Dorji Choden
Country: Bhutan
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Dorji Choden

Aum Dorji Choden (born 5 December 1960) is a Bhutanese politician. She was appointed minister of Bhutan's Works and Human Settlement Ministry in 2013, making her the first woman to serve as a minister in Bhutan

Education

She received her primary and secondary schooling in Bhutan and earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the Birla Institute of Technology in Ranchi, Jharkhand, India. She also has a master's degree in public administration from Syracuse University in the United States.

Civil service career

Choden started her career as an assistant engineer in the Public Works Department, which made her the first woman engineer in Bhutan. She later served as chief of the Public Health Engineering Division of Bhutan. In January 2000 she became the director of the Standard and Quality Control Authority of Bhutan. In January 2006 she was appointed as a commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission of Bhutan, an autonomous body which was established in the same year. During her tenure in civil service she represented technical and gender issues at national, regional and international forums. In 2008 Bhutan changed from being a monarchy to a constitutional monarchy, and in order to participate in Bhutan's first parliamentary election, she resigned from the Anti-Corruption Commission, as Constitution of Bhutan does not allow a civil servant to take part in election, but was defeated in the polls. Then In 2009, she began working as assistant resident representative of the United Nations poverty and Millennium Development Goals unit where she handled the poverty portfolio, addressing youth employment and women's empowerment until 2012.

Political career

In 2008, she joined the People's Democratic Party (PDP), the first registered political party in Bhutan, and ran to represent the Thrimshing constituency in Trashigang. She received a thrashing defeat and left politics temporarily to work with the United Nations. In 2012, she resigned from the UN and joined the newly formed political party, Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT). She became the president of the DNT, making her one of the first women to lead a political party in Bhutan with Lily Wangchuk, president of the Druk Chirwang Tshogpa. In the primary election of 31 May 2013, she won an overwhelming victory in her constituency but her party did not succeed. Only the People's Democratic Party and the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa participated in the general election winning the majority of the votes in the primary election. At that point, she rejoined the PDP at their invitation, though there was speculation of DPT offering seat. However, the Constitution of Bhutan does not allow coalition governments, and she was accused of forming a coalition with the PDP. As Choden had been president of the DNT, many people felt that leaving her own party and joining the winning party was a sign of a hunger for power.Despite the criticism, she joined the PDP and later won a seat in the general election of 13 July 2013. The party elected her to head the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement, making her the first woman minister in Bhutan. She encountered controversy after she made a statement in the media about gender discrimination in Bhutan, and a critic website published an article criticizing her statement.Along with her portfolio as a minister, she is also the chair of the National Commission for Women and Child of Bhutan and chair of Bhutan Education City.

Bhutan-Dorji-hoden
PC CREDIT: Dorji Choden was a civil servant for 20 years before becoming Bhutan’s first democratically elected female minister. Photograph: Mulugeta Wolde

Bhutan's first female minister: engineer, equality warrior and former civil servant

