At the approach of the elections, everyone politician is tracing his or her ‘humble’ ancestry. The most frequently used word is nyamchung (humble). Every party president or candidate is trying hard to project himself or herself as being humble and coming from humble roots. This is a deliberate political attempt to connect with our rural people who constitute the bulk of the voters. In a small society where people are often known by their family background rather than by their achievements, roots need not be stressed. It would be more interesting to hear how much the politicians claiming to be humble have lived among the humble and what they have done for them.
And pay and allowances of civil servants and grassroots leaders are also an ‘important’ issue that all the politicians are emphasising. There is something insincere and self-serving about it. While the civil servants and local government leaders may need a pay and allowance raise, there are more important issues concerning these institutions that need to be addressed. For example, who is talking about improving the system of meritocracy in the civil service so that younger and more professional officials can be motivated to work harder? And who is talking about strengthening the system of local governance which will directly benefit the people? The promise of salary and allowance raise without highlighting institutional issues almost sounds like trading promises for votes. And we need to remember that a salary raise for the public servants may not be as easy as they promise given what it takes and results in.
Meanwhile, who is talking about the private sector, which is struggling to grow in spite of all the rhetoric? How about turning this engine of growth around for a better economy, which will result in a better life for our people? If our political parties and candidates are genuinely committed to serving the nation, they should not pick issues that will directly translate into votes at the cost of those that have bigger national importance. Election debates and campaign talks should highlight issues that matter to the nation, not the political parties.
Our politics can be different only if our politicians are genuinely sincere about their words and deeds. Let’s try to be different.