The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Thursday, May 31, 2007


A lawyer for Sibsoo
By Sonam Pelvar May 27, 2007

Thimphu: Democracy might have failed in some countries for reasons like illiteracy, ignorance, vote bank politics, misuse of freedom and because people think they can do anything with a democratic government. But this will not be the case with Bhutan.

>>Ritu Raj Chhetri

Expressive with his communication abilities, Ritu Raj Chhetri, a senior legal officer with the National Environment Commission, gives an air of someone prone to deep thinking when it comes to issues that affect the mass.

Having already submitted his resignation from the civil service, he is ready to run for the People’s Democratic Party from Sibsoo constituency in Samtse.

“I’m responding to the need of the hour when yet another milestone in our history is about to be unfurled,” he said. “I chose to run from PDP because the party is led by a person known for his service to the people.”

With his law background, Ritu Raj, who has a bachelor’s degree from the Government Law College in Mumbai, adds another color to the political fray brewing by the day. He also comes from a family whose members have always held the post of local leaders.

His father, Dasho Janga Bahadur Chhetri, was a popular figure in the country who was awarded the coronation medal in 1974. That is why he feels that he has a very strong social network and can really reach out to the people.

“Providing proper communication facilities and basic amenities such as road, water and electricity which are lacking in most parts of my constituency will be my top agenda,” said Ritu Raj, who holds a Master of Environmental Law (with a major in Democracy and Human Rights and International Law) from the Australian National University.

He strongly believes in the philosophy of Gross National Happiness and is positive that in the next five years Bhutan will make tremendous progress in all areas and people will reap greater benefits.

Although the number of women who have come forward to join politics so far is too few, he feels that Bhutanese women have an equal opportunity to participate in the process. “Bhutanese women are fortunate to have equal opportunity under the law to participate in politics and they should make use of the opportunity,” he said.

Ritu Raj is of the opinion that Bhutan must march toward democracy with right attitude and mindset. And one of the ways in which the present government has tried to ensure that is through the qualification criteria, he said.

Asked whether Bhutan was headed for a stronger upper house, he said: “No, firstly the Constitution does not provide for a stronger upper house. Secondly the upper house is also referred to as the house of elders and it should be manned by experienced and matured people, otherwise, it will be weak and during joint sittings the upper house will not be able to voice itself out.”


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