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A Culture means the perfect and equal development of man on all sides
KUENSEL Editorial

As our dzongdas don their smart new kabneys (scarves) we can only wonder if this is what makes us a unique society. Even as popular psyche discards social norms we are creating a hierarchy that could appear to contradict universal thinking. And, as long as we place it in the right perspective, we might still make sense of it.

The kabney is not just a symbol of Bhutanese tradition. It is now becoming a more detailed colour code for positions within society.

We have more than a dozen coloured scarves representing rank and function in the system of governance, including several new designs introduced in recent years.

All this is taking place when we are promoting an ICT culture that knows no social boundaries, when we are heading for general elections where political leaders have to show versatility rather than rigidity in terms of hierarchy, and when many of our youth go out into the world and return with coloured hair and trouser fashions that originated in American prisons.

But colour is the face of beauty. Bhutan is appreciated by the world because it displays the pristine colours of nature that is woven into our clothes and embedded into our culture. When we attend international gatherings we bring a much-needed relief to the gray suits that has become the attire for officialdom. It is, therefore, with pride that we display the absence of inhibition by wearing strong colours.

It is also important that the façade does not become the identity.

The person behind the scarf and what that person does will always be more important. We would not want the personality to be overshadowed by the scarf just as we do not want to be known to our children by our worth measured in civil service grades.

And it is vital that officialdom, in all its colour, presents a non intimidating image to our youth. Tradition is at risk when the young reject it. Today our youth sense the excitement of change.

So we convey our support for change in every way possible, particularly by enabling tradition to evolve.

Politics will have its own impact on change. As we go in for general elections it is important that we see potential leaders for their real worth and not as former lyonpos, dashos, farmers, or shopkeepers. We have to vote for an individual going by his or her capability.

Meanwhile, we hope that the kabneys and the swords and the colours continue to maintain a heritage and a system of values that must never be lost.

Contributed by Kuensel, Bhutan's National Newspaper, 2006
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