So, rules are rules
It is important that national language should be given the respect that it deserves. Yet there is need to give due consideration, when the weightage it is given is going to compromise the quality that is required.
The criteria that have been set for the candidates wishing to contest the local government seats needs a little bit of consideration. Of course, we have a rule that where there are more than 10 Bhutanese in a meeting, the meeting should be conducted in Dzongkha. There were occasions when the officials of the home ministry itself pointed out that point and after the first few words in Dzongkha they reverted back to English.
What that mean is for officials to interprete, who have put such rules in place. The rule, as such, has been put in place to ensure that the national language is promoted. That is a good thing.
We all have respect for our national language. It is one of the symbols of our national identity. Way back in the 1972 when Bhutan was joining the United Nations, language was one of the criterion to identify us as a nation. That was the time when Thimphu Public School was sending up its first batch of students for the Indian School Certificate examination (or Senior Cambridge as it was called then). It was historic.
More historic than that was Bhutan joining the UN. So we had to have a national language, we had to have a national animal and a national flower. There was no problem about the national flower and the national animal. There was a problem about the language.
We all spoke Dzongkha, but it wasn’t brought down to the writing level. We still used Chokey as the official form of communication in writing. It was the same script, and yet there was a difference. Breaking down Chokey to accommodate the common Dzongkha terms was a headache that late Lopen Nado and others had to shoulder. They did a great job of it.
Yet despite their hard work, Dzongkha in the written form never picked up. It is because we never shed the trappings of chokey when we wrote Dzongkha. The old group brought up in Chokey tradition never wanted to shed the old ways, the new group who wanted to promote Dzongkha as a written language were too confused.
That is why even after many text books having been written for classes from the PP to the tertiary level, along with publication of story books in Dzongkha as additional reading, it failed to pick up. One should do a research on how many students borrow Dzongkha story books from the school library. Or for that matter, what is the ratio of Dzongkha books in a school or college library vis-a-vis other subjects.
Therefore, it is natural that proficiency in Dzongkha language as a criterion for eligibility to contest election for the local government posts should stir a controversy. Come to think of it, how many of our MPs, both in the National Council and the National Assembly, are proficient in the national language in terms of their ability to speak, forget about reading and writing.
But rules are rules, there is nothing much one can do about it. As Bhutanese we are expected to speak, read and write it. And yet the emphasis on it should not compromise the right of candidates from contesting political posts or prevent people from electing the right person who will safeguard their common interest.
But then, of course, rules are rules.
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