Tuesday, May 10, 2011
The past week has been pretty exciting for the press, as well as other forms of media. The World Press Freedom Day was the perfect harbinger to what was a week of events, that brought to the fore the fragility of everything around us, hence a firm reminder to keep things in as proper a perspective as is possible.
In a way, the events that unfolded this past week showcased a bit of everything. The first one that springs to mind is obviously celebrating and observing the day of the press. And in inviting Sir Mark Tully, we are indeed thankful to the MoIC and the government. It was the perfect combination: a man who is a veteran of the journalistic field, and a master of his own domain. The stories he shared with a relatively young media fraternity were, though short, very moving in the sense that here was a person who has been through the gamut and the gauntlet of being a journalist; a thankless profession sometimes.
But there was anything but regret in the stories he shared and the counsel he gave. The part where he spoke about the presence of arrogance in journalists and conversely, the absence of humility was a dart that struck home. And in the end, his message seemed inherently very simple – strive to be good and do good and really, everything else is an extension of that character. Labeling yourself would be setting a certain censorship, and having said that, draw from that ocean of wisdom present in our tradition and perhaps we could show the world a new approach. There is no need to imitate the glocal press was the other counsel.
Sometimes, it’s in the presence of such people that we begin to realize, and learn.
The tragic death of the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh was a huge loss. Just as the people of the east, specifically in Trashiyangtse, offered butter lamps to the departed soul, so do we extend our heartfelt condolences, support and solidarity to and with our neighbors in Arunachal Pradesh.
Back home, the midweek attention was swept up by the ninety contestants who had been debarred from running in the LG elections. It is a conundrum but nonetheless, an experience that will enhance the maturity of what is a democratic process in which we are all learning. Often through trial and error, for that is perhaps the best way to learn anything. The group seems to carry genuine grievances, and if a lapse took place it could not have been intentional. It makes no sense to speculate and conjure conspiracy theories, because had there been any premeditated motive, such a show would not have surfaced. There really is no one to blame, and if there were, everyone would have to carry a mark.
The answer has already been provided by His Majesty the King in his Kasho to the ECB. In that light, the best option would be to keep reading the Kasho and find inspiration from the throne. Perhaps the most important thing right now is to display magnanimity and show wisdom and humility.
That will surely result in an action conducive to holding the LG elections. These are crucial times and the decisions reached at this moment in time will never ever be duplicated. Hence the call of the hour is to go beyond one’s duty, and sometimes that means letting go of the self, in the interest of the grand scheme of things. And in the grand scheme of things, we can contribute both constructively and destructively. The grassroots are everything. The grassroots is the country itself. If your head should ache from all the thinking, stop thinking. Should your heart become an emotional see saw, stop beating it and listen to the gut.
That is where the answers lies, playing hide and seek.
The past few weeks have brought forth some rather unforeseen and in some cases, unwholesome sights to that sacred circumambulation the country was going to round up in holding the LG elections. While the show of aspirants ready to commit, participate and serve, in what is a primarily central process unique to the country, the overwhelming desire of the disqualified candidates in seeking a review of what they perceive to be wrongful misjudgment from the ECB, to no fault of their own, must find a solution.
The non-fulfillment of the required criteria and the subsequent disqualification has caused them a lot of distress. This was palpable when the Prime Minister voiced his concerns as party leader; he’d to address their grievances, as he did for the PDP members too, for he is the Bhutanese people’s Prime Minister. But he is politically affiliated, and the LG elections are distinct in that candidates who want to run must be non-political, and are able to prove that. We are a small country, and with that in mind, one must consider the fact that in the lead up to the 2008 general elections, everyone was politicized in some manner or the other. At the grassroots level, the capable lot naturally became active campaigners for their respective parties.
Since that successful milestone, over three years has passed. Given that time frame, it seems rather odd that the necessary requirements to legitimately stand for LG offices should surface now, at this critical juncture and more inconveniently, at the 11th hour. At this stage, finger pointing and tongue lashing will only hinder the process, rather than positively contributing, which is what all of us must do, for the grassroots is the foundation of the country.
This will probably cause more hurt, rather than healing those open wounds. The good thing is that the wounds are open, and as His Majesty stated, “we must always seek ways to sit together, face to face in the spirit of brotherhood and with unity of purpose, to resolve all issues.” In more ways than one, the last couple of weeks have been constructive learning experiences. Perhaps we can take inspiration in the fact that we now realize the importance of being and staying informed, in matters pertaining to laws and regulations.
The parties now know better. Nothing should be taken for granted, least of all as elected representatives or aspiring to become one. Information and communication is the order of the day, and no future political or apolitical aspirant should have to face such rejection based on ignorance of the electoral laws, and without a doubt, the Constitution - which every Bhutanese should try and read, for it’s the written word reflecting the altruistic consciousness of a nation. Hence, a noble gesture would be to offer help to the ECB and in doing that, half the work would be accomplished in harmoniously implementing the LG elections. Sometimes, in the interest of serving the greater good, personal sacrifices have to be made; reflecting the noble testimony to a person’s character.
Our Druk Gyalpos are living embodiments. Why can’t we follow in that selfless path? As His Majesty stated, “the desired outcome of our first Local Government elections as a democracy should be that our people in the 205 gewogs of our 20 dzongkhags have faith, confidence and pride in the representatives they have elected to office. This outcome can only be achieved if we are all faithful to the Constitution, the laws of our land and the will of our People.”
That is what we must strive to do.