The People’s Duty

On April 20, 2023, people from Bhutan’s 20 districts will vote to elect their representative to the National Council (NC). As enshrined in the Constitution, “Besides its legislative functions, the National Council shall act as the House of review on matters affecting the security and sovereignty of the country and the interests of the nation and the people that need to be brought to the notice of the Druk Gyalpo, the Prime Minister and the National Assembly.”

The above sums up the importance of the NC and thus the need for our people to vote for the best candidate. Despite three NC elections, most people have the misconception that the NC’s responsibility is only to frame, review and revise legislations. Most seem to have missed this part – “the National Council shall act as the House of review on matters affecting the security and sovereignty of the country and the interests of the nation.”  And when we are talking about security, it is not just about political security. One of the biggest challenges most countries, including Bhutan currently face is economic security.

In layman terms, economic security is the ability of individuals, households and communities to meet their basic and essential needs. It includes food, shelter, clothing, health care, education, information, livelihoods, and social protection. However, the domains of economic security is vast and encompasses financial, intellectual and technological security.  Others like legal, information, investment and innovation securities are also part of economic security.

NC members also need to study, assess and provide solutions to matters that are affecting the nation’s interests. Economic security is a national interest and there are more. Thus, our NC members, especially today, shoulder a huge task. It is perhaps because of this reason that the election commission of Bhutan (ECB) introduced a new clause stating that aspiring NC members should have a minimum of 10 years working experience.

Through the common forums, people in different chiwogs are getting to know the different representatives they have. But these forums and the debates may reveal just a certain percentage of a candidate’s capability and not everything. However, we, especially the educated lot are fortunate as we know most of the candidates and their capabilities. We also receive calls from our rural folks asking who they should vote for. And it is here that our roles become very critical.

Hundreds of our friends, family members and colleagues have left Bhutan, seeking greener pastures. But we have stayed back, with the resolve to take our nation further, for which we need capable NC members, too. Thus, we should go beyond emotions, filial ties, politics and relations and vote for those we believe and know can and will serve. We also need to disseminate this message to our people back home.

Everybody says that ultimately the people will decide. It is true; but it is important for us to assist those ignorant and who seek our advice to vote for the right candidate. Ultimately, we are the people. And we have a duty!