The first session of Bhutan Dialogues was held on 12 October 2017 at 4:00 pm at the UN House. Dr
Karma, the President and Founder of the Loden Foundation, engaged in a
discussion with Dasho Kinley Dorji as the first guest speaker.
if you missed the first session of the Bhutan Dialogues please click on
the YouTube or Audio link given below to watch or listen the full
The second session of Bhutan Dialogues was on the talk of “Why Good Governance?” by Aum Pema Lhamo of the Bhutan Transparency together with Dr. Karma the host of the event.
The third session of the Bhutan Dialogues was
with Ms. Kanakpon Lao Araya, the Country Director of Asian Development
Bank as the guest speaker, to discuss on “Finance and Economy: Money
The fourth session
of the Bhutan Dialogues was with Aum Chime P. Wangdi, the Secretary
General of Tarayana Foundation as the guest speaker, to discuss on
“Developing villages; Migrating to Towns.”
If you missed the session then please click on the link below:
The fifth session of the Bhutan Dialogues was with Aum Damchae Dem, the Founder/CEO of Bhutan Association of Women Entrepreneur (BAOWE) as the guest speaker, to discuss on ‘Enough of Poverty’.
The sixth session of the Bhutan Dialogues was held on 8th
March, 2018. With Mr.Hendrik Visser, to discuss on ‘Bhutan Climate
Hendrik Visser has an MSc in Civil Engineering and an MSc
in Sustainable Development and has worked for over twenty years in
international development. He lives for over twenty years in Bhutan and
is presently working as a consultant in the Asia, Pacific and African
regions on issues as Climate Change, Local Governance, Community empowerment, Civil Society strengthening, Infrastructure Development, and Capacity Development. He
is also a founding Board member and Director of the Bhutan Animal
Rescue and Care, which promotes Gross Animal Happiness and provides
animal rescue and care services in Bhutan. Hendrik is in his work and
private life especially interested in shaping development processes,
which induce ethical values in society and stimulate the evolution of
The seventh session of Bhutan dialogue was held in May 10, 2018 at
UN House between our host Dr Karma Phuntsho and our guest speaker Dr
Francoise Pommaret on the conversation topic “Is education responsible
for imparting culture?”
You can watch the entire conversation on our YouTube video or listen to the podcast on the link below:
The eighth session of Bhutan Dialogue has been held by host Dr Karma Phuntsho, Founder and President of the Loden Foundation and Aum Dorji Ohm, Executive Director of the The Bhutan Youth Development Fund, on the topic –“ Youth Matters in Development?”
Aum Dorji Ohm is the Executive
Director of Bhutan Youth Development Fund. She is also the chair of the
National Action & Coordination Group of the South Asia Initiative
to end Violence Against Children. Aum is also an instructor in
Alternative Healing (pranic healing). She has a post graduate
certificate in English Language and Literature from the Thames Valley
University, London. During her spare time, Aum likes to practice yoga
and meditation, read, write, trek and indulge herself in social work and
designing (fashion and interior). She also enjoys volunteering for
animal shelters and care.
The 9th session of Bhutan Dialogue was held on the conversation between our host, Dr Karma Phuntsho, the Founder and President of Loden Foundation and our speaker, Dr Chencho Dorji, Bhutan’s first modern psychiatrist.
Dr Chencho is the Bhutan’s
first modern psychiatrist and first prison medical officer. He has
devoted all of his time and effort in developing the Bhutanese Mental
Health Services with main focus on community based mental health care.
Among his many interests, he is an ardent follower of the Gross National
Happiness philosophy of development. He is also keen on integrating
Buddhist Principles in psychotherapy.
For more detail on this session click on the You Tube and audio link given below:
The 10th session of Bhutan
Dialogue was successfully held on 9 august, 2018 at UN House with host
Dr Karma Phuntsho, on conversation with the World Bank’s Resident Representative and Senior Country Economist for Bhutan.
Yoichiro Ishihara is the World Bank’s
Resident Representative and Senior Country Economist for Bhutan. Under
the leadership of the Country Director, he leads the World Bank programs
in Bhutan. He is a macroeconomist with a broad operational expertise,
apt technical skills and rich client experience across various regions
of the World Bank. He also worked for the policy department in
Washington DC on development effectiveness and results management.
Prior to moving to Bhutan, he was the country
economist based in Rwanda. Before that, he had held various positions
including the economist in Indonesia and the senior country economist in
Afghanistan. Yoichiro holds a PhD in Development Economics (Graduate
School of International Development of Nagoya University, Japan).
