This is a conversation between two people; a people’s representative and a constituent.
Note: The name of the person the writer mentions ot the othe name (Dawa) is not the person’s real name. This has been done in respecting his privacy. However, the conversation is real.
Sangay Khandu: Kuzuzangpo Dawa! This is Sangay Khandu, can you recognize me by my name?
Dawa: Yes, I do. You are our Councillor.
Sangay Khandu: How are you? And what are you doing these days?
Dawa: I am good. I am working on some construction work for now.
Sangay Khandu: I can not reach the Gup (Local Leader), do you have any idea where he might be?
Dawa: He is gone where his cattle herd is these days.
Sangay Khandu: Do let him know I was enquiring about him. Take care and will be in touch.
The conversation may seem abrupt but that is because the action of calling and the conversation is the focus of this writing and the content of the conversation only secondary. You will begin to understand this as we go along.
Dawa is a Layap, residing in Laya and for all purposes is a farmer except farming, like in most places at that altitude in our country, is far from encouraging, and so suffice to say is an average constituent. What is different about this conversation with Dawa is that Dawa and I have conversed only in person, face to face. This conversation was facilitated by the coming of mobile phone connectivity into Laya. B-mobile network connectivity has ushered in a new age for the community of Laya. I could not talk to the Gup for the reason cited above but I was more than happy to have had this conversation with Dawa (from Thimphu) as the purpose of the call was primarily to connect telephonically with my constituents. One already begins to imagine how connected the Layaps and residents alike must be feeling. Earlier the Layaps would walk half-way to Gasa to make phone calls from their mobile phones so they would wait until they had enough reasons and enough people to call but today, with the coming of mobile phone connectivity this has all changed. There may be reasons to be concerned but as a lay man and having been there among the people I know this is a little piece of heaven for them. I am already imagining the smiles on the faces of the civil servants who can finally talk to their near and dear ones in other parts of the country or the world. Getting in touch with parent agencies will be so much easier from now on.
This phone call from Thimphu to Laya; conversation on a mobile phone from Dawa’s home with someone in Thimphu is a significant step towards inclusive development policy and I commend it as a staunch advocate of it. Communication is a critical part for and of development and I am very happy that Laya now has mobile phone connectivity; this is not only an institutional connectivity but connectivity of people, and hence, empowerment of the people. I know if people want to get in touch with anyone about anything they can from now on. They do not have to try too hard, they can just dial my number and get in touch. This is empowerment and a nearing completion of empowerment at the grassroots.
I now look forward to empowering the people of Lunana and achieving empowerment in terms of communication. The Lunap community live harsher lives and as much as this will benefit the Layaps, the Lunaps would benefit even more. Lunana’s distance from the dzongkhag (district) administrative centre (9 days) which has bearing on many issues makes it a priority. However, this harsh climatic conditions and terrain also demands concessions on our part to allow certain flexibility for operationalization of mobile phone connectivity in Lunana but WE await anxiously along with other gewogs that need to be connected (if at all) for connectivity is empowerment of the people; the better connected, the more informed citizenry!