Bhutan is a Buddhist nation of 740,000 people that wants its agriculture to become totally organic, that measures happiness as well as economic growth, and wants to bring its citizens into the 21st-century while retaining its traditional culture. It was also, until recent victories moved it 46 places up the league, a country with the world’s worst football team (its Fifa world ranking was 209 – out of 209 teams). Being a civil servant in this country is a unique challenge. Moving from a 20-year civil service career to becoming a government minister – and becoming the first democratically elected female minister of the country in the process – could be seen as even more of a challenge, but it’s one that Dorji Choden has taken on with ease. For Choden, an engineer by training, being in the service of her country is something she is glad to take on – and it beats the year she spent doing a master’s degree in Syracuse, New York state, where she was desperately homesick. “My background is in engineering,” explains Choden. “I started my work as an engineer in the same ministry where I am now, working on infrastructure development, water and sanitation.” Choden then became an anti-corruption commissioner as Bhutan readied itself for a move to parliamentary democracy. But what made her cross the divide and become a politician? “It was a call from the throne,” she explains. King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who became the Bhutan ruler in 2006 when his father abdicated, felt civil servants like Choden had a big part to play in the new democratic system. “I think I served well enough in the civil service to understand the country’s issues. And I took it as another platform to serve people,” she says. Things didn’t quite work out as planned. In the first election of 2008, Choden’s People’s Democratic Party did not win, so instead of becoming a politician, the former civil servant did several years with the United Nations Development Programme , looking at poverty and unemployment – a rich experience, she says, that has added valuable knowledge of social policy to her technical background. In the second election of 2013, her party gained power and she became minister of the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement. Bhutan, which famously measures gross national happiness in addition to GDP, has some way to go on gender parity in its new government. “I must tell you our first election was better,” says Choden. “The percentage of female politicians was close to 14%. But somehow that dropped last time. It’s now only 8%: six women out of 72 parliamentarians.” Operating in such an overwhelmingly male environment is not a problem for Choden. “Ever since the time I took a technical education, I was so used to working with male colleagues,” she explains. “During my whole career in the civil service I worked with male colleagues, so I do not find this any different. It only requires you to work hard and show your competency.” But it is something Choden wants to see change, in both the civil service and politics. “Development in Bhutan is fairly young, so the first batch of students who went out for [civil service] training were mostly men and boys. That was in the 1960s, so now most senior civil servants are men.” That’s beginning to change as girls take a full role through the whole education system. Choden also chairs the national Bhutan Commission for Women and Children, which is setting up programmes to promote women into more leadership roles. “We start in high school with training and we go round the districts and think about the local government elections as well,” she says. “We are working through local government to bring in women who are interested.” There are still barriers. Choden says women and girls in Bhutan are respected and don’t face direct discrimination, but that women still need to develop greater capacity and confidence to take part in public life. “The whole development approach is based on gross national happiness, which is still very strong and a principle that guides us,” says Choden. It is notoriously hard to measure national happiness. The Bhutan government looks at indicators like the vibrancy of communities, spiritual wellbeing, the conservation of nature and the value of tradition and culture – and women have a part of play in all those areas, she points out. “We want to build that capacity, so women can feel they should take part and not just on women’s issues. It’s a holistic approach.”

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PC CREDIT: Aum Dorji Choden, Bhutan’s first female minister. She was the minister of Works and Human Settlement Ministry from 2013 to 2017. Image credit: NCWC archive photos, 2016

Dorji Choden dreamt of becoming a pilot long before airlines became operational in Bhutan. Her love for science took her to civil engineering, a “masculine” discipline, and she went on to become Bhutan’s first woman engineer, when she joined the country’s Public Works Department in 1985. She later joined politics and became the Minister of Works and Human Settlement in 2013, becoming the first woman in the country to enter the cabinet. In this interview with Anubha Bhonsle and Pallavi Prasad, she talks about the need to design policies with a gender lens and why having just one woman at the decision making table is not good enough.

AB: Let’s start with the beginning. How was school and what led you to studying engineering?


Dorji Choden: Back in the time, while the government was prioritizing education, the same importance was not given at the level of family or society. Many of my friends started working straight after high school. I had lost my father when I was ten, and my mother knew very little. So at home, my family wanted me to drop my education and take up a job. But I had this burning desire to pursue something in science, so I dreamt high and ended up in engineering after school – it was my love for science, and my fascination of what happened in space and with astronauts. Even though Bhutan did not have an airline at that time, I was dreaming of becoming a pilot. I also had good science teachers, they were from India. I used to do well, and they were very encouraging. We were lucky to get opportunities during our school days. The Indian embassy would conduct competitions in schools. I used to participate. We got to tour some big cities of India as an award. During that tour, we visited an aircraft manufacturing unit in Bangalore. I was completely fascinated. I had lots of questions (such as) “Can a girl become a pilot?” So, it became my dream that I can be a pilot, and it was my burning ambition at the time.


AB: How did you end up choosing a career in civil engineering?


Dorji Choden: Because that was the opportunity available at the time. Bhutan did not have an airline, so there was no opportunity to be a pilot. I took up engineering. It was a very “masculine” subject – much to do with structures, cement, iron rods and a very male-dominated profession. But that’s where an opportunity came – I got an offer to study engineering from the government and I took it up.


AB: You mention the profession as very male-dominated. How was that period like, at a personal level considering you were the first?