The conversation between our host, Dr Karma Phuntsho, the Founder and President of #LodenFoundation and our speaker, Siok Sian Pek-Dorji, the founder-director of the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy on 11th session of Bhutan Dialogue at UN House on 13 September 2018.
Siok Sian Pek-Dorji believes
that as a small landlocked country in a global world, Bhutan’s identity
lies in its ability to share its own stories. She has been telling
Bhutan’s stories through news and magazine articles and documentaries in
an effort to record the country’s rich culture, identity and its
journey to modernity. Siok Sian is the founder-director of the Bhutan
Centre for Media and Democracy, and supports training for creative
non-fiction writing, micro documentaries and multimedia storytelling in
Bhutan. She is a co-director of the Mountain Echoes literary festival.
Siok Sian Pek-Dorji is also a firm believer in the inherent need of
growing civil society for Bhutan’s long-term sustainability and
On 12th session of #BhutanDialogues which was scheduled on 8 November (the second Thursday of the month) from 4:00 pm at UN House, Kawajangsa, Thimphu.
On the conversation between
our host, Dr Karma Phuntsho, the Founder and President of Loden
Foundation and our speaker, Daniel Spitzer, the Chairman/CEO of #MountainHazelnuts, Bhutan
Daniel Spitzer is the Chairman/CEO, Mountain Hazelnuts Group, Bhutan. Since the early 1990’s, Daniel has founded and led
companies in Asia that have successfully combined financial objectives
with social and environmental goals, including Mountain Hazelnuts
(MH) and Plantation Timber Products Group (PTP).
In a unique public-private-community partnership MH
is planting 10 million hazelnut trees on degraded mountainsides to
rehabilitatr fragile ecosystems and sequester CO2. In the process tens
of thousands of mountain farmers have the opportunity to generate
income. MH is Bhutan’s first 100% FDI and its shareholders include the
IFC (of the World Bank Group) and Asian Development Bank.
MH draws on the PTP model, which engaged 700,000
farmer partners growing trees on deforested mountains and vulnerable
river regions in Sichuan China that served as raw material for PTP’s
sustainable forest products. PTP built state-off-the-art factories, then
established 1,000+ retail stores, and well-recognized brands to
generate strong cash flow.
Earlier in his career, Daniel was Partner in a US$
10 billion private equity fund that invested in Asian companies. Daniel
received a Masters from Stanford University and a BA from University of
California, Berkeley. Daniel is been a regular lecturer at Stanford
Graduate School of Business, focusing on entrepreneurship and social
impact. He and his wife have a son and daughter, both of whom grew up in
Asia and now have international careers.
The 13th session of Bhutan Dialogue was held on 13 December 2018 with Dorji Dhradhul as the guest speaker.
Dhradhul, the Dzongda (Governer) of Gasa Dzongkhag since April 2015, is
a writer, a Desuup (Guardian of Peace) and a social worker among other
things in his professional career that spans over 20 years.
completed his Masters of Science (Agriculture Extension) from the
University of Reading, United Kingdom and studied at Peridiniya
University in Sri Lanka for his undergraduate studies in Baclelor of
Science (Agriculture). He has worked at various capacities in areas of
agriculture research, policy and development. agriculture marketing and
cooperatives before he was appointed as the Gasa Dzongda in 2015.
is also a writer and has published numerous articles in Kuensel and
research papers. He also authored ‘Escapades Awakenings’ – a novel that
presents a uniquely different take on life in Bhutan, moving beyond the
clichéd descriptions and traditional tales to lift the veil of misty
romanticism and offer a glimpse into the stark realities of its
You can watch the entire conversation on YouTube and listen to the podcast audio below:
The 14th session of Bhutan Dialogue was held on 17 January 2019 with Mr. Jurgen Nagler as the guest speaker.
Juergen Nagler is the Resident Representative a.i of UNDP Bhutan. He is
an international development practitioner with over 20 years’ of
experience in successfully delivering global, regional and field
projects with UNDP, UN Global Compact, the private sector and
joined the UN after 10-year career with major international companies
in the areas of marketing, business developmenty and Corporate Social
Responsibility. He holds
Bachelors Degree in Business Administration and a Masters in
International Development. He is currently pursuing PhD in exploring the
roles of mindsets for human development and the SDGs. He is passionate
about transformative and holistic human development approaches,
therefore, he also co-founded a grass-roots development NGO and the
global UN Transformation.
Here is the youtube link for 14 successful and informative conversations of Bhutan Dialogues since October 2017.
