Bhutan is hosting yet another climate summit for South Asian countries of Asia namely Bhutan, India, Nepal and Maldives. Bhutan ardently hopes that the summit will really help bring positives regional policy and attitude towards climate changes even though she was aware how Copenhagen Climate Summit of world leaders has failed miserably due to disagreement between developing and developed countries. In one of the Climate Summit last year, the president of Maldives Mr. Mohamed Nasheed accused the big countries of Asia trying to submerge his nation under Indian Ocean. On other hand, India and China flatly refused to accept the Copenhagen proposal for the reduction of carbon produce. They blamed the developed country for the menace of nature´s temperament.
Bhutan, one of few countries in the world which absorbs more carbon than it can produce, is zealously trying to initiate the major shift in Asian Climate policies. The big brother India condescendingly comes every climate summit held by Bhutan or any other small brothers. Together, they always sign the agreement wasting more papers than they can recycle.
Bhutan has points here. She has every right to worry about climate change. Bhutan innocently pays price for what other countries do to the Mother Nature. Be it frequent earthquake or glacial melt. In Asia, the flood, earthquakes, tsunami and unseasonal rain have become frequent headliners. These natural calamities don’t spare the innocent Bhutan. On September 21, 2009, an earthquake of magnitude (M) 6.1 with focal depth of about 10 km, hit Tashigang and Mongar killing 12 people and damaging more than 4 dzongs, 36 chortens and 31 lhakhangs. Its destruction of Bhutanese lives and properties was sacrilegious as well as blasphemous if it were a human being. Before country could fully wake up from that nightmare, there was another timely reminder of nature´s displeasure. On September 2011, the earthquake measuring 6.9 magnitudes was felt in Bhutan. The Sikkim Earthquake injured around nine lives and damaged 9000 structures which cost Nu.888 million for national exchequer.
After a lull, there was yet another reminder that the nightmare is still on. Fortunately, the people of Chukha district were mercifully spared of its wrath by 5.8 magnitude earthquake even though epicenter was at Jalpaiguri.
The king and government remained ever vigilant to console and help the victims though Prime Minister is accused by some section of people for being in the foreign land when major disaster struck nation. Perhaps for PM, lobbying for a seat as non-permanent member in UN Security Council is more important as he didn’t return home to console his people. Perhaps, he had kept government in more capable hands. In such crisis, for the people, Royal Bhutan Army personnel are god-sent savior and heavenly carpenter. The soldiers came to immediate rescue during every disaster, be it recurring Chamkhar fire, earthquakes, floods or national security.
Despites its negative side, the disasters both natural and man-made have a positive impact on people and two insurance companies. Like banks, Bhutan Insurance Limited and Royal Bhutan Insurance of Bhutan Ltd raked in profits as more and more people come to insure their lives and properties.
Meanwhile success and failure of this climate summit is yet to be seen. One thing I am sure that the government or Prime Minister will quake to media that the summit is a success while our journalists will hang onto every word uttered from the Holy mouth. In upcoming edition of the newspaper, the news will be a front page one as if signing a bunch of paper makes summit a success.
My only question is where will our Prime Minister incidentally be when next natural disaster strike. In some anti-government newspaper, it was mentioned that PM was at New York attending UN General Assembly during September 18, 2011. Then he went to Japan to address the congress of architecture (till then nobody knew he was an architect). Later he went to attend Buddhist Society meeting in Nitish Kumar’s Bihar. One can only hoped that he begged for Lord Buddha’s intervention from Nature’s fury.
When our PM was at Maldives attending SAARC Summit in his capacity as ex-chairperson, the Mother Earth cried ‘Quake Quake Quake’ at Phuntsholing on November 2011.
And we must not blame him for being away when nature showed its fury. It is not fault. He/government is not responsible for earthquake even if the government support is not adequate for the victims. Government didn’t campaign in 2008 with the promise of adequate support when earth fires its fury. Government tried its best to console the victims through media, MPs and Insurance Companies.
Let me end with the humourous hope that Hon Home Minister doesn’t say, ‘people in southern Bhutan are killed by leaves during storms’ in the parliament´ next time the disaster sweeps the nation because it won’t be condolence.