Unity in diversity

Posted: August 19, 2010 in Opinions

The popular notion, by and large, is that democracy is the best form of government. Bhutan’s peaceful political transition to a democratic polity is perhaps based on this popular idea.

There is good reason to kowtow this line of thought. Democratic principles place citizens at the center of its universe. It espouses the philosophy of equality, freedom, and human rights and sidelines socioeconomic and cultural hierarchy and discrepancies in a society.

At the level of idea, principle and philosophy, democracy is the perfect system. Only when the nuts and bolts of democracy are scattered out, do we realize that it is much simpler than we thought. Our democratic experiment is a work-in-progress. There is still much to learn through trials and tribulations.

We still need to come out of the trappings of the feudal mentality and cultural hang-ups of the past. As we construct a completely modern society – based on the values and culture of democracy – we must learn to evolve. In the right direction, with the right sense of balance.

Differences in our background, ethnicity, language and cultural sub-identities will always exist.   Differences in opinions and political views and sentiments will always crop up. Democracy therefore has,   in a small nation like ours, a huge potential to create rifts, factions and regionalism. That is the Achilles’ heel of a near perfect system we are trying to put in place.

During the first general elections, we have seen that happen. We have seen close relations between families and relatives rip apart. Let’s face it. Although not outwardly, an undertone of a sense of belongingness to one’s own region, has been strong. In other words, there are differences – in the way people perceive each other.

However, in actuality, this sentiment isn’t wrong. Human as we are. But what can create larger problems is political exploitation, that is in a worst comes to worst scenario. This may not happen, may be never, given the quality of our political leaders and the ideologies of the parties. Yet, the possibility cannot be ignored in future, as we will have more and more political parties, and as we become more politicized every day than the other.

We must think as a nation, always. The socio-cultural and religious differences within ourselves should complement each other. And not divide us. It’s diversity we should celebrate, in unison and rightfully so and not differences.

We are a new democracy – two and half years old – and we are going strong. Amidst all the political changes our country is going through, we must not forget that what binds us together as a country and a people, is the sense of belonging to the Kingdom.


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