Changing face of our society

Bhutan is rapidly changing. The alacrity with which change is coming in is sometimes overwhelming. While it is inevitable that economic progress will bring transformation, we could also be losing the very elements that have defined our society. In other words, what does cultural erosion mean to the Bhutanese? What impact could it have on the nation?

In less than a decade, modern amenities like roads, electricity and mobile connectivity have reached every nook and corner of the country. Our rural lifestyles have undergone dramatic change. It is ironic that as we take development to the farthest pockets of the country, our villages are increasingly becoming empty. What aspects of our development planning could be going wrong?

And, while we try to conserve our traditional skills through education programmes, the last builders and weavers in the villages are now almost gone. Economic opportunities have expanded and that has led to death of our traditional skills. Young people are increasingly leaving their village homes for better opportunities in urban centres, which means the old are dying with their skills. A day will come, and very soon it will, when we won’t have any knowledge about how to build homes the traditional way. Even as we speak, only a few build mud-rammed houses today. Building mud-rammed houses actually makes more economic, environmental and architectural sense.

We are also losing our language. In urban homes, Dzongkha, our national language, has already become a second language. Children today speak fluent Hindi but only spattering Dzongkha. Why is this happening even as we make concerted effort to make Dzongkha popular? What implications could this have in the long run?

Our family structure and values system are fast disintegrating. Year after year, increasing number of elderly people are thrown in the streets. Even as they have sons and daughters who are doing well, they do not find space in their homes. Old age homes, which we thought we would never require, have become a reality. In a GNH country, such antithesis is painful.

This is a narrative of our changing society.

1 reply
  1. MIGNIEN
    MIGNIEN says:

    In an article on BB on September 19 page 8 , Dr Karma Phunthso tells to BB reporter Pema Sheldon “Culture will inevitably evolve and change”
    He sumsup his speech with this realistic and striking slogan “the choice is between being a change maker or a victim of change” .

    To be quite honest , nowadays , the gap of the sense of community between old and young generation is deeper days after days .

    What is the problem which lead to a of a so destructive desunion of the Bhutanese society

    According my point of view that is due to the gap enlarging new way of mindset between an old archaic enclosed agrarian society ( at a rate of more 66% ) and the chock with a young urban generation in contact with digital devices whose mindset is open to the sophisticated countries . Some of them coming back from high universities abroad from sophisticated countries.

    Many of my Bhutaneses friends do not yet believe to many ceremonies they consider theater feast for tourists ; although they are linked with the ambiance of ritual performance.

    As a retired man of 76 Years old , i have chance to have two Godson both in Bhutan and in France who are very attentive towards me .

    But i pay attention : as soon i will be unable to have an independant way of everyday living i have subscribed an insurance called retirement pension which give me the possibility to be accomodated in case of desability in house for old peoples .That is comonly occurs in France.

    The problem of Bhutan , as far i am aware , that there is no special houses gathering all the elderly which compensate the lack of space in the house of their adult childrens . They will have bed and brakfast in those houses

    It will be important to build such houses in the near suburbs of big towns ; those elderly will be near all commodities ( doctors , hospital , entertainement ) . Every Bhutanese now with a job and on duty must think to his old days . It is a question that Policy maker have to discuss with .

    Thoses houses are private managed or state managed ; the priceof board depend of the type of services the tenant is in capacity to pay ( or his family )

    The article quote emptiying villages : yes youths prefer living in town with a more comfortable way of life.

    And more the conflict with wild animals predation discourage peasant to live in rural aera .

    Concerning language Karma Phunthso tell us in his book history of Bhutan that most of young speak DZONGLIH a mixture of Bad Dzongkha and short english ; in the long run , some ( te elite ) will speak a high English , others Hindi for touristc reason , and the dropouts will speak Dzonglish or dzonghindi

    Concerning Bhutanese Skills , it depends of Policy makers : training schools are to be developped.

    But wages of skilled workers must be much increased

    jcmignien@orange.fr

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