Dorji Choden: I think there were lots of challenges. The profession required a lot of mobility, traveling outside the country. As a woman you worry about safety, privacy. In fact, just going to India in a faraway college all by myself was a challenge in itself. The academics weren’t the challenge. And then when I moved to the workplace, it was very rare to see a female engineer in Bhutan at the time. However, I got used to it because even in India, during college, I had only one female batchmate in civil engineering. Very few women take up civil engineering but I am happy I did. Civil engineering is basic for any development – roads, or bridges or water supply. The challenges weren’t with the profession as such. The Bhutanese society is not too conservative, they are fairly open, they accepted me as an engineer.


AB: Tell us more about your work as a civil engineer, and how that work translated to improved lives of young girls in particular.


Dorji Choden: Men and women often have different needs. Sometimes equal opportunity does not translate to equal output. For example, I spoke about the mobile nature of the job. Men can pack their things and move anytime, without thinking of where they’ll halt at night, where they’ll stay. But women, if you are asked to go do a survey, you’ll think, “Okay, I have to make some arrangements. Where will I stay? How will I go? Should I drive?” These are small things but they impact women. During my tenure in the civil service as well as later, I was mindful of these things. When I joined the ministry, there was one common toilet shared by men and women – something unimaginable now. When I came back, after being a civil servant to heading the ministry, these were the things I had in mind. First, how can we incorporate small details into strategies and policy policies. How do women access public infrastructure: how should the delivery room be like, are there toilets nearby. If you design an office, is there a place where you can breastfeed babies? And the second is how you treat your employees – being a working woman, when you see a working woman as your employee, you are a little mindful of the small things that can enable women to work better.


AB: You have the tag of “first” in many of your achievements. And it’s commendable, but we need many more at the table, in the decision making forums.


Dorji Choden: We don’t want to promote extraordinary people as the “first engineer” or the “first minister”. Just one woman in the cabinet is not good enough. There were just three women MPs during my time in the lower house, the National Assembly, and that is not good enough. We have to bring the critical mass, and that is where we have to work. We need many more voices, we need stronger voices. Especially when we are legislating and amending laws related to marriage, divorce, rapes, domestic violence and issues like those. We need more women in decision-making forums, in the parliament, at the high levels of the bureaucracy, in the corporate world. It’s very important that women are well represented. We need the critical mass but how do we encourage women? There is no one answer – we need a multipronged approach. We need to build our women not only for education but to make a career of that education as well. That’s important because not many women are making a career.


AB: How can we increase that critical mass of women at the top echelons in their field? What would it take for all systems to be more attractive and to clear the barriers for women and young girls?


Dorji Choden: In Bhutan, the government has taken several steps, we also have several NGOs working on issues that affect women. The National Commission for Women is working to create awareness in children. They go to schools and create awareness about how women should be ambitious and take up a career. We’ll also have to create measures to help women and remove some of their burdens. One initiative we took was to introduce creche centres at the workplace. I created one in my ministry, we created a few others in different ministries and offices. We’ll need to build a conducive environment as well. We will have to empower women so that they have the confidence and drive and are willing to come forward.


AB: If you don’t have the critical mass, if you’re one woman in a gathering of predominantly male ministers, there is so much burden on you to do everything. What can we do so that women are more empowered once they reach the top?


Dorji Choden: If one woman has to speak for many women, she will need the right information and knowledge and good arguments and reasoning, which she may lack in many cases. I’m also a member of an NGO called Bhutan Network for Empowering Women, and what we did was to form a women’s caucus. It has members of Parliament – both men and women – as well as women who have technical expertise on other issues. What we are trying is that the caucus should have all the resources to support the few women who are represented in different forums so that they can speak with conviction and are able to justify their proposals.


AB: You are an icon. What do you say to young girls and boys who turn to you for mentoring or for advice?


Dorji Choden: Whenever I meet young girls and boys in a group, they often ask, “You were the first (woman) engineer, the first (woman) minister, what is your secret to success?” And I tell them that I happen to be the first because we are such a small population. There are so few women taking part in politics, so I happened to be the first minister.


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PC CREDIT: Participants at the IWD Conference. Picture courtesy: National Council of Bhutan

I tell them please dream, because you have to dream, and hope and have ambition. Because unless you have all these, there’s no drive to go forward. I also tell them that please don’t think of starting your career and your life full of wealth. Even the billionaires and millionaires, they started working for somebody doing small jobs, difficult jobs…these are the stepping stones. And doing all these simple and ordinary things will lead to some extraordinary achievements. There are no shortcuts – please dream, please hope, and please pursue.

