Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Technology and Human Interaction



As I pen down my thoughts, I do not know what my friends next to me are up to for I have social networks to hangout if I am stuck with some ideas. Nor do they know what I am up to for they seem busy with their Computers on their respective laps. Only common thing we know is, all of us are holding Computer…
World, enabled by inventions and discoveries has become sophisticated over time. Short conversation to high level diplomatic talks are all channeled through technology. The commonly used clich√©, ‘world is at your fingertips’ bears the testimony of how far we have travelled along with the technology. Knowledge and information starting from one’s diet to statuses of the fellow beings across the globe is right in front for us to get hold of. Days of walk to deliver the official correspondences and private mails can be now done in a minute through internet. Television sets present us the alternatives to engage with – watching news or some entertainment programs. Computer applications have provided space to store huge data bases saving chunk of paper, time and potentially eliminating risks. World is really at your fingertips, is not it?
Beside these, technology has reduced the burden of mankind. By employing ‘Hawk Eye’ (a technology designed to visually track the trajectory of the ball) in sports help match officials to make right decision through instant review, even if he or she is not sure of what he or she really saw. Use of smartphones has furthered the understanding of individualism, at least for me, disappointingly in narrower sense.  One touch, you have access to everything you need without any body’s help, but, the social support system and interpersonal communication are almost nonexistent. Did we reach a point where we need to redefine Isolation?   
For a short conversation to your friend, residing next room, probably a distance of 10 to 15 steps away, you make a phone call. Obsessed to one’s favourite television channel, husband (father), wife (mother) and children resort to take meals at different times for they do not want to miss their most cherished television programs.  Western soft power – food habits, dress, language and behaviour that we see in television programs, news and social networks sites has its part in our changing life style.  While technology has helped us keep informed, vilification, allegation and accusation have distanced us rather than bringing us closer in a fast globalizing world. Do really want to face these realities of life unfolding unto us?
With technology, parts of human faculties are less burdened to the extent that some tasks are done away with altogether. As we try to fit in technology driven human community, some original characters in us are losing their grounds, unintentionally though. If these trends continue, a time may come where human faculties will be incapacitated to perform some tasks otherwise its primary function. There in, Lamarckian Theory of ‘Use and Disuse’ will come into play. Are we becoming robots acting in conformity with the commands of the Technology?

Monday, 24 February 2014

The Unwelcome Parts



Concerned of my deteriorating sight, I went to Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) for check-up. Kudos to Royal Government of Bhutan under visionary Monarch, I, one of the least fortunate beings could avail the service for free. Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, I was advised to wear glasses. You may not like it, but circumstances compel one to go by it. As I put on the glasses, I pray that same misfortune do not befall unto others, at least for who does not wish for.
Scenes in the hospital, specifically, seeing those unfortunate fellow beings are rather disturbing. Amongst others, an unattended elderly man, seemingly in his early seventies, has also come for eye check-up. An Ophthalmologist (Eye Specialist) expressed his   concerns of declining family support during old age. However, his warm hospitality and compassionate accommodation to elderly man gave solace to me, let alone the service. Is the social support system the practice of those bygone days?  OR, is individualism interpreted so stringently that sees other person, even one’s kin as a burden or competitor? OR, Are Bhutanese so engrossed in economically productive, academically enriching and socially cohesive activities to the extent that they do not have time for those groups of people?
Walking by the Chorten Lam, I came across an acquaintance of mine.  A University Degree Holder, life in Thimphu as a vagabond was not what he has endeavoured for. Even to get shortlisted for a job is hard to come by. Hopes dashed as opportunities go begging, he sees no alternatives but to leave Thimphu and do nothing. Is Thimphu the only place in Bhutan to earn livelihood? Is employment the sole purpose of education? Does education system in Bhutan implant wholesome education and values in students? Is enough being done to produce bread for those people who really need it?  Are there adequate interventions from policy formulation to implementation to address their needs?       
As I enclose my thoughts, I do with the optimism that a day will come when the needs of these groups of people are considered and taken care of. If left unattended or inadequately addressed, floods of social evils will erode the dreams of Our Great Monarchs and the people alike of happy, peaceful and prosperous Bhutan.  May these ‘Unwelcome Parts’ serve as opportunities for you and me and Bhutan to come and grow stronger in our pursuit of Gross National Happiness!  

