Sunday, March 3, 2013

Setting The Right Precedence II

The Bhutanese democracy is like a newborn whose umbilical cord has not yet been severed from the placenta that still remains lodged in the uterus of the mother. In the cycle of life, we are in the third stage of labor where only the fetus has been successfully delivered from the womb - rest of the birth process is still pending - meaning that the birth of the newborn is only half complete.

And yet, look at how far we have come - rather, look at how far we have gone.

The same people who glibly remind us that democracy has been a gift from the Throne are the same ones who are quick to look the gift horse in the mouth. These people who are so quick to toot the horn of democracy miss out on one fundamental truth: in Bhutan, democracy as an alternate form of governance is yet to see the light of day. However, democracy is here and we have to learn to live with it. Whether democracy is right for Bhutan, whether its time has arrived, whether the Bhutanese people are ready for it - all these questions must now remain mute. Bhutanese as a society must come together to make democracy work and we must draw upon our invisible bond - our culture - to make democracy work for us.

Unfortunately, however, we seem to be shedding our culture too fast, too early.

Democracy does not give the Bhutanese people an excuse to lose sight of our culture. Our moral values, our lifestyle, our religion, the very way we think and behave have been guided and shaped by our culture spanning over many centuries. Thus, it seems impossible that we can forget our culture in a span of less than five years. And yet, some recent incidences indicate that we are indeed loosing site of our value system.

Some wrong precedences are being set, under the democratic system. The ongoing legal case involving Gyalpoizhing land allotment is a case in point.

This is a case that is close to two decades old. It happened during an era when things were done differently; when ground realities were not as simple or as straightforward. It happened during a time when unconventional means had to be employed to make things happen, to move things forward. The compulsions under which past administrations performed is something beyond the fathoming of the present lot of people.

More importantly, the present democratic setup does not have the moral authority to question an incident that happened at a time when the administration was under the country’s most competent and best loved monarch.

Digging the past is not a winning way for Bhutan. It only serves to further the cause of some evil people who do not wish well for the country. The Bhutanese people ought to remember that we have arrived where we are today because not every thing that went on in the past was wrong or undesirable.

The past is an integral and an inseparable part of our present, and future. Not even God has the competence to alter the past - which is exactly how it should be. In fact, it is dangerous to attempt to do so - because in trying to do so, we are likely to peril our present and endanger our future.

As I have mentioned in one of my earlier posts, we neither have the financial resource nor the manpower to waste on digging up the past. We would do well to focus on our present and our future problems, which are substantial.

Gyalpoizhing case is a dangerous precedence. Everyone must work hard to put this distasteful matter behind us. If not, we can be sure that there will be a thousand similar cases that will surface to haunt us to eternity.

Let us not play into the hands of the evil mongers.


  1. While I agree with your point that we donot have the resources to waste in digging the past...I only like to ask what if the past actions affect sections of us at the present? For some of us trying to "survive" does it mean there is nowhere we can be granted justice?

  2. Your continuation was certainly worth waiting. Gyalpozhing, besides your other points - you have so clearly and succinctly defined why it should not be touched. Now, if only all concerned could see through your lenses too ! Regarding values being lost (on our youth; our children) in terms of religion and lifestyle, I think much is to be blamed on the parents who have not kept up the tradition and customs passed on by their own parents and grandparents. In this regard, the Hon'ble Lyonchhen in his talk to the civil servants reminded us profoundly on how we have lost sight of our values.

  3. I know of the fact that the land was taken from poor poverty stricken villagers and given to rich and influential people. Do you think this was fair and we should keep mum and continue doing so?

  4. The question is "If you know (as you claim)that the land was taken away from poor poverty stricken villagers and given to rich and influential people, why didn't you do something then?" Was it because you didn't care or becuase you were afraid or because the conditions were different then? That is what exactly Yeshey is talking about- different times and different circumstances calling for different decisions and actions. Are you going to hold Drukpa Kinlay responsible for abusing women? I am sure Drukpa Kinlay will be happy to receive the ACC Chair!

  5. I do not have intimate details of the Gyalpoizhing case to really have an opinion on ACC's actions. I'm just sharing a perspective on why sometimes, burying the past in the name of avoiding fresh wounds is not always desirable. The question for Bhutan really is, what price justice?

    It is worth examining how Germany is viewed in Europe and how Japan is viewed in Asia, when both were aggressors in WW2.

    I remember visiting Germany many years ago, and I was very touched (almost to tears actually) at how the Germans have recognised their role in WW2, and laid open for all to see in museums, monuments, etc, the horrific crimes that were committed in the name of war and ethnic cleansing. Their honesty and willingness to accept responsibility for the past ensures that the country as a whole will never commit the same mistake again. The lessons of the Holocaust are now deeply ingrained in German society as seen by their numerous anti-Nazi laws.

    Compare this with Japan's treatment of their past role in the war. And how upset their Asian neighbours have continued to be every time a Japanese politician/bigwig visits a war memorial in Japan. Almost 7 decades have past since the end of the WW2, most of the firsthand victims of the war have died and really, only a tiny number remain. Still fighting for justice, still fighting for an official apology from Japan for the wrongs that were done to them. For these victims, whose days are practically numbered, do you think it's about the money?

    I truly admire the Japanese for many things. For their post-war achievements, work ethic, innovation, and many aspects of their culture. But at the back of my mind, and in the deepest corner of my heart, I remain ambivalent. Even my parents were born post-war, so to be honest, I have no emotional or physical scars of the war. But I *am* a citizen of country that was Japanese-occupied. Seeing post-war generations of Japanese with little or no idea of what has happened between our countries in the past is... very very disconcerting to say the least.

    Because I believe, "Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them."