When Two Arms Join

Tandin is an upcoming entrepreneur based in Thimphu. Since the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) formed the government, he has been waiting for words from the government on the Nu 15 billion economic stimulus plan. Like many others, Tandin has pinned his hope of economic revival on the plan. If the plan doesn’t come through, he will need to find alternatives. When the Prime Minister (PM) during the new Cabinet’s first Meet with the Bhutanese mainstream media spoke about the plan, Tandin knew he would have to wait for some more time.

This instance underscores the significance of regular government-media interactions and the importance of transparent information dissemination. Beyond serving as a vital pillar of democracy and good governance, impartial and proficient media equips citizens like Tandin with the knowledge necessary for informed decision-making.

In the intricate web of government-public relations, where the media acts as a watchdog, it does not help anyone to remain silent. Silence breeds suspicion and distrust. Lack of communication fuels assumptions of government opacity, while media silence invites accusations of collusion. It is presumed that the government is hiding something when the public is not informed for a long time. Similarly, the media is judged with suspicion and labeled as the government’s cronies when it fails to inform the public. Despite being slammed for its inclination towards sensationalism and superficiality, the concept of media as a watchdog, safeguarding public interest and facilitating communication between leaders and citizens, remains deeply ingrained.

The role of the media goes beyond informing. It is also the body that facilitates participation and we need to just check social media to assess how the media and the Meet enabled people’s participation. It did not take time for the public to pick up reports from the mainstream media and engage in discussions. Every answer from the Cabinet, on questions beginning from the economic stimulus plan to human-wildlife conflict is being discussed in social media platforms. The participation is open, frank, voluntary, and without any element of fear. Many may not have encouraging messages to convey; however, the government can feel the people’s pulse through such forums.

While the Prime Minister did not directly speak about the importance of the media and the Meet, he made references to transparency and the importance of openness, and honesty. The call for a healthy relationship between the media and the government was evident when the PM spoke about the importance of the media in bringing to the notice of the government, issues that are crucial for the nation’s development. The need and importance of the media to operate fearlessly was also underlined.

These are encouraging words, especially when it comes from the head of the government. We are made to understand that the doors of our leaders will be open. Information will flow. We are heartened, to see the PM acknowledge the importance of the media. The government and the media are two arms of governance. When the two join hands, governance can be strengthened. Together, we can serve with vitality and vigor, efficiently and effectively.