Are we gullible or rather too gullible? My hypothetical answer would be yes, going by our easy acceptance of the rampant use of the “Dasho” title. If this hypothetical answer is proven true, then gullibility could be one of the dominant social genes in our DNA, which may not be a compliment at all when strong nation building is the top most priority.
May be this is a good research question for social scientists. As a possible input for the future researchers, I like to share my views on this. At the very outset, I would like to put forth a disclaimer that views expressed in this article are my own and do not in any way reflect that of my organisation. I am also fully conscious of the highly debatable nature of the subject and that the readers could completely disagree with my views.
The use of the “Dasho” title has become so profuse that the authentic ones get swallowed up in the sea of wanna-be Dasho(s), thereby diluting the credibility of the honorable title. This subject is being discussed in social media too, basically pointing the misuse of the title.
In the case of the common citizenry, especially those from rural areas, it is understandable to a large extent due to their humility. But should the other lot who are more exposed also be pardoned for what could be a possible case of servility and insincerity? These days, almost everyone gets addressed as “Dasho.” Just to list a few of them: all officers wearing Patang/Gyentag (symbolic swords); all commissioned officers; most senior civil servants above P2 level such as the sector heads in dzongkhag administration; CEOs of autonomous and private organisations; Dzongdag; Drangpon; Dzongrab; Drungpa, and the list goes on. But on the other hand, the misuse of the title is highly male biased, as women in similar positions rarely get addressed as “Dasho”. So, this practice of address also reflects the presence of gender biasness in our society.
I was also undeservingly given this title when I was just a grade 7 officer and happened to be in rural areas and later after I became a director of a department. Almost everyone started to lavishly offer me the “Dasho” title. Now that I am a dzongdag, it is almost like a mandatory title.
I am even tempted to look at this practice as a subtle yet a potential cause and source of psychological corruption. For instance, a decision could be influenced depending on whether “Dasho” title is used or not when the decision maker is not a real “Dasho.” I suspect many use this strategy effectively to gain undue favour by playing with the gullibility of the other person. I confess I am and must have been both a victim and a beneficiary of malpractice.
But we all know that a “Dasho” is a title associated with the honorary rank of “Nyelkelma or BuraMaap Officer” conferred from The Golden Throne to selected individuals for their proven exemplary contribution to nation building. The title is accompanied with a symbolic sword (Patang/Gyentag) and a maroon/red color scarf (kabney). So, the title is not for everyone. It is specific and special. For a non-Bhutanese reader, the title of “Dasho” can be understood as something similar to that of Knighthood in England.
I have also discussed this subject in my book “Escapades…awakenings” published in 2013. I remember requesting colleagues both in my earlier and present organisation, to not use “Dasho” at least to me. I tell them I am not entitled to the title. They should refer to me or call me by my official title –“dzongdag”, and today after more than three years I do have a few colleagues who are comfortable with this new format of communication between us. But I have more colleagues who are not able to make this change. Most are still apprehensive as the practice is so deeply rooted that they don’t feel comfortable not using “Dasho” to dzongdag, dzongrab, and drangpon, especially in the dzongkhag context. A few expressed serious concern that they would not like to take unnecessary risk of displeasing the other party by not using the title. The other party might take such new practice as being arrogant and disrespectful.
Others contest by saying that all officers wearing swords are officially entitled the “Dasho” title. I believe the “Patang/Gyentag” are symbols of added responsibility and has nothing to do with the “Dasho” title unless received from the Golden Throne together with a maroon red scarf or the “bura maap”. Going by this explanation, all other non-bura maap kabneys with swords are also not officially entitled the “Dasho” title even if they were received from The Golden Throne. This could mean, even the constitutional post holders, members of Parliament, secretaries and others with Patangs/Gentags but without maroon red color scarf are not entitled as “Dasho.” However, they can be referred to as “Honorable” and “Excellency.”
Like any “change”, this change is also confronted with strong resistance. But change we must unless we want our country to be full of Dasho(s).
We ought to do something serious about this rampant defilement of the “Dasho” title. We have observed the print and TV media promoting the correct usage of the “Dasho” title. Since 2017, we have seen these mainstream media addressing the then chairman of National Council as – Hon’ble Chairperson Dasho Sonam Kinga as he is an authentic Buramaap decorated public servant.
The point I am trying to make here is not about the “Dasho” title but rather how gullible we can be. Are we unnecessarily polite to the extent of being untrue to oneself and others? Are we unhealthily hypocritical and gullible at the same time, thereby breeding the attitude and practice of irresponsibility and complacency, which can be very bad for us? This would mean that our DNA is complacency-driven, which would not take us anywhere far and good. On the contrary, this could lead to further spread of the cancer of complacency, posing a challenge to the vision of strong nation building.
While the above discussion is hypothetical, the social scientists may like to test it. We can start questioning what genes we need to delete and what new we would like to add. What new habits we need to adopt to build up to the new image of ourselves. An image that is positive and healthy. The new image of a Bhutanese that is authentic, prudent, sophisticated and hardworking. These desirable characters in due course of time could dress up our image and reputation and finally build up that unique Bhutanese DNA, a DNA that we would all be proud to associate with and that the outsiders will identify us with.