Imag­ine civil so­ci­ety: a di­a­logue on civil so­ci­ety and Bhutan

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Imag­ine Civil So­ci­ety: A Di­a­logue on Civil So­ci­ety and Bhutan, a con­ven­tion on the im­por­tance of the Civil So­ci­ety Or­ga­ni­za­tion (CSO) to the gov­ern­ment and the peo­ple was held in the cap­i­tal from 7th to 8th Oc­to­ber 2014. The di­a­logue was at­tended by of­fi­cials from Civil So­ci­ety Or­ga­ni­za­tions, non- CSO and stu­dents of Royal Thimphu Col­lege.

Aum Siok Sian Pek Dorji , Ex­ec­u­tive Pro­fes­sional Di­rec­tor of Bhutan Cen­tre for Me­dia and Democ­racy said that the ob­jec­tive of the CSOs is net­work­ing and shar­ing thoughts and build­ing al­liance with the Gov­ern­ment and the com­pa­nies.

Dasho Neten Zangmo , Chair­per­son of An­tiCor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion ex­pressed skewed view about the NGOs as be­ing un­rea­son­able, noisy and dis­trust­ful, but now feels that NGOs are more than “watch-dog”. She feels that CSO puts light into greater is­sues such as Jus­tice and Se­cu­rity and helps in build­ing trust, which is an im­por­tant so­cial cap­i­tal and base of Gross Na­tional Hap­pi­ness (GNH). But to grow out of the en­vi­ron­ment of dis­trust, gov­ern­ment should take the first move and cre­ate con­fi­dence among the civil so­ci­ety ac­tors and in­clude them in prob­lem solv­ing pro­cesses of the na­tion, be­cause gov­ern­ment alone can­not reach all the is­sues. She also added that there is a need for trans­for­ma­tion in think­ing of lead­ers as an in­sti­tu­tion and mem­bers of the so­ci­ety, and quoted, “State should be gar­dener not fence”.

Another re­source per­son from Tarayan Foun­da­tion Mr. Pelmo Gyalpo said that CSO is a new con­cept and be­fore Tarayana Foun­da­tion was known as NGO and NPO, but now it is the third sec­tor ex­ist­ing in Bhutan. He also said that the foun­da­tion works for trans­for­ma­tion of peo­ple in ru­ral ar­eas to help them achieve mar­ginal dig­nity of life and is suc­cess­fully work­ing in 102 vil­lages over 10 dis­tricts.

Mr. Tashi Nam­gay , Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor from Bhutan Kid­ney Foun­da­tion said, “Civil so­ci­ety is a call for the change to the so­ci­ety through so­ci­ety. There should be mu­tual en­gage­ment be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the or­ga­ni­za­tion as Bhutanese to bring pos­i­tive change in the coun­try; and added, “Pur­pose of life is to be a good hu­man be­ing”.

One of the in­ter­est­ing twists in the meet­ing was Dilemma of Mr. Dawa, founder of help shoe Bhutan, who wanted to con­tinue his help line to the peo­ple but not be regis­tered as CSO. That ques­tion was what should he do? And a com­bine ef­fort of the speak­ers led to an un­clear an­swer that the need to reg­is­ter de­pends upon the sit­u­a­tion, so it re­mained a dilemma.

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