Bhutanese Community Association of Akron, Inc.

Opinion: Fresh Meat is Indigestible to a Toothless Lion

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Bhakta GhimireBhakta Ghimire, author

It has been a well-known practice that two government heads between Nepal and Bhutan meet occasionally in the capitals of their respective countries and dine big parties tagging themselves as the sages of humanity. They always speak on "humanitarian solution" of long-been protracted refugee issue since 1990. Recently, very recently same thing happened in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal. Prime Minister from Bhutan side Jigme Y. Thinley, who is acting under the 'King graced' democracy, went to Nepal and met with the Kathmandu authorities. Thinley's hosts, distracted by domestic political squabbles, always use to express casual concerns and the guest use to give half-hearted assurances prompting overly enthusiastic reporting in the media. But for thousands watching from rodent-infested refugee camps in eastern Nepal, it is being just another nightmare.

          As a historic practice, in this instance too, Thinley has avoided terming the refugees as Bhutanese citizens. He is being working on this project since then when the Ex-King JS Wangchuk nominated him as permanent representative to UN in 90's. By then Thinley has been avoiding the big chunk of southern population from the right to be citizen and to participate in so-called democracy, which is being highly inspired by the theory of "Gross National Happiness" as his repeated statements. He has been advocating for his masters theory of "GNH" cursing the evicted Bhutanese population time and again.  So, nobody hopes he will work for the well-being of the evicted citizens and for amicable solution of this derailed crisis. Why? Because, this population was forcefully evicted as majority of it demanded launching a democratic set-up in the governance.  

           Actually, democracy seems an un-wanted burden to Thimpu and its stake-holders. Having no alternatives other than hatching a wicked drama and resonate it as of love towards democracy, formulating a fake democratic set-up in governance and presenting to the western donors to receive alms as pocket-earning from foreign aid, Mr. Jigme Singye Wangchuk, the then king of Bhutan graced the old house of representative (Tshogdu) to practice a parliamentary democracy in fanciful by-party system, in 2006. He then defined it as world’s rarest set-up, which can be taken as an example for ‘new development’ in a new epoch. But, in reality his definition is nothing than a handcuffed prisoner shouting for a joyful picnic. Who believes it except than the master-minds of divide and rule theory. This is the result of that imposed GNH, where happiness and joy centered in the palace. 

          Bhutan’s present parliamentary democracy is not a real-designed set-up. It is a calcified system presented by the king to the sacrosanct people who in turn believe divinity on their autocratic ruler. But, the system proclaimed, rarest and a key to the country-wide happiness, by the King and his collogues is a result of compulsion to make changes in a new era and evolving realities around the world. Even though the democratic system in governance today is consented throughout the universe, Thimpu is trying to grab it towards the marveled palace and hide forever from the people who really want it, calling it as a superficial type of political system graced by a so-called lovable king.

          Years ago, just after the parliamentary system was launched in Bhutan, Thimpu-deployed defender named Karma Phuntsho had presented his fictional definitions of democracy inline palace perception and lambasted Nepalese, Indians and abroad critics of Bhutanese governing system who criticizes its negative approach towards its people. Karma had mentioned that the Nepal-Bhutan relation limits in realm and that people’s democratic system in both of the countries makes their relation further apart. In a webpage lunched from UK, he said, “Differences between Bhutan and Nepal may begin in their socio-cultural roots-primarily a Himalayan Buddhist culture in case of Bhutan and Indic-Hindu one of Nepal – but their seemingly divergent paths in the more recent history of modernization and development have taken them further apart.” This complies with the traditional quote that goes, “Fresh meat is not digestible to the age-old toothless lion.”

          Further more, alleging the abroad critics who compares the kings of two countries and their characteristics, geopolitical or social-economic demography and the people of these two nations as equal, he said, “Nepali writers are exacerbating the facts. In the process, Nepal has generally continued to view Bhutan as a closed medieval autocracy. For most Bhutanese, ancient Nepal is sacred side of pilgrimage, but they rarely refer to modern Nepal. When they do, it is with mixture of pity and contempt, depicting Nepal as a nation beleaguered by wayward modernization and endless political discord. For too many Bhutanese, Nepal is now an example to avoid.”

          His opinion clearly indicates that the recent political developments in Nepal are not digested by Bhutan, especially by Thimpu and compelled to re-arrange a new pattern of chaotic politics avoiding its own citizen to participate in that process voluntarily and independently. His opinion claims the evicted people living in Nepal as refugee are not its citizens. This reality becomes a favorable moment to those who are advocating for democracy, real democracy, full democracy, people’s democracy, republican set-up and so on ….in Bhutan. Lingering decisions of political leaders in exile and their escaping mentality from the struggle made young generation to realize developing revolutionary forces in the country as well as in exile and some groups already started to this path. But, unfortunately the differences between themselves is hitting the people even more than the Royals' cruelty.

          Meanwhile king of Bhutan is scared seeing the influence of new revolutionary forces in recent Nepal politics and viewing to subside from these fears he activated his theory of palace centered democracy deploying his ‘palace vigilantes’ to chase away the opposition thinkers. But, absolute political party in the fake parliament and absolute government in the king’s instructions don’t bear the fruits of democracy. Defenders such as Mr. Karma started his campaign of advocacy to rescue the cruelty of their supreme figure and his long rule, preventing from such criticisms, have now vomiting their fanciful slogans in national and international media. Mr. Karma-minded people are just narrating their inhuman laws to treat the citizen as animals and the so-called enlightened king is a figure of wisdom! They depict pre-conditioned democracy introduced recently in Bhutan is positive political development. But, independent analysts and observers can easily point out the chaotic dramas and pretending political changes in Bhutan are only the tactics to rescue and legitimize the autocratic kingship.

