Saturday, July 5, 2014

Views That Warm The Heart

On the afternoon of 1st July, 2014, I had gone to the Regional Trade Office in Changzamtog, to meet a friend. There I met Mr. Dungtu who had been superannuated just a day back. Until then he was the Regional Director of Thimphu region. He and I go back decades - having been part of the same Ministry during my stint in the government.

Chance meetings among old friends are invariably an occasion to reminiscence about good old times. But there was nothing nostalgic about our conversation. Instead, it verged on the pathetic and the loathsome - on the topic that is currently in vogue - salary increase.

Dungtu and I talked of our individual disgust at the misconceptions, the confusions and lack of understanding about the need or the reason for the salary increase. But a point Dungtu made hit my sweet spot. He told me of his interview with the BBS on the occasion of his receiving the gold medal for long service to the Sa Wa Sum. When asked by the interviewer how he deserved the medal, his answer was:

“No, I simply do not deserve it. This medal too comes as an undeserved gift from the King and the government. Unlike other recipients who claim that they have toiled in the sun, rain and snow and deserve what they got, I would like to say that I have done nothing outstanding in my life to deserve the award nor all the salary and perks I was given during my last forty years as a government employee. I have nothing to show for it. Instead, I have to thank the King and the government for taking care of me all my life. Today as I enter a life of retirement, I go a happy and contended man - that I have been a lucky man to have got more than I deserved”.

Which reminds of another chance meeting with another retired civil servant whose views gave me hope that we are not entirely a hopeless case.

Dasho Tshering Wangda retired several months back, as our Consul General to India. He retired before time, unlike others who fight tooth and nail to remain in service way beyond their time and usefulness. When Dasho Wangda was asked by the RCSC to continue, he adamantly declined to do so. When he was told that the country needed his service, he made this point:

“My service to the Sa Wa Sum will never cease as long as there is life in my body. And, it is not important for me to remain in the government to serve the Sa Wa Sum. Even as a private citizen, I can continue to serve and be useful to the country in a variety of ways”.

Few friends asked me to blog on the issue of this salary increase. I have refused to do so. But now that I am drawn into it, let me simply state the following:

Is there a need for increase in salary? YES!

Do those who are receiving it, deserve it? NO!


  1. You make no sense here!

    1. Dear Anon,
      I do not wish to elaborate ... but I would like to encourage you to read the post once again; allow it to sink in, dissect it, cook it, eat it, chew on it, swallow it, puke it out if you must, then trample it, pound it, pulverize it .... at the end I am sure you will see that there are a number of useful lessons you can learn from it :)-

    2. Again it makes no sense and u don't have an iota of understanding in this issue. Do what your camera is good at, of course not you and continue photographing!!!!

  2. The Anonymous sounds like the typical brainless civil servant. I see a message coming through from this article which the civil servants and some of the parliamentarians must take note of.

  3. what you have written is in praise of the two civil servants but nothing about why the civil servants do not deserve the salary revision. Please read your article again.

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  5. I think it really is time to give up the cliche (& abuse of) 'serving tsa wa sum' as a metaphor for 'self-service'. I think Dungtu (who happens to be senior frm my school days) was spot on. Even medals have taken on a new meaning in case of civil service. To think that you could potentially win you a gold medal for just warming your office chair for several years at the cost of state coffers is just ridiculous. In fact it may be an insult to those who deserve it. btw, I like the way you retained the originality of Dasho Tshering Wangda's 'sa wa sum'.