February 23, 2017

Tough Time Ahead for Bhutan’s Hydropower

Sand mining along the Punatsangchhu River, near the Puna I dam site. The dredging fuels the country’s construction industry but has disrupted ecosystems and destabilized river beds. (Photograph by Beth Walker, via thethirdpole.net)

Flash floods, sediment deposits and low river levels could make trouble for the Himalayan country’s dam plans – the bedrock of its green economy. Read More »

Bhutan Diversifies its Renewables with Wind Turbines

A new wind turbine installed in Bhutan [Photo by Dawa Gyelmo via thethirdpole.net, Creative Commons License]

Bhutan is developing wind and solar to reduce its reliance on hydropower and reduce electricity imports every winter. Read More »

Democracy Still Taking Roots in Bhutan

(Photo by Zachary Collier, Creative Commons License)

From the very beginning, Bhutan took an unusual path to democracy. It was decreed by the Fourth King as his ‘gift’ to the nation. But although his citizens could not refuse the gift, the question of whether they have fully accepted it remains unanswered. Read More »

Bhutan’s Restive Indian Neighborhood

Bhutan-India broder at Phuentsholing. (Photo by graham, Creative Commons License)

Political turbulence and separatist violence in the Indian states of Assam and West Bengal are impacting the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, notes one Bhutanese analyst. Read More »

South Asia’s March Towards Ultra-populism

(L to R) National monuments of Pakistan, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar. (Image by ViewsWeek via Creative Commons photos)

In each South Asian country, the no-go areas of discourse are proliferating rather than decreasing as the state establishments deploy ultra-populism. In response, the intelligentsia cowers, the “opinion-makers” are dehumanized as they take to weighing what to say and what to leave unsaid. Read More »

Bhutan: The Indian Army’s Front Line

The town of Paro in Bhutan. (Photo by Rita Willaert, Creative Commons License)

Strategically located, the tiny Himalayan country is at the center of growing tensions between India and China. Read More »

South Asia Needs to Face up to Water and Energy Dilemma

India’s annual water withdrawal is the highest in the world, but its water productivity is one of the lowest. (Image from Greenpeace via thethirdpole.net)

South Asia’s water and energy crises are deeply intertwined. Growing energy demand drives water shortages and lack of water fuels power outages. Regional cooperation – such as power trading between countries – could ease tightening resource constraints but such solutions have been largely scuppered by political suspicions. Read More »

Minorities’ Future in Bhutan’s Emerging Democracy

Bhutan King

Bhutan’s ethnic minorities have suffered profound mistreatment. The country is at the start of a long path towards democracy. It is too early to predict if that path, even if straight and smooth, will permit a space for reflections on the wrongs done to Nepali-Bhutanese and other ethnic minorities and, even more importantly, ways to remedy them. Read More »

Can Himalayan Hydro Power Bring Water Cooperation?

A river on Nepal-India border. (Photo by rajkumar1220, Creative Commons License)

Considering how often the fear of looming water wars is perpetuated in the media and blogosphere, you would be forgiven for not knowing that 2013 is the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation. But cooperation is not merely the absence of conflict, and indeed conflict and cooperation coexist in every relationship, be it between individuals or states managing trans-boundary ... Read More »

Bhutan’s Stateless Population Waiting for the King

(Photo by Carsten ten Brink, Creative Commons License)

There had been a minor celebration that afternoon at Raj’s house in central Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. A few relatives had gathered to eat cake together – the remains on small plates were still visible in the kitchen when I joined them for dinner in the evening. The reason for their shared joy was a small, off-white card, resembling ... Read More »