Saturday, February 6, 2010

Meat or no meat

Bemji people thought it was not a wise idea to serve meat during the Loechoe this year.

It was a good example for every one.

Some years ago, the tsip of Chokho geog urged the people not to use meat during the Chokue and death ceremony.

Occasions when death and promotion take place are important ones. There is always a big gathering. Yes the the occsion is as matter of rejoicing, but death is as different matter.

Now if every family in a village holds it, which is the custom, we are talking in terms of the amount of met that we will consume. Yes, in the earlier days there might have been only a few houses in a village. But consider the cluster of houses that have sprung up with the rise in population. So when we talk of the annual puja, we are taking of a lot of meat that is being consumed.

When we invite our guests and serve different varieties of meat dishes, the host feels proud and happy, and of course the guests enjoy them with gusto. And when the guests enjoy, it is a symbol that that every thing is fine.

Even during the death ceremony, meat is considered an important part. Of course, it is not important. When the guests come and enjoy, it reflects a sense of satisfaction. And that satisfaction makes the host feel good that the annual loechoe had been successful.

Of course it is the feeling that we should do better than the next house. But does it ultimately makes us serve what we want to do?

That is where the question begins. Nowhere in the Buddhist text has t been said that we have to use meat and alcohol as part of the religious ceremony, be it on death or a normal occasion.

Killing is against the Buddhist precepts and the most abhorred, yet the tradition of eating meat is not uncommon among the Himalayan Buddhists. Perhaps, there might be some reason. It might be the high mountains and cold temperatures or the lack of vegetables, but let’s leave it to the masters to decide on that.

So, does it mean that when we feed some people and they are happy at the end of the evening mean that some one who had died finds his/her way through the foggy afterlife, in accordance to the belief.

In some ways, it has been noticed that the use of meat is only among the Himalayan Buddhists, with the exception of some high lamas. How the Himalayan people, including the Tibetans, Bhutanese, Sikkimese, even Lhadhakis, Sherpas and Tamangs in Nepal, ended up eating meat as Buddhists, is something that really needs a little bit of study.

It is embarrassing to say that you are a Buddhist and you eat meat. It is equally presumptuous to pay for the animals about to be slaughtered and save them for a day or two.

It is a good step that the present Je Khenpo banned the use of meat and wine in the cremation ground and it is a good thing for the poor people. At one time, we always felt that having a good party where every one was happy with food and booze would ensure a safe passage for the dead.

What we all fail to understand, no matter which religion follow, is that we all are compounded things. Ultimately, we are just atoms that make up this world.

Monday, January 11, 2010

What was the agenda of the 13th annual education conference?

Most such conference usually ends up with the usual in-house problems that people face, which can be solved as part of the administrative work. Conferences are usually held to review the past performance and chalk out the future activities.

For some sad reason, the conference did not come out with something that really mattered in the long run and most of the discussions only focused on the administrative issues, which if the institution, department or the ministry had taken a little more effort could have been solved.

It was obvious that the dzongkhag education officers had some or other problem ranging from strategies for enhancing NFE and adult education to difference in enrolment due to rural-urban migration and misprints in budget allocation figures.

There were of course of the issue of stipends for students in Gasa, the bad or dated rations being supplied to schools and essay competition in rural schools. These are matters best solved at the administrative level. Or so it is thought.

Of course, there might be problems. It is often the complaint of most organizations at the rural level that their point of view is never heard or listened to. A conference of this nature and status is considered the platform where all such views could be aired, if not heard or taken action on.

No matter how small the issues may look from the national point of view, sitting in Thimphu, for some one sitting in a remote ramshackle school, they are important. The lack of something basic which, for people in the capital is of no consequence, presents a constraint on a rural teacher to make progress in teaching his class.

That is only one aspect. The teachers themselves have to face deprivation, ranging from lack of decent living space to supply of food and other essential commodities. Entertainment is a different story.

