Aren’t we getting enough signals?

The abandonment of ancestral land in the rural area is an issue of grave concern. This calls for an immediate consultation between the central and local governments to find ways to address the issue.

Since the Kingdom embarked on planned developmental activities from 1961, we have achieved phenomenal progress even though the present generation may not be aware from where we started our journey and how painstakingly built our nation.

Perhaps it is time we paused and reflected on the issues that merit attention of our policy and lawmakers in Thimphu to take hint of the repeated calls from the rural areas and take appropriate measures.

This paper has brought to the fore several issues like gungtongs (empty houses), shortages of labour, fallowing farm land, abandonment of villages, and recently, the falling numbers of yak herders. These issues, if not addressed now, could potentially change our settlement patterns and erode our rich culture and tradition, which are mostly rural based.

Reasons like Human-wildlife conflict, rural-urban migration, lack of irrigation water, security issues, etc. are attributed to people leaving their villages.

It is true that urbanisation is a phenomenon and, therefore, we need to invest and build infrastructure to accommodate the growing urban population. But the fact that 70 percent of our populations are farmers according to Bhutan Living Standard Survey (BLSS) 2012, the rural issues must receive attention.

Logically, there is a correlation between the two: the more investment and betterment of rural areas the less pressure on the urban areas; and more the advancement and betterment of urban areas, leaving rural far behind, more the migration from the rural areas in keeping with the current trend.

Therefore, as a GNH country, we need to look at all aspects of development. The fact that migrating to urban areas does not guarantee happiness, we need to create enabling environment for our people to flourish in their ancestral land and be much happier.

We hope that our 12th Five Year Plan would address these issues through appropriate plans and programmes.

1 reply
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    It’s really rather weird the way in which both ‘urban’ and ‘rural’ get used as adjectives to describe certain qualities. It’s possible that tomorrow even Kuensel can come up with a ‘Rural’ newspaper if they want to making the existing edition the ‘Urban’ paper. Here lies both the strengths and weaknesses of this ‘rural-urban’ kind of differences.

    It’s always not possible to create something to stay with it and then expect that it leaves automatically. But rural residents are leaving in search of an urban life. If it’s tried to stop them with education, even that becomes ‘rural education’ policy. From business to market to social services to even something like banking and financing; everything today has its rural characteristics. How do we expect it to change? Should all of them be changed together!

    If we consider developments of certain kinds as indicated urbanisation, the term ‘rural’ is only going to describe the things that are under developed or not developed at all. But if we consider a ‘village’ as ‘rural’, we are always in trouble till that village changes its definition to a town or city. And if we have some kind of ‘rural governance’ to develop the rural parts, people need to wait till it turns to a thing like ‘urban governance’ for developments to arrive. Is that possibly making some good sense!

    These smaller matters have always been debated upon on different platforms, from domestic to international. Have we worked enough on our methods to developments? Should we expect to take a development model to a place and implement it without thinking urban or rural? Is that a possibility? And still, the people must arrive from somewhere. What should influence this mobility factor!

    Urbanisation has been influencing that mobility factor for centuries. We all know that and we truly accept that. But we want to reverse it now. When an ancient city had faced some kind of serious resource constraints, people freely moved to either a new city or built a new city all together somewhere else. When today’s cities tend to run out of resources, we do our best to sustain it at all costs. We expect our governments to do it as their duty or job. The economy also demands it from the governance in place.

    If a modern city needs humans as resources at the bottom to sustain the growth of the city at the top, can that be reversed or just stopped! Probably we just can talk or simply accept the reality. Because, it’s rather insane to define a point beyond which growth is not acceptable in terms of both ruralisation and urbanisation.

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