Friday, June 12, 2009

rise oh quiet warriors

The best decision we have ever made as a nation was a hundred years ago. Not withstanding how all our ancestors turned up to vote and agree on electing the Wangchuk dynasty as our hereditary monarchs is truly beyond my comprehension. I guess it only goes to remind us of the substance, Gonsar Ugen wangchuk was made up off. After a hundred years of peace, progress and development we find ourselves facing the same problems our ancestors wisely got rid of….to make a decision!

Not to say we are shy of making a decision, we all can and do, especially when we just join the service. With our grandiose dreams on how we will contribute and ‘be the change’. That is till we meet our seniors. Who will gravely advices you to do nothing (it is truly an art form). “No, no don’t rock the boat. Ah you young Turks, do you really think you are the first one to get this idea? It’s been tried and it failed. If you are hard working, first get all the trainings and master degree that you can get, and then quit. Its cheaper and easier to get slots and at the end it looks good in your C.V, doesn’t matter you were studying for four years out of your six years service to your government. Government service is not a hundred meters race but a marathon, come every day, sign the register and keep your head down. Nobody can do anything, at the most they will surrender you to RCSE and they will only send you another Department. This is Job security. This is how you feed your family”.

It does not matter that the wise elders who delivered unto us the Constitution, only recognizes three organs of government (executive, legislative and judicial), the Constitution which has earned the right to sit along side the Kanjur and Tenjur, has already begun to collect dust. Just like the holy books. We only want to go through the motions, when we pray , we are not Mahahayana we are hinayana.

So here we are, the common man, lambasted with all valid reasons as to how glorious the outcome will be for the citizens of Palden Drukpa if only the ACC is independent. How an independent Royal Audit Authority would be able to better serve us with better fiscal plans.

Why due to politics the Police needs to be independent only to safeguard our freedom. Or the necessity of RCSE being independent so that they can carry on serving us better without being answerable to anybody. Why sports are do not progress because of the lack of funds, or better still it is due to our physical attributes we don’t have a national basketball team. So they circle round and round, each wanting their own modern fiefdom, all want independence and freedom, all want to be selected not elected. Judges proclaim themselves equal to sectaries, police chiefs to goonglens, mp to dashos, teacher to lecturer, nurses to doctors and the unemployed, well hopefully to, employed. Whilst the students must be hopeful that they too will get something out of this brouhaha.

Here We are embarrassed to be nationalistic, somewhere we have been taught, let others do the dying it is better to do the taking. Forget we think only me. So here we are, with our new ideas in serving our king, country and people. Gone is the generation who built the thimphu- phuentsholing highway in five years, gone are the warriors who helped create, build and nurture departments, agencies and ministries. Gone are the public sectors whose battle cry was to help build businesses. Dead are soldiers respected?

Gone is the generation, ‘WE’. Welcome generation ‘ME’. Now, it is all about what I need or what you will give me, call me Dasho, otherwise come tomorrow. Not , how to build but why to build. Not about why to give but who to give.

So what else is new? Don’t we all know this? We all live it. We even support its different forms

Though we did not want democracy, our Kings believe we are ready to uphold its sacred responsibility. We are again at the crossroads of history, the time is upon us to decide, to do or not to do, to build or to destroy? Thus the time is now when we as a nation rise together and declare for all the world and future generations to hear. We, wherever we are, no matter what we do, or where we work and study shall rise and declare enough is enough!. We will not stand by idly, as the dreams of our Kings and ancestors are raped and pillaged by selfish interests. We will not allow the formations of modern day fiefdoms which will only tear and destroy our national fabric. We refuse to go down the road of Tibet or Sikkim.

Thanks to our ancestors and the wise leadership of our kings, Ours has been a history of glory, always independent, we walk with our head held high. We always do what needs to be done in our own unique way, when we want and when we deem it fit. We are the children of a nation that has given a new philosophy of Gross National Happiness to the world.

In us runs the warrior blood of our ancestors, in us does our history live, we are the children of Palden Drukpa. Long live the tsa wa sum.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The young & the bold

For a variety of reasons, many young people reject politics and activism. Many prioritize financial security and/or personal gain over social or civic responsibility. Some young people do participate in activism or student government, yet do so to develop their own careers rather than to improve their communities. Other young people do not participate in activism at all because it does not offer the promise of high salaries or prestige and might even result in blacklisting or exclusion from government positions. The very word “politics” is dirty in some countries, as it is strongly associated with corruption and deception. In many countries, violent secessionist or extremist groups, corrupt governments, or the military offer more money, power, and privilege to young people than do peace and democracy movements

Many modern cities, with increasingly large percentages of populations, lack true public spaces where diverse young people can gather and exchange ideas. Our societies have lost the traditional spaces and structure in which young people used to interact with each other and with community leaders, developing their sense of community and social responsibility. Standard education in our country focuses more on an individual being able to reproduce what is in the books at the final examination at the end of the year than on technical skills or more importantly, critical thought. Exclusion has made many youth into consumers of pop culture, goods, and ideas, rather than producers, and into objects rather than subjects.

