Monday, January 10, 2022

Reverse Migration: Restocking The Goongtongs

This is the classic Bhutanese way – showing images of our many problems, bringing up issues that need solving, describing in graphic detail the problems related to our failing infrastructure – BUT NEVER EVER WORKING at solving them.
The problem of youth leaving the country had to happen - it was just a matter of time.

Australia attracts droves of Bhutanese youth

Beginning January of 2015, I wrote a series of eight articles in the KUENSEL – one per week, every Friday - on the problems related to Goongtongs – how villages were being emptied of youth. Six years down the line – nothing has changed – not the problem, not the law and, shamefully, not even the misnomer: “Human-Wildlife Conflict”.

I reproduce below the closing paragraphs of Part II of my article dated January 24, 2015. The problems have aggravated even more, but the rules remain the same. 

The government and the concerned agencies need to revisit its laws and Acts that have so far given complete and total protection to the animals – thereby upsetting the rules of co-habitation between humans and animals. Certain rules and laws may have been necessary during the time they were promulgated. However, we are now dealing with a situation that is no longer the same. All rules must undergo change – to suite a given situation. They must be appropriate.

If annual migrations of rural population out of their homes and villages are to be halted, one of the things we must do is to review and amend the laws that give animals primacy over humans. Let us give the poor villagers a fighting chance. If we don’t, the consequences can be too costly for the country.

The costly consequences that I spoke of in my article above are now a stark reality. The rural youth are leaving their rural homes – in search of jobs and livelihood in the urban centers – leaving fertile lands fallow and, even worst, subjecting their old parents to unimaginable hardships.

The urban youth are leaving the urban centers – in search of jobs outside the country – bringing in its wake a demographic imbalance that is not good for the country’s aspirations for growth and development. His Majesty is rightly worried and concerned about the exodus of Bhutanese youth.

It is now a double whammy. And yet, the lawmakers are still debating the issue – meaning talking about it – but not doing anything about it.

In a number of articles on my Blog, I suggested that we could work on what I called the “reverse-migration” process. This idea promoted the shutting down of government schools in the urban centers – by selling them to private promoters. With the money thus raised, the government could open up to six large Central Schools in the rural areas – with minimum of 6,000 students, teachers and support staff in each of them. Imagine what economic opportunities such an initiative would generate. Imagine how many bakers will be needed to serve breakfast to 36,000 mouth every morning – how many poultry and dairy farms, vegetable growers, butchers, flour grinding mills – I mean the possibilities are endless. Once you have the numbers, everything will fall into place.

Best of all – imagine how many jobs will be created – all sorts of jobs to fit all sorts of skills and none-skills - in the process halting the economic migrants from leaving the country.

The process of reverse-migration will begin. The Goongtongs will be restocked with young able hands – old parents will be cared for – the greening of Bhutan will begin. One other prospect I see is that administrative services in the rural areas will improve – because parents of the students will want to move back to the areas close to the schools – right now people do not want to be posted in rural settings. Rich parents can enroll their children in the urban schools run by the private operators, in schools bought by them from the government.

No comments:

Post a Comment