Changing Bhutan

There weren’t so many buildings and roads. We had more land under cultivation that would turn lush green in summer and vastly aureate in winter. And our streets were safe and by much quieter. That was a long time ago.

There weren’t so many people out on the streets and roadsides begging. Also, there weren’t so many jobless and frustrated young people, urban nomads, roaming the streets day and night, creating trouble for themselves and others. Times have changed.

Murders, thefts and corruptions occurred, yes, but they were few and far between. We were a much closely-knit society that cared for each other. We knew our neighbours; we knew who’s living next door. We even had time to sit for a little chat every now and then. We valued peace, nurtured trust and fostered harmony. That was a long time ago.

We have come an awfully long way since then. This face of our society is so vastly different that none of the contours and spirits of the past has remained. Pretty much. Look at our urban centres and it’s not very difficult to see how things have changed. Also, look at the rural pockets of our society. The picture of our society becomes a whole lot entire.

When increasing number of our young people are becoming jobless, we are just talking about why youth unemployment is growing in the country. We aren’t looking for viable solutions. Efforts are being made, of course, by creating small employment opportunities and by sending jobseekers overseas. Certainly more could be done when the house is teeming with young people trying to get employed.

We talk about education and parental responsibilities. But perhaps the real problem is with lack of employment opportunities. Young people today are increasingly feeling let down and they vent their frustrations through unhealthy social habits. This points to some sickness in the society that needs curing urgently.

And, what used to be a rare sight just a few years ago has now become heart-achingly real and all too ubiquitous. Increasing number of elderly people are coming out to eke out a living by begging on the roadsides. Some of them, who in the autumn of their days are left to fend for themselves, have sons and daughters who have good jobs and are living posh life in the cities. And we continue to debate whether we should have old-age homes because it does not sit well with the image a GNH country.

Our young people and aging parents need our love, care and attention. This is the story of changing Bhutan.

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