The ineligible Bhutanese

What would you do if you found out that there’s this job opening that would pay three times more but would be less demanding than your current job? You’d probably apply for it, right? How could you pass up an opportunity to earn three times your pay for actually doing less work?

What would you expect if you found out that that job was in a government project, financed by government funds? You’d expect to get that job, right? And if you don’t, you’d expect a more qualified and experienced fellow Bhutanese to get it.

That’s exactly what happened. PHPA advertised for doctors. The doctors would be paid by the project. But they would work in the Bajo basic health unit.

Several Bhutanese doctors applied for the lucrative jobs.

But the government intervened. And that’s when things went wrong. The government decided that Bhutanese doctors would not be eligible for the PHPA jobs. They decided that PHPA could, instead, recruit doctors from India.

What is it with us? Our economy is very small. That’s why economic opportunities are few and far between. And yet, we insist on giving the best opportunities to foreigners. We insist on depriving our own people.

Explaining our absence

Captive audience

I got back yesterday. My tour to the eastern and central parts of our country was quick yet fruitful. So the first thing I did today was to visit Dechenphug Lhakhang, my favorite monastery. I went there to thank Ap Gengye, one of our foremost guardian deities, for granting us protection and safety during the tour.

In Dechenphug, I met several groups of recent graduates. They had attended the recent National Graduate Orientation Program, and, as they prepared to enter the real world of work, most of them were still weighing their options.

They could sit for the Royal Civil Service Commission’s “common examinations” and compete for civil service jobs. Or they could seek employment in government owned corporations immediately, thereby preempting competition from fellow graduates who wouldn’t make it through the common exams. Or they could join the private sector.

The graduates had to make important decisions. So they had converged in Dechenphug to seek Ap Gengye’s support and guidance.

I stopped to speak with some of the graduates. I asked them what they had studied, where they had studied, and where they planned to work.

They asked me why the opposition party didn’t have a session at the National Graduate Orientation Program. They told me that it would have been relevant for the graduates to meet the members of the opposition party.  And they added that that’s what they had indicated in their feedback form.

I said that I agreed with them – the opposition party really should have met the graduates to congratulate them and to wish them luck in their careers, but also to explain the roles and responsibilities, and priorities of the opposition. But, I explained that we had not been given that opportunity.

I explained that the government had not allowed us to participate in any of the past NGOPs. I explained that, this year, I had written officially to the labour minister requesting him to grant a session for the opposition party to meet the graduates. And I explained that the labour minister had written back saying that it wouldn’t be possible to accommodate our request.

The upshot of this, I explained, was that I could tour the eastern and central parts of our country … uninterrupted.

Photo credit: Kuensel

Wanted: more guarantees

Guarantee more jobs

I am impressed with Lyonpo Dorji Wangdi’s confidence. When the labour minister called for a ban on drayangs, he guaranteed jobs for all the women who currently work in drayangs. And I’m quite sure that, if he had to, he could keep this promise.

But here’s something he should think about: the women working in drayangs already have jobs. So they don’t need his bold assurances. Unemployed youth, on the other hand, would welcome his guarantees. After all, they are the ones who are desperate for work.

So provide out-of-school youth with gainful employment. Then they themselves would choose not to work in drayangs. And I would be really impressed with Lyonpo Dorji Wangdi.

Photo credit: Kuensel