Bhutan and the Bhutanese people are slowly but surely falling into the dragnet of some evil power that is masterminding some strangely unbelievable occurrences that defy logic. I am convinced that some sinister force is at work: some one or something that is not immediately apparent is on an overdrive to scheme and plot the cause of our golden goose - the tourism industry - to bleed to death.
And, I dare say that the two-pronged assault on the tourism industry - the concerted push from some quarters to liberalize the tourism business and the road-widening initiative, coming one on the heels of the other, CANNOT be coincidental. I suspect that some sections of the Bhutanese society are being puppeteered, willy-nilly, as puppets in a Machiavellian scheme to demolish the only success story that is the torchbearer of Bhutanese spirit of enterprise - the tourism industry!
But it is now under siege.
All at once, everybody seems to be experts in the field of tourism - the National Council, members of the BCCI and, supposedly, some hotel owners. All these captains of Bhutanese trade and industry do not realize that on the world stage they are less than half a strand of sand, waiting to be snubbed out of existence when the behemoths of the world come trampling. Recent ACC investigations reveal that Phuentsholing’s one-room operation called JPLCP is ten times bigger than the biggest Bhutanese retail operation. This is how minuscule the biggest of the big Bhutanese business operators are. Thus, the Bhutanese interest groups will do well to keep their personal greed in check for the sake of the greater good of the lesser fortunate people of Bhutan. It is not good to rock the system that has worked fine all these years.
The tourism industry has grown from strength to strength primarily because the industry had dual ownership - government and private. Remove government control and stewardship and we have a world in which personal greed and self interest will run amok - ruining the industry and handing it over on a platter to the carpetbaggers of the world. The Bhutanese operators will be reduced to accepting pittance while the big boys from outside will usurp the tourism trade. Inward foreign exchange remittances will dwindle while profits will be siphoned off to offshore accounts. Tourism will no longer represent any significant contribution to the economy. Trained workers from abroad will fill high-end jobs. Bhutanese will end up at the bottom rung - without any scope for advancement.
I am happy that the governments of the past have successfully fended off the greedy overtures of the powerful few. It is not as if such attempts were not made in the past. This government too must not buckle under the pressure of the rich and the powerful. After all, if Sa Wa Sum is to be served, it is the Sa Wa Sum we must serve - and not few individuals who cannot see beyond their noses.
Look at the wanton filth and muck that is being uncovered by the ACC in Phuentsholing. It is enough to make one puke in disgust - at the level of how low the Bhutanese will stoop to satiate their greed. As a long time Bhutan observer tells me, the Bhutanese people’s “me, me - now, now” mentality will one day turn this land of GNH into a failed State.
The tourism industry is under attack. This government must do everything it can to ward off the assault. After all, the PDP government would not want the failure of this most vital industry on its conscience, should it fail during its tenure.