It matters how we look at ourselves. However, the truth is that we are more concerned about painting a rosy picture of ourselves for others.
As a small society like ours, we should actually be able to adopt the best and structure our development processes in such a way that they are unique to Bhutan and the Bhutanese.
Where and how we are failing consistently, we need only to look at our modern service delivery systems. While we continue to sell our country as the happiest and most liveable, we are being increasingly confronted by problems such as growing waste, unemployment and corruption, to name a few.
There is an urgent need to shake ourselves out of this beautifully unavailing dream.
Because we are urbanising at an alarming rate, we have got to be more cautious. Thimphu is a rapidly growing city. Bhutan’s average annual urban population growth rate is 2.5 percent. And close to half the citizens of the country are already in the growing urban areas, putting pressure on the service delivery-—be it on education, health, transport, or otherwise. Traffic congestion is a problem that is already growing in many Bhutanese towns.
There are obvious solutions that we continue to ignore. In the long run, these our now-found habits will only have us in a situation that will increasingly prove to be expensive.
And, there are the allied problems facing the society in transition. Urban-rural divide is growing. While some parts of the country are growing strong economically, others are receding into the line of poverty.
The problem is that our planning is still largely centralised.
Our policies are good. But by some standards, even the most sensible. We are also a society that is not the most practical. We have all the resources, yet we are increasingly becoming dependent on our neighbours for even our most basic needs.
That’s why even as it is Bhutan’s express wish to grow both as an economically vibrant and globally buoyant development player, we are languishing behind pathetically. Neither is benefiting our bigger national dreams.
We do not have to look far to find our own mistakes. We succeed when our people do not have to aim for Australia and Canada or elsewhere to look for jobs. We will consider ourselves a better-managed society when our cities do not have to fight pollution, congestion and poor urban services, among others.
It is time we looked deep inside our own battered soul.