Where is the debate leading us?

The debates on the national language have been missing the point so through and through. It is about where we are falling short and what amends we ought to make to popularise Dzongkha at this stage of modern Bhutan that should to be in the focus of the debates. It has not been so going by the recent debate and the many more we got to witness and listen to on broadcast media and elsewhere.

Some are of the view that what were decided during certain secluded and top-level discussions about the development of the national language should be considered more important than public views about Dzongkha and the debates centered around the issue itself. Others think we need to look beyond. Variations and incongruence in the critically significant matters like spellings and grammar have been the stumbling block in the development of Dzongkha for some years now.

There is today a relentless war between the choekey-educated lot and the experts of vernacular Dzongkha. And this tussle is not helping anyone. Looking from where we stand today, development of Dzongkha, or popularising the national language to put it differently, should be more inclusive and practical. Getting touchy about the subject just because someone is sitting on the head of the table is sad. Very sad indeed.

Development and popularisation of Dzongkha should have been well thought out long before we flung our doors open to the forces of globalisation. When television began invading our living rooms, we wondered whether having more international channels was important than development of local contents. Many years passed by as we continued to debate about the issue.

At the heart of the problem lies lack of standardisation. Users of Dzongkha, from teachers to monks in the dratshang and monastic colleges to media houses to experts at the Dzongkha Development Commission are not able to agree on one uniform spelling of a certain Dzongkha word. That is one of the reasons why children today find Dzongkha difficult and is receding into the shadows.

The reality is that we know how important the promotion of Dzongkha is, viewed from the perspective of national identity. Following the 1993 Royal Kasho, there have been countless discussions to popularise Dzongkha. We continue to discuss the subject.

The question is: where is the debate leading us?

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