ABA convention Vs Unity Concerns


Upon the request of TP Mishra, editor of BNS, I headed to the convention venue of Association of Bhutanese in America (ABA) on July 3 to report the event live.  As their first day convention didn’t hold much significance, we decided to report the program live from the next day. We had actually thought of updating the news from the convention venue, but this was not possible due to the lack of internet access.

This was the second time in the media history that the BNS tried a different way of disseminating fresh news—‘live blogging’. As discussed with the editor, I just reported the updates over phone while he took up the responsibility to upload them in the news portal i.e. www.bhutannewsservice.com. I could report the event live well, as per Editorial Board of BNS, it perhaps was exactly in a professional way; thanks to the team for guiding me more in an ethical and professional ways during the time of reporting.

When I reached the convention hall on the second day at 9:00 AM, I found some Board of Directors of ABA moving hence and forth, perhaps in an attempt to welcome any participants/guests. After having done registration, I entered the hall for the inspection of the setting, which was seen well decorated. Very few people were seen inside when I had stepped in. Interestingly, some of the Board Directors were blaming then ongoing World Cup Football between Argentina Vs. Germany for the delay of participants. Eventually the number of attendees increased to over half of the capacity of the hall by 10:25 AM numbering around 100.

Following the opening remark speech by DP Basnet, then Chairman of ABA, Hari Acharya, explained ABA’s aims, objectives, working structures, relations, history, concerns and its program in five places of Maryland. More significantly, the question-answer session that began at 12:30 PM is worth mentioning here. At least six people shot questions to the board of ABA, all most all of whom were hinting on ABA’s clear stance about growing wish for unification between ABA and Organization of Bhutanese in Communities in America (OBCA) 

A panel comprising then board of directors including Hari Acharya, Ganesh Subedi, D.P. Basnet and Birendra Dhakal answered most of the queries. ABA all the time expressed its core intension of having unification with other organizations, in particular OBCA. Words can perhaps be easily uttered but it’s the demand of the time that we live up united in practice. The panelists also expressed sadness on the formation of OBCA despite their open interest for the unification and amendment of the team. They accepted the weakness for their poor outreach, advocacy and strong communication with Bhutanese in America due to the lack of funds, human resources, among others.  

The voting procedure began at 2:47 PM. Soon after the formation of three-member election commission, Hari Acharya explained that the association was extending the executive members from 11 to 15 due to the increased number of population in USA. Out of existing 11 members, 9 members tenure was over; their vacated seats were to be filled. Remaining two members were elected from the last convention and their tenure was ongoing till the next convention. Again, newly set 11-members’ board had to nominate other four members to make the board seat complete. As the electronic and postal electoral process had been completed, live voting process was to go over. Finally, Acharya read the name of the final candidates for the election that included Dr. Purna Chhetri, Khageswor Mishra, Rabi Gurung, Puja Pradhan, Bishnu Pradhan, Jeevan Subba, Rajen Giri, Mukti Gurung and T.B. Bhandari.

The dais was then given to the candidate to give a brief speech. All most all speakers spoke in favor of unity of ABA and OBCA. Once they were done, Acharya distributed the voting ballots to only the members of ABA. According to their by-laws, the newly formed 11 members had to nominate four more candidates and again those 15 members’ directors had to elect Chairman and Executive directors from themselves on the same day, thus, closed door meeting was immediately held.

They reached to the conclusion that they would declare the name of four nominated members, Chairman and Executive director on the next day during the cultural program, but to no avail. When Kishor Pradhan proposed for the next convention in Pennsylvania, the convention for the day was nearer to the conclusion. Before the conclusion, Birendra Dhakal gave vote of thanks to all the organizing committee members, election commission members, Merceda of Refugee Family Service, Christ Community AME Church, and all the members and the audiences.

