It was a visit by Danish journalists, who organized a two-day workshop on audio podcasting at the Paro College of Education (PCE) in Bhutan, that first piqued Karma Dupchu's interest in this citizen media field. Following that experience, he eventually became coordinator of the PCE Media Club that works closely with the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy (BCMD), which received one of the 2013 Rising Voices microgrants to organize podcasting workshops across the country.
During these workshops in Paro, Karma became part of the team that produced the podcast that took a look at the role of monks in Bhutanese elections, and the restrictions placed on their participation in voting for the elected leader. From the podcast:
Fast forward to 2008 Bhutan made the transition to a Constitutional democracy where people all across the country are excited about their fundamental voting rights, yet there are about 2200 estimated monks who are deprived of exercising this right. Why? Aren’t monks the citizens of our country? This is the question that comes in the mind of the people. As per the article 3 section 3 of the constitution of the kingdom of Bhutan it states, “Religious institutions and personalities shall remain above politics”.
Listen to the full podcast here:
The workshops organized by the BCMD was a welcome learning opportunity for Karma, he recently said in an email interview with Rising Voices. He chose to continue to produce more podcasts with the team of fellow students. A second podcast analyzed local issues of interest to his fellow students at the PCE. A recent podcast discussed the topic of the appropriate legacy that final year students can leave behind for their fellow education students. Click here for a link to this podcast (mp3 format), where the team interviews the college director general, lecturers, and some current students.
Citizen media is still a relatively new field in Bhutan, and similarly to the challenges that fellow podcaster Jigme Tshewang faced, Karma said that it has been finding classmates willing to share their views on the topic knowing that their opinions might be documented and heard publicly. However, the issues that Karma and his team had selected is worth exploring and he is determined to make the most out of the opportunity provided by the workshop stating, “I will not waste the resource and the knowledge that I have gained from the workshop. So I have continued to produce audio podcast in college.”
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