We are at the crossroads. We wear the hats of emerging economy and democracy.The economy has over the years seen various phases of growth and democracy as a culture is yet to become part of our social, economic, and political fibre.
A strong economy and vibrant democracy, we expect, should be the order of the day in the life of a small country like ours. The two do not share the relationship of mutual exclusivity. Rather they are complementary.
For Bhutan to succeed, the success in these two areas is imperative. The way toward a successful economy hinges on how well the democratic culture flourishes and vice versa.
However, what ails us today is the lack of experts in these important fields. We like to say often than not that ‘we are still learning when it comes to democracy and the economy is getting stronger with some notches up the GDP ladder.’
But it seems nobody actually knows what exactly is happening. There are no experts and institutions to really gauge how well we are faring as a nation on critical fronts.
We tend to believe in, like the gospel truth, what people from abroad in the guise of consultants and experts say. And like any other developing country we are overwhelmed by an outsider’s view on domestic issues, be it on economy, politics, or education.
There have been incidents where a so-called consultant is blindly considered better than a local official even if he is not. Isn’t it a pervasive syndrome we suffer from? This willingness to meekly accept what outisders say about us isn’t the most terrific sign of our development. We are helping perpetuate the legend of the white man’s burden.
How long should we continue to value outsiders’ perspectives to know our own issues better?
For example, it is extremely difficult to get expert views from the home grown pundits (if any) on most issues the media takes up to inform the citizenry.
Lack of political experts, economists, and sociologists, for instance, results in our dependence on views from outsiders or we are forced to use the words of mediocre local experts.
As Bhutan prepares to gather vim and vigor to make the country knowledge-based society, the need to promote its intelligentsia couldn’t be more urgent.
The society is, we feel, in dire need of experts to steer the economy and the new polity.
How do we create a critical mass of experts in various fields so that we become a knowledgeable nation?
Come to think of it, the Center for Bhutan Studies, supposed to be the country’s think-tank has suddenly become a litlle school of Gross National Happiness. If this is to continue, the country definitely needs some more centers that can produce brains and expertise we need and will need.
To start with, we need to encourage people to specialize in different disciplines by giving necessary support at various levels. Let us start now!