Friday, April 22, 2016

Big-Ma Throws Her Mighty Fist on Bookstores

Rules, for obvious reasons, are framed, implemented and monitored, either to bring in decorum in the system or to provide a level playing field. However, at times rules are framed too stringent that it makes more harm than benefits. The Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan was one typical case, which went to the extremes of defaulters getting slashed with lengthy prison terms for selling few tobacco products. Ultimately, it had to be amended with certain relaxation on the penalty part.

The latest commotion is from the bookstore owners. The Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) Act mandates all the stakeholders to register internationally published books. According to those concerned bookstore owners, they say that every book they import should have BICMA registration number on the first page. The registration comes with a fee of Nu. 5 for every book title. This truly is Big-Ma's act which to many sounds illogical. Ever since I heard about this requirement, many questions have been circling in my head. Is it because our government wants to promote our indigenous books? or Is it to filter out certain books from reaching the readers? If it is all about banning those books perceived as having potential to sow discord in the society, BICMA could easily circulate a list of blacklisted titles with an order to refrain from selling such books. Wouldn't that be far more easier? Ofcourse, those involved in framing this act, must have thought a lot about it in their highest wisdom. The Act also mandates all book houses to submit a copy each of every publication ( brought down from three copies). I would imagine that a decade into the future, BICMA would be running the biggest library in the country.

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