25th March 2017, in Frankfurt am Main, the financial powerhouse of Germany, there was a small yet special gathering in the rooms of the Tibethaus, an environment resembling Bhutanese setup. Organized by the Deutsche Bhutan Himalaya Gesellschaft (German Bhutan Himalaya Society) it was an annual meeting of its members and invite the Bhutanese living in Germany to take part into it, to have discourses and discussions on the issues of interests from Bhutan and term it “Bhutan Day”.
|Bhutanese participants with organizers of the event.|
I came to learn about the event last year when I participated in the National Day Reception in Brussels, while interacting with Mr. Reinhard Wolf, the President of the society. I got the invitation to take part in the event but the venue was in Frankfurt, which is quite far from the place where I live and study so taking part in it would entail more days of travel. However the event happened to be during my semester break, which makes my travel plans so convenient. Being away from homeland, it is always a wonderful pleasure to talk and discuss about Bhutan, and the event being organized by Germans for their love and support towards Bhutan, it gives more reason to attend the day. Moreover I learnt that officials from the Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Brussels are also attending the meet so this added more verve to travel south and have some interactions with fellow countrymen.
|Mr. Reinhard Wolf, President of DBHG welcomes the participants.|
Mr. Reinhard Wolf, the President of the society has put in tremendous effort to make the day a very fruitful and rewarding one. The early hours of the day was set aside for the annual ordinary general meeting of the Society amongst its members and the Bhutan Day 2017 formally kicked off at 11:30 AM with the theme “Bhutanese Youth in Pursuit of Happiness”. The highlight of the event was that there are two presentations; Mr. Dorji Wangchuk from London spoke on "A Perspective on Bhutanese Youth in the Pursuit of Great National Happiness" and Prof. Dr. Alexander Klaußner on the topic "Handicrafts have golden soil - maybe and especially in and for Bhutan". It was through these two presentations that a discussion on the theme was met. The presence of officials from Royal Bhutanese Embassy, Brussels was a positive note.
Bhutan with a young population with over 27% between the age of 13-24, the most pressing issues and concerns revolve around the youths. Unemployment for youths is high at 13%, we also have serious concerns of rural households remaining empty due to rural urban migration as youths don’t prefer to stay in the villages. While over 56% of the Bhutanese population rely on agricultural practices for livelihood, they mostly comprises of elderly parents. Besides blue collar jobs are least preferred by our youths, not considering the fact that economic return from doing farming and blue collar jobs are much higher than their counterparts working in offices. The happiness of youth would have greater implications on the overall happiness of the nation. Coincidentally, the recently published World Happiness Report also saw Bhutan drop in her place by 13 notches from last year. At 97th place, this is not a comforting position particularly considering the claims and praises of Bhutan being one of the happiest countries in the world. While we have such concerns for the youths, it is heartening to see our friends in Germany have equal concern as we Bhutanese do.
|Mr. Dorji Wangchuk talks on GNH and Youth.|
However, it was awe inspiring to listen to the talk of Mr. Dorji Wangchuck, who articulated the message of how we perceive happiness as a country, with special focus on the four pillars and nine domains of happiness. He also shared with the audiences, the prospects for Bhutanese youths towards the road of happiness mainly because of many enabling conditions our Bhutanese youths are blessed with, and of course some of the constraints and challenges. This was complimented by the lecture of Prof. Dr. Alexander, who enlightened the gathering the multi-fold advantages of taking craftsmanship, relating his experiences in context to an old German proverb, “A trade in hand finds gold in every land”. He explained how dual system of vocational training and education systems works in Germany and possible scope in Bhutan.
|Participants of the Day.|
In all, it was a wonderful experience with our German friends and I remain grateful to the President of the society for the opportunity. It is always a blessing that I am a Bhutanese and I am more humbled when we have many good friends around the world, who spare their precious time in an effort to make a difference for Bhutan. This however is all inspired by the benevolence of our Kings, who after denouncing their lively pleasures, put the country and people as foremost priority. Through the ages, our kings have established bonds with many countries, and today we are proud to have many friends of Bhutan, who continues to promote the friendship and deliver services to Bhutan and the Bhutanese people. Deutsche Bhutan Himalaya Gesellschaft is one such society, which is now over 25 years old, established solely for the promotion of international understanding between Bhutan and Germany. I as a Bhutanese remain thankful for all the efforts they put in.
May The Friendship lasts Forever.