Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Is Sloth our national animal?

Disclaimer: I don’t intend to demean and defame those offices under the bureaucracy who do their work with military precision and run by a dynamic, selfless leader. Some of the offices have meticulous service delivery and some, you know it better.

Despite the hard work everyone puts in for this great nation of ours; there are still some worms in our bureaucracy eating away the very foundation of our belief in service delivery and development. I am neither a development economist nor an expert on economic service models but a humble servant of this great nation who does his share to see Bhutan in its highest glory.

I saw many who cut loose on their commitments and openly talk about their commitment which is just the opposite of what they actually do. It’s just that these ones stand at a higher plinth than many of us. If something goes awfully wrong then it’s the individual or the committee that is responsible. If some individuals and committees make themselves proud, the credit will be claimed by the plinth holder. Such is the bureaucracy.

There are always some cronies underneath and these lots enjoy the predisposition of being either a blood relative or some high end individual. This privilege is not in the plates of every one. For a simple official chore, you will be grilled and sent here and there. For the ones that I mentioned it’s acknowledged immediately.

Google images
To get an appointment is next to impossible. Official or not, these cronies know how to woo and get their work done. Times have changed and everything should evolve with time, but the thinking pattern has remained that of the 70’s Bhutan, for these lots. I believe it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission. For most working days, the individual who is answerable to all authorities is out, claiming to have done only official works. These days physical presence is not advisable. Internet does everything, from personal to official.

Google, a multimillion dollar company and growing is a paperless organization. Check the Google documentary on YouTube! Many might opine can we compare Bhutan’s bureaucracy with Google. Let’s learn good things form the good people around the world. Let us not isolate ourselves saying unashamedly, this is Bhutan. America underwent so many economic disasters after the 20’s depression. Thinking pattern of the 70’s and the working situation of the millennium doesn’t marry. It’s John Donne’s ‘Canonization’-Metaphorical irony!

Just last year, as some of you may already know, I wrote in one of my updates. I went to an insurance house to collect my benefits and there making me wait for an hour or so, the people behind the desks were talking about Archery and soccer. When I got my benefit, it was just a matter of signing the paper that I was holding.

Why is it that if one holds a chair, it is to exhibit your over emphasized ego to the visitors? Just do what you are supposed to do with the power your chair gave you! If our ambassadors (not literal) are selling or talking Bhutan to the world, it’s the very similar things that you and I share not the time you are wasting in doing your work. To get a glimpse of the similar things I just mentioned, get out of the comfort of your chair and start exploring your country. You may find out Merak-Sakteng is more beautiful than Bangkok.

A Journalist rightly mentioned in his Face book update some years ago and I want to further reiterate this, “Going by how things work in our system, the national animal should have been the Sloth Bear”.

Lastly, how does the bureaucracy work? This is for my dear fellow readers to decide.

Thank you and do visit again…


  1. Well said and I can relate to everything you have mentioned here. Unfortunately it will take several decades before cultural norms such as this can be changed. I find working methodologies particularly in a state run services are so inadequate, so inefficient and so frustrating specially when we live in an era of technologically advanced period. Furthermore in a Buddhist country where kindness and caring should be of an utmost primary concern of everyday work ethos but sadly this is lacking grossly in most offices. I work and live overseas, so every time i visit home I notice it even more acutely on how slow the pace and how unhelpful some of the officials are. I don't know whether they really go out of their way to be awkward which you have aptly captured here or whether this is just embedded in our cultural norms. I reckon it is the later and guess only time will tell!

    1. I also think its it's culturally embedded. I will only get into the bad books of my superiors if I have to protest against these heinous official conducts. One thing is for sure, it will take several decades for these to change.