Today is 14 Feb. In this rapidly globalizing world, I am sure that the popular significance of the day is not lost on you. So, thank you for coming here and sparing some of our most precious hours with us, although we may not make good romantic partners for you.
The reason for our choice of 14 Feb is not because it is St Valentines Day, although love and romance could also make a better reason for us to gather and celebrate. We also certainly do not intend to distract you from any romantic dates you may have planned. We hope to finish in time for that.
We were inspired to have the launch today for a very local reason. If you switch on the Druk Zakar apps, you will discover today is one of the most auspicious days in the calendar year. We are observing the Earth Pig year, and today is Water Pig day, and the elemental combination is of two earths. As complicated as it may sound, the domain of the 10th day of the 1st month, Tshechu of the Chotrul Dawa, one of the holiest months, has also began already since this morning. The convergence of these astral, planetary and zodiac positions, make today a very auspicious and positively powerful day to launch a good project.
So, on such an astrologically and spiritually special day, I on behalf of the Loden Foundation and the UN in Bhutsan welcome Your Excellency, Dechen Wangmo, Minister of Health, Your Excellency J B Rai, Minister of Education, former ministers, Lyonpo Om Pradhan and Dorji Wangdi, and distinguished guests to the launch of the online portal of Bhutan Dialogues, and to celebrate the achievements of Bhutan Dialogues in the past one and half year. Today, as we launch the online portal, we will be opening Bhutan Dialogues to a unlimited global audience. It is a big step for us taking us beyond the confines of the UN house in Bhutan to share our stories, conversations and ideas with the rest of the world at the click of a mouse.
While we celebrate the successes of Bhutan Dialogues and launch its online portal which will take Bhutan Dialogues to new heights and to greater reach, it is also time for us to reassess our aims, targets, and needs in a rapidly changing local and global scenario.
It is a time to reflect on our initial motives and aspirations. Why Bhutan Dialogues? Are its objectives and purposes as important as they were couple years ago? Is the mode of our conversations effective? When Gerald Daly of UN in Bhutan and I had our initial meetings to visualize this forum of free, open and civil conversations, we were fully conscious of where we, as individuals, as a nation, as a global community are, in terms of our place and time in the process of development. We were, as we are today, fully aware of the need for deeper reflection on ourselves and our actions, for a thorough discussion of our development policies and practices, and for constant evaluation of our outcomes and results.
To put it in the local Buddhist framework, we were aware that we live in the epoch of degenerate times (སྙིགས་མ་ལྔ་བདོའི་དུས་), when the five degenerate elements surge like rising tides. There is the degenerate time (དུས་སྙིགས་མ་). While the number of hours in our daily schedule have not gone down in quantity, our time with the multitude of distractions and occupations we have, has become much less useful and meaningful, more wasteful and futile, shallow and, and even hollow for some. Our hours, days and weeks flash by without much meainingful achievement.
Such experience of time leads to an overall mode of living which is a degenerate life (ཚེ་སྙིགས་མ་), a hectic, stressful, distracted and often a empty meaningless life.
Such meaningless life then shapes our character and personality, identity and nature of being. We become degenerate beings (སེམས་ཅན་སྙིགས་མ་), low in our moral and spiritual qualities, poor in purpose and meaning, with shallow character or mode of existence.
In such a state, our thoughts, emotions, fears and expectations rage like the strong waves of a sea. We live with the forces of wild degenerate emotions (ཉོན་མོངས་སྙིགས་མ་), and our decisions are increasingly made by our heart and hot blood than reasoning and wisdom.
These thoughts and emotions are mostly fed by the fifth and final element of degeneration, the degenerate views (ལྟ་བ་སྙིགས་མ་). As the Buddha put, we are caught in the thickets of our wrongs views, in the prison of our dogmatic beliefs and shackles of our internal prejudices. The dogmatic attachment to and espousal of these beliefs and views lead to the problems of discrimination, hatred, chauvinism, and supremacism which we see rampant in the world.
A degenerate view is a view which only sees one side of the story, has a partial view of reality, is not open to alternative perspectives and outlooks, is not willing to change and grow, and which defies progress and positive evolution.
With the digital revoluation which we have so excitedly embraced, we hoped to achieve access to truth and the freedom of expression with the open tools of internet and social media. Sadly, this has not come true. With distortion of facts, fake news, and manipulation of information and data by political power houses and corporate commercialisation, we are only confronted with even a greater challenge of screening the enormous deluge of information, of doing fair and honest analyses, and making the right and informed choices.
