Do We Need a Common Diaspora Strategy?
The question seeks a positive answer, YES. While the communities resettled in the west are undergoing a massive transition in social and economic life-style, the communities in Bhutan are experiencing a blotchy political transformation not controlled by their judgment of thinking or use of franchise, but simply oriented to change. Both sides require a tandem of coherent strategies to move forward with intelligent inputs and secured heritage for the generations to come. The following text is an attempt to throw light on prospecting yet conflicting conditioning of common future for the Bhutanese Diaspora.
Looking back into 2012 and earlier there are reasons to recount moments of joy, transformation and vitality into thinking and actions of Bhutanese Diaspora community. These memorable moments radiate energy propelling further consolidation and providing rays of hope for doing better in 2013 and further with a right action strategy. Among these thought engendering ideas stands one that merits serious reflection for long term vision in the Bhutanese Diaspora. I would call it a strategic move, with an operational strategy distinct from the past where there had been many desperate and uncoordinated efforts. The past efforts were full of downturn and disjointed efforts by leaders and communities without strong support base and without serious common platforms and actions for follow through. In essence, we are not able to contribute meaningfully neither in consolidating the Diaspora strength nor assisting Bhutan in shaping its young democracy and various development efforts. It is the time to reflect-either we would continue leading the same path or would like to be more effective in reshaping our communities in Bhutan and abroad.
My main reason in raising this point for discussion is to make us aware that history is important and we should look back to learn from our origin and heritage. But it is more important to look forward in building a future that is stable, fulfilling and will lead us in a right path. Visionary leaders like Jawahar Lal Nehru made this point clear that if we were only to look backwards we would rather have eyes at our back.
The biggest and the most difficult challenge right now is that people project varied opinions on every aspect and there is no unison of voice and opinion on any substantive issues. Instead of going tangent, these desperate opinions should converge and give one voice or similar voices so that the readers and listeners of our problem and grievances can see a direction and coherence in what we are talking about. There is lack of consistency without substantive evidence. We have to realize that we all cannot be leaders. We select group of visionary leaders who can capitalize on the potential in our people and bring people together. We need not one leader but many and trusted leaders on who people can count during times of need and when situation demands.
We need to select and create a cadre of this group who would bring out a good and right voice for the people and lead them to the right direction. We need people who are dedicated to the cause of Bhutanese movement and with a right purpose. There is strong need for grooming the younger generation of leaders who are aspiring and keen on taking responsibilities. We also need to bring equity in our thoughts and actions incorporating giving voice and credence to those mostly unheard in the past like women, youth, disabled, and other marginalized groups.
Once we have a cadre of leaders with right calibre and motivation, then we need to identify the right purpose and objective of the movement. We need to work together by harnessing strength and qualities that different people in the diaspora communities possess. There is a need for identification and recognition of people who could contribute in a particular area and link it up with other available resources. Community strength will be built as we would have a large pool of talents. We need to work together with a unified voice against a currently existing fragmented approach. Analyzing Bhutanese movement history, we need to recognize and appreciate positive contributions leaders and community members made so far. We can move forward strategically only if we build on what we have. Appreciation of past effort and building on it further by looking forward is important.
The current trend of divisions based on party-line fragmentation, conflict in approach would lead us anywhere or nowhere. We need to compromise, base our strategy on the current context of the community development that is taking place in the Diaspora, in Bhutan and other countries, change in information technology, contextual reality in the countries where Bhutanese are settled and based on what we would be able to do. I would call this consolidation of strength and developing plans for moving forward in a compromised, unified and dedicated approach. We need to identify longer term vision and strategy based on realistic and SMART goals.
Build strength and capacity of people at various levels through dialogue, engagement in community service, encouraging skill up-gradation and further studies, research, writing and network with like-minded people. Building capacities and leadership of younger generation is critical at this point. Another missing element among the Bhutanese Diaspora is trust among people, honesty in the deeds, inter and intra-community connection, nurturing relationship through proper networking, and working with others. There is much learning as well as de-learning. I would emphasize de-learning as we need to re-evaluate our mission and purpose in life based on the contextual realities in these developed countries, start shedding off negative thoughts and behaviours as that is not consistent with the western beliefs, values and positive way of living. We need to create a support system that identifies talents, encourages positive contribution and helps to solve problems. We have to assist building communities and create opportunities that has place for every one based on the rationale of equality of human beings. All change begins within us and not outside, in our dreams, visions, and values.
The writer is one of the contributing editors of Bhutan News Service. He lives in Winnipeg and works as career coach and facilitator at Manitoba. He can be reached at [email protected]