Prove Me Wrong

Business Bhutan - - Opinion - JURMI CHHOWING Jurmi Chhowing is a writer. He’s the founder of Yal­lamma! The Writ­ing Com­pany. He can be emailed at iamdrukpa@gmail.com.

The hacks are back scru­ti­niz­ing the politi­cians. And the politi­cians – wolf and cub - are at it again, promis­ing the end of your mis­ery. The cir­cus spi­rals out of con­trol ev­ery five years and hits the streets. It’s the third com­ing but the first and the sec­ond ought to have taught us all that we need to know - namely the game of fame, shame and ‘who’s to blame?’ This is also the break­ing point in that spi­ral where the clue­less lay­man be­comes the telling pun­dit, an­a­lyz­ing par­ties, pick­ing apart can­di­dates and lay­ing down the fi­nal score line of ‘who’ll do whom?’. Mean­while the par­ties un­furl their lat­est can­di­dates and their lat­est cre­den­tials to­gether with their lat­est pledges. The sen­ti­ment ap­pears to be ‘the big­ger the re­sume, the higher the chance’. Per­haps they are right. Brain does beat the heart (un­til it’s the heart’s turn to beat the brain). Frankly I do not care who wins or loses. My stake is in the survival of the coun­try as a sov­er­eign and liv­able en­tity and not the par­ties that might gov­ern it. The elec­tions are gonna be the same old cir­cus spin­ning a new yarn of old strings. What I care about is that they do not get too ex­cited and too greedy too early and sell out the coun­try and its wealth too fast. Ex­pect­ing any­thing more ba­sic than that is set­ting our­selves up for an even­tual dis­ap­point­ment. This wari­ness wasn’t born yes­ter­day. It’s the stepchild of a po­lit­i­cal mother that is fun­da­men­tally self­ish. What is a politi­cian but an opportunist gam­bling on the bet that the voter will dig his gho, find his socks cool, drool over his com­mand of the na­tional lan­guage, be­come a fan of his grav­elly vo­cals and go bonkers over his ci­vil­ity in pub­lic servi­tude? And then pitch that to you as a sac­ri­fi­cial boon? It doesn’t mat­ter what he pitches. He can pitch the sud­den dis­ap­pear­ance of the gap­ing gap be­tween the rich and the poor, in five short and vague years. He can pitch the sud­den en­rich­ment of the lives of the very poor, in five short and vague years. He can pitch the sud­den erad­i­ca­tion of all cor­rup­tion, in five short and vague years. Or he can pitch the very redemp­tion of your lost soul in a par­adise of your choos­ing and it still wouldn’t mat­ter in an­other five short and vague years. My bone of con­tention with the politi­cian has al­ways been the same; ‘what does he re­ally want? And who does he re­ally serve?’ The first bid­ding is the usual type­cast: en­rich your­self, and then ap­pear to en­rich oth­ers and make it all ap­pear as if we are ben­e­fit­ing from this se­lec­tive en­rich­ment. Were it to be proven oth­er­wise, I’d hap­pily stand in the docks - guilty as charged. But no - pol­i­tics seems to ren­der men (and women and their sup­port­ers) tem­per­a­men­tal, im­per­sonal and hy­per­sen­si­tive to their own am­bi­tions. This would be fine if the fate of the na­tion weren’t quite in their ques­tion­able hearts – the hands I’m sure come ably rec­om­mended – so it’s the heart that must be sus­pect. I’d be glad if there wasn’t such a ruckus and the tran­si­tion in tem­po­ral power swapped hands smoothly but re­al­ity smirks at such a sen­ti­ment with its scarred past. Pol­i­tics, it seems, by its very na­ture is but a freak show and the politi­cian is the freak pre­tend­ing to be the ring­mas­ter. We are the pay­ing spec­ta­tors sit­ting in the dark munch­ing our stale pop­corn and be­ing told to en­joy it. And the busi­ness of democ­racy is the arena where it all alights. My ex­pec­ta­tions are thus very low. I don’t care which party comes to power. Look at that word – power - it would take a per­son with deeply em­bed­ded roots to stay grounded once the branches of power and their pointy ends be­gin to stick out and prick. If the em­pow­ered party and its win­ners can re­sist sell­ing out the na­tion chunk by chunk or even bit by bit that would be an ac­com­plish­ment and a ma­jor one at that. Come the next round they could even go around mak­ing a catch­phrase out of it, ‘we didn’t sell out!’ But ev­ery­thing’s on sale. I don’t trust politi­cians, pe­riod. As in­di­vid­u­als they are tol­er­a­ble but put them on a pedestal or in the halls of power and the pre­dictable politi­cian plays out. The only way to keep them ac­count­able is to dis­trust ev­ery­thing they say and judge them at the end of the spin­ning ta­ble by what’s left on their plates. Some will have picked the plate clean while oth­ers will leave be­hind a big plate of waste. I don’t trust politi­cians be­cause I get the feel­ing they are in it for the glory – vain or oth­er­wise. I don’t trust politi­cians be­cause once em­pow­ered they fat­ten up and get lazy. I don’t trust politi­cians be­cause trust has to be earned, con­tin­u­ally. I don’t care about their party ide­olo­gies ei­ther. What’s in an ide­ol­ogy but an­other short and vague idea? One doesn’t need to be a ge­nius to fig­ure out that Bhutan is a small king­dom with a tiny pop­u­la­tion wedged in be­tween two in­se­cure giants who wanna make it a satel­lite of their in­flu­ence. Fur­ther­more one doesn’t need to be a ge­nius to fig­ure out that a sound in­fra­struc­ture, a re­cep­tive bu­reau­cracy and an in­clu­sive au­ton­omy are the needs of the day. One doesn’t need to be a ge­nius to fig­ure out that the busi­ness­peo­ple wanna make of Bhutan a hon­ey­pot with which to at­tract for­eign wasps. One doesn’t need to be a ge­nius to fig­ure out that plu­to­crats could end up own­ing most of the coun­try to the detri­ment of the larger pop­u­la­tion who’ll grow in­creas­ingly de­jected at the bar­ri­caded scene - with noth­ing of note worth fight­ing for. One doesn’t need to be a ge­nius to fig­ure out that blind obe­di­ence to an un­ques­tioned sta­tus quo bodes badly for the na­tional fu­ture. One doesn’t need to be a ge­nius to fig­ure out that the stakes must be equal or there’ll be no stakes left worth bat­tling for the com­mon man; walk­ing sold-out streets and fal­low fields. And one doesn’t need to be a ge­nius to fig­ure out that the youth must be in­vested with the most al­tru­is­tic of ed­u­ca­tion be­cause they are the care­tak­ers of to­mor­row’s Bhutan. Or they’ll be­come to­mor­row’s per­pe­tra­tors. If not, ev­ery­thing worth vot­ing for will have been bought off, sold out, owned and pro­tected by a con­niv­ing few prop­a­gat­ing a sham. The sys­tem - de­signed to spread the na­tional wealth and share the bur­den of re­spon­si­bil­ity – will be­come an op­pres­sive ap­pa­ra­tus. And if that hap­pens, democ­racy will be­come the fi­nal cru­ci­fix upon which we’ll all be nailed. So please, prove me wrong.

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