Need for young leaders in Bhutan

Bhutan in a few years time could face a leadership crisis as the current batch of political leadership retires either voluntarily or because of their age and Election Commission rules on office terms. Therefore it is important that leaders across parties groom competent younger leaders and allow them to take more responsibility.

Even the global trend among Multi National Corporations is of going for younger CEO’s and Managers. This is because younger CEO’s bring more mental and physical energy to the job, are more enthusiastic  have a new and more efficient way of doing things, keep an open mind, are more tolerant and are perfect in understanding a large and young client base.

Young leaders are also important as like in the case of MNC’s they can infuse a country with fresh energy and vigor and take it out of its lethargy.

One of the tragedies of the SAARC region as a whole is the picture of old leaders well into their twilight years still clinging on to power with nothing to contribute but instead stopping any innovation and reform.

Bhutan is also vulnerable as there is a possibility of leaders holding on for too long in the future.

Older leaders as a thumb rule are highly cynical and remember too much of their bad experiences and the past to move beyond their suspicions, cynicism and misgivings. They are also generally less tolerant, more susceptible to corruption and unable to react adequately to emergencies.

The entire system suffers as a result. Old, conservative, hard and cynical leaders create a similar system and the nation has to bear the brunt of it.

The young though innocent at times are a fresh slate in which the new and hopeful future of the country can be written.

A common complaint internationally is that old leaders even in a new system ultimately ensure that the old ways of doing things are enforced. Old dogs cannot be taught new tricks and similarly older leaders more often than not are unable to adjust to the new system. This is not because they are evil or malicious but simply given their nature, warped world perspective and refusal to change.

For a country that has around 53% of the population below the age of 25, young leadership is not a choice but a necessity. Our democracy will be incomplete with a primarily a young population and not enough youth leaders.

The Rupee crisis is a signal that the old way of doing things and the old attitudes will not work but instead Bhutan needs dynamism, fresh ideas, smaller egos and a lot of energy, all of which can be brought in by young and competent leaders.

However, there are several barriers in Bhutan for young leadership like the perceptions that leadership is something that one “grows into” or earns and that young people are incapable of being leaders today. Older leaders are also unwilling to share their power, responsibility, and decision-making, and assign younger leaders to unimportant tasks rather than allowing them to determine what happens in key decisions.

A sterling example of encouraging young leadership is His Majesty the Fourth King who abdicated the throne for His Majesty the King. Though His Majesty the Fourth King under no definition can be called an old leader and could have gone on with great competency for years but instead he introduced a new and hopeful era under His Majesty the Fifth King.

Many in Bhutan’s leadership can take this as an important example of statesman ship and the advantages of allowing young leaders to come up the system.

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11 comments

  1. The problem with the current leadership is they carry the ‘i know better than you’ mentality. In their minds they are infallible. What’s worse, due to their seniority, people tend to give them more respect than they actually deserve. So the entire discourse between govt and public is greatly reduced as a result.

    The problem with the new lot, as you can already see among the newly elected MPs, is that they have no understanding of bhutan’s place in history, where we have come from and there is a possibility their ideas can be too immature, ambitious, idealistic.

    Nobody today seems to remember how different Bhutan was in geopolitical terms, just 40 years ago. Will the next 40 years go positively or negatively? that is not certain and it is up to us to play our cards carefully.

    It is upto the public now to voice their well considered views and for the media to mature and stop quibbling over rights to adverts from the govt and do the job of keeping govts accountable. If we do that, we can make a go of it with even young leaders. 

  2. The present senior ministers becoming members of opposition parties in the next election would be an ideal situation.

  3. Doest it mean a party where every member should be below certain age? Will someone introduce me to some youth who would be genuinely interested in politics. The question is still with pension, since politicians can not go for any government jobs after politics, it seems politics is for older people alone. Women are not necessity in politics but their presence adds to what all men can think, but youth is necessity for any political party but the pension tactics kills all their interest.

  4. I support Karma. We have to vote another party next time so that the older generations sits on the opposition bench watching the younger ones taking a lead role. They can throw their wisdom as wise opposition leaders. We had enough of them leading us now. It is our turn now to take the helm of this country and show them that a son is better than his father or a daughter is better than her mother.

  5. God bless The land of GNH.. and lets hope a messiah will drop out of heavens to this land.. since our present leaders are too big to take potential young leaders under wings and train them…

  6. I don’t think there will be any leadership crisis. I strongly believe that “Pha lay bu dra”, It is just that there is no opportunities for people who want to lead at the moment because the current leaders are too selfish to accommodate such dynamics in our society. The author of the article has rightly pointed out that they have to emulate our fourth King and pave a way for the new generations. I bet you that the country will progress better under younger and energetic leadership. We don’t need a leader like the president of US or PM of England or India because our country is no where close to those countries in many aspects. What we need is a leader who will understand the traditional and current political system of our country and how to strengthen our friendship with India. Even with a mediocre level knowledge on other aspects is sufficient to lead this country. Look at our current PM, he does not have any broad understanding of economics which is why every time they have to hire someone to analysis the economic situations. Even they have failed in legislation such as the Tobacco act because there is no one there who can retrospectively and prospectively analyze the processes. On the other hand, our PM excels in observing culture and traditions, and maintaining a close relationship with India.

  7. The true criteria of a leader is performance, not age. Yes it is true that sometimes a young one may bring fresh insights and new ways of doing things, but you cannot ignore the value of experience and of history. Looking at the current crop of leaders, the ones who have not performed or failed to perform due to whatever reasons should hopefull step aside, if not vote them out so that new and younger ones can come in to inject more dynamism in the government. Further, succession planning and mentorship are important and hopefully the younger ones already in ruling positions are learning (the good things of course) from the elderly statesmen who are at the helm of things right now. A dramatic change change is never good for anything or anyone.

  8. i agree with simpleone. combination of both young and old will be good for our country especially since we are in transition to democracy……..

  9. i agree with simpleton

  10. In short, leadership demands far farsightedness, honesty , integrity and courage to take calculated risk rather than being rash. Looking deeply into the performance of present government for the last four years, I am in a believe that Bhutan is currently led by the BOSS and not by the LEADER. I m really sorry to mention it.

  11. Our present ministers and old ones have excelled to be a real politician, oracle, commentary and art and culture expertise but lacks deeper in knowledge of science, economics, technologies, commerce and political science. Times and situations have come to the juncture that a new and dynamic leader is in bad need who can move a country forward who can understand the real problems and prescribe prompt solution to the problem in spite of waiting someone submitting elite ideas and instead taking the credit of a great achievement with virtue powers and status.

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