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It is heartening, encouraging and inspiring to know that the villagers of Taksa are returning to  their village where their parents and grand parents, and so on, have lived for generations.

There is no doubt that the focus of development policy should be rural.

It is worth noting the significant signals that we have received in the form of fallow lands, gungtongs and labour woes in rural Bhutan.

We are also exposed to the most likely reasons of why people migrate besides the urban pull factors, like human-wildlife conflict, lack of irrigation water, accessibility and security issues.

On the other hand, in the urban areas, the increase in the population exerts pressure on the limited infrastructure and social amenities, way beyond their carrying capacities.  The unemployment scenario is aggravating; thus, often resulting in crimes and substance abuse. One can easily ascertain the pressure on urban infrastructure with a visit to JDWNRH and witness the patient queues.

It is now time to intertwine the efforts of the past and the present in bringing together the fabrics of rural communities and revitalise them to their past glory, which may not be necessarily be in material terms.

With the introduction of a bottom-up planning process in the 70s and Gewog Yargay Tshogchung in 1991 by the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, our rural communities are much empowered for their own needs and priorities. This was further strengthened with the introduction of parliamentary democracy in 2008 by His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo.

In terms of physical infrastructure developed countrywide, the National Statistical Bureau reports 10,712km of roads, 551 schools, 31 hospitals, 206 BHUs, 616,536 mobile subscribers, 90 percent health coverage and 95 percent access to safe drinking water. Further, there are consistent efforts being made to increase farm roads, irrigation, farm mechanisation, green houses, and financing.

All these indicate that the efforts were made and are being made to create an enabling environment for our rural communities.

There is also a correlation between rural and urban development. More development of the former may have less burden and impact on the latter.

Therefore, the authorities must now analyse the issues and find out the weak links of why some of our people are leaving behind their ancestral land, despite the empowerment and access to basic physical and social infrastructure.

Once the reasons are established, appropriate intervention and measures should be undertaken on a priority basis to attract and retain.

Typically, the roots of all Bhutanese lie in our villages. Ignoring the signals received every now and then of the rural issues could possibly lead to erosion of the roots and, therefore, endanger the very survival of the trees.

1 reply
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    Uniform socio-economic development throughout the breadth and length of a nation looks theoretically probable; but is that a certain possibility! There is still years to go before Bhutanese population will reach the statistical figure of one million, but is that a fix number anyway? And even when the population will be one million, population per village with 205 villages will read a number 4878.05 and that can’t be the real population of each and every village.

    And the total economy of each and every village will eventually decide the population size. If economy is better with less population, one expects more people to arrive and that should drive the economy forward. But a poor economy in a village with a very less population will only await an even worse time unless there is a revival plan in place. There is that carrying capacity to consider in every economy even if it’s just a village economy.

    There are examples to read about villages coming together as one economy and then developing into towns and even cities. But a city is not a village by the definition in place and development activities available. So what is exactly that we want? Do we want a village to grow into a developed city or we want it to become an highly developed village? Do we have a planned physical growth path fixed for a village so that the economic growth plans and policies can be aligned accordingly?

    If we say that the development and economic growth activities in a urban centre or village has reached its maximum carrying capacity; what do we expect the authorities and local governments responsible for that very development do after that! Should we permanently release them or relocate them? But under relocation exercise, they will be forced to migrate again. When our jobs are not transferable, we find the reasons to transfer ourselves for better job opportunities. Unfortunately that’s called migration, not a transfer.

    And there are plenty of such stories when people with lots of success in jobs or business want to return home…but they only want to come home after retirement. And one reason for their very success remains that they once took the decision to leave their own village for better opportunities in life. But every such story can’t be a success story. If we want our villages to develop, from where do we bring the economy to start the development? Capital investments made as per the budget allotted can’t be turned into an economy all the time.

    Within a year of investment, a body authority can calculate two things with maximum precision and accuracy…amount invested last time and amount needed to be invested next time. Can that alone build an economy uniform enough to stop rural-urban migration? Market access can be given to a rural village economy. But from where and how the village economy develops its own market to sustain as an economy! No economy can sustain without its own markets and that’s just my personal opinion. Even bigger a challenge is that we can’t put all markets at per and at absolute uniformity.

    If each and every of 205 villages in Bhutan is issued with its own set of currencies, one will understand what I am trying to figure out. Now every village in Bhutan doesn’t have its own currency and still, the valuation on the same Ngultrum should vary in every village if one calculates it. Don’t you think that people will continue to migrate from rural to urban or from one economy to another till there is a difference in that valuation even within the same nation with the same currency in circulation!

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