Of the many issues debated most by Bhutanese in exile, without any conclusion, could probably is the identity. Who are they and where they belong?
When we entered into Nepalese soil as refugee, the only identity was Bhutanese, followed by ‘Bhutanese of Nepali origin’. This identity remained widely used except few western media who sometimes used ‘Nepalese from Bhutan’. Back in country our fellowmen are called Lhotsampas – the term Bhutanese authority developed in 80s.
A new term Indians coined to name us in late last decade – Bhupali – had swift but brief popularity which eventually faded away.
All these refer to our ethnic identity, except Bhutanese. The confusion us in third countries whether we belong to the Nepalese Diaspora, Bhutanese diaspora or Indian Diaspora. Indian Diaspora – because our migration history says many, not all, of our ancestors migrated to Bhutan through Indian states such as West Bengal, Sikkim or Assam.
More we discuss more divided we appear. We remain divided whether we are fighting for human rights, democracy, political change or equality. We remain divided how we streamline our struggle. We remain divided who leads us and who follows steps. We remain divided whom to tell our stories and with whom to seek support.
The dividing politics further inculcated our new generation to contradict each other and never see each other for a common cause. Our ethnic identity from Bhutan further divided into pieces, our cultural unity shattered. When we land into western countries, we became the subject for sarcasm to organisations such as SEWA.
The failed-and-divided BPP-BNDP mindsets flourish into countries of resettlement. The older folks don’t believe what youngsters can do while young hearts remain frustrated at what they about older leadership in 25 years. The culture of divided mindset continues to run through the veins of these leaders of ‘once upon a time’, their pity followers encouraging them to spit each other, pull each other.
When Bhutan is already embarking in the mission to see the vision to incorporate the importance of its Diaspora, the campaigners of the Non Resident Bhutanese tell us to remain silent for another decade. While offshoots of the failed leadership come harsh to criticise Bhutanese, remaining blind at what the issue is, others started pointing you fingers not to speak against Bhutan.
We join the Nepalese mass to celebrate our culture and perform Bollywood dance on cultural occasion. We become members and leaders in Non Resident Nepalese Association. We remain divided whether to call ourselves NRN or NRB.
We remain divided on our identity.