Vermont GNH conference sees dark side

Vermont mission on the field
Vermont mission on the field

A group of some ex-refugees from Bhutan participated in the first Gross Hational Happiness (GNH) conference held in Burlington,Vermont of the US from June 1-4.

Ex-refugee’s mission showed its presence in the first day by displaying cards and banners outside the conference hall, requesting the participants not to forget the plight of a hundred thousand people from the same country which coined and preached the philosophy of GNH. The participants from local organizations also joined the demonstration in solidarity.
On June 2, the mission held a panel discussion with the local TV channel and newspapers resulting in wide media coverage of the issues the mission had put forth. The participants registered for the conference and an informal discussion with the title ‘GNH, Bhutanese refugees and National Reconciliation’.

When the mission requested Karma Tshiteem, the secretary of the GNH commission, to address a question raised on the refugee issue, he eluded saying it was not the appropriate forum. The discussion was, however, participated by a group of people, some of who also spoke on behalf of the Bhutanese government. They included Sonam Ongmo, a New York based Bhutanese freelancer and Tshering Tashi, the co-author with Australian Tim Fisher of the book ‘From Jesuits to Jetsetters, BOLD BHUTAN BECKONS, Inhaling Gross National Happiness’ which backs the policy of the Bhutanese government.

The mission ended with highlighting the reasons for National Reconciliation and the pathway to accomplish it.

Detail news at


  1. Kudos to the Bhutanese who represented the refugee side of Gross National Happiness in the Vermont Confrence.

    Can any one of you put it in perspective as to how it went, the papers presented, what contacts you made, was there any impact ….. so on and so forth. I will be really interested to know all – and I am sure all Bhutanese in exile are.

  2. Good job .Great team effort for exposing the other side of GNH.You moved ahead to expose the bitter truth that authorities in Thimphu kept behind the curtain for over two decades to the world.One day our voice will be given due share.
    Applause for your work whatsoever,for you gave a challange to the official team.

  3. Great job done by the Bhutanese refugees in Vermont conference in America. Your presence has made a big difference. You have unfolded the other side of the GNH in the Bhutanese society. The regime have to give a second thought to its well propogated doctrine. We congratulate the ones who have taken this initiative to represent the exiled Bhutanese.

    Our intellectuals, academicians and thinkers in exile and inside the country should study more on this theory and put forth their reasonings,arguments in the local(village level) to national and international level to make it a viable theory in consistent to the freedom of basic rights of the citizens. Theory of GNH in itself is a very good philoshopy but it is more important for the world to know how the concept of theory has reached to the lives of the mass Bhutanese people.
    Durga Giri, Germany.

  4. Greetings from Vermont. I am an American friend of the Bhutanese community in Vermont. I wrote some comments to the local paper SevedDays about the GNH conference.

    A couple of days after I submitted my comments I heard another story about GNH on National Public Radio. This is the largest and most respected radio news service in the USA. The story had been broadcast nationwide. The writer and announcer of this story is named Lisa Naploi. She worked in Bhutan for the last few years at a Bhutan radio station.

    I felt her comments and her story was very biased towards the policies of Bhutan.

    I contacted her and asked that she write another story from the side and view of the Bhutanese citizen-refugees.

    She contacted me today and she hopes to interview some Bhutanese refugees in southern California! Why not up here in the cold of Vermont where we have no jobs?! 🙂

    If any Bhutanese refugee from southern California wants to talk to her, here is her email: [email protected]

    Peace – Damian

  5. Dear Guys,
    You did a wonderful job by presenting the other side of GNH. When our great politicians in the veil of Samaj Sewak are busy preparing for the Convention of Other Backward Community of America (OBCA) in Georgia, you guys were smart enough to see the broader picture at a macro level. A very commendable effort.Atleast you guys are not after the ORR grants. Keep it up Georgians.. Parangkush, Damber, Pashuati, and Gopal Subedi.

  6. Khagen,


    Could you also ask detail satisfactory explanation of the insult they implanted in the conference about the leaders of Bhutan.Is it right for those kids to blame senior leaders?

    For the first time, they admitted what led to this predicament and for the first time they looked beyond blaming the Bhutanese government. That is the reason why I want to take this opportunity because I think it is a breakthrough. The younger generation are angry at their own people (the leaders) who put them in this predicament in the first place and agreed that the new generation needs to put aside this blame and have meaningful discussions with the Bhutanese government. … … …

    I will catch you later again.

  7. Melarapaji,
    I thought the ‘kids’ did the right thing by presenting the other side of GNH. Later, when Jogen sir opened the Pandora’s Box, wherein these guys had put the blame on our leaders, I had to eat my words. The crisis in Bhutan did not start because of our leaders but because of the atrocities perpetrated by the RGOB. May be the younger generations are frustated with the leaders. I could also smell a rat.. these guys were propagating the concept of NRB. These kids should have consulted the senior leaders in Atlanta like ????????????????????????????????? and other people before embarking their journey to the North. I also went through SOnam Ongmo’s column.
    I think these guys said what they said to Soman out of excitement, immaturity,ignorance,etc. People like you should guide and supervise their activities in Atlanta. I thought they had carried everyone’s voice from Atlanta after due discussion and consultation with the senior people.

  8. Melarapa and Khagenji
    Your so called KIDS seem to be your father in terms of advocacy. You have known to comment and criticize but those kids have shown by doing. How immature you yourself!!!!!! Will you please take names of those senior leaders in Atlanta, who can guide anyone in proper way? The name you have in your mind are those bulls who know to fight usurping the rights of the innocent. Aren’t you seeing what are they doing in Atlanta? Those guys who had gone to Vermont had done the job with personal inspiration with dedication, complete maturity, with good vision and mission. Instead of pulling and insulting the act of those guys, don’t you have good and inspiring words to them? If you are still talking about the leaders, there are no leaders born yet to lead the Bhutanese Community in exile. May be someone will come from the new generation.
    I would like to suggest you both to learn the lesson of supporting the works or do yourselves the good work and show to the community.

  9. New Phoenix and Khagen,
    All who attended the GNH conference are not kids. But for people in Atlanta some of them are Kids are always kids because of their past deed.Evedently we have seen advocating for students for the admission, documents evaluation and process of financial support and sources for sometime till a goal is hit and himself got into a school. This is called a personal benefit..
    There are thousand of talented kids and grown folks who would have made a different positive story after GNH conference rather we deal with silly mistake of kids who brought a huge insults and negative result today.
    Specially those who act immature shouldn’t have been there for fun and personal interest to promote the advocacy of NRB.To me NRB is Non Reliable Bhutanese and if you kids are indulged in this chapter firstly you have to have a Bhutanese passport in your possation.This is again so called stoning at dark.

    I personally always respect the new generation leadership which should come itself in an individual with inner aspiration and talent, but those who are inflated, instigated can run certain distance,accomplish few goals and get stocked.
    Political kids might have done great in terms of their own ability and vision, but at the sometime there has been a bitter impact on people who voluntarily struggled in the Bhutanese cause in the past in exile and inside. All past is our stepping stones. Never look back and say you repaint for what you have gone through. Blaming others is a not a positive move. If the contain or agenda of conference are filled with gossips and grumbles of our leaders you can do nothing.
    Please do not be inflated and instigated by others and relatives.

    Thanks for reading.