From the viewpoint of management, the convention hall was well-managed, but the hall couldn’t be filled by the audience. The organizer failed to meet the schedule to commence the program on slated time. Till lunch time, audience were cooperating the speaker, despite minor ins and outs. Lunch was well-managed with the Nepali dishes but there was no choice for those who do not wish to be served with rice. They had to convince with bottle of water or see the possibility to move to someone’s apartment or to nearby South Asian Markets.

Though the voting system was well-managed, the organizer clearly failed to meet their schedule of finding four nominated members, chairman and executive members. This was and still is an issue of public concern. Of course it is up to them to bring this to public light but since their claim is for a national organization of Bhutanese in USA, it is obvious that public can’t really wait to hear the names of those “undecided” positions in ABA. When they were open and quick to holding a well-organized election in the presence of public, there was no reliable reason that they adjourn the process of declaring the top-position-holding community leaders.

Unity concerns  
Bhutanese resettled in the USA have been found frustrated with the mushrooming growth of organizations and associations in the name of people and community. There were people in the convention expressing pessimistic opinion that they would be benefited both from ABA and OBCA. There were the worries on the fragmented community. Majority of the people, however, were wishing and voicing for “one national organization.”

ABA has very vague objective and plan which people hardy could perceive. At a time when Hari Acharya, the executive director, was explaining about the aims, objectives or mission of the association, still people were in confusion and ignorant to them. They were still seen asking one another about the goal of the association. The name of the association and the organizational structure of ABA seemed little disputed. Sometimes, it reflects that the ABA members are in the state of confusion whether to push organization as a general social organization or push it towards the community service. However, it is true that the there are experts and experienced senior people in the ABA. Their expertise is very helpful for the welfare of the community should it be transformed to practice.  

Not to take in other way round, I think the association was registered during the time when there was no influx of refugees to USA through resettlement program. It appears here that the senior Bhutanese had registered the association to suit as per their need and time, which made them trapped by the resettlement process. Many people also opine that preliminarily, ABA was less interested in the Bhutanese community service. If this gossip in swing is true, it is time for ABA to re-think and work according to demands raised from within the majority folks. 

As like in OBCA, almost all new generation faces have bagged winning-votes for the board of directors in ABA. People were optimistic that if the leadership is given to the younger generation and that the working strategy be guided by experts or seniors from within the community, it might establish a historical trend in long-run. We can make good outreach to needy folks with helping hands.  

Erudite people in and out of the convention hall were expressing their opinion that the current fragmentation of the community is just due to the reason of the conflict of few people with their personal matter. This is unfortunate. Personal vested interest should not be flashed publicly and should not hamper the entire community.

The community still is moving towards the political mobilization and more chaotic environment. The political activities may be strengthened and the wrong person may take a lead role, who instead of addressing the community problems, might further contribute to disunity. Many freshly resettled Bhutanese in America are facing various problems at the moment, for instance, clear majority of elder generation are more or less feeling frustrated with the complicated living in this new land.   

Bhutanese in America require an umbrella organization to speak their real problems and assist in their requirements. For both the organization, time has come to be cool, broadminded, dynamic and farsighted, before taking any decision or organizing any activities. At some point, unity now has no alternative. Thus, both OBCA and ABA members must coolly think about the prevailing situation in the communities. This is the need of the community and demand of the time. Bhutanese communities in America wish for unity of OBCA and ABA. Both organizations have to be serious. It is not that ABA or OBCA alone should compromise for “unity”. Both of these organizations have to compromise, if needed.  

(Executive Director of www.bhutaneseliterature.com, Timsina represented BNS for live reporting during the convention sessions)


  1. First of all T.P Mishra made a mistake by directing Mr. Pasupati Timsina to the ABA convention hall for live report. It’s because Mr. Timisna is a member of ABA convention organizing committee in Atlanta.
    General indepedent people are looking for the fact that is not helping our people to be united and move forward. There was only one source that is BNS, like it did in OBCA convention that could bring the fact in the eyes of people, but it didn’t happen any more after OBCA convention.
    It’s ridiculous to talk about unification when media itself didn’t do what it’s supposes to do.
    so i feel it’s better we don’t fight for unification and remain very innovative to the challenges and competition on the way ahead.

