The nation is undergoing a major transformation at all levels. The fourth election is around the corner and there is a concern about the exodus of Bhutanese leaving at an unprecedented rate. The visions and principles of transformation are infallible and unquestionable. His Majesty himself can only do so much unless those bestowed with responsibilities and the citizens collectively work together to realise the royal vision. A perception is there among the public that providing alternate views on this important national transformation would not be taken well, as it will portray them as not supporting the transformation.  But the truth is the bureaucrats and experts who are leading this transformation are infallible and need continued feedback to achieve the farsighted visions.

Collective effort does not mean everyone must agree as one. Our great monarchs not only imposed democracy and democratic values on Bhutan and Bhutanese through a series of rapid decentralisation processes but also consistently encouraged and promoted the fundamental principles of democracy such as the rule of law, freedom of speech, expression, and opinion as well as right to information. His Majesty said: “While discussing issues of national importance, there are bound to be disagreements. Such disagreements indicate that while perspectives may differ, all of us share the same concerns and objectives, and are motivated by the desire to be of service to the nation.” His Majesty further said: “Frankly, disagreements have given us a great opportunity to set the right precedent for future politicians, governments, and people.”

A renowned Former Indian Supreme Court Judge, Justice Deepak Gupta, said: “To question, to challenge, to verify, to ask for accountability from the government is the right of every citizen under the Constitution. These rights should never be taken away, otherwise, we will become an unquestioning moribund society, which will not be able to develop any further.” He further added: “Dissent is essential in a democracy. If a country has to grow in a holistic manner were not only the economic rights but also the civil rights of the citizen are to be protected, dissent and disagreement have to be permitted, and in fact, should be encouraged. It is only if there is discussion, disagreement, and dialogue that we can arrive at better ways to run the country.”

A renowned American Scholar, Russell D Covey, said dissent is the foundation of the rule of law because “the rule of law is grounded in a fundamentally pluralistic conception of legal and moral truth, one that recognizes and celebrates the multiplicity of perspectives, opinions, and competing legal interpretations and moral commitments that define any vibrant political community.”

According to Tenth Men Rule: Playing Devil’s Advocate to accelerate organization growth, “While harmony is an important component of organizational growth, unfortunately, it doesn’t always translate to organizational growth as due to biases and groupthink prevail, creating silos and misaligned personal agendas causing serious challenges to the organization to grow and adapt to change.” Therefore, it is our duty as concerned citizen to provide alternatives if it is in the national interest. 

Sonam Tshering

Lawyer, Thimphu

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are author’s own.