Bhutan, Youth and Our Future

Youth related issues that have lately come to the fore for all the wrong and worrying reasons need answering to, there is no doubt about that. We owe it to our youth. In a small society like ours where everyone lives in such close proximity, we can not ignore the reality; none of us can escape and detach ourselves from our small society and its health. What happens around us is actually happening to us.

For Bhutan and her population, youth represents a very large segment and its not just cliché when one says the future of Bhutan lies in the hands of our youth; it literally is. Therefore, it would not be untrue to say this may be the single most important question that our senior leaders face. Our youth has hopes and dreams, we must guide them properly and help them achieve their dreams.

I am sure many of you who went to Bhutanese educational institutions will agree with me when I share my experience. Numerous leaders and high ranking officials would come and somewhere in their speech they would refer to us students as ‘the cream of the Bhutanese youth’. Thinking about it I realize not many children of these leaders attended these institutions which supposedly housed the cream of the Bhutanese youth. I do not mind the fact that our educational establishments still has much to improve but I do however now wonder if they ever had the confidence to sent their children to be amongst the so called ‘cream of the Bhutanese youth’. I say this not out of envy and I am confident most would concur with me, leaders must lead by example. Confidence in things we built must be led by assurances by leaders; what is good enough for the masses must be good enough for everyone else too. It is not so much about affordability but really about that simple principle. I wonder really how many of our decision makers (all senior public servants) have their children enrolled in our educational system? I take this as an example. It must apply to all other things.

One may wonder what this has to do with the issues regarding youth that our society is concerned about today. It has everything to do with it. Sometimes one wonders the sense in fewer people making decisions that affect the rest of us but governance does require this necessary path to ensure a structure, order and therefore, a sense of security. Having said this, doing what is right is not enough, it also needs to appear to be right. When all who talk of great faith in our system actually show it by subjecting themselves to what is good enough for the masses can there actually be a complete circle of trust. Because when the stake of decision-makers are as real as anybody else, any programme or policy can not go wrong in the end whether we talk of meaningful education, job creation or ultimately building productive and responsible citizens.

It would be wrong to not include us parents in the picture of the plight of our youth. Addressing the issue of youth can not be left alone to the government. Society must take up responsibility too. While as society we are very quick at pointing fingers at the government and decision-makers for these problems, we must not also forget that there are so many productive youth too, in whom we place our hopes of a happier Bhutan. For the few who have lost their way, it is our duty to bring them home, to guide them and help them fulfill their dreams and aspirations. We must learn to communicate with our youth; we must hear them and not just listen to them. We must guide them at each and every step instead of assuming they know the way. We must help them understand their own dreams instead of imposing our version of their dreams on them. We must in the end, as parents and society, like incumbent upon leaders, lead by example in living each day consistent with virtues that we want our society to be blessed with. In the end, a society is the collective aggregation of the individuals and if a society is becoming increasingly violent, it is only the projection of the growing violence within individuals.

I want to end my thought on this critical concern by referring to an essay in of the newspapers sometime back by a young girl which reveals so many things. In her essay she talks about her friend at school who would rather walk to school than be dropped off on her father’s scooter because all her friends would come in cars to school. Does this not leave us with the need to think deeper?

P.S – Meanwhile I have heard of a much needed initiative of a comprehensive study which will probably bring to light many things which will allow us to re-focus on our youth under the auspices of a team of the Gyalpoi Zimpon’s Office and the GNHC, my sincere appreciation for their work.

Our research institutions could do more of such works instead of persuing other matters.


About Sangay Khandu

Elected to Parliament of Bhutan twice. Previously worked with the Central Bank, the largest SoE (power utility) and international organization.
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