Education and Economic Empowerment of Women in Bhutan Could Address the Gender Gap in Happiness

A greater voice for women in the management of the land they own and access to an effective secondary and higher education along with skills training will go a long way in addressing gender gap concerns in Bhutan. This is the main finding of the report Bhutan Gender Policy Note (GPN) which was launched in Thimpu today. The report prepared by the World Bank in collaboration with the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC), following extensive stakeholder consultations, reviews the achievements on gender equality achieved so far in Bhutan, identifies areas where more needs to be done, and recommends policy interventions aimed at improving gender equality in Bhutan, which in turn will help in achieving economic growth and shared prosperity. “The Gender Policy Note has been jointly created as an evidence-based document to cover the critical gender issues of concern in the country,” said Lyonpo Dorji Choden, Chairperson, NCWC.“It will help organizations like ours and other key national agencies to advocate for greater attention to gender equality and more action by all stakeholders,” she added. Bhutan has undergone a major socio-economic transformation over the past few decades. The per capita income has grown steadily from $340 in 1980 to $5570 in 2011. Significant progress has been made towards achieving gender equality and other areas of human development: in education, enrollment in primary schools stood at 88 percent in 2008 as against 1 girl enrolled for every 50 boys in 1970; maternal mortality has dropped dramatically from 1000 in 1990 to 180 in 2010; women are an almost equal partner in the labor force in Bhutan. Yet despite the progress, a few deep-rooted cultural restrictions have not allowed women to bridge the gap and help Bhutan achieve gender equality. “Bhutan has made tremendous progress in female labor force participation, but the quality of jobs for women is still an issue. Improving job quality and productivity for women would enhance gender equality and promote economic growth,” said Genevieve Boyreau, Resident Representative and Senior Country Economist, The World Bank. Owing to the matrilineal inheritance practice in large parts of Bhutan, about 60 per cent of rural women and about 45 per cent of urban women have land and property titles registered in their name. This asset however does not translate to an economic advantage for the women as land is not used as collateral for access to finance and land-ownership at times also becomes an obstacle for migration of women to better opportunities for work and skill acquisition. In addition, the male still holds the decision making power. The Labor Force Survey of 2011 show that although there was little gender disparity in terms of overall employment – 72 percent males and 67 per cent females – the quality of jobs done by women was an issue. They were generally employed in low paying agricultural jobs and those employed in non-agricultural sector earned almost 25 per cent less than the males. Moreover, the primary responsibility of the woman was taking care of household chores and children, thus resulting in them not acquiring the requisite education and skills training to get better jobs. The report recommends targeted policy interventions in the following areas: • Women should actively manage the land they own for better business opportunities and be economically empowered. • Girls should be encouraged and supported to complete secondary and tertiary education and provided access to vocational and life-skills training tailored for women which could provide them better quality jobs. • Social norms about gender roles in households should be addressed. A greater role for men in sharing the housework and taking care of the children. Basic literacy among women should be improved to encourage more open attitudes, awareness of rights and be part of the larger community. “Bhutan has done a terrific job in improving gender equality over the past few decades and is now one of the most gender equal countries in Asia. It has the potential, despite the cultural restrictions, to make even greater achievements in gender equality, and be among the leading nations of the world,” said Andy Kotikula, Senior Economist, Gender and Development Group, World Bank and lead author of the Note. “Going forward, Bhutan should address the remaining gender gaps through targeted policy interventions and design them to fit the socio-economic conditions in the country, in order to achieve maximum effectiveness,” he added.

Outstanding Achievements

From building roads to shattering glass ceilings: Meet Dorji Choden, Bhutan’s first woman minister

Dorji Choden dreamt of becoming a pilot long before airlines became operational in Bhutan. Her love for science took her to civil engineering, a “masculine” discipline, and she went on to become Bhutan’s first woman engineer, when she joined the country’s Public Works Department in 1985. She later joined politics and became the Minister of Works and Human Settlement in 2013, becoming the first woman in the country to enter the cabinet. In this interview with Anubha Bhonsle and Pallavi Prasad, she talks about the need to design policies with a gender lens and why having just one woman at the decision making table is not good enough.

AB: Let’s start with the beginning. How was school and what led you to studying engineering?