  2. Some factual clarifications:

    1. Election: ABA currently has nine members on the Board of Directors. Of that nine, seven stepped down and did not contest the election. ABA needs to have at least nine members on the board. The current maximum limit is 15, in which nine have to be elected and six can be nominated.

    In the new elections, nine members were elected. Two of the existing board who did not step down were nominated a year ago.

    It is not required under ABA by-laws to immediately nominate the four members. That can happen over time, depending on need, discussion, community perceptions etc.

    As mentioned at the convention, the new Board will elect the Chair (and ONLY Board chair) by consensus, which has been delayed because two board members elected could not attend the convention.

    The Executive Director (contrary to what is said in the above piece by Mr. Timsina) is not elected. S/he is hired as an employee by ABA to serve at the pleasure of the Board.

    The name of one board member is written as T B Bhandari. It is D. B (Dhan Bahadur) Bhandari.

    2. As regards the mission, aims and goals of ABA, it is pretty clear as explained in our mission statement (www.aba-usa.org), its enunciation of its goals and objectives etc and the small yet concrete steps the association has taken in the last few years. The organization was created with the intention to serve the Bhutanese refugee community as a whole, and it is moving towards doing more and more of that.

    3. Rethinking of ABA’s mission – Rethinking an organization’s mission is the role of the existing governing board. The charge will soon be handed over to a new board of directors who have the opportunity and responsibility to do just that. I am sure the new board will deliberate on that in the months to come. However, ABA is convinced that its objectives and mission are appropriate, as evidenced by the objectives set forth by organizations that are springing around us – their goals are identical to ABA’s. The bone of contention, and a valid one, is whether ABA is meeting those goals. That is the area ABA needs to put more energy on.

  3. Hi Timsina,
    thanks for bringing out the report.

    ” Erudite people in and out of the convention hall were expressing their opinion that the current fragmentation of the community is just due to the reason of the conflict of few people with their personal matter. This is unfortunate. Personal vested interest should not be flashed publicly and should not hamper the entire community”.

    Lets not keep those people in the both organization in any position. who has the personal conflict bring in the mass.
    Still, please write what about the last day meeting in your report???
    It will come in part-2 or ???

    santosh Thapa

  4. I, as the Coordinator of the 3rd ABA Convention Organizing Committee, would like to state that Mr. Pashupati Timsina was not a member of the Committee. He was present at the Convention, but as an independent media personnel. Not only did he decline ABA membership, he even refused to join the ABA team and guests for lunch.

    I think we need such people like Mr. Timsina in our community. We should appreciate his professional ethics and acknowledge his commitment in promoting the Bhutanese media.

    I wish Mr. Timsina all the very best, and I encourage him not to be dismayed by negative comments. It is an inevitable fact that your hardwork will be recognized in the days to come.

    Manoj Pradhan

  5. Manoj dai,

    That is what a clean person does ! ABA must learn lesson that it cannot garner supports without respecting the sentiments of Bhutanese friends. This is also a signal that ‘I want transparency of so-called budget before eating !’.

    Dai, never take me otherwise hai.

  6. Hari Bhai,
    Why didn’t you form the executive committee? Isn’t there any qualified candidate in the board of directors for chairmanship? What is the reason behind it? Or are you guys fighting each other for the position which led this delay? How do you come to unity with OBCA if you yourself have the conflict? Or you think public will give the pressure to the chairman for the unification so delaying to remain safe? It’s too much. Be practical. Be realistic. or don’t claim as national organization. If you guys cant chose the leader, let public choose the leadership. If you want to do it by board, appoint Jeevan Subba. He only deserve the quality to unify ABA and OBCA. Best of luck Jeevan Subba. But if you fail to unify these two organisations, worst of luck for you.