As a result, we see across the world waves of ill informed and dangerous populism, protectionism, nationalism and parochialism. We truly live, as the Buddha said, in the thicket of views and the wilderness of beliefs. We lack adequate dialogue, discussion and debates to burn the thickets, and look beyond known horizons.
The degenerate views, when coupled with the powerful technological and digital tools we have today, cause far greater damage and destruction than they could ever do in the past. Thus, there is a greater need than before to share ideas, exchange perspectives and discuss issues, so that we refine our understanding of the world, ourselves and the course of human progress, so that we make informed decisions, effective plans and programmes, and useful and sustainable results.
Bhutan Dialogues was concieved and launched almost a year and half ago with the objective of creating such a forum for civil conversations, for mindful listening, right speech, in depth discussions, and cordial debates. We believe in the Bhutanese adage:
The deliberation of three average brains is better than the idea of a lone best brain.
We put into practice the priceless ancient advice of the Buddha that our ideas, words, actions, plans, policies and programmes, like assaying gold by burning, cutting and polishing, must be thoroughly analysed, critically studied and discussed. We try to practice the Buddhist path of realizing through our sustained efforts the Bodhisattva ideals of bringing benefit to both oneself and others, the global agenda of Sustainable Development Goals championed by the UN, and the national goal of Gross National Happiness.
We take inspiration from Krista Tippet and her programme On Being, a public radio show and podcast in the US to conduct better conversations with humility, patience and hospitality, and as she puts it ‘to ask enduring human questions’, to carry out ‘generous listening powered by curiosity’, ‘to approach civility as an adventure, not an exercise in niceness’, and ‘practice a patient view of time’ to seek gradual human transformation.”
Today, the knowledge of the world is literally at out finger tips. What we need urgently today is not a way to provide more knowledge and information but the wisdom to analyse and understand knowledge, to sort and digest knowledge and information in a useful manner, to restrain from producing useless and harmful information.
We need, in summary, what the Bhutanese master called (ཆོས་རབ་རྣམ་འབྱེད་ཀྱི་ཤེས་རབ་), the wisdom to discern things correctly. This, therefore, is the main objective, the spirit, and the ethos of Bhutan Dialogues.
Flying from Guwahati this morning over the Dagala mountain range, I could appreciate the breathtaking splendour and the extent of Dagala mountain. I could also recollect and appreciate the local proverb: (འབྱོག་ལོ་རྒས་ཤི་རུང་ དར་དཀར་ལའི་ཕུ་མཐའ་མ་ཆོདཔ་) a nomad could die from old age without fathoming the expanse of Dagala.
Stuck in our own narrow valleys and views, shut off from other perpectives and perceptions, we cannot appreciate the collosal and complex contours of the Dagala of humanity, its development and progress, the Dagala of the human mind and its potential and prospects. Thus, it is very pertinent that we look at issues holistically from all angles and perspectives, particularly from the opposing side. The Karmapa lama once instructed (ཕ་རི་ལྟ་དགོ་ན་ ཚུར་རི་ནས་ལྟོས་), if one wants to see that mountain, see it from this mountain. This is a forum to which we bring people who have seen from the other side, who have walked their talks, and left a mark. we hope the forum to create a space to see important issues from different and contrasting perspectives.
By creating this space, and inviting thought leaders and development experts, people who hold insight in our pressing issues, have endeavoured to find solutions, and made a difference to shape their world, and by sharing their stories, their ideas and habits, we hope to inspire and inform the youth, which consitutes the major bulk of our population. We hope to stimulate in them curiosity and courage, equip them with new tips and techniques, and expose them to role models and mentors.
It is with the dual goals of refining our understanding of human development and progress, and inspiring and empowering the youth that we have started Bhutan Dialogues, continue it today, and on this auspicious day, launch the online portal.
I wish to thank you once again for joining us in this venture and for your support to make it successful.
The 15th session of
Bhutan Dialogue was held on 11 April 2019 with Aum Tashi Pem as the guest
Aum Tashi Pem has more than 19 years work experience in
development work in Bhutan with focus on local government, decentralization,
and civil society engagement. Currently, she is the Country Director of
HELVETAS. Aum Tashi holds a Masters Degree in Policy, Management and Government
from the University of York, United Kingdom.
You can watch the entire conversation on YouTube and listen
to the podcast audio below:
The 16th session of Bhutan Dialogue was held on 9th May 2019 with Mr. Michael Peil as the guest speaker.
Michael Peil and his family have lived in Bhutan since the beginning of 2013. He presently serves as the Vice Dean and an Associate Professor of Law at JSW School of Law in Taba, where he also teaches International Law and Tort Law.