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Editorial: The changing norms

3 September, 2008 – In the new media environment – we call it freedom – some of us are getting on each others nerves. Officials are irritated at being disturbed by the media while they are busy with their important jobs and irritation becomes anger when they take the time to talk to media and they are not comprehensively quoted or their emphasis has gone wrong. Reporters are upset because everyone is forthcoming in sharing their successes but usually uncooperative when something has gone wrong.Is [... Read More]

Editorial: In memory

31 August, 2008 – We have just entered a flurry of activity to prepare for the Coronation, an event that we have been waiting for. More than half way through this monumental year, even as we celebrate special moments of Bhutanese history, we are asking ourselves, so what is 2008 all about?We saw the first general election in Bhutanese history. We shared the sense of achievement as we looked back at 100 years of Monarchy. And we look forward as we enjoy the Coronation. But [... Read More]

Editorial: Lost in workshops?

27 August, 2008 – Do we have a problem? Do we need ideas? Do we need to send out some messages? Do we need to train some people? Lets hold a workshop.At a time when a workshop, for most Bhutanese, is a place where you fix your car, the educated section of society is busy with workshops that are more talk shops. Sometimes we call them seminars, meetings, or conferences and we are often unable to tell the difference. A foreign observer, who recently attended [... Read More]

Editorial: No literature

23 August, 2008 – It is a genuine concern that Bhutanese people do not read, especially at a time when we are being exposed to an explosion of powerful audio-visual media. This concern comes from the knowledge that a literary tradition is important for society to develop intellectual depth. The audio-visual entertainment, as symbolised by commercial television, is predominantly entertainment.This does not come as a major surprise, not when society is at a stage where just 0.001 percent of the population has a masters degree [... Read More]

Editorial: Keeping clean

20 August, 2008 – A few decades ago we would have laughed at the idea of holding a national conference on rubbish. But that is exactly what is happening this week, a high level conference on our waste problem. And if people are still laughing it is probably because they do not believe that conferences will solve the problem.We do not need studies to tell us that we have not developed an adequate level of civic awareness to keep non-degradable waste off the streets and [... Read More]

Editorial: Facts, contacts, and transparency

16 August, 2008 – The discussion on the taxes to be placed on cars and, to some extent, the anticipated civil service salary raise, is an indication of the trends that we will see in the relationship between the government and the media. It is new for us but an established norm everywhere else.There is tension in these discussions because they affect a large number of people who are waiting for facts and figures. Knowing that, the government is understandably cautious. Meanwhile, the period between [... Read More]

Editorial: Time to step back

13 August, 2008 – As the Bhutanese system, and society, keeps changing more of us are beginning to ask: Where do the specific responsibilities of the government begin and end? This is pertinent in the context of a diversifying society where the private sector is expected to expand and we will soon see a number of NGOs and non-profits filling in the gap between the government and private sector.If privatisation is a policy and we believe that it is – we will need to see [... Read More]

Editorial: Leaders

9 August, 2008 – Did we know that, given the choice, most of the senior bureaucrats in the Bhutanese system would like to spend their time meditating and visiting lhakhangs? An exercise involving the 40 senior-most civil servants given the expected flaws of such exercises – showed that most are introverts rather than leaders. They would prefer to do just that.The exercise was a workshop. Based on one of the management science programmes, that are increasingly popular these days, this one veered towards a Buddhist [... Read More]

Editorial: No more secrets?

6 August, 2008 – Transparency was a natural sometimes inadvertent – feature within Bhutanese society in the past. Our secrets were open secrets. We not only knew what everyone else was doing, we even knew what they were going to do next.The times have changed. Among the many lessons we learnt from the first sitting of the new parliament was the need to establish mechanisms for transparency in the new political atmosphere. The new democratic establishment requires actual systems to ensure that information is made [... Read More]

Editorial: Wrong persons?

2 August, 2008 – Foreign travel has always been and continues to be one of the attractions of government jobs. Further education and trainings, workshops and seminars and study tours outside the country are the highlight of civil servants careers and lives. So much so that people have decided their professions based on the opportunity to go overseas.The question, for a long time, has been: are the right people going to the right places? Are people going for relevant seminars and meetings and study tours? [... Read More]