          In an article published in "Open Democracy" Mr. Karma said, “a primary target of Nepalese criticism towards Bhutan has been the Monarch, who is loved and revered by most of his people; many even defy Jigme Singye Wangchuk as a Bodhisattva king, who is born to lead the country through the turmoil of our time. Nepalese writers in contrast generally project him as narcissistic potentate, whom his people fear and persecutes his adversaries ruthlessly.

         ”Yes of course, obviously Jigme seemed an Emperor for ruling a country without a written constitution and framed columns of legal procedures. He took some of our friends as antagonists when suggesting him for resolving the southern Bhutan problem peacefully and kept on roaring that ‘refugees are not Bhutanese citizens’. He should have pointed to which country does the people living in refugee camps in Nepal belong. Not that happened since a long period. Instead of pointing which country belongs the refugees (if they are not Bhutanese), he escaped from that responsibility because of compromise made by the sluggish approaches of Nepal governments. In no way, Jigme is Bodhisattva (enlightened) king, for attaining which he has to abandon the palace luxury and conspiracy against own people.

          I'm just going forward with Mr. Karma’s opinion published in a webpage called 'open democracy': His silence towards the exile life of hundred thousand people and mysterious death of ninth Sabdrung (believed to be the re-incarnation of ancient Dharma raja of Bhutan), in India, peoples demand for religious and political freedom in eastern and southern Bhutan, whereabouts and present status of current 10th Shabdrung indicates that he is a paid writer of the palace. His reluctant view on the refugee issue and bargaining mentality to escape from the ruling responsibility proves that he is for the newly ratified slavery age in the name of palace-dominated democracy in Bhutan. The advocacy to moderate the outside pressure for resolving refugee issue and establish rule of law in the country, the king has been appraising New-Delhi ever and after. Thimphu has been instantly backed by New Delhi for its mischievous activities in exchange of its blind support in international forums. Mr. Karma has tried to divert the international concern for positive political changes in Bhutan by projecting his fiction of rift between Nepali speaking southern Bhutanese and non-Nepali speaking northerner often called Drukpas.

          In reality there is no confrontation among the Bhutanese people other than a political or ideological base. The true sense indicated by Karma's projection actually cascades between the palace and its people. The forceful eviction of Nepali-speaking southern Bhutanese in beginning of 1990 was not a design by non-Nepali speaking Bhutanese. It was solely fabricated and pre-planned project of palace to depopulate the country and to become the permanent dominant factor of autocratic rule forever. Projecting the political context of ancient India and presenting the presence of Nepali ethnic people around the north-eastern belt of India posse’s sovereign threat to the country, Thimphu tried to gain international sympathy to protect its ‘Shangri-la’. Thimphu tries to create misconception about the merging story of Sikkim into an Indian union due to the dominant political force of Nepali speaking people during seventies. In one hand Thimphu is always trying to exaggerate the refugee issue as an ethnical conflict and contrasting in the other hand defines the Nepal revolutionary context as a result of poor democracy without the rigid political ideology. Actual refugee problem emerged due to the undemocratic Bhutanese political system demanding for a new set-up. Thimphu hides this fact and presents more than needed pity-feelings to conserve its own ruling elite. Desperately struggling to stable its political position, Thimphu must realize that Nepal’s rift is not among the different ethnical groups and communities rather a confrontation among different concepts of real democracy. Bhutan branded democracy was practiced in Nepal since a long time. The people in Nepal don’t favor to continue the age-old palace dominated democracy and revolt against it. Nepal’s present context is not only limited to its boundaries but, is becoming a common political line within South Asia along with southeast corner after the age-old palace coup in Thailand with the help of royal army. 

          The palace and its defenders should soon realize the present political state of South Asia and step forward to compromise with opposition political factors keeping aside the bargaining, concentrating to solve the subsequent stalemate of refugee issue. Thimphu shouldn’t be mourning or dancing in a joy while refugees in Nepal are choosing to go abroad for resettlement because that only was their last left option for now. Even then they have realized that their future generation would make Thimphu to surrender for its past sin poured upon to their ancestors. If compromise for refugee repatriation is reached with a dignified status, even majority of the resettled refugees will revert to be in own homeland. Thimphu and Delhi must soon realize this fact, because without Delhi’s backing Thimphu wouldn’t have carried out eviction spree. Otherwise the propaganda of palace-sponsored democracy spread over international media may go in vain. Bhutan’s political conflict, converted to ethnic rift by the palace may create a huge social disorder including political rivalry in South Asia. Not only Thimphu, its time that rulers in the region must concentrate earliest possible to harmonize this entire situation where all ethnic groups are respected, given rights, maintained equality and equity. Simply be treated as human. Until the condition of this status is not fulfilled, Thinley's advocacy for "Gross National Happiness" seems just a futile approach to tangle the practices of "Gross National Shame" and "Gross National Misery".  

The Author can be contacted through this Email kashyapbhai.bht@gmail.com

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