Dorji Choden: Back in the time, while the government was prioritizing education, the same importance was not given at the level of family or society. Many of my friends started working straight after high school. I had lost my father when I was ten, and my mother knew very little. So at home, my family wanted me to drop my education and take up a job. But I had this burning desire to pursue something in science, so I dreamt high and ended up in engineering after school – it was my love for science, and my fascination of what happened in space and with astronauts. Even though Bhutan did not have an airline at that time, I was dreaming of becoming a pilot. I also had good science teachers, they were from India. I used to do well, and they were very encouraging. We were lucky to get opportunities during our school days. The Indian embassy would conduct competitions in schools. I used to participate. We got to tour some big cities of India as an award. During that tour, we visited an aircraft manufacturing unit in Bangalore. I was completely fascinated. I had lots of questions (such as) “Can a girl become a pilot?” So, it became my dream that I can be a pilot, and it was my burning ambition at the time.

AB: How did you end up choosing a career in civil engineering?


Dorji Choden: Because that was the opportunity available at the time. Bhutan did not have an airline, so there was no opportunity to be a pilot. I took up engineering. It was a very “masculine” subject – much to do with structures, cement, iron rods and a very male-dominated profession. But that’s where an opportunity came – I got an offer to study engineering from the government and I took it up.

AB: You mention the profession as very male-dominated. How was that period like, at a personal level considering you were the first?


Dorji Choden: I think there were lots of challenges. The profession required a lot of mobility, traveling outside the country. As a woman you worry about safety, privacy. In fact, just going to India in a faraway college all by myself was a challenge in itself. The academics weren’t the challenge. And then when I moved to the workplace, it was very rare to see a female engineer in Bhutan at the time. However, I got used to it because even in India, during college, I had only one female batchmate in civil engineering. Very few women take up civil engineering but I am happy I did. Civil engineering is basic for any development – roads, or bridges or water supply. The challenges weren’t with the profession as such. The Bhutanese society is not too conservative, they are fairly open, they accepted me as an engineer.

AB: Tell us more about your work as a civil engineer, and how that work translated to improved lives of young girls in particular.


Dorji Choden: Men and women often have different needs. Sometimes equal opportunity does not translate to equal output. For example, I spoke about the mobile nature of the job. Men can pack their things and move anytime, without thinking of where they’ll halt at night, where they’ll stay. But women, if you are asked to go do a survey, you’ll think, “Okay, I have to make some arrangements. Where will I stay? How will I go? Should I drive?” These are small things but they impact women. During my tenure in the civil service as well as later, I was mindful of these things. When I joined the ministry, there was one common toilet shared by men and women – something unimaginable now. When I came back, after being a civil servant to heading the ministry, these were the things I had in mind. First, how can we incorporate small details into strategies and policy policies. How do women access public infrastructure: how should the delivery room be like, are there toilets nearby. If you design an office, is there a place where you can breastfeed babies? And the second is how you treat your employees – being a working woman, when you see a working woman as your employee, you are a little mindful of the small things that can enable women to work better.

AB: You have the tag of “first” in many of your achievements. And it’s commendable, but we need many more at the table, in the decision making forums.


Dorji Choden: We don’t want to promote extraordinary people as the “first engineer” or the “first minister”. Just one woman in the cabinet is not good enough. There were just three women MPs during my time in the lower house, the National Assembly, and that is not good enough. We have to bring the critical mass, and that is where we have to work. We need many more voices, we need stronger voices. Especially when we are legislating and amending laws related to marriage, divorce, rapes, domestic violence and issues like those. We need more women in decision-making forums, in the parliament, at the high levels of the bureaucracy, in the corporate world. It’s very important that women are well represented. We need the critical mass but how do we encourage women? There is no one answer – we need a multipronged approach. We need to build our women not only for education but to make a career of that education as well. That’s important because not many women are making a career.

AB: How can we increase that critical mass of women at the top echelons in their field? What would it take for all systems to be more attractive and to clear the barriers for women and young girls?


Dorji Choden: In Bhutan, the government has taken several steps, we also have several NGOs working on issues that affect women. The National Commission for Women is working to create awareness in children. They go to schools and create awareness about how women should be ambitious and take up a career. We’ll also have to create measures to help women and remove some of their burdens. One initiative we took was to introduce creche centres at the workplace. I created one in my ministry, we created a few others in different ministries and offices. We’ll need to build a conducive environment as well. We will have to empower women so that they have the confidence and drive and are willing to come forward.

