What is the state of the nation today?
The prime minister’s state of the nation report to the Parliament shows much progress in the 11th Plan. More homes are connected with blacktopped roads and even more vehicles are plying these roads. The government has injected more money into the economy for it to bounce back and to record robust annual growth.
These developments are encouraging.
Executed for the wellbeing of the people, these developments, even if incurred on more borrowed funds have benefitted the people. From the way the report was presented, the state of the nation documents how much more this government has done than the last one in the 10th Plan.
But it is for the people to decide what the state of the nation is today.
While these changes are indicative of the state of the nation, we cannot afford to ignore some of the basic necessities that the people are deprived of today. The water-rich country has deprived its people of regular drinking water supply. Access has improved but weak distribution mechanisms have left taps running dry in homes. Urban centres, which are perceived to provide a better life, are today reeling under housing and water shortage. We saw little being done to address the housing crisis and the efforts claimed to be taken has not helped address the growing water shortage. The people were reported that no debt was taken for the establishment of central schools, procurement of off-road utility vehicles, power tillers and helicopters. How was then the government unable to address the chronic water shortage issue?
Despite efforts, unemployment remains the biggest challenge facing the country today. The government claims that it has created thousands of jobs and has provided employment to as many job seekers. According to the report, there are still 5,000 vacancies in the corporate and private sector. The population and housing census states that there are 5,371 unemployed youth in the country today. This means there are no takers to the available jobs. Given the attention the issue of unemployment is given, it is imperative for policy makers to address the problem of job mismatch. We need to investigate why unemployment rate is highest (7.1 percent) among those who have completed secondary education and above.
Unemployment among youth between 15-24 years is another challenge. It has reached 10.6 percent today from 9.6 in 2013. But when only the Bhutanese population is considered, youth unemployment rate reaches 12.7 percent, the population and housing census has found. Addressing youth unemployment among males and females need targeted interventions.
Five new colleges were opened in the east in this Plan but the Yonphula College is administered by Sherbutse College and a change in name was all it took to create the Trashiyangste College of Zorig Chusum.
The government has done much to implement the 11th Plan, even with some hiccups. But along with the spillover works, issues of water shortage and unemployment will flow in the new Plan. Just as the numbers that are hurled at the people, the state of the nation appears to be as much about perspectives.