There is much gnashing and grinding these days over the rupee crisis, at least in the urban areas. It is important that Bhutanese citizens do not panic over the current rupee shortage which is a temporary economic phenomenon in the long run.
While it is important to dream big we should also not forget how far we have come and what we have achieved and rememember that all is not that bad.
When His Majesty the Third King started Bhutan’s modernization in the 1940’s and 50’s we were a backward, poor and semi-feudal country. In many places even rice was considered a luxury while transportation was defined as your village’s quota of the woola for transporting government items.
Meanwhile, Bhutan’s sovereignty itself was at stake as developments in the neighborhood gobbled up other countries and states. The whole region was in turmoil and a tiny, isolated and poor Bhutan was extremely vulnerable in this neighborhood of giants.
It was in those challenging times that Bhutan’s development as a modern and sovereign nation started. His Majesty the third King gave the nation and its people a good start on the road to modernization.
His Majesty the Fourth King considerably strengthened Bhutan’s sovereignty. His Majesty also enhanced economic development pulling hundreds of thousands of Bhutanese out of stark poverty and achieving a level of development that is still the envy of many in the region. Human development and infrastructure figures compared to today and the 1970’s will bear this fact out. This was all done without compromising our unique culture and also rich environment.
Our human development indicators today in education, health, nutrition, mortality etc are among the best of not the best within least developed countries and even rival those of much more developed economies.
His Majesty the Fourth King, risking his own life in 2003 ensured that Bhutan’s sovereignty and security would never be in doubt.
His Majesty in one move then at the pinnacle of his achievement sacrificed his throne and also gave this nation the ultimate gift of democracy.
In this new era His Majesty King Jigme Kheshar Namgyel Wangchuk has been an inspiration and a unifying force for the Bhutanese. It is a comforting thought that His Majesty’s love for his people and his able leadership will always be there to guide, inspire and unite this nation no matter what the obstacles are or what type of political party comes to power. His Majesty’s kidu to the weakest sections has brought real happiness to many homes in Bhutan.
His Majesty’s message and vision should also guide the nation, a vision of a self-sufficient and economically advanced Bhutan that does not have to rely on foreign aid.
This government came into power in 2008 and since then has charted a path of accelerated economic development that eventually will take Bhutan forward.
The Economic Development Policy and later the liberal FDI policy are sound and thorough policies which in time and with the right support will see its full potential.
Under the 10th plan there has also been an unprecedented amount of economic development especially in rural areas. Many villages have been connected by roads, drinking water has been provided to many villages and electricity by all will be a reality going by the current rate of progress.
This government has also made notable achievements on the foreign policy front be it the recent GNH conference, the SAARC summit or the brave bid for the UN Security Council seat. This has and will translate into not only international prestige for Bhutan but also more economic cooperation.
10,000 MW by 2020 is also another major project for which this government must be appreciated. Though ground work or foundation for 10,000 MW was laid by His Majesty the Fourth King and His Majesty the King, this government has taken considerable steps in following up and implementing 10,000 MW.
Once completed this 10,000 MW along with other major initiatives in tourism, industry, agriculture and good governance will see a much more prosperous and developed Bhutan.
At the same time this government along with institutions like the media, judiciary, ACC and ECB has played a positive role in fostering a noisy, vibrant and healthy democracy. His Majesty the King in all of this has been the pillar of strength that gives inspiration, stability, continuity and strength to this nation.
Bhutan like any other developing country will experience growing pains like the rupee shortage which is an inevitable but temporary side effect. For example we may face rupee shortage while building a hydro project but that pain is temporary for a few years while the rewards from the project will be much more over many decades.
We should thus remember that we have come a long way and have much to be grateful for, so some currency fluctuation of today should not perturb us beyond a point.