United Nations Development Programme’s human development indices and indicators 2018 show Bhutan has climbed a step up in the ranking. The country Bhutan ranks 134 out of 189 countries.

Index with the value at 0.612 puts the country in the medium human development category. Between 2005 and 2017, Bhutan’s HDI value increased from 0.510 to 0.612, an increase of 20.1 percent. Between 1990 and 2017, Bhutan’s life expectancy at birth increased by 17.7 years, mean years of schooling by 0.8 years, expected years of schooling by 6.9 years and GNI per capita by about 284.2 percent.

Because the principal focus of the human development indices are centred on the basic dimensions of human development – ability to lead a long and healthy life, life expectancy at birth, ability to acquire knowledge, which is measured by mean years of schooling and expected years of schooling, and the ability to achieve a decent standard of living, which is measured by gross national income per capita.

While the successes that Bhutan has achieved over the years is impressive compared with many countries above and below the rank on which the country sits, the figures throw in some of the challenges that the nation has to overcome. As the nation is preparing for the general round of the National Assembly election that will give her the government and the opposition, the report ought to be of special interest to the politicians.

The report, in a way, spells out the opportunities that the nation could seize upon what with many challenges to meet along the way. We already have the 12th Plan document, which is quite heavy going by the amount of recourses needed to set the developmental plans in train. The challenge for the new government will be to align the political promises with that of the critical areas in which the nation is lagging behind.

Thanks to free health and education, Bhutanese today are living longer and education is widespread. Our gross national income per capita may be high compared with the countries in the region, but we also know that income per capita does not tell anything about how much money an individual makes per year. Rising income per capita, therefore, must be read with the reality of rising unemployment in the country. Where is the nation’s balance of trade? In other words, where do our exports stand.