“Pristine Himalayan Kingdom”, “the last Shangri-La on earth”, and one of the “most exotic tourist destinations on the globe” are some of the names we have acquired over a period of time for our beautiful country, Bhutan.
With over sixty five percent of virgin forest, small well planned population and a well reputed governance Bhutan indeed is a place of envy for many. We have now even got a new name, the land of “Gross National Happiness”.
Having born on the same year when planned development activities started in Bhutan, I have been the product of the development itself. I grew up from a village boy to become a psychiatrist of the National Referral hospital. During my growing stage I also witnessed the rapid development of our country.
From a small village of wooden shingle-roofed shanty village Thimphu has now become a concrete jungle. With a population of one hundred thousand and numerous cars, Thimphu has transformed into a real metropolis.
When development is so rapid, we sometimes fail to really catch up with all aspects of development. One such aspect is CIVIC sense. In spite of modernization of infrastructures, rapid urbanization and education we have not progressed when it comes to changing our old habits. We are stuck to our old habits when it comes to civic sense. Even though we now live in cities we still carry on with our old village habits.
There are numerous examples of lack of civic sense in our society. It would be alright, for example, to spit ‘doma’ anywhere in the village as most of the places are barren ground but the same thing would look ghastly if done on concrete building walls. Because of our failure in adaptation to the new setting we still spit every where including the nooks of the hospital corridors.
Littering is another serious problem; we do not think twice before throwing garbage. We throw it any where and everywhere. In spite of numerous garbage bins posted at different places in the city there are hardly anyone using them. We ride nice grand “Prados” but we still throw our left-over out of the widows, be it on a freshly swept Norzin Lam! We don’t seem to require toilets to relieve ourselves either, for we still think buildings are there in lieu of bushes to do that! Besides we don’t even have the threats of the wild animals that we had back in the villages, nor do we have to worry about the leeches.
In spite of the most modern communication facilities like cell phones and internet we still prefer to “shout” when we need to call someone in distant. So much so, we also use the car horn to call someone by honking even at the oddest hour of the night. We don’t care even if it disturbs the whole locality. For our convenience no one really seems to bother us in these matters. We are free to do what we want when it comes to un-civic things; even the police don’t seem be concerned at all! No one dares point a finger if you are seen peeing by the wall at the hospital entrance; after all “it is no one’s business to disturb you”!
Being Buddhist we seem to be compassionate even to those people who dirty the public places. We have an easy way out, we simply say, “If government doesn’t bother, why I should?” We fail to acknowledge the fact that we are part of the government. I have never seen anyone telling anything to any person dirtying the town. I have not even seen the so called “sanitary inspectors” doing their job. Is it because we don’t have the right to right the wrong but only have the right to do everything wrong when it comes to un-civic things?