Enforcement of national dress code in Bhutan

From the Bhutan Times, an interest development:

Written by Sonam Tashi
May 22, 2011:(Phuentsholing) As soon as the Phuentsholing City Corporation (PCC) gets directives from the ministry of home and cultural affairs, every office goers and shopkeepers will have to don the national dress.All the members of the business community including shopkeepers, corporate and private employees, and also those people who are at the managerial level, will have to abide by the rules which is likely to be enforced very soon.Living in a border town, the people of Phuentsholing have never strictly adhered to the rule of wearing the national dress. As a result of which it has become difficult to differentiate a Bhutanese from an Indian.

“To revive our fast fading national identity, this kind of rule is much needed,” said an official from the PCC. “It will protect the sovereignty of our country.”

According to the Thrompon of PCC, Tsheten Dorji is looking into the matter and hoping to enforce it soon with support from all the stakeholders.

When the four new elected Thrompons met the prime minister, Lyonchen Jigmi Y Thinley told them to work on upholding the national identity of the country.

The Thrompon told BT that people should not be offended by the rules as it in the best interest of the country.

However, he said some of the business houses who have their own dress code will not have to abide by the rules.

Meanwhile, most Phuentsholing residents BT spoke to welcome the rule.

Sonam Dorji, a shopkeeper said though it will be a bit of a problem for shopkeepers to be in national dress the whole day, he does not mind the new rule.

He added that this will ease problems of tracking down people who are illegally operating businesses in Phuentsholing.

“Of late, even some Indians have started to wear Gho and Kira to deceive our officials who are on inspection,” said another shopkeeper.

Since some of the firms will be allowed to carry on with their dress code, it wont be a problem for the industrialists with the enforcement of national dresses regulation.

But there are also some people who think it is not going to work. A hotelier, Karma, said it is wastage of time for framing and enforcing such rules.

He told BT that it will be difficult to work it out especially since Phuentsholing is a border town.

“There are thousands of Indians who come from across the border everyday and work in the town,” said Karma. “The ratio of Bhutanese and Indians in the town are almost the same. How do we know who is Bhutanese and who is Indian?”

Apart from wearing national dresses, most of the offices, including some government offices, in the town do not have a national flag hoisted in front, which will make implementation a problem.

The Thrompon told BT that the PCC is planning to make national flag post mandatory in all the offices which have adequate space to improve the traditional look.

In order to facelift the architectural look of the town, PCC officials have been closely monitoring all the development activities.

PCC has made roofing mandatory and also there are about eight stupas being constructed in the core town area to give Phuentsholing a traditional look.

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