Posts Tagged ‘Bhutan’

One More Thing …

March 12, 2015

If you’re an aspiring World Cup contestant with a well-founded reputation as the worst national team on the planet, what can you do to turn things around?  Well, for one thing, you can offset the fact that your coach is named “Chokey” by designating as team captain a guy named “Karma”.  Then go to Thailand to train for a few weeks.

The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, the lowest-ranked team in international football, enjoyed a dream debut in the World Cup qualifiers Thursday by recording a shock 1-0 away victory over Sri Lanka at Colombo’s Sugathadasa stadium.  The winning goal came in the 81st minute as Bhutan skipper Karma Shedrup Tshering passed to Tshering Dorji, who slotted home calmly from inside the penalty box.

“We tried hard to acclimatize to the conditions here. We didn’t allow humidity to become a problem,” said a delighted Bhutan coach Chokey Nima. “We will celebrate today, but we are also preparing for the next challenge.”

Bhutan has been a member of FIFA only since 2000 and lack of funding has prevented it from taking part in previous World Cup qualification tournaments. The two teams meet again when Sri Lanka travel to Bhutan’s capital Thimpu for a return match on March 17.


Until then, Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Index will be once again outpacing its GDP.



Swat Equity

August 24, 2011

The small set of sentient beings that Lunghu has no compunction about killing may soon be reduced by one.  No, dark pool operators aren’t suddenly about to get a free pass.  Nor will ticks, black flies, green flies, house flies or leeches.  (Note the commonality?  All bloodsuckers.)

Which creature is it, then?  The pesky, whining mosquito –at least in its Aedes aegypti form.  That’s because researchers at UC Davis

… hit on the idea of [infecting mosquitos with] a naturally-occurring bacterial parasite called Wolbachia to shorten its lifespan so that [dengue fever] virus would not have enough time to develop.   The germ prevented the insect from becoming infected by the dengue virus … yet it was also [relatively] harmless. The mosquito’s ability to survive and reproduce was reduced only by about 10 to 20 percent.   After a few generations, the dengue-free mosquitoes eventually outnumber dengue-carrying counterparts.

According to Jason Rasgon at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute:

 “The advantage of population-replacement approaches is that, once established, they are self-propagating.  And because the mosquito population is simply changed rather than eliminated, effects on the ecosystem should be minimal.”

” … changed rather than eliminated.”  That has the ring of rehabilitation rather than punition and deterrence.  Not as emotionally satisfying as eradication, but perhaps more effective.  Probably wouldn’t work in the financial markets, though.

Elsewhere … change is[n’t always] good.

Sometimes it’s not enough to be happy.  You also have to be wet at all the right times.  Bhutan had hoped to harness the energy of Himalayan snowmelt by building 9000 megawatts of hydroelectric power capacity over the coming decade.

But Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley [warned]  the country was powerless to prevent changes in regional water supplies [caused by global warming].   “The glaciers are retreating very rapidly, some are even disappearing.  The flow of water in our river system is fluctuating in ways that are very worrying,” he said.    “The climate is changing, global warming is real and the impact on our hydrology is very severe.”

When change leaves you powerless, it can be hard to feel happy.

Karma Tshiteem, secretary of the Gross National Happiness Commission, [observed that] “This is a stark example that climate change is not some theoretical thing that is still to be debated. We are facing it and having to do mitigation.”

He certainly doesn’t sound happy.  Nor should he be.  A billion coal-burning Chinese on the other side of the mountains aren’t about to go away anytime soon.  It can be difficult to maintain your cosmic equanimity in conditions like that.  It may not be enough to endlessly repeat the mantra “all is illusion.”

Be Happy. Don’t Worry.

July 24, 2011

Look around you at the faces of people on the other side of the street, the other side of the room … or anywhere outside the immediate radius of your own radiant presence.  Do they look happy?   If you’re in the United States, they probably don’t.  If you  happen to be in the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, it might be a different story.  Although Bhutan is definitely considered a Third World nation according to United Nations metrics of economic development, by Bhutanese standards it is the US that would probably rank as a ‘poster child’ underdeveloped country.  That’s because …

Bhutan’s model of GNH, or Gross National Happiness … measures quality of life by trying to strike a balance between the material and the spiritual.  This week the UN General Assembly adopted a non-binding resolution [proposed by Bhutan] that aims to make happiness a “development indicator.”  The resolution invites member states to draw up their own measures of happiness and contribute them to the UN’s development agenda.

“It’s basically an approach,” said Bhutan’s ambassador Lhatu Wangchuk. “Our initial idea was to bring the concept of happiness to the consciousness of the UN membership… because we know that GDP indicators [alone] are inadequate to address human needs.”

looks pleased ... not quite happy.

In Bhutan, where the Buddha is an ever-present life force that pervades every aspect of existence, there will be no shortage of people who can tell you that unhappiness arises from thwarted material desires.  The greater the material desires, the greater the unhappiness —because (for most people) many desires will never be fulfilled.  Happiness will almost always be found somewhere else than in the other.

But what if your worldly desire is to help other people experience happiness?  Should you feel thwarted if –despite your meager efforts– they still don’t feel happy?  It doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.  It may not be realistic to expect instant results, although lightning sometimes does strike.  Instead of focusing on a binary outcome (happy?/not happy?) it might be more satisfying to find your own reward in the approach, the process, the “narrow road to the interior.”  Random acts of kindness can be more than a bumper sticker slogan:  share a smile and make two people (briefly?) happy.  Reflect upon this deeply.

Now, of course Ambassador Wangchuk can afford to be happy: he’s a member of the royal family of Bhutan.  But Lunghu won’t hold that against him, because any nation governed by a Dragon King has a decent shot at happiness in both the material and spiritual worlds.