Rural poverty and human resource


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Rural poverty and human resource

  1. 1. Rural Poverty and Human Resource Rural Poverty and Human Resource: A Study from Bhutan1 Abstract Agriculture is the predominant sector of economic activities, labour-employment and material livelihood opportunities of majority of population in Bhutan. The country is facing high levels of illiteracy, infant mortality, malnutrition and poverty. The income and food insecurity and growing disparities across the country underline the importance of targeted interventions for poverty reduction. The development activities have been adversely affected due to lack of skilled manpower. The future growth in productivity is contingent on proper human resource development. The trickle-down effect of the high national income and economic growth has not percolated down to the level of marginalized and poor section of the society. The inequity in the land ownership and resource distribution initiatives in the rural areas has repercussions on the well-being of the poor households. The planned efforts have so far failed to ameliorate sufferings of the marginalized and vulnerable segments of the population. The socio-economic development is hampered due to lack of authentic data. The paper concludes that for economic growth, high productivity and poverty reduction it is necessary that Bhutan should rapidly develop human resources. Key Words: poverty, food insecurity, food import, rural labour, regional imbalance, human resource development, planning, education, health, income, livelihood Introduction Bhutan a landlocked developing country is principally an agricultural economy, characterized by a synergy of crop cultivation practices, pastoral pursuits and employment. The surplus generating capacity of this sector has declined over the years. Agriculture has stagnated at a low level of yields of principle crops, despite being able to offer employment to a majority of population. It has been the main source of livelihood to close to 69 percent of population. The agriculture, livestock and forestry together constituted about 25 percent to the gross domestic product in 2004. The country is presently heavily dependent upon import of grains and livestock products from India. The asymmetric distribution of land ownership, widespread deficit of food production, and mass income and consumption poverty constituted as set of constraints to development. All regions, are suffering from high levels of illiteracy, infant mortality, malnutrition and poverty, transport and trade bottlenecks, and inadequate levels of standards of living. It was originally published in the SAARC Journal of Human Resources Development, vol.4, no.1, 2008, with an extended title and abstract. 1 Mahmood Ansari 1|Page
  2. 2. Rural Poverty and Human Resource The planned attempt to gather quantitative information necessary to attain progress and prosperity started in the sixties and was confined to the growth in the infrastructures sector. The growth of manufacturing, service and agriculture sectors started since the early eighties. The first series of gross national and domestic product was compiled only in 1980. The planning for human resource development could begin only in 1987. While the assessment and analysis of poverty was undertaken in 2000. 1. Background: Saga of Economic Growth In the framework of historical analysis, concepts of economic growth and development were not part of the lexicography of centralized-monarchical-administration during the premodern era of 1907-1959. In this period, the modern ideas of economic growth proper had in no way any bearing upon day-to-day economic administration of a unified polity. In other words, the notions of progress and prosperity in this landlocked Himalayan nation had no relation with the western idea of economic growth and development for a long time. There were nonetheless some notions of social welfare and material progress embraced by the State; these were reflected in the protracted attempts to bring some piece-meal reforms in the areas of demarcation of ownership of farmland, rationalization of structure of public taxes and emancipation of slaves in the fifties and the sixties of the twentieth century. The government started pursuing an autonomous development programme, policy-making and planning in 1960 only, after sealing its border with Tibet region of China. The “Pre-investment Survey” of 1969 was a landmark, providing limited amount of systematic and meaningful quantitative information and data on population, livestock, and cropped land for the first time in the history of the country. Preoccupied with the transport, communication, education and health-care during the first three plans, the explicit articulation of the specific objective of economic growth proper (as strictly measured by the gross national and domestic products only) had but to wait for a couple of more years in the country. The country was electrified through the first generation of hydro-electricity in the country1. The construction of modern official complex and the face-lift of the capital-town Thimphu were completed in the sixties2 to enable the environment to be fit for systematic planning about economic growth in the nation. The Planning Commission was established in 1971 (the year of beginning of the third five-hear plan) and the effort to establish the Central Statistical Cell could not fructify till 19733. The first ‘three five year’ and ‘five-year’ plans were therefore prepared without authentic data of gross national and domestic products of the country. Given the constraints of underdeveloped informational base and poor institutional framework and status of infrastructure, the national goal centered at growth of the economy and increased income to improve the standard of living of the people was announced only with the onset of the fourth Five-year Plan. The Planning Commission was assigned tough task of arranging and coordinating the progress of the national as well sectoral economy. It was ironic since it had to accomplish the task in the backdrop of non-availability of any macroeconomic data of gross national and domestic products throughout the period of 1971 to 1979. It was only for the second last year of the fourth five year plan that the first even-estimate of the gross national product and gross domestic product could be available. The Central Statistical Organization of the Planning Mahmood Ansari 2|Page