Working with young people requires focus on the paradigms of today’s youth. Experienced leaders cannot expect the younger generation to be motivated by the same concerns that motivated them when they were young, or see the priorities and meaning of political action in the same way. Instead, we must explore ways to create spaces and incentives for youth to set our own priorities and develop our own organizations/councils, which builds civic consciousness in young people by stimulating them to draw connections between their personal concerns and the larger issues within our great nation and set our own priorities for taking action and providing them with the skills and opportunity to design and execute their own community service projects.

Young people are our nation’s greatest asset. Leaders around the world have found that by giving youth a voice in shaping decisions that affect their lives, governments can craft smarter policies and solutions to key youth issues. Furthermore, young people who are involved in positive activities are less likely to abuse alcohol or drugs, commit crimes, become pregnant or engage in other risky behaviour.

Many other countries are discovering that when they set up youth councils and offer other meaningful leadership opportunities, young people want to be involved and will recruit their peers to join them. Youth councils are a popular and powerful way to promote young people’s participation in local government, helping them:
1. Learn firsthand about how government works;
2. Gain leadership experience and new skills, such as public speaking and working in teams;
3. Develop a sense of responsibility, belonging, confidence and empowerment; and
4. Realize that their voices matter and that they can improve their community.

Young adults are an "unclaimed constituency," who will not come to us but, instead, we must go to them, take their concerns seriously and look for solutions that will be meaningful to them immediately instead of asking for their votes on vague promises of the future. This includes young workers, young professionals and young families. All of the members have the interest of their community at heart and will work hard to affect the democratic process.

Knowledge is power. As the world moves forward and computer knowledge has become the essence of society, we need computer education in every school, thereby not only exposing our youth to unlimited knowledge but also creating a strong foundation for a future IT industry.

Night schools are another key in helping the youth of today. As more and more emphasis is put on educational qualification, we, as a responsible society, must give our people a second chance. Night schools will give the working youth, who dropped out of schools because of their immaturity or who at that time, did not recognize the value of education or because of family complications, an opportunity to change their own positions in life.

We need a commitment from our government to provide internships in offices to class 12 students so that they gain first-hand knowledge and working experience, so that they can better decide on their future careers.

Leaders may come and go but let us today create a strong foundation for our youth, so that they become responsible leaders of a dynamic Bhutan tomorrow.

The genes in our neighborhood

So there I was, standing still on a strange yet familiar road. A car zoomed by. The driver honked and gave me a quizzical look. I look around and find myself a stranger in a familiar land. I try to remember the landscape I once knew like the back of my hand. Where were my neighbors, my friends? Are they still around?

Then like a face of comfort in a crowd of strangers I see the old familiar house- of stone and wood with ornate carvings, with frescos of Dragons and Jachungs. They wore a weary look. Somehow, the biggest house of my memories now seemed so small. It stood in the shade, sunlight blocked by the towering commercial building by its side. I did not walk towards the old house. Somehow it felt strange. Did I still belong here?
How long have I been away? 10 years?

How things had changed! Tall and cold buildings with streets bustling with human multitudes had now taken root on what was once a quaint neighborhood…my neighborhood.

I had not expected this; I wanted what was so firmly stamped in my memories. I wanted to go back to the past. I wanted to climb the old oak tree which no longer stood there. I wanted to eat the sweets laid out on a blanket by Memay Karchung. I wanted to lay on the soft green grass in the apple grove and gaze at the stars.
Everything had changed. Dark clouds enveloped me. My expectations twisted.

I took a stroll around what was once my playground, now yet another building stood there, along with row upon row of shops- selling everything from fresh vegetables to the latest televisions.

I stood there looking for a familiar face but I saw none. Everything felt odd and impersonal. Isolation accompanied me.
I wonder what had happened. I felt so lonely? Did I really live here? Rolling on the grass and counting stars at night?
Lost in such thoughts my only urge was to flee this place I once called home and belonged.

“Wai tosa. Are you looking for someone? You look kind of lost. Is everything ok?”

I look around to see where the voice is coming from. There, sitting on some steps I see a group of people. They are in engaged in some kind of conversation. There is laughter and inaudible exchanges in the air.
The voice that called out gives me a wave. He then gets up and walks towards me.

I introduce myself and let him know that I have come back after and an interlude of 10 tears. He smiles, offers me a doma and introduces me to his friends. We sit on the steps for a long long time. We sip tea, exchange experiences and indulge in some good old rustic humor.

Then it strikes me. Things may change in the physical world but the Bhutanese people do not. A sense of pride, compassion and confidence is palpable; knowing our past gives us the confidence of venturing into the future.

The echoes of our ancestors, warriors and god-fearing men, resonate in our heads.
And as the sun begins to set, I say goodbye to my new neighbors. We promise to meet up the next day.

I walk back toward the old house. This time there’s a smile on my face. I know the place again and am ready to go back to the Dragon and the Jachung’s embrace.


Above the plains in mountains deep
A country in mystery steeped.

Culture and traditions, in time suspended
Fairy tale Kings still existed.

Crisp air and lush green trees
All sentinel beings in peace flourish.

Whispers the wind through valley floor
Shed your troubles and your woe.

Torrents of rivers and mighty Dzongs
This is where peace belongs.

Back in time some would say
With all the amenities of the modern day.

Bhutan its worldly given name
Palden Drukpa her Deities claim.

So the journey and my travels done
My life’s quest back home found.