Bhutan’s prime minister visits Nepal and Afghanistan
April 22nd, Bhutan’s prime minister Lyonchen Jigmi Y Thinley visited Nepal and Afghanistan. The journey completed his tour to all SAARC-member countries, which he presently seats as chairman. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation was founded in 1985 and currently 11 countries are part of SAARC. It’s aim is economics, cultural, techonological and social cooperation and development, with the emphasis on collective selfreliance for all of its member countries. During the 6-day journey Lyonchen spoke with ministers and senior government officials. The delegations spoke thoroughly about quick and effective rapid response in cases of disaster, like setting up a rapid disaster response centre in case of emergencies. Other important topics were renewing trade and air services agreements between Bhutan and Nepal and the delicate situation of the Bhutanese living in refugee camps in Nepal. In Afghanistan, where he met president Karzai, the intention was deepening the bilateral relationship between the two countries. During his visit, he also met Terence D Jones, UN’s former resident representative in Bhutan. They not only discussed the challenges that Bhutan faces in its' transition towards a fully democratic country, but also in which way the country’s private sector could be strengthened. Read more

Bhutan prepares for Asian Games
Prior to the international Olympic Games, in many regions lokal games are organised. Like in Bhutan, where April 23rd a Fun Run was organised by the Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC). Over 1500 people participated in the Fun Run, that went along a route of 5 kilometers, being flagged of by the ambassador of Kuwait and the representatives form the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA). Program coördinator Dorji Tenzin said it was an exiting opportunity participating in the build up towards the Incheon Asian Games: “The Fun Run is a run for happiness and a healthier and better life. I’m happy so many people participated”, Tenzin said. Part of the festivities was a mass physical education drill given by students of Lungtenzampa university, free style-dance, bicycle tricks, a junior boxer’s demonstration and taekwondo. There was also a 60-meter sprint for students of Draktsho university. The public could not only watch the exiting run and games, but also participate in basketball, olympic archery, table tennis, shooting, boxing and footbal, organised by Bhutan Indigenous Sports Association (BIGSA). In 2014 the 17th Asian Games will be held in South Korea. Thimpu is selected by the Olympic Council of Asia as one of the capitols hosting the event to promote the Asian Games. Read more

Bhutan: bright outlook for the future
In order to further improve the lives of its people and to become a middle-income country, Bhutan’s governement has developed a strategy with 5-year national development plans. The strategy of these Millennium Development Goals is to focus on a range of initiatives that will be taken the next years in order to develop economic growth. Like a further development of its private sector, increasing employment, reconstructions after recent natural disasters and making basic services like health care available for every Bhutanse citizen, even in remote areas. In addition, 129 kilometers of new roads will be constructed and by 2014, 92% of Bhutan’s children must be enrolled in primary schools. The country will get help from partners of the International Development Association to achieve these happiness and millenium development goals, put down in the Country Partnership Strategy 2011-2014. Bhutan not only aims at economic growth, but also at an increase of happiness amongst it’s people, put down in the unique concept of ‘Gross National Happiness’. And the steps that will be taken the next year, are rather ambitious. Like dropping the poverty rate from 23,2 % in 2007 to 15 % by 2012-2013. Read more

Bhutan prepares for the 10th national film award
Forget the Hollywoord Oscars. Forget India's Bollywood. Because it's also happening in Bhutan, where the film industry has grown impressivly over the past few years. And the Bhutanese have their own party in which the most popular films, actors and actresses will be rewarded and honoured. May 2nd the 10th film awards will be held in the capitol city of Thimphu. The awards coïncide with the birth anniversary of Bhutans's king. 31 Movies will compete for the desired awards, organised by the Royal Office for Media. Besides best actor and actress, prices will also be rewarded for best culture-based movie, best movie on youth and education and the movie with the best use of the national Dzongkha language. The event will be broadcast live on BBS TV. Read more

Modern Bhutan, old age homes desired?
Times are changing, even in a country that still breathes ancient times. This is also reflected in it’s culture. Where untill recently it was very normal that families would take care of their elder parents, presently it’s a question if old age homes should be founded throughout Bhutan or not. The last year an increasing number of elders, especially in Bhutan’s large towns, are not being taken care of by their children or grandchildren. As a result you see more and more (elder) homeless people in the big towns like Thimphu, begging for money and sitting besides the road. A sharp contrast with Bhutan’s focus on ‘Gross National Happiness’. More and more people are disturbed as well by the sight of this sad ‘trend’ and recently Bhutan’s first old age home was built in Trashigang Dzongkhag. Rather ironically, since the traditional family values and a sense of community are especially very strong in this village. The question is if old age homes are the best answer and solution to the growing number of elderly living on the streets. Ánd if they fit the moral standards of this peacefull country. Read more

Conference on social media
Travelling throughout Bhutan, it’s more and more common to see traditionally dressed people with a mobile phone stuck to their ears. The world wide web and the latest new media like Youtube, Hyves, Facebook, twitter and blogs are slowly finding their way in Bhutan’s society as well. It looks like there’s an explosion of new media, especially in the larger cities and amongst the youth who always pick up new trends the quickest, and the business men. Trendwatchers in the country suspect that as time goes by, these new media will have an impact on almost all Bhutanese in every corner of the country.
To discuss the possible impact of the new media on Bhutan’s society, which challenges users and consumers, a two-day conference was held on sociale media and democracy. The conference was organised by the Bhutan Centre for Media and democracy (BCMD). It’s a very interesting development since the sociale media fit perfectly in the evolving democracy that Bhutan is. The cyber space communities not only encourage the public discussion and debates. They will also  form the public’s view on national issues and the functioning of the government. Read more