AB: If you don’t have the critical mass, if you’re one woman in a gathering of predominantly male ministers, there is so much burden on you to do everything. What can we do so that women are more empowered once they reach the top?


Dorji Choden: If one woman has to speak for many women, she will need the right information and knowledge and good arguments and reasoning, which she may lack in many cases. I’m also a member of an NGO called Bhutan Network for Empowering Women, and what we did was to form a women’s caucus. It has members of Parliament – both men and women – as well as women who have technical expertise on other issues. What we are trying is that the caucus should have all the resources to support the few women who are represented in different forums so that they can speak with conviction and are able to justify their proposals.

AB: You are an icon. What do you say to young girls and boys who turn to you for mentoring or for advice?


Dorji Choden: Whenever I meet young girls and boys in a group, they often ask, “You were the first (woman) engineer, the first (woman) minister, what is your secret to success?” And I tell them that I happen to be the first because we are such a small population. There are so few women taking part in politics, so I happened to be the first minister. I tell them please dream, because you have to dream, and hope and have ambition. Because unless you have all these, there’s no drive to go forward. I also tell them that please don’t think of starting your career and your life full of wealth. Even the billionaires and millionaires, they started working for somebody doing small jobs, difficult jobs…these are the stepping stones. And doing all these simple and ordinary things will lead to some extraordinary achievements. There are no shortcuts – please dream, please hope, and please pursue.

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PC CREDIT: (Photographer: Desmond Boylan Contributor: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo)

Biggest achievement of the last five years is that people are happy: PM

Trashigang dzongkhag has achieved 37 of the 45 key performance indicators (KPI) of the dzongkhag’s key result areas set for the 11th Plan. During the terminal review meeting on June 8, Trashigang dzongdag, Chekey Gyeltshen, said five indicators are on track and three at risk. The dzongdag said that compared to the 10th Plan where the dzongkhag received a budget of Nu 950.560 million (M), the 11th Plan saw an increase of about 52 percent in the total budget outlay. Trashigang received Nu 1,440.867M in the current Plan. He said the dzongkhag witnessed developments not only in the urban centres but also at the villages. A total of 12 gewog centre roads running some 168.92km were blacktopped in the 11th Plan. Works to construct new roads to Merak and Sakteng also commenced in the current Plan. In the education sector, seven central schools were opened. While the number of students decreased from 11,871 in the 10th Plan to 11,123 in the current Plan, the number of teachers increased from 623 to 691. Under the health sector, the number of grade I basic health units (BHU) increased from two in the 10th Plan to five in the 11th Plan. The number of doctors increased from nine to 19 in the current Plan. The agricultural and dairy production also saw a sharp rise in the 11th Plan. The dzongkhag received 39 power tillers in the last five years and the length of electric fencing increased from 43.8km to 181.18km. In addition, 13 sanam tshongkhags were also established in the gewogs. Besides the renovation works on the 359-year-old dzong, a total of 852 choetens and 41 lhakhangs were renovated in the last five years. Dzongdag Chekey Gyeltshen said the construction of the 96 bed boys’ and girls’ hostels in Dungtse central school in Phongmay and establishment of a lhakhang and drashain Sakteng could not be completed and has to be carried into the next Plan. Each project is expected to cost Nu 5.50M and Nu 7M respectively. Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay, who along with education minister Norbu Wangchuk and works and human settlement minister Dorji Choden chaired the review, said it was important that the people are informed about the achievements of the past five years. Lyonchhen said that as an elected leader, it was his responsibility to share what the government had achieved in the last five years. “This is a new practice and I find this important for the public to know,” he said. He said that while the country has seen several developmental activities, the biggest achievement of the last five years is that people are happy and that peace in the country continues to flourish. Lyonchhen explained that while the country’s debt has increased in the current Plan, people should not be worried as it was all incurred in the hydropower activities. He said that these debts would self-liquidate as and when the hydropower projects compete. “People should be proud that the non-hydropower debt has decreased in the last five years.” Comparing the current achievements with the 10th Plan results, Lyonchhen said that the comparison was not to criticise the former government but it had to be based on the previous achievements.

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