The progress we have thus far made is deserving of praise. But this just the beginning. Bhutan’s graduation from the group of the least developed country (LDC) has by far more significance than most of understand.
We were wholly prepared but the Covid-19 pandemic put us on the back foot by several miles. The question is: should it matter? No.
Bhutan is not the only country that is ready to take on a new role in international relations and politics. All, the so-called developed, developing and underdeveloped countries, unfortunately, are affected by the pandemic. The world is in need of a new vision.
What is important though, internalising our strengths and deficiencies, is not whether Bhutan can graduate from the list of LDC; what Bhutan can do unto itself is.
The 12th Plan was supposed to be Bhutan’s last plan as an LDC but now joblessness has risen dramatically. This is on top of what the ministry responsible has not adequately been able to address the situation that has been becoming grievous by the day.
For Bhutan now, graduation from LDC must take a different dimension—survival. How can this be quantified or quantified in the world organisation that is fast disintegrating? There are endless questions. We must find our own answers.
Let’s face it, there are criteria that do not make sense. But we must also look at our development flaws. Often we are busy building our country’s image as the last Shangri-La or the to top modern tourist destination. That’s all good but how successful have we been in empowering the people to take up entrepreneurship?
The economy of a country is a serious affair. Getting it wrong can be expensive.
Covid-19 is not and ought not to be an excuse. It is ridiculous the way some of our plans that should have been implemented years ago are now blamed on the pandemic. If the pandemic really is the culprit, systemic change ought to be the new normal.
If we haven’t made an attempt even, here is the lesson. Seize it or put it to waste, here is the opportunity.
It does not matter whether Bhutan can or cannot graduate from the LDC group. We have sectors to focus on. Food self-sufficiency is one and full employment another.
For Bhutan, graduation from LDC now must take the back seat. Looking inward and bolstering the local economy is more important. The question is one of survival in these difficult times.
How well are we handling our national dream?