Explaining our absence

Captive audience

I got back yesterday. My tour to the eastern and central parts of our country was quick yet fruitful. So the first thing I did today was to visit Dechenphug Lhakhang, my favorite monastery. I went there to thank Ap Gengye, one of our foremost guardian deities, for granting us protection and safety during the tour.

In Dechenphug, I met several groups of recent graduates. They had attended the recent National Graduate Orientation Program, and, as they prepared to enter the real world of work, most of them were still weighing their options.

They could sit for the Royal Civil Service Commission’s “common examinations” and compete for civil service jobs. Or they could seek employment in government owned corporations immediately, thereby preempting competition from fellow graduates who wouldn’t make it through the common exams. Or they could join the private sector.

The graduates had to make important decisions. So they had converged in Dechenphug to seek Ap Gengye’s support and guidance.

I stopped to speak with some of the graduates. I asked them what they had studied, where they had studied, and where they planned to work.

They asked me why the opposition party didn’t have a session at the National Graduate Orientation Program. They told me that it would have been relevant for the graduates to meet the members of the opposition party.  And they added that that’s what they had indicated in their feedback form.

I said that I agreed with them – the opposition party really should have met the graduates to congratulate them and to wish them luck in their careers, but also to explain the roles and responsibilities, and priorities of the opposition. But, I explained that we had not been given that opportunity.

I explained that the government had not allowed us to participate in any of the past NGOPs. I explained that, this year, I had written officially to the labour minister requesting him to grant a session for the opposition party to meet the graduates. And I explained that the labour minister had written back saying that it wouldn’t be possible to accommodate our request.

The upshot of this, I explained, was that I could tour the eastern and central parts of our country … uninterrupted.

Photo credit: Kuensel

Leadership of the Self


About 1,300 graduates are taking part in the annual graduate orientation programme. And like last year, and the year before, the opposition party will not have the opportunity to meet them.

Last year, I blogged about what I would have spoken about had I been able to meet the graduates. And over the weekend, I’ve been thinking about the wide range of issues that might interest this year’s graduates. But one topic stood out: His Majesty the King’s recent Convocation Address to the students of the University of Calcutta.

As the students in Kolkata prepared to enter the real world of work, His Majesty the King had urged them to live their lives guided by the values of kindness, integrity and justice. To exercise “Leadership of the Self”, His Majesty commanded, is to become better human beings. And that to bring change in the world – to eradicate poverty; to reduce inequalities; to reverse environmental degradation; to improve healthcare – we need to actively seek out “Leadership of the Self”; not leaders to lead the masses.

His Majesty the King’s message is even more relevant for every one of us at home. And it’s particularly pertinent for the 2010 graduates, our future leaders, for whom I reproduce His Majesty’s address in its entirety.

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Graduating students

Well oriented

Well oriented

About 1,300 graduates are currently attending this year’s National Graduate Orientation Programme. And, like last year, the opposition party has not been included in the programme.

So today, when I heard that the graduates were hosting a cultural show for the public, I rushed to the Nazhoen Pelri. I’m glad I went. Our graduates are obviously talented. And they put on quite a show. From boedra and rigsar to Bhutanese rock and hip hop, the graduates entertained us with a range of performances. Not bad, considering that they’ve been together for barely ten days.

The chief counselor, Namgyal Dorji, told me that the proceeds from the cultural show will go to a charity. Good job.

Congratulations to all graduates for a wonderful performance. This week’s banner, a photo from the cultural show, celebrates the 2009 graduates.

Youngten Lempen Tharchen, an NGOP participant and a temporary reporter at Bhutan Today, has been writing about this year’s graduate orientation on his blog.