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The gaydrung enigma

In the last four months, four different decisions by four separate institutions were taken for the gaydrungs, the gewog clerks.

The national assembly in January resolved to retain the post. On March 5, the home ministry issued an order extending their contract by another three months. The next day, the royal civil service commission (RCSC) terminate d the contract of 74 of the 199 gaydrungs. On April 2, the Cabinet extended their term by three years.

Such inconsistencies reflect poorly on our decision makers and question the credibility of their decisions. An organisational development exercise has already found the post redundant but local government functionaries insist the post be retained. The laws and rules governing the local government are as inconsistent.

The local government Act and the local government entitlement Act make no mention of the gaydrung and do not recognise the position. However, the local government rules and regulations, which are drawn from the Act, have specified the roles and responsibilities of the gaydrungs. The recent cabinet decision muddies the issue further. It has instructed the home ministry to study the possibility of retaining either the gaydrungs or the gewog administrative officer (GAO).

While the contract extension may have come as a relief to the gaydrungs, the cabinet’s decision to bring in the GAOs and to choose either of the two complicates the matter more. Unlike the gaydrungs, who are not governed by an Act but strung along by tradition, rules and politicians, the GAOs are civil servants and have an anchor of the civil service Act and the civil service commission. The local government rules, among others, say gaydrungs should report to the GAOs.

Amid the conflict in laws, rules and decisions, the gaydrung issue has also become politicised. Their shaky employment status has sent them, like puppets, filing petitions and meeting politicians to extend their service. The last government extended their contract by two years. The current extended it by three more years. This is an unhealthy trend we have begun to see. Civil servants and local government officials, members of apolitical institutions, at least on paper, are appealing to politicians to intervene.

The cabinet and the home ministry are also selective in citing the assembly’s resolution to support their decisions. The assembly resolved to retain the post so that a review could be done to assess the need of the gaydrung position. It did not happen. The home ministry is yet again asked to reassess the need of gaydrungs in relation to that of GAOs. We see that the findings of the OD exercise and the decisions of the civil service commission are rendered as redundant as the post of gaydrungs.

But it is time to bring closure to this issue. The gaydrung conundrum, while exemplifying the inconsistencies in our system has also raised questions on the powers of the legislative, the executive, the local government and the civil service commission. What the discussions and power tussles have not shown is the service the gaydrungs provide to the people.

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