Last Friday, I was on my way to Thimphu from Phuntsholing when suddenly the bus I was travelling in was flagged down by police at Tsimasham for a surprised highway checking. The two policemen swooped in and headed straight towards the rear section of the bus where a group of young boys were seated. One by one, they started to frisk them until two sticks of cigarettes emerged from one of the boys’ shoes. The real drama began to unfold as one of the policemen pulled out small packages of cannabis drugs from around his seat. The boy was immediately removed from the bus for further scanning and interrogation. We all watched in disbelief as he was finally taken away for detention at Tsimasham Police Station. We had to wait for more than an hour while the police completed the formalities.
In the BCSE and BHSEC results for the academic year 2016 declared recently, the Bhutanese students who had appeared for the exams have seen the harvest of their year-long hard work and struggle. But as usual, not everybody is lucky. While those who have qualified for higher studies are busy celebrating their achievements with their families and friends, others are going through a terrible time. Many anxious parents are seen rushing for admission in the private schools or exploring other viable options for their children. It is a crucial turning point for the students and everybody is deeply concerned. But I don’t believe that the failure of the present should ruin your aspirations for the future. You may not be good in academic studies, but you may be excellent at something else. Just turn around, focus on what you believe you are good at and start working on it. Someday, you will have the future as promising as that of anybody else. Academic excellence is not the only secret of success. Many successful people in the world do not have even a degree. So just keep your head high and always stay positive. Sitting down and crying over the spilled milk won’t get you anywhere. It would only destroy your dreams.
As the Capital City of Bhutan, Thimphu has been undergoing a major transformation over the years with numerous developmental activities coming up in all corners. With various modern facilities and infrastructures in place, the city has been considered a safe haven for thousands of Bhutanese people who come here for education, employment and business. However, with the rising cases of senseless murder, burglary and robbery over the recent years, I think Thimphu is now losing the glory of its past. There are many people who no longer feel safe here today.
During the launch of YouTurn, the monthly inspirational talk for youth initiated by my office on 30th September 2016, Mr. Passang Tshering who blogs at Passu Diary shared some of the most important and interesting episodes of his ordinary life that had the potential to motivate and inspire young people to look at life positively. With his good oratorical skills and a good sense of humor, he could easily connect himself with the lives and experiences of young people and hence, everybody in the audience enjoyed his talk. His stories really carried lots of values and lessons the youth could take home. There were over 160 youth in attendance and all of them appeared to have enjoyed his stories. Following are some of the most significant lessons I could pick up from his life stories for the benefit of young people:
“We did not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we just borrowed it for the future”. This was the key message conveyed to the youth of Bhutan during the International Youth Day celebration at Samdrup Jongkhar on 12th August 2016. Personally, it was a great privilege for me to be part of the team from the Youth Center Division, Department of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Education to leave for Samdrup Jongkhar to coordinate the event. Against the warning of incessant Monsoon rain and the threats of terrorist attacks in the Indian State of Assam, we hit the road on 7th August 2016 from Thimphu to celebrate this year’s International Youth Day with the youth of Samdrup Jongkhar on 12th August 2016. The International Youth Day has been observed in Bhutan since 2010 to recognize the potentials of young people and to celebrate their key achievements in various fields. But for five consecutive years, we celebrated the day only in Thimphu and hence, those youth living in other Dzongkhags could not get the opportunity to be part of it. So this year, for the first time in six years, we decided to take the event out of Thimphu. In line with the UN theme for the day “Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty by Achieving Sustainable Development through Sustainable Production and Consumption”, we decided to collaborate with Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative (SJI (, a civil society organization that focuses on GNH-based developmental activities especially in rural communities to achieve sustainable development and poverty eradication. So this was the main reason why we chose to travel all the way to Samdrup Jongkhar to celebrate the event this year.
The past two weeks had been very tedious for me and my colleagues in the office as we were involved in three major programs that had to be implemented one after another. We had never carried out programs in such a quick succession before and the preparatory tasks and other arrangements completely drained us out. First we had the capacity building training for out-of-school youth from 15-19 March in collaboration with the Institute of Management Studies in four Youth Centers: Trashigang, Phuntsholing, Gelephu and Thimphu Youth Centers during which I was fully responsible for coordinating with the regional Youth Centers to arrange the training. Then we had to coordinate the conduct of a Training of Trainers (TOT) workshop for another batch of out-of-school youth and Youth Center Managers in Thimphu from 24-28 March 2016. I think there is nothing more challenging than bringing youth from other Dzongkhags especially keeping in mind the current financial rules that allow us to pay the DSA of only Nu.150 per day to each youth. Nevertheless, the TOT workshop ended successfully as planned and then we had a 2-day youth interaction program in Thimphu with Parliamentarians which started yesterday and successfully ended today.
When youth and children look up to us as their role models, we have the most sacred responsibility to guide them onto the right path not only by telling them what to do, but also by demonstrating what is best in us so that they can observe and learn from us. We have the best opportunity at hand to help them define and re-define the meaning of their life through our own lifestyles so that they can rise up in the right direction with right values. But if the role models fail to demonstrate what is good for their fans or followers, the result can be catastrophic. Just as the simple but unique hairstyle of Ronaldo during the World Cup final in 2002 could change the hairstyle of millions of his young fans around the globe, the role models can definitely influence the thinking and behaviors of those who look up to them as their source of inspiration and motivation. Hence, I feel all those who are respected by youth as their role models must always walk the right path so that those who follow them do not fall down.
Looking at the current trend in urban centers, I feel parents have the biggest role in shaping the lives of their children. The way we bring up our children can certainly make a huge difference in how they behave when they grow up. Today, many of us have our own jobs to attend to in offices or businesses because of which we fail to give our children the amount of attention they need and deserve. What makes the matter worse is that those parents who do not go to work are mostly alcoholics and the children are literarily left on their own. Moreover, the divorce cases are very common in our country and this adds fuel to the pile of problems affecting the lives of our youth. I have seen that most of the children growing up with single parents are having behavioral problems probably because they firstly don’t get the required level of attention as their dad/mom has to focus on the job to support the family, and secondly, they get pampered as their dad/mom won’t mind giving them whatever they request because as a single parent, we always have a tendency to love our children too much that whatever they ask for, we can’t deny. In the process, they begin to find our weaknesses and start taking advantage of the situation.
Social media was one of the prominent concerns among the youth of Paro as found out during the 2-day youth forum on youth concerns conducted at Paro Youth Center on 17th and 18th July 2015. It was amazing to know that most of the participants were aware of both negative and positive influences of using social media. While many saw it as a platform for keeping in touch with friends and family-members, and sharing good information, some had painful experiences to share. Since all of the 40 participants said they are active users of social media, they acknowledged that using it responsibly is important for their personal safety.
I was invited to be part of a youth workshop which had brought together youth from different walks of life. The forum was facilitated by a lady who first took us through her PowerPoint slides about a wide range of youth problems in Bhutan. Following the presentation, she gave us an exercise in which we were supposed to outline what we expect from life and what can we do to achieve it.
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