Here we are – at the end of yet another year in our lives!  It is time once again to seriously contemplate the past events and come up with resolutions again to improve the New Year, and hopefully also ourselves.

In a look back at the Year That Was, Bhutan saw major changes in 2013.  The highlight of it was the general election in July that resulted in a new government.  The divisive and polarizing politics leading up to this, something that peaceful Bhutan was not accustomed to, was quite an experience. While thankfully it did not result in violence or chaos that many other nations around us usually descend to during such times, we must remind ourselves that if we are not careful with our rhetoric and actions this might sadly happen in the future.  To prevent this and to grow as a nation, we have to tolerate a more open political discourse.

On the economic front, we have yet to see if the new government will do what it takes to rectify the bad loan situation with the banks and stimulate the economy.  The Raven has an interesting analysis of this situation.

This was a year that also saw a great deal happen in the social sector.  The recent spate in suicides tells us that there is much we need to do as a society and it has to start in our homes and schools. Young people need direction.  Increasing cases of substance abuse, crime and suicides largely amongst the younger generation reveals burdened and stressed minds. Things are no longer the same in Bhutanese society and we need new coping mechanisms and approaches.  Fortunately we have amongst us many who have taken an initiative to do their part.  With International Volunteers Day on December 5th, it was the perfect opportunity for The Raven to celebrate some of these people.  There are many more out there – Tarayana Foundation, Bhutan Foundation, Bhutan Nuns Foundation and other Civil Societies whose amazing work we would love to highlight at some point. Bhutanese society has always been accommodating and giving and we are increasingly seeing more of it through smaller groups – Help Shoe Bhutan, Bhutan Dragons Motorcycle Club – and individuals too.

For the media, it looks like the environment to be in this business is not getting any better. 2013 saw newspapers slowly closing office or scaling back as they incurred losses and journalism suffered. While it is not the role of the government to protect the business of every publication, the interest to strengthen the fourth and fifth estates in other ways seems lackluster. Apart from a vague office order that ordered government offices to distribute advertisements equally among all media houses, with a special mention to one newspaper, there were no details as to how this should be executed.

We can only hope for the best in 2014! Wishing you all a Happy National Day and a Happy New Year!

Sonam Ongmo

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