Sunday, April 17, 2011
The cabinet issued a notification last week. It was yet another ban. This time the culprits were the civil servants, and the bad catalyst deterring them from doing an honest day’s job? The bloody social networking system in general and in particular, Facebook.
Apparently, our bureaucrats are so laid back and devoid of work that the only thing that gets them going from nine to five is the darn social network. It certainly sends a message – one that bluntly proclaims that civil servants are anything but civil and anything but public servants.
It probably did not raise what is already a very stereotyped picture of the workers that make the RGoB work. And if god does have a sense of humor, you have got to name it for what it is, irony.
The other day, a friend-dash-civil servant said he logged into Facebook for probably the last time before the webmasters block the popular site in his office. He had a ‘Request’ on his Wall of Messages. He opened it and out popped this question. “Is Lyonpo Nandalal Rai fashionable?” there were three choices: Yes, No and Skip. He didn’t say which one he clicked. But the point is not about the fashionability of the Minster for Information and Communication.
The point is rather simple. The longer you treat grown-ups like rebelling teens, the longer it’s going to take for them to act like adults. Which invariably leads to one inalienable fact: the palpable sense of demoralization, self-respect, self-esteem, together with personal principles and a strong and guiding moral compass, which are all intangible qualities that either rise up spontaneously, usually in environs that are inspiring rather than in surroundings that are just the contrary, with doubting Dorjis on every bend.
Reality beckons and technology is the order of the day. We live in an age where everything is faster and better, at least in terms of information dissemination. Mobile phones come equipped with everything save a kitchen sink and the toilet pot. Money has become plastic. Transactions do not require inks and thumbprints. Everything is connected to one gigantic portal called the worldwide web.
And are the Bhutanese such an impossible bunch that the only way to curb them of their enthusiasm is to issue as many bans as the government can? And isn’t the government also made up of individuals who are inherently Bhutanese and hence, know how the local mindset functions? If bans worked, and they hardly ever do, there would be lesser laws required to govern. The more the government resorts to banning as the only way to discourage anything undesirable, the more comfortable and frequent the dark shadows become.
Led by monarchs that have exemplified the very noble foundations on which this country takes so much pride, it is rather embarrassing to have the number of bans we do - keeping in mind the fact that we see ourselves as the bastion of Buddhist compassion in everyday life, that we take pride in giving the world a developmental route that is nothing short of a revolution in the form of GNH, that we sing paeans to the Three Jewels and the Four Pillars and etc.
Juxtapose that with reality, where in the name of good habits we have jailed people on misguided righteousness, and even had the Minister of Health proclaiming that those who are spearheading a change in amending the Tobacco Act are “known smokers and drug addicts.”
What a demoralizing and blanket statement! If anything, the movement on Facebook and other social networking sites have shown that if an issue is at stake and that issue concerns the YouTube Generation enough to make them participate on debates and discussions regarding such laws that affect each and every Bhutanese, then really, we should be happy that the next generation of Bhutanese cares very deeply and passionately about the state of their country.
This is welcome news and one that should be lauded. Almost 60% of our population falls under the age of 25. The world is changing faster than a magician can pull a rabbit out of a hat. And change, as we all now, is the only constant thing in life. If you do not adapt, you risk being left behind. And no sensible Bhutanese wants to be left behind.
It is in our DNA make-up to sense what is good and what’s not. We can all sense that the bans are certainly not good. If that be the case, why are we shunning our guts? Now tweet that.