Roadmap for NRB: Agendas for Future Activities

The platform of Non-Resident Bhutanese (NRB) is neither a social organization nor is it affiliated to any political parties. It is an organization dedicated for long-term welfare of Bhutan and Bhutanese people. It has emerged as an outcome of the third country resettlement of Bhutanese people who had spent more than two decades in the UNHCR organized Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal.

At present some 80,000 Bhutanese are resettled in USA, 5000 in Canada, 4000 in Australasia and a couple of thousands in Europe. These are highly industrialized and developed countries, which exercise economic and diplomatic influence beyond their immediate neighborhoods.  The resettled Bhutanese would make nearly 20% of the total population in Bhutan by 2015.

Bhutan cannot afford to lose this precious resource. Today, these people are poor immigrants; tomorrow, they will graduate to entrepreneurs, professionals, academicians and social workers. Their power of influence would reach beyond the borders of their newly adopted countries. Bhutan has an opportunity to engage the resettled Bhutanese to promote its national interest, to deepen its diplomatic relationship beyond its immediate neighbors, and to seek support and solidarity at the hours of national crisis. The resettled Bhutanese could potentially become source of capital; knowledge and technology transfer for Bhutan.

To realize these benefits Bhutan needs to heal the wounds of legal ethnic cleansing and resolve the political problem of Bhutan. Recognition of resettled refugees as Non Resident Bhutanese (NRB) and repatriation of willing refugees to Bhutan with honor and dignity could be a way forward towards national reconciliation.

NRB could continue to organize peaceful campaign for recognition of the resettled refugees as Non-Resident Bhutanese.  It could also focus at:

-Establish a global network of Bhutanese communities. Membership to NRB could open to resettled Bhutanese people and those Bhutanese who have been working outside the country. The membership should not be opened to Bhutanese refugees who are still under the protection of UNHCR.

-Work towards re-establishing connection between the resettled refugees and their family members and friends inside the country.

-Work with the government of Nepal and India for giving easy access to cultural and religious resources to the resettled Bhutanese.

-Make an effort to support research and developmental activities for preservation of history of Bhutanese refugees in Nepal.

-Begin social work in refugee-affected areas of Jhapa and Morang districts of eastern Nepal to give back to the people who provided support and solidarity at the difficult hours of Bhutanese refugees.

-Support activities that would strengthen Bhutan-Nepal relationship at people-to-people level. The Bhutanese and the Nepalese peoples have enjoyed warm and friendly relationship since the time of Guru Padmasambha. It was further consolidated during the time of the Shabdrungs. There is constant flow of Bhutanese people to Nepal for religious and business purpose. The current refugee imbroglio should not be allowed to sour the traditionally warm and friendly relationship. NRB should work towards setting up a Bhutan-Nepal foundation, which could undertake mandated activities for promotion of Bhutan-Nepal relationship.

-Promote people-to-people relationship between the newly adopted country of the resettled Bhutanese and their motherland Bhutan.

-Support the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH), which has become a necessity for Bhutan’s security in the emerging regional politics. Bhutan should  seek active engagement of NRB and promotion of GNH as the twin pillars of it’s long-term foreign policy.

-Support an amicable resolution of Bhutanese refugee problem. NRB could strive to be a bridge between the government of Bhutan and the political parties in exile to resolve the refugee imbroglio in Nepal.