In Bhutan, Experience Kills Merit

Drawing Hands by MC Escher

“EXPERIENCE is key”, say government, ministers, employers…

What do a civil servant in his mid-forties, an aspiring politician and a young job seeker have in common?


After 20 years in service having done everything required, a government servant will be told, “You young people will get your turn but its too early,” whenever there is an opening for a senior position.

An aspiring politician will be told he has no experience in high position, policy making and leadership by the lyonpos who have been holding the highest positions for over 30 years (since their early 30’s).

A young job seeker is told, “Your qualifications are fine but you have no experience.”

For all these people we have to ask, “After 20 years in service, what does experience mean if I don’t have it?” or “How do you get experience if you don’t get the opportunity?”

“Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?” is a metaphysical, philosophical question, which if attempted is an unanswerable riddle. Yet for all its ponderable strength it hides the reality that even if there was an answer, it will not make a difference to the chicken and the egg today.

By using the word “EXPERIENCE” the people in power or the people holding the keys to the jobs you want are playing the same game. Like the riddle, the word seems to imply something important, something meaningful and justified. Its seems reasonable to expect experience from an aspiring driver, computer technician, accountant, or politician or director general, etc., etc., etc.

Yet, the reality is that the word “experience” is being used to hide another far more important word, “MERIT”.

If a job is given on merit it is simple. A young man applies for a job as accountant. He has been through the right courses, has the right degrees, the right recommendations and has no adverse record with the law, etc. He should get the job. NO! The potential employer already has someone he wants to employ so the word experience suddenly becomes the key that can allow someone to translate things to their own needs. Here “experience” means, “we already have someone for the job. You were foolish to waste time applying.”

A mid level civil servant applies for the position of a director. He has served two decades, done whatever work the ministry requires, is motivated and keen to work and is well suited for the job. In fact his acceptance would reinvigorate the office. Yet, there will always be someone who has been warming his chair for a decade longer, not known for work or dynamism but close enough to the minister or secretary and lo and behold, the word “experience” becomes synonymous to “I was here first so I will always be above you. No matter how many years you serve, I will always have more experience”.

Middle-aged businessmen, civil servants and young Bhutanese all join politics to serve the country. Yet, they have little chance of forming an alternative party or of becoming political leaders. No experience! Here the word means, “We know you have the degrees, the knowledge of government policies and programs and above all the motivation and energy to do the job, but this orange scarf and lyonpo title are just too much for you. Only we can carry it off. Besides, it is taking a little longer than expected to establish our families as business empires. We need another 5 years.”

Experience kills merit.

For the sake of our youth, our vitality and our democracy, KILL EXPERIENCE. REWARD MERIT.

Palden Drukpa
This story from Palden Drukpa

Palden Drukpa is disgusted by this democracy farce in our beloved Bhutan. Palden Drukpa Gyelo!!!


  1. Achu TB Waka says:

    Well, all things being equal, I will also choose a candidate with better experience. I’m sure that is true of most employers from corporations to governments etc all around the world. Although in some cases, like in the UN, all things being equal, women are given preference for “gender sensitivities”

  2. Achu TB Waka says:

    the description of this series reads,
    “This story from Palden Drukpa
    Pelden Drukpa is disgusted by this democracy farce in our beloved Bhutan. Palden Drukpa Gyelo!!!”

    Despite what appeared to be some intelligence in the earlier articles on this site, this sounds like something that appears regularly in the articles out of Kathmandu newspapers and their ilk.

    Perhaps the site hosts are have had some of the same “rakshi” and some distortion in their version of reality?


  4. Truth hurts, eh?

  5. I think Bhutan needs some bit of a Bhutanomics as a reminder into walking the straight path. Except few, not all writings are nonsense and shit. Amongst others, today’s bureaucrats are infected with heavy corruptions and the best way to fighting corruption is by exposing them in the open. For me, more than the political leaders, the top bureaucrats are more corrupt and that’s the danger we face. While there is 5 years time limit for the political leaders as a check and balance system in itself, however, this important element does not apply to the bureaucrats and as a result it is misconstrued as a license into misusing the powers at their whims. If we want to improve things into having a disciplined society for a better Bhutan, then, somewhere, we have to start cleaning the corrupt bureaucrats first as the top priority. The trust of the public in the civil service is at its lowest and that’s because, we deliberately left this critical area unscathed without much laudable corrections. But, can we afford the long wait?

  6. In Bhutan, we look for white collar jobs while we discard others. we have to hire expatriates….
    In every country, as long as they earn, they don’t care whether job is good or bad…

    For any competitive jobs, experiences are necessary unless you have degree from Harvard or Oxford and your parents own or run the companies or agencies lol