Friday, 14 February 2014

Retreat and Reinvigorate – Rewinding the first two weeks at Royal Institute of Management



The odyssey from beacon of hinterland Drepung to chandelier of Semtokha stands as a testimony of my perseverance and zeal in pursuit of my dream, should there be one. Qualifying for Post Graduate Diploma in Public Administration at Royal Institute of Management (RIM), Semtokha is one potential way towards that end. As the name suggests, trainees enrolled here, upon graduation are expected to be equipped and skilled in the field of Management – people, projects, information and resources that would propel the ladder for Bhutan to grow, develop and ascend higher for good. While it is privilege to be part of the RIM fraternity, to live up to its expectation is daunting task for expectation if inappropriately dealt becomes a pressure.
Attending the Orientation for almost two weeks helped me bridge with the Institutions rules and norms while going around with friends introduced me to the infrastructure in place and new people thus increasing my social network. The journey from institution’s vision to power point presentation via institution’s history, national etiquette (sgdrigs lam rnam gzhag), academic integrity, academic and policy writing, student learning and moodle was worth for it reminded me of the task ahead by instilling in me the obligation to abide by the prescribed codes of conduct (practice) of the Institution. A retreat, that afforded opportunity to armour oneself against potential casualties that would be brought about by the system in transition.   
In the midst of academic discourse, a discovery was made. However, lack of expertise in that field coupled with my timidity kept the discovery at bay, at least for now. Futsal with friends and acquaintances gave us space to discover each other more while untoward moments made me reflect of the context and the part I played in it. The ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of Futsal, play and will continue to play major role in my evolution.
As I took the first step into the Civil Service, issues of concern raised, starting from bureaucratic red tape to discrepancy between policy intention and implementation, marred by nepotism and favouritism worried me. Nevertheless, willingness on the part of trainees to grapple with those social evils implanted in me the optimism to do the same.
A retreat that reinvigorated me to push the limit!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Lacuna

                                                                                                     Monday, April 22, 2013 

Text for International Law and Spanish
Language Course. Photo: Dechen Rabgyal
Electorates will head to the Polling Stations tomorrow to vote for who would constitute the next crop of National Council. The first group of Councilors applaud their position by stating that they could pass as much as 39 Bills that ultimately became Acts. However, successful implementation of these Acts is subject to assessment. Tobacco Control Act needs special mention. It had to be amended during the very Parliament that passed the previous Act. Although, its goals and objective was noble and good for the society but its applicability seems neglected when deliberated in the Parliament. National Assembly also should be accountable for this. It testifies that people to whom laws are targeted are not being consulted and discussed with.
The confusion and differences on the interpretation of the Constitution regarding the National Council is far from being resolved. Some of the former Councilors had to resign to re contest for tomorrow’s election upon the circular issued by the Election Commission of Bhutan. On the other hand, National Council believed that they can re contest while staying in Office. Further, the Supreme Court stated that incumbents can contest the election without resigning. However, it was considered as an advisory opinion by the ECB, and therefore not binding. What could have been the status of ECB if the matter reached the Supreme Court? It would have impaired the status of the ECB as a Constitutional Body when it has to reverse its order.
The problem does not end here. With the order from ECB vis-√†-vis limited time at their disposal to appeal, 16 Councilors resigned. 15 Councilors chose to re contest while one joined a Political Party. With their resignations, there are only 9 members in the National Council including 5 eminent members appointed by His Majesty the King. Constitution mandates National Council as a continuous House entrusting the responsibility as the House of Review. Section 6 of Article 11 of the Constitution and Section 64 of Article 5 of the National Council Act requires the National Council to assemble at least twice a year. Section 65 of the NC Act provides, “Whenever necessary, the Chairperson of the National Council shall convene an extraordinary sitting of the National Council on the command of the Druk Gyalpo”. Should there be such extraordinary session; the quorum of two-third majority won’t be met with only 9 members staying until the end of their tenure on 28th April. Till date, there hasn’t been any issue of national importance that required extra ordinary session. With more than a week to go for next group of Councilors to take the office, chances cannot be ruled out where extraordinary session might have to be called for. Further, if this goes as an established precedent, every after five years, National Council will be left with less than required members to call for session should there be any issue to be reviewed and deliberated. Are we to see amendment of the provisions of some Acts and Constitution in next five years or keep it until situation compels to do so?
This milieu could be hypothetical for some but it would be ‘too little, too late’ to act at the very last moment. Concerted effort is required to resolve the unresolved issue in order to avoid limbo and crisis during the time of crisis.