The year was good and bad. It had its ups and downs, successes and failures, its turmoil and peace, sunshine and rain.
This is what we say every year, whether we are summing up the past year or predicting the year ahead. We need no special research findings or astrological knowledge to reach such a conclusion.
The truth is that there is certainly much more to the year. As we place behind us another 12 months of history there is much to reflect on, much to remember, and much to learn from.
There is a deep consciousness for the need to preserve a sacred past, be it our history, values, integrity, or rich cultural and religious heritage. It is visible in diverse imagery. It could not have been emphasised better than the awards on National Day.
There is an urgency that Bhutanese folklore history, which has been passed down in the oral tradition, must be documented. The development of literature itself, along with the print media, is competing with the fast-moving audio-visual media, especially with the invasion of more foreign, and entertaining content through electronic gadgets.
Then there were the growing pains of a fledgling private sector. The change in policy stirred things in the tourism and hospitality sector. Lengthy debates went back and forth, and reforms came, but some are still not convinced the change is for the better.
The Bhutanese entrepreneur, sometimes led by a herd mentality, showed a lack of initiative in seeking new ideas for business. This applied to a range of trends like laying futsal pitches, singing competitions, tailoring, and bakery. The construction business was not as lucrative as it appeared, with the spike in prices of materials, delays in projects, and a shortage of funds.
Consumers with more awareness took many businesses to Office of the Consumer Protection. Inflation and the relatively high cost of living in Thimphu were their reality.
But a dramatic achievement came in the field of vaccination and public health screening. The waste management programme got a shot in the arm with a new committee. It has certainly changed the way residents deal with waste in major towns. Whether they can sustain, only time will tell.
If the main social concerns of 2022 were not new, they were relevant.
There was call for increased awareness of juvenile crime and youth problems. The high alcohol consumption and related behaviour were pointing to deeper social problems. Focus has returned to fighting the “drugs” menace.
Even as the education sector worked towards a more coherent long-term transformation, the need for skilled and semi-skilled people in all sectors was strongly felt. A bigger question was whether social conditions and peer pressure were pushing many skilled people to greener pastures beyond our borders.
These were some of the thoughts which flitted through our minds over the past year. If the question is, why do we look back, the answer is that there is so much to learn from the past.
A simple case in point is the lessons from the pandemic. With cases of a new subvariant of Omicron surging in our neighbouring countries, the lessons we learnt must prompt us to shift to the safety mode. Instantly.