There is no doubt that the government must be lauded for getting the Nu 1,200 regional SDF fee through Parliament.
However, in doing so it has also made some major blunders which not only dilute the High Value and Low Volume tourism policy but also potentially endanger our security.
It is well known that some of our biggest security and national challenges have come due to the lack of proper management of our southern borders or due to factors on the other side of the border.
Bhutan, under our Kings, has always been aware and various safeguards have been put in place, which has served us well over the decades, including our people living along those borders.
Our borders are so safe that even persecuted wild animals migrate to the safer and more stable Bhutanese side.
However, the pulls and pressures of electoral politics threatens to undo the very foundations of our national security.
The start was first made by an ill thought out National Assembly resolution last year to open up multiple entry and exit points along our borders. MPs, without much thought, voted for it in anticipation of political dividends.
Now, the Tourism Bill takes that a step further by exempting 15 Dzongkhags and this exemption in part depends on new entry points being opened up as declared in the Parliament.
What our MPs and the government of the day forgets is how vulnerable Bhutan still is on our borders.
Bhutan with a population of around 700,000 is in between a population of 1.3 bn in the north and 1.2 bn in the south.
With respect to demographics we are more vulnerable in the south due to the huge mass of ever shifting population movements in West Bengal and Assam due to economic, political, conflict, environmental and other factors.
Apart from demographics, there are direct security challenges in the form of militants or even anti-nationals waiting to take advantage of any mass openings into Bhutan.
Also, once entry points are opened and mass movement takes place and people settle in, it will be very difficult to stop or reverse this. There are also all manners of other challenges waiting for us.
“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”