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel established the first governance system in Bhutan, the Choe-sed Nyi-dhen (Dual system of governance with secular and temporal heads). Through the ages, while civil wars torn the regions apart, for the external enemies Bhutanese were united always. However, destiny had it that peoples representative of Bhutan unanimously enthroned Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck as the first hereditary King of Bhutan in Punakha dzong on 17th December 1907. Since then, we Bhutanese have always reaped the peace of hard work put in by our benevolent monarchs and on every 17th December we come together not only to celebrate the joy of unity under the leadership of our great kings but also to pay tribute to their selfless efforts and to rededicate our service to Tsa-wa-sum.  
3 generation Kings in Trongsa: 17th December 2016

This year has been more significant and historic with culmination of many events. While the year, Male Fire Monkey is the birth year of Guru Rinpochhe, the second Budha who brought Buddhism in Bhutan and prophesised for the coming of great kings, 2016 also marks the 400th year of Zhabdrungs arrival in Bhutan, who established the first governance system for Drukyul. The year has become more historic as we Bhutanese are blessed with the birth of Royal Gyalsey, the Crown Prince Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck, to usher continuity of Wangchuck Dynasty in Bhutan. 17th December 2016 marks the 109th National day and indeed a new era after completing 108 auspicious years. The day also became significant as His Royal Highness the Crown Prince attends the 109th National Day together with his father, His Majesty the King and Royal Grandfather, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo , the journey to new era at the historic Trongsa Dzong. The people by virtue of holding the Bhutanese identity are luckiest to witness such culmination of historic events, which will foster stronger unity as nation.
Ambassador of Bhutan to EU, H.E. Aum Pema Choden
addressing the gathering in Brussels

Being Bhutanese is tagged with happiness once we are outside. However for Bhutanese, happiness doesn’t come with material wealth but with spiritual wellbeing and mental contentment. Residing and studying in Universities abroad, Bhutanese are often without fellow countrymen as colleagues and I am not an exception. I study in the University of Greifswald in Germany and since my coming here, I never met any fellow Bhutanese in Germany. This is also attributed to the fact that we are a country of small population, and it makes us unique in the University. However, for this year’s National day, Bhutanese in Europe had the privilege of celebrating the big day in Brussels, hosted by Royal Bhutan Embassy in Brussels. Being away from home and being without companion from home country, becoming part of such events gives much joy and happiness. It was like home coming. The moments become more special when the event is celebrated in a faraway place. The national identity brought us all together for the common prayers and aspirations. This is the beauty of small Bhutan.
Bhutanese from different countries in EU (2016)

As expressed in many royal addresses, the small Bhutan has lots of opportunities and prospects. Our great monarchs have made our stance today more firm and comfortable. With the gift of democracy to the people, we have now more responsibility in building the nation. From preservation of cultural heritages to conservation natural environment, building the nation’s economy to strengthening the governance with transparency and accountability, our responsibility is huge. However, unlike many other countries which are doomed by wars and political instability, we have all the conditions favourable. We have the resources to build nation’s economy, we have inspiration and guidance of our King to manage the resources sustainably, and most importantly we are a small population with strong sense of unity so nothing is really unachievable with stronger will of the people. With continued effort and dedication from individuals, one day, like the Switzerland, we can be a developed Himalayan state, still embracing happiness with culturally rich and naturally intact heritages.

May the glorious reign of Wangchuck Dynasty flourish forever and may unity of Bhutan be never lost.