The National Council’s (NC) social and cultural affairs committee recommended the government to finalise and endorse Bhutan’s culture policy document, which should encompass all aspects of cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible.

The committee also asked the government to review the Cultural Heritage Bill with relevant stakeholders and to make it a comprehensive legal proposal by including concerns and suggestions.

The committee also recommended the government to strategise and scale up programmes to raise fund for the Cultural Heritage Trust Fund.

The committee also made 21 other recommendations to the government, specifically for the preservation of traditional architecture, performing arts, vernacular languages and driglam namzha.

Presenting the committee’s review report on cultural heritage yesterday, the committee members made eight recommendations for traditional architecture, five for performing arts, three for vernacular languages and five for driglam namzha.

NC members stated that while the state must play its part in the promotion and preservation of different aspects of culture and tradition, every Bhutanese must assume equal responsibility as all Bhutanese are custodians of a heritage that define the sense of personhood and sense of belonging.

Bumthang’s NC member Nima, who is the chairperson of the committee, said the Constitution mandates every Bhutanese to safeguard culture.

He also said that it has become increasingly evident that greater emphasis on economic development comes at a cost for traditional values and cultural heritage.

“As new modes of construction, performing arts, fashion, language and belief system spread in the country, there is greater urgency for the resilience of traditional architecture, songs, dances, national dress, costumes, languages and value-system,” Nima said.

He said that the 80th session of the National Assembly (NA) resolved to draft the rules of procedures to promote and sustain the values of driglam namzha. “Such a rule has never been officially adopted,” Nima said. “A national cultural policy and a comprehensive cultural heritage legislation are in draft stage even today.”

The committee recommended the government to consider initiating legislation to provide necessary legal support for effective implementation of the Bhutanese Architecture Guidelines 2014 and include lessons to understand and appreciate the context, content and objectives of architectural design in the curriculum of technical training institutes, College of Science and Technology (CST), Jigme Namgyel Engineering College and other relevant institutions.

“The government must initiate and support apprenticeship programmes with traditional master carpenters and masons either in national construction projects or private projects,” the report stated.

It also stated that the government should initiate internship, orientation or training programs to enable engineering and architecture graduates to gain an in-depth understanding of traditional Bhutanese architecture.

The NC members deliberated on the need for government construction to uphold the highest standards of Bhutanese architectural designs and conduct rituals and ceremonies.

NC chairperson Sonam Kinga (PhD) said the government constructions should also utilise local materials and manpower.

The house will deliberate on the committee’s recommendations on performing arts, vernacular languages and driglam namzha today.

Tashi Dema