Before we even know it, the elections will soon be upon us. But aside from DPT, the other parties have barely had time to put together their team, leave alone introduce them to us. Indeed there has been very little time for the people to be familiarized with the candidates,
and the media has hardly had time to grill them about the issues. This makes one realize that the time given for campaigns and familiarization is too short, which is not good if we truly want good and competent people in office. There are many things flawed about the whole process; like requirements that a civil serv-
ant has to resign in order to join politics, necessity of a college degree, and the time span for campaigning. Although it is too late to hope for any change to occur in the process this time, we hope to cover some of these issues as we gear up towards the big day so that it will be something to think about in the future.
One important issue for whichever party wins this time is that of their support for a free and independent media. Achyut Bhandhari, a former government official, has raised this concern in his column by highlighting the grave situation the media houses in Bhutan, including The Raven, faces today. If the intent for the government is to build strong democratic institutions, it has to realize and understand that a fair media policy regarding advertising and subsidies has to be seriously considered. This is because the media – even though it is not perfect – is one area where private citizens do the work of strengthening the institutions of a free press and free speech, and if the government truly believes in that principle, whether it agrees or disagrees with what is reported, it will find ways to support it.
We have a great collection of articles this month covering a range of issues – youth -unemploy- ment, an interview with one of Thimphu’s much admired social workers, events, and reviews. But our cover story on Special Education takes us to another area that has languished on the back burner for a long time. It is good to know that the Education Ministry has taken im- mense initiatives despite a lack of resources to initiate this program. It has a long way to go and might even be helped by wealthy private individuals in Bhutan who can take up causes and support these programs. Volunteerism and Philanthropy are picking up in our society,
but as Aum Chime P.Wangdi from Tarayana Foundation pointed out recently in her interview with BBS, we need more people to give to “people causes” rather than just to the gods. There was a great outpouring of contributions for the Wangdiphodrang Dzong when it burnt down. If only that kind of support could also be rallied for a “people cause” – disadvantaged people’s cause – and if our people would be as generous, imagine how much could be done to better human lives; better our own society. We have to move past waiting for funds only from other people, from outside, especially for these causes.