For Bhutan, there is no looking back. We may have torn down the many bridges behind us, but we did it with full knowledge of what lies ahead of us. It is going to be a testing journey, yes, but the nation and the people together will face the adversity with determination and valour unprecedented.

All these challenges call us to look inward urgently. Nations and governments are failing to deal with the threat of Covid-19. Even the big and strong economies of the world have been brought to their knees. The Bhutan story is different because we are compelled to face myriad challenges with limited recourses. But then, even as the nation and people together—led by His Majesty The King was fully prepared to face the worse that the pandemic could unleash upon us—we saw how we could fall by far short.

Moving on, we can only imagine the kinds of threat and burden on the people. How better can we manage herefrom? There are loopholes aplenty. Communication, or rather the lack of it, is one. When lockdown happened in the wee hours of August 11, the nation almost came to standstill. The many agencies and organisations were found to be duplicating the critical services, leading to needless disruptions. There was the lesson.

But the nation must think beyond small and immediate problems because it is often the challenges lying in wait that bring us the most uncomfortable situations later. The economy has been hurt badly. There is no better way to put it. But then, there is the opportunity that has not been harnessed—the power, energy, and dynamism of youth. It was a different story before the pandemic. The new normal is come and this means the need to brace for new hurdles along the way. The same refrain is unacceptable.

The pandemic might force us to keep inside and small as we are, but how are we rising to this particular challenge? Blame it on the young people? We can’t. Do we then blame it on parents? That’s not fair. Do we lay the blame on the education system? A far cry. The policies and the lawmakers? It is hoped that they are all ears.

The lack of planning is our biggest lesson. Where the people must be fed, the agriculture development and its many linkages must come in bold and flawlessly. Where the country’s economy must grow, the power and the energy of the nation’s young people must be harnessed.

It is one nation, one people. We tackle the problems together. 

The ultimate question is: How far have we come? By honest measure, we have a long way to go and it is going to be a hard ride ahead.