    Deepak Adhakari

  7. Mr. Dhital’s statement has sparked off a cross fire – of counter arguments. This may not look healthy specially because it was copied to all the people (bhutanese and non-bhutanese) which was not necesary. Secondly, Dhital’s criticism would have been appreciated if he had worded them in a ‘gentleman’s’ language. We have come a long way – unfortunately without imbibing a positive temperament, even as we speak in an open media. Remember, the media is a glass house – people watch us and they see what we are doing. I appreciate Manoj Bhai for accepting criticism in a very matured way (which may not have been possible for many) and responding to it in a very polished language of a ‘gentleman’. Kudos Manoj Bhai. That is the culture we need to set up writing in an open forum.

    Next, Dhital’s expression can be understood as his personal concern (and may be a broader concern among the community at this time) – for appreciation and acknowledgement of our media – BNS for the role they play. His anger can perhaps be justified looking at the oversight by both ABA and OBCA – about the media’s contribution during the Conventions. While a clarification has come from the BNS that – no expectations will hold them away from covering news and events – I personally felt that thanks were due – both from ABA and OBCA, even if it meant doing it just for the sake of courtesy and maturity.

    As a tool for venting our expressions, the BNS is playing a very useful role – no less than any other organizations or political partes. If the BNS is the daily source of your news and events on Bhutan – you probably have analyzed how things would have been, if it did not exist. A media tool like the BNS – if it existed during the 1990s – would have certainly made a big difference in our movement.

    As we grow and stretch, more responsibility falls on the media to help us connected – and shape ideas by plucking opinions in scattered places. It is not easy to spread capillaries in an ever growing, stretched and a complacent population – which often takes the media as an outside intruder.

    We need to build and own A Bhutanese media. Or, do we always depend on other media sources like the Kathmandu Post, Dharan Post, Damak Post etc for our news – or have an outsider write stories of the nightmares we have undergone through?

    The primary step for that begins from appreciating and recognizing the significance, a media house of our own could bring to our community. We need to start taking control of what information needs to flow out from us, instead of others determining that – and writing distorted stories about us. I wish to see the the Bhutanese media, one day represent our voice not only in small circles but in bigger stages such as the South Asian Journalist Association, and other international media associations. I wish to see them partnering with media icons and houses such as the BBC or the CNN – and permeate our cause through them into the whole wide world.


    Rp Subba.

  8. Mr. RP Subba ji and all,
    I’ve been going through the posts of all in BNS. I’ve been critically analyzing the views and opinions of each of you and have inferred that none of you have tried to study and bring into the eyes of the general people about the core cause of the issue. You have only tried to view the issue from the symptomatic aspect instead of viewing and dealing with it from the causative aspect.
    It is a crystal clear that the ongoing war of words has been, no doubt, due to the difference between OBCA and ABA. After coming to this point, what should be the roles of the intellectuals-is it to assist them to further deepen the existing differences between them or to urge them learn the ground reality and then help creating an environment for them to sit together and force them to hammer out unity? We need to tell these organizations to immediately come to the negotiating table and work for unification for the greater interest of the Bhutanese community.
    As RP Subba has pointed out that the role played by our media(BNS) is always great and commendable. We Bhutanese are fortunate today to have such a media of our own. However, all individuals involved either directly or indirectly in it must be stictly abided by the journalists’ code of ethics. They should be able to articulate the views and grievances of the general mass and bring to the fore in an unbias manner. Institution itself is not a flaws. No one is going to blame or attack the institution and I firmly state that no one has blamed the whole institution(BNS) so far. But, explicit errors have been surfaced from BNS in the recent days while emerging with decision which concerned the public greatly. For instance, BNS friends could not maintain similarity, uniformity and clarity on the way that they reported the events of the recently concluded Conventions of OBCA and ABA. The people had expected BNS would report ABA convention event in the same manner as they did for OBCA. There were chains of comments from the public on the reporter from the day first itself. BNS turned deaf ear to it, no one could learn live what actually had happened inside the convention center. But to make the matter worse, after the entire game was over, the ABA convention reporter brought in a lenthy analytical passage, a monologue in his own term, which presented him to be an analyst rather than to be a live reporter.
    And then in the same cloud of air, Mr. Manoj Pradhan’s thank email came in where he, INTENTIONALLY OR INADVERTENTLY, missed giving thank to BNS. Thus, there were ample chances of comments and counter-comments aftermath.
    So Mr. RP Subbba, can you tell now who has really sparked off the fire?
    BNS team, hope you will not block my comment.

