The Right To Celebrate

This day is indeed a special day. I’d have used the word auspicious but I get a queasy feeling it’s become a tad commercialized. Be as it may, in the end, a rose by any other name might still be a rose but if you can call it a rose rather than a cactus then its all the better! With that mind, let us celebrate the thirty-second birthday of His Majesty the King and what a time indeed to celebrate it then on Losar! Its appropriate, to my mind atleast, that The Bhutanese chose His Majesty’s birthday to launch its inaugural edition because nobody has given as much time, encouragement and confidence as His Majesty himself has. To me the message is very clear-cut; the media has and will play a large role in how our country shapes up as it moves through what are challenging times both at home and abroad. That is not to say that the times are bad but rather that change is unavoidable and the media must, with all its bearings intact, report on matters that are both big and small, with not just lip or written service but really putting to practice the tag “Without Fear or Favor” right in your heart and gutting it out.

This must be done and reportage must mean what they say and say what they mean and that is just so. The truth, like a buoyant object thrust into murky waters, will always resurface no matter what forces are at work to keep it submerged.

The medals of merit so generously bestowed upon media houses on our National Day by His Majesty the King was perhaps the culmination of how dearly His Majesty holds the media and the solemn task that comes to any media house because of its very occupation and nature.

The Order of Merit was a touching gesture by a compassionate yet far-sighted monarch that spoke volumes in that the media must execute its duties beyond the call of duty. It was, in effect, the bolstering of a sector that is sometimes at conflict with itself or with other members of the same fraternity. That gesture encompassed these factions and frictions and rose above it all by symbolically telling the media fraternity to never forget its fundamental duty of reporting and covering matters both marginal and national, and in that manifestation, staying true to its profession and calling.

There has been some cajoling in electing the office bearers of the Journalist Association of Bhutan-an organization that was initiated long ago but never really given life. Now that its showing some vital signs such as taking the first breath of life, let’s give it all our support and remember that anything that has ever matured and come to its full blossom in life has to travel the road of travails. That does not mean it’s a failure; rather it’s like the mother yak telling its young calf not to forget to smell the roses on the road to yak-hood (if there be such a thing!)

The day also heralds a New Year and hopefully the media scenario in the country will further flourish, taking flight and roaring and thundering like the Dragon itself, without ever dropping its primal responsibility (and by the look of the Dragon’s clutches of the Wish Fulfilling Jewels, it looks like the jewels are well guarded!). The 2013 elections are looming, albeit in the horizon and it won’t be long before the horizon becomes your backyard with all kinds of creatures tussling each other like a game of musical chairs. This is when the metal meets the flesh or the bone. The media must stand firm and with the Right Motivation, do what is right, which again boils down to basic simplicities such as not caving into biased agendas, the powers that be and all the subtle, nuanced and at times blatant spades and shovels that will come into play.

This is when you will be tested to your limits and this will also be the opportune time to tell the Bhutanese public and readership at large that- “They might play their power games and try trampling our rights but that they will never take away our freedom to report without fear or favor.”

If that were the case, then we would have earned the right to celebrate the thirty-second birthday of His Majesty the King and usher in a meaningful year.

Tashi Delek!

Jurmi Chhowing is a former editor and a freelance writer. He runs Turtle Tree Creations, an Ad. Firm and blogs avidly at (

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