What was most interesting was the fact that Lyonpo Powdyel said that every child must receive basic education. He also pointed out the reasons: the parental carelessness, inadequate finances, and finally the complex education system from the past.

When education has been given a top priority in our development plans, why these small hindrances were not looked into is a small question to ask.

Education in the country has come a long way since the days when children used maize grains to form letters way back in the 1950s to the use of chalk and slates. Today, we have many Bhutanese experts who passed out from renowned universities, manning our educational institutions, planning the future course, which makes us all proud.

Somewhere along the line, something has gone awry. With all the good intentions, our education system has not been able to meet the required standard. No wonder, people talk of low standard of Bhutanese education. Or rather it is going down.

Thankfully, the talk of low standard of education has become a matter of the past. At one time, this was a big issue. Every one jumped at it and expressed their views. There is nothing bad for the education department to feel bad about. In fact, if one takes it with an open heart, it is a good feedback.

The only problem is that some feedbacks make you think, some annoy you and some make you angry. But we have no room to be annoyed or angry.

We should think over what they say. It is not always nice to listen to what others say.

But it does a lot good to listen.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tashi P. Ganzin: Gosh!! When do we stop studying?

Tashi P. Ganzin: Gosh!! When do we stop studying?

One never gets to become wise with qualifications. They are needed of course. But wisdom comes from the ability to use what you have in you.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Before the year is out, reports say that there is a hundred percent increase

Before the year is out, reports say that there is a hundred percent increase in accidents in Thimphu. There is no need to work out the statistics.

But what does this mean? Let’s leave out the blame game we always have the tendency to engage in when we can’t pin a fault to any one, most of all the defaulters themselves. When a young per son is found at fault without a license or is holding a new license, we always tend to have a view that damages the reputation of a third party. In this case the licensing authority.

When we take to the road as a new driver, we always tend to worried. At the back of the mind, we always have this thought that we don’t want to crash into another car or a road divider, or even a wall or a tree.

Why? Because we don’t want to incur additional expenditure as we haven’t even finished paying the installment on the car. Considering the high rate of interest on car loans, an average new owner/driver of cars wouldn’t really like to pay additional cost of damages and repairs.

So we point out without real understanding that it is that group of rich brats, partying late in the night who is the cause of all the accidents. Or it is some reckless drivers, who don’t care about others who did it. That may be so. And, yet it may not be so.

There was this sad story of a man who bought a vehicle at a cost of Nu. 450,000. He was just learning to drive when he drove into the office car park. Some time in the afternoon, when there was less work, he wanted to go out and practice his driving skill. That cost him about Nu. 20,000 when he grazed past another vehicle on the road.

That wasn’t the last time. Some where on his way to Paro, some one’s car came and hit his car. He didn’t have the proper license to drive on the highway, so he had to pay up for the damages. He said he was on the right side. But he was wrong – he was driving without a license.

That is a technical issue. Now, it doesn’t mean mechanical but legal technicality. Now technicality is something that is difficult to define. That is why we need lawyers. And more of them are needed as we bang each other’s cars, or socially and verbally abuse each other or encroach upon what each of us consider is our private preserve, and so on.

Having said all that, the question is who is at fault?

When something happens, yes we make it a point to find an escape goat. Recent reports say that the RSTA is not careful about issuing licenses to the applicants.

The allegations of underhand dealings had always been there. There is nothing new about it. Any one can complain. There have been reports that RSTA had given license to people without undergoing driving test, or even on payment of certain amount of fees. Allegations are just allegations. If they are proven, then such practices will no longer take place, besides the officials/staff who are engaged in such practice would be brought to justice.

The problem is the small society in Bhutan. The man who complains does know the person who indulges in such practices. But he won’t openly name him.

There have been a few occasions when persons have come to this newspaper, who told us these are the facts. You investigate but don’t quote us.

Now, who really wants to take up someone’s burden? Every one has enough problems.