Monday, May 27, 2019

Too Long To Be Worthy

Early January this year I got a mail from someone in Europe asking if I would be interested to contribute an article on Bhutan’s hydropower projects. I said yes but said that I am rather busy and that I may not have the time to complete the article in time. But since the article was going to be published sometime end May/early June, there was enough time. So I agreed to do it.

I completed my article that ran into over 5 pages – the shortest I could do given the multitude of problems Bhutan faces with regard to our hydropower projects. I submitted my final draft of the article yesterday morning. The person came back with an edit of my article – he had slashed my article to less than 2 and half pages – less than 50% of the original. I wrote back promptly withdrawing my article, writing as follows:

I went through your edits - I am sorry to say that if I accept your edits, everything I want to say truthfully would be totally destroyed. It would be one gutless article without the courage to say things for what they are - it would sound so limpid - like a dead snake. Thus for me it is best that I don't say at all.

Here is a case of déjà vu - I went through the same thing more than a decade back when the UNDP asked me to write on "How to be prepared for Rural-Urban Migration". That time I made the point that they are going about it the wrong way - that they should be looking at how to mitigate rural-urban migration and not look at how to be prepared. Being prepared is already a defeatist attitude. More than a decade later, I am right - today the rural-urban migration problem is a burning problem. I took pains to write - but they found it too strong and wanted to tone it down. I disagreed - I said I am the author and I have the gall to write what I wrote .... and I have the courage to accept whatever consequences I have to face. I am not here to pander to some unknown agenda - my objectives is putting the truth out in the open.

As a Bhutanese with a conscience, the issue of the disaster that is hydropower for Bhutan is an emotional issue that perhaps is outside the fathoming of none-Bhutanese people. I accept that. I also condone the fact that you are perhaps not comfortable carrying an article of this frankness on your paper. I accept that too with humility. Thus lets forget my article.

The sole reason why I did not accept your offer of a payment for the article is simply because I am not doing you a favor - you are doing me a favor - by giving me a platform, an audience for my cause. Thus please be assured that I have no regrets about the hard work I put in to put together the article for you, despite my busy schedule. But a toned down article is as good as no article at all. I would like to tell you that I do not contribute my articles to the newspapers in Bhutan because for the same reason that they too have their agenda and will feature articles of their choice. I am not here to speak about their choices - but mine. But I have told the papers - those who asked - that they are welcome to reproduce my articles at will ------ after all they are in the public domain already.

But what I wont accept is if they edit my articles.

I am sorry I am too tired right now ... just retuned from a long day trip to Punakha. Please consider my article withdrawn.


I will post the article in question tomorrow.

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