  9. Its interesting to go through what our Bhutanese friends have in their mind. They still have the hang-over of the refugee camps. In retrospection, I find people quarelling at water taps, fighting for a pinch of salt on a ration day,struggling to own up a donated fabric, etc. Has anyone grown up mentally? I don’t know which organization was formed earlier…but what I know now is, the organization thats formed later is born out of jealosy and narrow mindedness. Unless you guys shun camp-politcs you can’t grow up. Do you remember how many useless parties were there in the camp? And each claimed that they were superior to the other. So is the case here. If nothing solves your problem..invite Paul, the Octupus. Since Bhutanese can’t trust eachother,,You might trust a beast atleast.

  10. Redwine
    why don’t you give your real name if you want to change the camp situation as a positive manner in USA?
    First change your id from Redwine to real,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
    Than write more otherwise like you “virous”are making the water dirty.
    Santosh Thapa

  11. Hamilai faltu bakbas garne bani basdai chha, ani hamro gafgaf lamo hundai chha. “Kura gari kurai ko dukha”. Baru dherai ta hamro samajko sewa ma jutaun. Jasly samajlai paryapta sahyog puryaun chha, usaile yas paunchha.

  12. BNS,
    Please stop your news service. In fact you are dividing the Bhutanese in USA. You are bringing all the unwanted stuffs to the public and creating division. What benefit you have dividing the community??? Its the greatest sin you are doing. You have to bear its consiquences. If you cant stop your service, atleast block the comment’s column.

    Deepak Adhakari

    Dear Deepak sir,
    We didn’t approve some of your comments as they were more “offensive” in nature and as a result you said we are doing “sin” and that you have warned us to stop our service. We believe, of course it is a truth, that the service we are providing is being demanded futher each day. We once again request you not to be “destructive” while shooting any comments.

    Editorial Team, BNS

  13. Like me, many others understand BNS as a team of independent Bhutanese journalists who are dedicated to contribute the community providing access of ”right to information” to the Bhutanese people,guided by the ethics of journalism. In my opinion, as community members, we should support them sincerely, guide, suggest and boost their activities with absolute trust and allow them to develop with clean journalistic philosophy.

    Over the period,BNS has established its resume as a popular Bhutanese media institution. However,since the issue on their performance has surfaced in Georgia reporting, there could have been some shortcomings in their initiative, which the group could review and with cautions improve the quality of their service in future. Given the limited resouces and individual professionalism at their disposal, from our part, we should not expect too much,which could mark the credibility of budding media institution in the movement.

  14. Dear Mr. Deepak Adhikari,
    How darely you could give warning to BNS to quit their services. If you don’t want to see BNS site, you can stop browsing it but you cannot tell this media group to stop. Do u know how much contribution they have made in regard to informing the Bhutanese community? We quite often read that some of your comments were not approved as they were very offensive. Editors of BNS have warned you time and again to be loyal but you are turning more superior. Actualy, people like you are making contribution to disunity, not media like the BNS. We want BNS to continue. we want APfanews to continue.

