Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority’s (BICMA) initiative to streamline the standards of entertainment places in Thimphu is welcome.

Places of entertainment should be safe, secure, and clean. Most are not today. Entertainment places being where kinds and kinds of people flock to, safety should be considered the paramount concern of the owners.

BICMA and Thimphu Thromde suspended the issuance of new licence for places of entertainment last week to conduct a study of entertainment places in the city. Of close to 400 entertainment places in the country, more than 30 percent is in Thimphu. Some are of the view that proliferation of entertainment places is unhealthy, but there is a need to be more concerned with monitoring and streamlining the places. While we commend the efforts, maybe the way we are going about it is not quite right. Building standards is more important that stopping the issuance of new licences. It is a bit like saying issuing shop licences should be stopped because Thimphu has just too many shops.

If we raise the standards of entertainment places and monitor them strictly, the businesses will take care of themselves. Making ID check mandatory to enter entertainment places could help keep our children away from unhealthy substances and habits. It is not uncommon to see children as young as 14 visiting entertainment places in Thimphu. Making these places out of bounds for children is critically important in the light of rising problems related to youth. That is building standards of entertainment places and streamlining them. However, monitoring is the key, failing which, all the efforts will go in vain.

Making sure that entertainment places comply with the rules governing places of establishment is at the heart of the exercise to make entertainment places, safe, secure and healthy. Stakeholders need to understand their roles clearly so that there is no confusion while implementing the changes. The owners of the entertainment establishments, before all else, should be mindful of their responsibility in the society.

Raising and maintaining standards of entertainment establishment will require employing robust and stringent monitoring mechanism.