1. Power Tiller in every Chiwog:
This could be achieved. Already every geog has been given one as per Government announcement. Within the 11th Plan the Government may receive the balance from the Government of Japan. The Government and the people of Japan have shown extraordinary interest to improve agriculture life of rural Bhutan where over 65℅of national population struggle to live a rural sustaining life. The many power Tillers donated in the past have eased manpower shortage, relieved back breaking physical exhaustion and have improved crop production by enabling tilling of fields better and deeper than a pair of bullock was able to. The side benefits that are unaccounted are better health, shorter labour days, convenience and more economic in hiring power tillers rather than caring for bulls throughout the year although the need is seasonal. Saves time and expenses and also reduces animal bondage and conserves natural resources and prevents nature degradation from over grazing. Human porterage is also drastically reduced with rural roads and power Tillers. Thus Ultimately power Tillers bring about a better standard of living in rural Bhutan. The Japanese Power Tiller is a true agent of change for better life and livelihood of rural Bhutan.
The Government decision to hire out Power Tiller at all inclusive cost of Nu: 1400 per day is commendable. The proposed rate is similar to prevailing hire rate of private Tiller. However, I have one anxiety. That is farm work is seasonal and this creates prolonged period of idle days and then sudden huge demand for urgent seasonal work for the power Tillers. The Government may need to workout strategy to meet seasonal demand and also generation of income for Power Tiller Hiring Unit during off season. One way would be to fix per Kms rates for farm product transportation. I do hope that the Power Tiller Scheme can be fully implemented as this will transform rural farm life as well as meet food production goal.
2. 9 months maternity leave:
I really do not care for the implementation of this election promise. Such a compulsory scheme could deny employment opportunity to fair sex. Not even the Government which is adopting a lean and clean administrative machinery can afford such a paid leave for civil servants. The corporations and other private business enterprises are facing constraints to even afford the present 3 months maternity leave.
My own preference would be to extend the present maternity leave to cover every child birth instead of maximum two at present. Bhutan needs population growth in real human birth terms not statistical manipulation to show artificial growth. And instead of longer maternity leave the target should be to improve mother child health. This can be done for example by providing a nutrition allowance to the mother say one month additional gross salary for every birth. For private enterprise this cost could be shared by the Ministry of Labour and Employment. The Corporations should be able to afford the amount. Also paternity leave needs to be increased to 3 weeks. It will be good family happiness sharing experience and less domestic strain on new mothers.
3. Helicopter Service:
This emergency service is essential but as I had earlier stated it is not worth the national pain of having a larger Indian Air Force Wing in Bhutan. The small Indian Air Force Unit at Paro airfield is proving more than national headache for Bhutan Civil Aviation Authority. Some feel that Bhutanese people should not express aloud such grievances against India because the situation can get worse. I on the other hand feel that it will help in developing a respectable long lasting Indo- Bhutan relationship if the Government and the people of India know the true grassroot sentiment of Bhutan.
4. Bolero Jeeps for every Geog:
This of course is in the final stage. I feel that altogether this will be a big maintenance headache and a real tool of misuse. The initial capital is said to be grant from India. However the expenses for drivers, fuel, spare parts, repairs and misuses will drain resources that could be better productively utilised elsewhere in the Geog activities.
5. Central Schools:
Central Schools will have huge impact as in those bygone early decades. The question is can the nation sustain the system. In the past we had to gradually do away with the Central School system because of financial constraints. I have only one question to the otherwise well intended Policy. Why provide the sun, the moon and the stars to the students that are housed as boarders and only a mid- day meal to dayscholars?
It would be only fair to share national resources as equally as possibly among all Bhutanese students. There may be hostel space shortage but the dayscholars should be provided with uniforms and sports wear along with the mid- day meal. Why does the Government come up with such one sided policy?. The dayscholars should not be given foster children treatment. This policy seems to be reflection of similar agenda that guided the pay revision last year. I feel that Bhutan is too small to absorb the two class segregation system. I hope the Government can revisit the incentive part for the dayscholars. Thank you.
I conclude these thoughts with the prayer and hope that the Government will find the necessary political will and luck in executing the 11th 5year plan successfully especially the roads because road transport is national economic lifeline. I do not doubt the anxiety that the national leadership face but with the help and faith in our Deities may we succeed in our development endeavours.