As we bid farewell to the Fire Female Bird, we reflect on the important milestones that the year brought to us on its mighty wings. We had our fair share of successes as a nation. We had our failings too. But we moved on. Now here is the Earth Male Dog.
The Bird Year was Bhutan’s year of diplomatic finesse. The visit of His Majesty The King, Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen and His Royal Highness the Gyalsey to India strengthened the bond between the two friendly nations. Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina’s visit to the country was significant in that it showed how Bhutan could play a role in cementing regional integration. And the visit of Her Imperial Highness Princess Mako of Akishino of Japan signified special relation that Bhutan and Japan value and honour.
But the Bird Year reminded us that we are vulnerable to the forces of geopolitical circumstances. It brought home to us too that we could be vulnerable from inside, which can be more damaging.
In the year that went by, Bhutan saw itself wake up to the national dream of food security and self-sufficiency. We launched a five-year food security and agricultural productivity project worth USD 9.35 million for 10,000 households in 24 gewogs of Haa, Chukha, Sarpang, Dagana, and Samtse. Although food self-sufficiency was considered among the most significant national objectives since the early days of the planned development, we lost it somewhere along the way. But if economic development must create sustained employment opportunities, investment in agriculture is critically important. At a time when rural to urban migration is increasing, leading to shortage of farmhands in the rural areas, making agriculture attractive could help solve both the problems of rising youth unemployment (13.2 percent as we speak) and food import from across the border.
As democracy matures, we saw our parliamentarians become sadly infantile and vengeful. We saw our lawmakers break laws and point fingers ay each other. But maturity will come. That’s our hope. So much depends on the integrity of leadership, more importantly self-leadership.
As we welcome the Earth Male Dog, may we have the courage to shear all our vices and look to the good.