During my years with the Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy (DIPD), one of the very intersting partners was the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy. BCMD was one of the first genuinely independent and outspoken civil society organisations established in Bhutan in 2008, when the small Kingdom in the Himalayas embarked on a journey of democratic transition, making it the youngest democracy of its time.
When DIPD started to work in Bhutan in 2011, BCMD was an obvious choice for a partnership. I encourage all of you, who are interested in the development of a unique and small democracy, to visit the website.
The BCMD logo represents the unique balance between modernization and tradition. An abstract from referencing a lotus blossom or a range of mountain peaks, the symbol evokes fortitude, aspiration, and new beginnings.
The transition to democracy was soon followed by the proliferation of media in the country which ushered in a new era of media and democracy in Bhutan. BCMD was then established to nurture and improve the standard of the existing media in the country which would eventually foster the culture of democracy. BCMD is one of the first registered Civil Society Organisation in Bhutan which works with a cross section of society on issues that concern youth, environment, society, governance and education, using media as a modus operandi. and Democracy was then established to nurture and improve the standard of the existing media in the country which would eventually foster the culture of democracy.
Mission, Vision & Objectives
Mission: The mission of BCMD is to nurture democracy in Bhutan through civic engagement, public discourse and media literate citizens.
Vision: A Gross National Happiness (the special thinking around development and growth developed by Bhutan) inspired vibrant democracy that engages all citizens.
Values: BCMD believes in the power of ideas and openness to change the world. We believe that Bhutanese society is capable of making Gross National Happiness a reality through a vigorously contested and transparent set of elected institutions, a professional media and literate society, social justice and equity. Within the organization, we believe our team members are our assets, and we uphold innovativeness, integrity, accountability and teamwork.
Objectives: Create a responsible citizenry that will actively engage in the practices of democracy. Strengthen the professionalism of the media and help educate both media professionals and their audiences as to the role of the media in building a democratic society. Create public spaces for civic discourse. Create multimedia resources for/on media and democracy and promote their distribution. Strengthen the institutions of civil society, most of which are newly created.
The DRUK Journal
Back in the 1990’ies, Denmark played a critical role in developing the media sector in Bhutan, and the newspaper called ‘Kuensel’ was one of the beneficiaries of Danish support. The paper still exists, alongside a few other dauily and weekly newspapers. Considering the size of the country with a population of 700.000 plus, it is difficult to run newspapers and magazines on a commercial basis, although it is recognized that access to information and critical media holding those in power accountable are key aspects of a democracy.
A few years ago, BCMD was instrumental in getting a new journal started – The Druk Journal it is called. It takes a thematic approach, and intends to initiate critical reflections and debate on some of the issues that a small country like Bhutan needs to address as it moves forward on its process of broadening and deeping democracy. You can take a look on www.drukjournal.bt, and I will make a separate story about the journal as soon as possible.