Thursday, February 17, 2011

Senior Citizens need Protection Act

Bhutanese parents or senior citizens have conventionally been relying on the protection of their children and their extended families (cousins or relatives).
Most parents and children preserve close ties and try to support each other, both emotionally and financially. Even outside the family, other community members have traditional ways of offering support and a form of social safety net.

However, modernization, urbanization and exposure to other western countries have exposed senior citizens to new risks and hazards. Increase in education and knowledge are disrupting the relationships between parents and children. This led to family fragmentation and social hazards.

Today, most people are living stressful daily life that they ultimately ignore their parents or grandparents and have no time for the maintenance of the elders. We see the senior citizens are neglected. Some are even mistreated and robbed off their properties and wealth by their own children.

The senior citizens become desolate finding it very difficult to eke out their livelihoods. In Thimphu Street, we see scores of elder citizens begging for money to fill their stomachs and other managed to refuge in lhakhangs or charity guest houses. This also exposed old women to sexual abuses (as reported by national newspapers). There are also stories that many senior citizens died from ill-treatments from their own children.

Therefore, to prevent the growth of the senior citizens from such woeful plights in our society and to ensure them financial and social security has become increasingly important to us.

The parents and the senior citizens need new opportunities and associations for their social protection that can build a spirit of social responsibility.

Let me suggest one protection that can mandate the care of elderly citizens, i.e. enactment of Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act.

Under this Act, the law should envision the establishment of Tribunals and Old age Homes to ensure its functioning.

The ACT should seek to make it a legal obligation for every children and heirs to provide sufficient maintenance and ensure the financial independence and dignity of senior citizens who are unable to maintain themselves.

Those senior citizens living at old age homes should be given the rights to a maintenance tribunal seeking a monthly allowance from their children or heirs. If their children or heirs failed to do so, the parents can take their children to court to obtain maintenance allowance with the help from tribunal officers.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Unmerciful men

My journey began at seven in the morning. The Eicher passenger bus that I booked ticket was an old one, apparently condition-less. I was journeying to the eastern Bhutan for the first time after I qualified for English Honours at Sherubtse College in 2005.

As I stepped into the bus, I felt as if I had already reached the eastern Bhutan. Arra smell or some cheap rum nauseated the air. Only sharchopkha-speaking people seated in the bus. “Oga jonmey?”, “Hang ancha?” or “Lekpo la”, the most courteous people of Bhutan with most polite dialect are they.  
The bus driver was a middle-aged man. He chewed doma non-stop. And his Khalash, the bus conductor has to prepare doma khamtoe time after time again for him. Though very young, the khalash looked hyperactive, skilled in handling passengers and at times nuisance.
As we climbed uphill from Semtokha, the bus started moving at tortoise’s pace proving its oldness and not-maintained regularly. Each time the driver changed the gear, a horrible sound was being produced emitting stinky smoke. This has worried me and I wondered that this rokho bus (as said by the passengers in the bus) won’t reach me to my destination. An old man took out a boomer bottle from his rucksack bag and started puking in it. Yuck! Both the bus and this old man made me sick-ugh.
A few 100 meters to reach Dochula pass when the bus was flat tyre. “Spare tyre mala nee,” the khalash informed his master that he forgot to keep the spare tyre. We waited for more than three hours for the spare tyre to come from Thimphu.
And some interesting, yet horrible incidents started taking place in the bus after that. A young man seated on the third row of the bus began coaxing and fondling a young girl seating next to him. The girl screamed in protest. However, the man insisted on pushing onto her as if to him women were only to be fondled for man’s sexual gratification. Other passengers laughed; some even applauded admiring at the young man’s audacity. Girl, the victim, sobbed heartbreakingly as she has been ruthlessly abused.
Two teenage girls got into the bus after we reached Mandrelgang in Wangdue. The bus driver offered them seats on the engine box. The khalash went close to those girls. Suddenly he started smacking hard on the girls’ buttocks. Each time he hit on their buttocks, he pretended innocent.
Another drama started with a woman seated behind my seat. A man from the last seat jumped next to her. Initially, he offered her with doma which she declined. Then he offered packaged potato chips and chocolates-the easiest way to befriend a stranger, though. They started a ritual of asking and introducing to each other. In a while he could court her, they became friends. The man too “sponsored” lunch for her and some more snacks followed.
As the dusk fell, we moved downhill of Chumey, Bumthang. The man behind my seat enquired the woman, “Where are putting up tonight in Bumthang?”
The woman replied rather shyly, “I think I have to stay in a hotel.”
The man seemed excited and once more the man offered her, “Then you can stay with me. I have already booked a room at Chamkhar. I will sponsor everything for you.” 
After that both of them stayed mute.
The rokho bus ranted on and on as air in the bus became colder and intolerable.
Complete dark had fallen.
It was almost midnight when we reached Chamkhar town.
“5:30 AM! We will be moving to Trashigang tomorrow,” the irritating bus conductor announced to the passengers.
All in smiles and triumphs, the man behind me took the woman to his booked lodge. The girl at the third row was still crying as she was still being tortured by that beastly man. For the last time, the conductor smashed on girls’ buttocks and he ran away.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Don't laugh at your kids' affectations

An offensive awkwardness strikes me every time I meet my 14-year old nephew. His parents and relatives marked him as “notorious boy” for his unauthentic attitude. He is good in study, though.

A month ago, he kept long hair but shaved on sides. He dressed all in black and called himself, Genji (lead actor of Crows, Japanese film) imitating the actor’s fighting style.

He also bought a pair of cool supra shoes that Justin Bieber wears in his album videos. While eating meals, he pulls the spoon upright near his mouth as a mike and sings and dances like Justin.

At times he nags his father to buy him football jersey and a football, and after wearing Christiano Ronaldo’s Real Madrid Jersey he copies Ronaldo’s dribbling.

Again last week, after watching Sleeping Beauty, a Bhutanese film, he cut his hair short but kept a long bunch of hair on his left side. Then he bought a spider man T-shirt and does break dance like Tandin Sonam, the protagonist of the film and sings so enthusiastically, Neelam nangi ashi

My nephew is not only one who behaves this manner. Almost all youth do this and we did the same when we were young. However, many adults and parents are annoyed at their children affectations. Parents and adults fear that their children are becoming rootless and undergoing identity crisis, and hope they be futile in future.

In the past few days, I contemplated on this issue rather seriously. And I too rediscovered my own self, my youthfulness some ten years ago. Although I had different idols like Michael Jackson, David Beckham, Rinchen Namgyal; however, I used to imitate them and tried to think one of them, becoming like them.

There is no absurdness and abnormal about our youth trying on to imitate like popular stars. It is just that he or she is only trying and jumping on one face after another to find his or her own-true identity, potential, talent or desire or their suitable place.

Time will come to our youth, one day that they realized and discovered their right place where their attitude, talent and desire are rightly fit in. Until then, youth will be jumping from one face to another rather so annoyingly.