Monday, April 23, 2018

Responsible use of social media: a reminder for anonymous users

There is no doubt that the evolution of social media has really transformed our lives. It had never been easier for us to connect with our long-lost friends or meet our loved ones all from the comfort of our own home. Today, we live in a world where Facebook alone has over 1.65 billion active users monthly. This means that almost our entire generations are growing up online interacting with friends and families on social media. It has become an important medium of interaction and communication for both casual users and businesses across the world. With easy-to-use tools, simple designs, reliable connectivity and free access to great features, it is true that social media has now taken the world by storm. As a result, it has now become very important for us to learn how to use it responsibly.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Voters with disabilities require more accessible polling places in the country

Photo of persons with disabilities who had cast their postal ballots in Thimphu on 14th April 2018. Image courtesy: the official FB page of Disabled Persons' Association of Bhutan

Elections are a great opportunity for ordinary citizens to make their voices heard in the nation’s political process. It is more important for persons with disabilities to exercise their right to vote and add their voices to the national debate since they represent one of the largest minority groups in the country. As a developing country, Bhutan is estimated to have at least 10 percent of its total population with some kind of disability as per the World Disability Report published by World Health Organization in 2011. This means that we have at least 70,000 Bhutanese living with some kind of disability in the country and if we also include old-age people who require special arrangements to lead an independent life every day, this figure could be even higher. So the political spectrum of the country will not be complete without the participation of persons with disabilities in the elections.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Sexual abuse: the painful reality of our contemporary society

Just as in any other country, sex crimes are not uncommon in Bhutan. But the recent stories of sexual abuse involving a health staff and a schoolteacher in Thimphu have shattered the entire nation. On the night of 5th April 2018, a health technician at JDW National Referral Hospital had allegedly raped a patient’s attendant after injecting her with an anesthetic drug in the pretext of testing her blood for transfusion. Then within the same week, another painful story of how nine young schoolgirls in a private school in Thimphu were sexually molested by their own vice-principal surfaced in the media and further shocked us even before we could recover from the trauma and shame caused by the earlier incident. It is very unfortunate that the very souls who are ethically bound to provide protection and care to their clients have themselves become a threat to the society. Although the crime committed by one health staff and one teacher should not be used as a yardstick to measure the professional conduct of thousands of teachers and health workers in the country, these stories certainly send out a clear message that our society is not always safe especially for women.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Educating for a different future

Photo of panel-members during the 2nd Education Dialogue held at DYS Auditorium Hall on 4th April 2018. Image source: Dorji Wangchuk's Facebook profile.

The quality of education is determined by the quality of school curriculum and the professional competencies of teachers who deliver it to students. Over the past couple of decades, several flaws have been found in the education system since the knowledge and skills imparted to our children throughout their academic life do not seem to help them get employment or prepare them to face the challenges of the 21st century world. Now there is a strong need to review the existing school curriculum and make it more wholistic so that our children get both soft and hard skills that can enhance their capacity to lead a more meaningful and productive life after graduation. These were some of the key highlights of the 2nd Education Dialogue organized jointly by the Ministry of Education and the Journalist Association of Bhutan on the evening of 4th April 2018.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Even technology can betray you if you are not careful

On 31st March 2018, a man in Paro was deceived by the same technology that was put in place to reduce human errors in the delivery of banking services to the clients. He had withdrawn Nu.20,000 from an ATM machine but since there was a long queue of people behind him waiting to withdraw their cash, he had no time to count his money on the spot. So he left the ATM booth trusting that the machine would have dispensed the exact amount he had withdrawn. But when he counted it later, he was shocked to know that he was dispensed only Nu.18,000. He immediately called the Customer Service Unit of the Bank of Bhutan to report the case. But he was told that since he had not counted his cash under the CCTV camera inside the ATM booth, there was no possibility for the bank to verify his claims. Upon his repeated requests, the bank finally agreed to crosscheck the ATM machine he had used and found out that it had dispensed Nu.1000 extra to another client after him. The bank agreed to reimburse only that amount and another Nu.1000 had just disappeared into thin air. In a world of advanced technology, it’s unbelievable how such a thing could have happened. He had shared his experiences on Facebook for the benefit of others who are equally vulnerable to such technological lapses. The comments on his Facebook post showed that he was certainly not the only victim. Many readers had shared how they too had gone through similar experiences due to the strange behaviors of ATM machines. It is said that some people have even been dispensed torn bank notes which they had to exchange at the Royal Monetary Authority since they did not contain serial numbers.