Apr 29, 2010

Rural-Urban Migration - what is the way out?

The following is a column I wrote for Business Bhutan in 2009. I take this liberty to reproduce it here:

According to UNDP’s Human Development Report 2009, which was launched on October 21, Bhutan has succeeded to be one of the countries in the region with the highest rural-urban migration rate. This according to the report was as a result of people moving away from rural areas in search of better lives in towns. I am not surprised. And I guess, there are no reasons to be. In this regard BBS hosted a panel discussion.

One of the participants expressed that although government is trying to provide all basic facilities in the village, people still want to come to towns. This he thought was unreasonable.

What a stupid remark! Which village in Bhutan has all the modern amenities and infrastructures? Which village has hospitals? Which village has paved roads?

Can someone who has come for medication in Thimphu be called rural-urban migrating? This farmer has come all the way to the capital in hope of living longer even by a few days and his heart is in the village. If his village has one JDWNR Hospital, he has no reason to come here.

What is the solution? Will the retired civil servants go back to their villages? Where can they send their children to good schools? Where will they drive their foreign cars or park them? I can bet a hundred ngultrum – this trend will continue as long as we have twenty capitals with all ministries and the government offices.

The government is here. This means equity and justice is here. Policies are made here. Government talks from here. Meetings are held here. Decisions are made here. And naturally anyone could be curious enough to visit the place. Aren’t some of us selfish? Don’t we sound like we have the facilities that we don’t want some more people to share them? I wonder how villagers across the country must have reacted that night watching (if lucky) or listening to BBS-hosted panel discussion.

Some villagers have waited in dark for long. 2013 is closing on us and they are expecting stars to drop in their villages. Some villagers have walked enough and that their horses are too tired. Some villagers in Bhutan walk days to avail free basic health facilities. Some villagers spend sleepless nights guarding their crops from the wild animals.


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