    You said they were bias in ABA convention reporting but you have never said “HOW”? was it coz Pashupati was a convention organising comittee member? Hey Deepak jee, Manoj Pradhan already made some clarifications but u still continue to say BNS was bias. Tell us how? I am not a student of journalism but I believe I know far better than you about this journalism. I will then write more but please be loyal— this is what we public want, not offensive and destructive approach.

    Hey, BNS friends, don’t lose your hopes. We are there to back you. Don’t be frustrated with people like Deepak Adhikari.

  15. Dear community friends,
    I support all the positive moves of our friends and community members. I do support and thank each commenter. Because in some way or other information is being passed.

    Thanks OBCA and ABA for conducting convention and introducing a new culture in America.

    Special thanks goes to BNS team for keeping us posted and informed. BNS is only the daily sources of news for us and and it has to go on, no matter what a power says.Bring changes while reporting live,general public has to accept it openly.The root cause of issue is people didn’t see any negative report from ABA convention.So think what goes on people’s sensative mind.And it’s hard to convience people of all kind of walks with clearance later.
    I don’t only look for good stuffs a writer express about an individual or organizations. Each side of a coin is equally counted and important.

    Both constructive and destructive comments invite some correction so we do better next time. And we don’t repeat again. Let’s not repeat the mistake of past, but we can review and make no mistake again. An argument is for finding solution and we don’t take it as a problem only.

    Thanks to Hari Dhital, for opening the door and letting us have an opportunity to know lots of facts about convention of OBCA and ABA in Geogia.

    Many people across the globe have played vital roles on this issue and some how and some where at a point we all need to agree and free the situation as soon as possible and move for another important issues.

    If solution of a problem lies on my hands,I don’t mind to bend down and apologize for any mistake. Let’s make a fair judgment and move our paces onward,certainly success is not way far from us.

    Let’s not count our activities as success. But many activities together may paves a way to the door of success and go through.
    There are picks and mountains still left for us to climb on. There are big achievement to be made. Let’s encourage our younger generation. Let’s not quarrel on a piece of bread.
    If you know mistake is hour’s. Please do not stay back,clear up all the push backs,move forward, and do what you got to do.

    Thank you for your time.

  16. Dear Bikash Jee,
    I have a question for you. Where is ”right to information”? Please be informed, I know what you dont know and you know what I dont know. BNS did not post three of my comments so far. Is this right to information? I am the regular visitor of BNS. I know the news posted in this media since two years. I have been writing comments with reference to the past news. If you celarify my only question, I would accept Bikash Jee. Otherwise I would go on saying that BNS is bias. Can any of you prove that Pashupati was not attending the meetings of ABA before the convention? I have about 100 friends who saw him actively participating in the meetings of ABA in Atlanta. I dont believe Manoj Pradhan on this regard. Because he takes the side of ABA. I better ask Pashupati Timsina to write weather he attended meetings. From there we can judge how sincere Pashupati jee is….I am truely an independent Bhutanese taking neither of the sides accept truths and facts..I know the need of BNS but my comments on reality were denied three times so I expressed my disagreement to BNS.
    I have not used any nasty words like Dhital jee. And I would never do it. But I cant hide the facts and realities. I’d pressurise both ABA and OBCA in their mistakes. I want our Bhutanese communities doing good and unified. After the unification of ABA and OBCA, I would slow down writing comments. Till then, BNS please let my comments get posted. I dont want BNS to be biased. I am sorry to be so rude.

    Deepak Adhakari

  17. I have been watching the flow of comments which are very good weather negative or positive. All are good for time of it’s own.
    Are we done.????Not for this time every argument has not got satisfactory conclusion. what was expected and what has happend till now.????

    Who made mistakes??????? Who is suppose to correct it???
    Did Mr.Pasupati Timsina tell BNS that he was not in any of the meeting of ABA convention organising committee?????
    BNS, also ask Mr.Pasupati Timsina why he is interested working against OBCA????
    He has heard educated people talking in the convention that division was result of few individual in thier personal interest. Can he name some of them so we can move towards finding solution??