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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.

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