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  Journal of Bhutan Studies, Volume 32, Summer 2015    


1. Export Price of Electricity in Bhutan: The Case of Mangdechhu Hydroelectric Project by Sangay Chophel

There has been substantial cost escalation on the ongoing hydropower projects in Bhutan, exerting pressure on already ballooning national debt. This has raised concerns on whether the benefits of hydropower projects outweigh the costs and on the preciseness of its costing. Based on data available in the detailed project reports and the agreement signed between India and Bhutan, this paper examines the financial viability of Mangdechhu project by employing two different methods: cost-plus method and financial cost-benefit analysis. The results show that cost-plus method undervalues the total cost of the project. The impact of changes in several parameters and cost overrun on tariff is also analyzed in this paper.

2. Enhancing Bhutanese Rice in the Domestic Market through increased Production and Favorable Pricing Regime by Ngawang Chhogyel, Mahesh Ghimiray, Kencho Wangdue and Yadunath Bajgai

Rice (Oriza sativa L.) is one the most important food crops in Bhutan. Due to its national importance the Department of Agriculture (DoA) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests initiated technical interventions in the major rice growing dzongkhags (districts) to improve rice yield and production from 2008-2009. The aim of the program was to commercialize domestically produced rice through enhanced yield, production and rice value chain. The program involved increased investment for intensi ed promotion of higher yielding varieties of rice, farm mechanization, post harvest and marketing, capacity building, nutrient management and crop protection as the software component. The hardware part saw the constructions and renovations of many irrigation schemes and construction of rice processing units. As a result of the intensi ed interventions the productivity of rice yield has increased to 3.88 t/ha in 2013 from about 2.81 t/ha in 2009. Favourable pricing mechanism is essential for both farmers and the consumers although farmers want higher prices and the consumers the lower. To facilitate smooth trade the DoA has recommended prices for different varieties of paddy for farmers by maintaining reasonable margins besides associated costs. Therefore, adjusted farm-gate prices have been worked out so as to serve as the recommended paddy procurement prices or basis for calculation. The formal domestic rice trade has come to mainstream markets by involving the Food Corporation of Bhutan Limited. Due to the strategic interventions the domestically produced rice in circulation is estimated to be 255 t currently (as of June 2015) and it is expected to increase further with the prioritized investments, good pricing mechanism and policy support. In conclusion, the commercialization program brought about the increase in yield and overall production and has successfully main streamed trade of domestically produced rice in Bhutan.

3. The Role of Deliberative Mini-Publics in the Quest for Gross National Happiness in Bhutan by Gerard W. Horgan

Political participation is recognized as a component of Bhutan’s multidimensional development framework, ‘Gross National Happiness’ (GNH). In recent years, Bhutan has instituted a conventional system of liberal democratic, representative democracy. However, this system has supplanted an earlier, indigenous system of village-based participatory democracy. This paper builds on the premise that, to be true to the goal of good governance encapsulated in GNH, Bhutan needs to embrace a deeper level of political participation than that embodied by representative democracy. The de cits of the new representative system are identi ed via the utilization of Lijphart’s majoritarian versus consensual democratic framework. It is suggested that a form of ‘deliberative polling’ should be institutionalized as part of the parliamentary policy-making process, as a complement to the existing representative system.

4. Use of Social Media and Digital Technology from the Perspective of Citizen Engagement and Democratic Participation in the Works of Centre for Bhutan Studies & GNH Studies: A Positioning Paper by Dendup Chophel

Promotion of socio-economic and political dialogue, and engagement of citizens in the process of governance are essential features of a democracy. Public think tank organizations have a key role to play in this regard and thus, as the only state research organization, the Centre for Bhutan Studies & GNH Research (CBS) should be at the forefront of innovations in engaging with the public through policy dialogue by exploring various communication forums like social media. According to the Act for the Centre for Bhutan Studies (2001) by which it was established, the CBS is an autonomous government organization charged with conducting multi-disciplinary research into the history, culture, economy and policy of the country among others. It is mandated with promoting the culture of scholarship and public education through dissemination of timely and quality scholarly research ndings. It is also aimed at in uencing public policy by providing state institutions with informed and researched inputs. For these purposes, the CBS not only conducts independent research works, the results of which are published as scholarly books, but also organizes national and international conferences, public talks, promote collaboration with global research institutions and represent the country in various scholarly international forums to present the country’s policy positioning. For example, in just the area of media and governance, the CBS has organized various conferences like the major international conference on “Media and Public Culture in Bhutan” (June 2006) and “Deepening and Sustaining Democracy in Asia” (October 2009).