Modi’s speech reveals skeleton in cupboard


Yati-Raj-Ajnabee1The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has recently addressed the parliament of Bhutan, the youngest democracy in the world. Bhutan, the only country in the world without traffic lights, is very proud to set green lights on to receive Mr. Modi as a guest in that this was his first foreign visit after being sworn in as the Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world following his landslide victory against the Congress in the last election.

The tremor, Modi’s address to the Bhutanese parliament has brought, may no longer be felt however its after effects have not yet lost its stamina among the citizens of Bhutan and has been the talk of the town especially among the ones who have been denationalized for more than a couple of decades . Over and above a hundred thousand of Bhutanese nationals had been evicted in the early 90s with a very well-rehearsed melodrama of one nation one people strategy. As they had been ejected and forcefully displaced by the then government headed by the fourth king, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, they tried to take asylum in the Indian territory of Assam and Bengal but they’d been dumped by the Indian security force to Nepal. They tried to repatriate back to Bhutan via Indian route through which they’d been driven to Nepal but India didn’t let them.

To the amazement of the audience who have been watching and listening to Modi’s address to the Bhutanese parliament that had a live streaming in the YouTube, he scans his eyes over a sheet of paper to utter even the name of the Bhutanese Prime Minister who’s been holding the position for almost a year now. Does the matured man on the toughest job of the largest democracy on the earth not have grey matter to memorize the name of his next door counterpart and keep it at the top of his head? Undeniably he does. What’s the problem then? It’s none other than the indifference to and underestimation of the green and fledgling democracy toddling in the shade of the orange and yellow flag whose mast has been clenched hard by devil claws of the king. In other words, it’s a reflection on orthodox oriental rehearsal and philosophy of discounting minors and youngsters.

Modi encountered with the slip of his tongue while addressing the assembly and made many audience of the Bhutanese origin scattered across the globe feel thunderstruck. He’s supposed to say Bhutan but states Nepal instead. How come he makes such a blunder? Does the setup of the Bhutanese parliament resemble to that of Nepal in any form? No, absolutely not. In fact, it’s unique as we can see exclusive carvings in the parliament. Even the views he would have seen while taking the pavement that leads to the entrance of the parliament house should have well reminded him of his trip to Bhutan. Is there even the slightest similarity between the national dress of Bhutan and Nepal? No, not all. Bhutan has one of the typical national dresses in the world. The national robe the Bhutanese parliamentarians and other officials were on before him distinctly disseminates information to him about Bhutan. We are humane as we’ve been taught by Alexander Pope that to err is human but Modi doesn’t even beg for a pardon for making such a simple but an enormous error that raises many eyebrows and moves heedlessly on with his speaking. We can’t find any substance and gravity in his speech as it sounds a lip service only. The entire speech he made there for which he doesn’t have any preparation as he doesn’t read it from any paper is a very clean and strong evidence about not doing any homework, his negligence and the absence of magnitude. It looks as if a leader of a political party was communicating with his cadres and general people. This is a wide disdainful grin of a big old lion at a young beautiful fawn.

As Modi’s first foreign visit to Bhutan came to the surface, some of the individuals from the Bhutanese diaspora wrote an open letter congratulating him for being the newly elected Prime Minister and basically urging him to help repatriate the Bhutanese refugees willing to go back to their country and raise the issue with the present king and the government of Bhutan but he didn’t even let a clue out to them about it.

Modi made his foreign maiden speech in Hindi. How many of the parliamentarians understand it let alone the Bhutanese illiterate and laymen/women? Had Nepali language not been removed from the school curriculum in 1989, the MPs and almost all the literate Bhutanese would have understood Modi’s speech. The same script is shared between Nepali and Hindi. Though each of these languages is an infinite set of words, most of the genuine elements of these sets fall in the intersection. Right to information is a part and parcel of democracy but Modi’s visit to Bhutan and his speech in Hindi have revealed a skeleton in the cupboard that Bhutan has still deprived its citizens of pragmatically enjoying the right to information despite the live telecast by the media with the speech being interpreted. Unfortunately the target language was Dzongkha which has 160,000 speakers as of 2006 out of the total population of 716,896 (July 2012 est.). Based on these statistics, Dzongkha is a language spoken by only 22.31% of the total population. The government of Bhutan has ignored almost 78% of its population in this grand event and violated their right to information despite the transformation of governance from absolute monarchy to constitutional democracy in 2008. Is this democracy only to the ones who speak the national language? Is there democracy in Bhutan in its real sense? These are some of the big questions that need long and in-depth address but not a blank and wooden speech.

The author, who is based in Adelaide, South Australia, is Editor of, and blogs at

References: Bhutan Wikipedia