Political parties are selling the dream of national self-suffiency like a song. But the people know better. And, for us the way we go, there is the weather to storm along the way.
As the final round of election is heating up, party candidates are doing the rounds in the villages with promises and threats of kinds and kinds. It’s a pity Bhutanese democracy had to stoop to this level unique as we want it to be.
They talk about economic development and freebies that the people could have in certain number of years. The people do not want cheap hand-outs. The people of the nation, who constitute mostly those in the villages still, want their hearths burning and three square meals on the table. They want long-term security, peace, and stability.
There are small mentions of all these in the party manifestos, of course, but they lack strategic plans.
There was a time when agriculture ministry had to give the farmers a go-ahead to shoot wild boars because human-wildlife conflicts had gone well out of our hands. Our stringent conservation laws must also take the blame, partly. But our inability to think beyond shooting the predatory animals to prevent farmers’ crops leaves a lot to be desired from our policy makers.
Planning development needs vision.
Self-sufficiency will not come until our rural cousins have good roads and other vital avenues to connect their small world with that of the wider society. Development is meaningless if wealth that we create puts us further deep into the curse of rising dependence.
Bhutan has come of age. We are already, by some standards, well in the league of middle-income countries. But our priorities haven’t changed by much. That’s where the political parties are falling short.
There is nothing wrong in dreaming big. It is important, however, to take stock of the things before taking a giant leap.
We might do well to look inside first and only then put out foot to the march. We could take a bite more than we can chew, but what good is it in the end?