life after elections…:)

A foreign journalist working on a documentary about Bhutan’s transition into democracy asked me how life has changed for the average Bhutanese after the elections.
I am not ideally placed to answer that question in some ways. When the elections were taking place, I was in India, still studying. I knew when the elections were held and who won, but it didn’t mean too much to me, I am afraid to say.
Democracy? Government, politics…I was a college student I didn’t care.
When I came back, I joined a newspaper as a reporter, and I had to care, it was my job. Every day I dealt with aspects of the new Democracy. When Bhutan was undergoing a massive, unalterable, historic change, my life was changing too. I acquired a whole new career. So I have no constant life to measure the change the new government has brought us.
But I did reflect. I read somewhere that in a word association test, most people recalled Titanic, the movie for the year 1998.
For me, it would be the memory of His Majesty the Fourth King giving up some of his powers, and issuing the command to form a cabinet and a head of government from among the ministers. I was eleven and a half, and not particularly interested in politics or governance, but that day, our dzongkha lopen had cried in class. The thought that our king would no longer e head of the government shattered him. If only he knew what was coming.
I know the thought of democracy called to mind violent elections and strikes much later, when we were told that democracy was inevitable in Bhutan. But by 2008, everyone was more or less resigned to their fates.
What has changed? There is a new irreverence to the government, especially in the urban areas. Government is no longer the sacred body that could do no wrong. Online forums, especially, have exploded; newspapers write fiery editorials and run sensational stories.
People feel that they have the right to blame everything on the government now. Climate change, no rain, poverty, natural disasters, power failure, unemployment, rising crime? We expect the government to come running and solve every problem. That’s why we elected them, right?
The said Journalist said he read a few papers and it seemed that the government was terrible, the papers were full of complaints. Ah, well, I am not going to say the government has been a smacking success. We are too early on, and we have nothing to compare by. The government has not been splendid and faultless, but it would have been amazing if it had.
Personally, I think the excessive coverage of media of government failures is a good sign. One, it means we have the freedom to do so.



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