On 16th February 2016 the Home Ministry sent out a circular to its Dzongkhag cultural officers instructing them to ensure that women only wore Ada Rachu.
The issue became a major controversy after it recently came to the attention of the media and outrage soon spread with many people expressing their unhappiness over such a circular. Some of the unhappiness was also reflected on social media.
Suddenly on 17th May a tweet from the new Minister for Economic Affairs Lyonpo Lekey Dorji announced that the Ada Rachu circular had been rescinded.
In a telling comment the same minister a few tweets later said, “Government agencies often take decisions affecting public life and forget to even inform the government. What’s worse, government has to face the public brunt.”
The Home Ministry in bringing about a major new change in dress code for women had not informed the cabinet or sought consent for it.
Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay said, “I found out about the issue through the social media.”
At the same time the Prime Minister also said that if each and every decision of government ministries came to the cabinet then it would lead to the cabinet micro-managing, which is not good for a democracy.
He said that government ministries and agencies are empowered to take certain decisions at their own level as well otherwise if every matter came to the cabinet then the government would get paralyzed.
“The Cabinet is not supposed to know everything that is happening and if it does then something is wrong,” said the PM.
The PM explaining the time taken to rescind the Ada Rachu order said that the government cannot take a knee jerk reaction and react blindly but it has to listen to the people and also look at the rules.
“We then discussed the issue in the cabinet and while we felt that the intention was good, it was a decision that the cabinet could not support and so we directed the Home Ministry to rescind the order,” said the PM.
Lyonchhen said that at the same time there are some people questioning the cabinet’s decision to overturn the decision.
“The Cabinet while not micro-managing also has the responsibility to review decisions that people have made their feelings obvious about in the best interests of the people,” said the PM.
Lyonchhen said that the cabinet wants to avoid both the extremes of micro managing every decision on one hand while at the other hand not willing to review some decisions in the interest of the public.
The man at the center of the Ada Rachu controversy Home Minister Lyonpo Dawa Gyeltshen took on the full responsibility for the decision.
He said, “We visit various Gewogs and Dzongkhags and on the way I saw people wearing different types of Rachu of green, blue and even purple colour. That is when I personally thought and discussed in the ministry on standardizing the Rachu so that everyone will use the same type of Rachus like the white Kabney for the men.”
The minister said that there were also issues with many imported Rachus coming in with all kinds of designs.
“My intention was to standardize but unfortunately the issue blew out of proportion,” he said.
“We discussed the issue in the ministry and everybody felt the need but the decision was mine and if there is anyone to blame then I am too blame,” said the minister.
He said that the ministry thought that the Ada Rachu issue is not a new one as it was being worn from the time of our ancestors and even now people wear them. He said the ministry felt it was not necessary to inform the cabinet otherwise if every decision is taken to the cabinet then it would lead to micro management.
The Home Minister revealed that during the Cabinet meeting one main concern was on the response of the people to the issue on the social media and other platforms.