  3. 3. Rural Poverty and Human Resource Commission embraced these measures of the concept of economic growth proper in 1980, and since then provides the estimates regularly (Office of National Statistical Bureau). In other words, the impending developmentalist state bureaucracy had to suffer from the lack of informed vision and level of consciousness about the efficacy of quantitative data due to general scarcity of trained statisticians for a long time till 1980 in the country 4. While pursuing rapid attainment of social progress, the concern with developing network of education, health and transport emerged almost prior to the specific direct preoccupation with the attainment of economic growth. Since 1961, a Dirigisme state was founded and built upon the ideology of strong economic participation and direction of the national economy by the government. In retrospect, the dirigisme developmentalist welfare state became however the vanguard of self-reliant economic growth only since 19815. The goal of state-led fast and rapid growth of gross national and domestic product was built upon the twin pillars of the already consolidated developmentalist state and welfare state in the country. Given the nature of the State and its nationalist ideology, the measurement and enhancement of the gross national product had emerged as the principal function of the government agencies, which was oriented towards the ideologies of economic development and social welfare over the years. The gross national and domestic product counted the material production of value-added in the production of commodity sector. While being engaged in estimating the various aggregates of national income in the country, the Bhutanese bureaucracy had learnt the art of revising the series of gross national and domestic products as well in the courses of last two and half decades in the country. There had been three-times changes in the choice of the base year. The first-ever conventional time-series on aggregates of national income and products was made available in November 1985, which covered the period of 1981 to 1984 in current and constant (1983) prices. The second conventional series of estimates of Gross National Product/Gross Domestic Product measured in current and constant (1983) prices was made available in December 1987 (CSO, 1989, p. i). There was further revision of the base year thereafter, and the first-ever revised series of Gross National Product/Gross Domestic Product measured in the current and constant (1980) prices, covering the period of 1980 to 1987, was made available in May 1989. The latest revised series of Gross National Product/Gross Domestic Product measured in current and constant (2000) prices covering the period of 1980 to 2006 became available in 2007. Throughout, there has been an added problem of reliability of data6. The Bhutanese economy continued to be essentially identified with a primitive agriculturalherder economy in terms of activity-employment-livelihood parameter. As regards the growth of other sectors of economic activities, the tragedy had been this that only a couple of piecemeal and fragmented quantitative information and that too only pertaining to the seventies and eighties were available. A perusal of time-series data on the estimation of national income and produce led to the assertion that it had continuously been lower in Bhutan in terms of international comparison. In 1981, the first-ever effort of estimation of the gross domestic product undertaken by the Planning Commission for the year 1980/81 led the compiler of fifth plan document to declare and establish that Bhutan was a low per capita income country 7. Despite a reasonable rate of growth of gross domestic and national product in recent years, the per capita income at US dollar 760 in 2003 has not witnessed any significant increase8. Mahmood Ansari 3|Page
  4. 4. Rural Poverty and Human Resource It is in this backdrop of poor performance in the material aspects of conventional growth and development that the Gross National Happiness [GNH] is contemporaneously a budding public ideology pursued by the State, state-sponsored academics and a public research organization. The dirigisme developementalist state is attempting to transform itself into a GNH-state. In the concept of GNH, ‘G’ stands for ‘Gross’ which represents ‘the priority that is placed on the collective interest of the people’, the letter ‘N’ for the word ‘National’ which refers to ‘the collective’ in the context of the country as a whole, and the letter ‘H’ for the world ‘Happiness’ which signifies the ‘ultimate value to attain in life’9. The national goal of ‘economic self-reliance’ has recently been broadened to attain simultaneously three other components of gross national happiness, that is, preservation of culture, protection of ecology and environment and founding of good governance through the mediation of a renamed institution called the GNH Commission in Bhutan. It goes without saying however that the economic growth in the agricultural sector and primary sector is as yet measured in terms of the conventional aggregates of gross national and domestic product only without any disruption of the practice 10. Despite least-developed, Bhutan has been a high growth economy. The national and domestic product has kept on increasing at a fast pace over the last two and half decades, and per capita income has also continuously increased without any constraint. On the front of industrialization, there were nearly 130 medium and large industrial manufacturing and service establishment functioning in 2006. These establishments together were employing 12,295 workers – both foreign and national workers. It has potential of small scale industrialization. There had traditionally been numerous opportunities to exploit in the cottage, small-scale and micro-enterprises, particularly among the agro-base and wood-base industries; these were linked to domestic resource endowment and domestic demand. The small units over the years however failed to contribute significantly to the national economy. The construction of Tala Hydroelectric Project contributed significantly to the national income. The output of activities associated with the renewable natural resources in real terms increase from rupees 2762 million in 1980 to rupees 6351 million in 2004, however the share of renewable natural resources output has been halved between 2001 and 2004 years which has impacted adversely on economic growth and on the standard of living of people across households in the rural/urban areas. 2. Rural Poverty and Food Insecurity In historical perspective, it is undisputed that the centralized public bureaucracy was mainly preoccupied in the collection of tax and non-tax revenue during the pre-modern era of 1907-1959. Since 1959, efforts have however been made to address economic problems, and the Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) in 2000 became a precursor of the systematic accounting of poverty. It was providing the first-ever-survey on the basis of which a quantitative analysis and assessment of poverty was made possible 11. The Survey established that household average per capita income in both urban as rural areas in 2000 was very low. The survey found that the rural per capita income was lower than the urban areas. It was also discovered that the per capita household consumption expenditures were unequally distributed across the spatial regions in the country. The average per capita household income as a proxy of per capita household consumption expenditure was approximately rupees 1200 per month or a person had an average income of rupees 40 per day, which was less than an American dollar per Mahmood Ansari 4|Page
  5. 5. Rural Poverty and Human Resource person per day. The average per capita household monthly income and expenditures in urban areas was rupees 2130 and the same was rupees 990 in rural area. The per-capita average income and expenditure was only rupees 70 (equivalent to the US dollar 1.65) per person per day in urban area and rupees 30 (equivalent to the US dollar 0.80) per person per day in rural area. There had been a trend of decline in the income of the household during 1995-2000 in the country. The data of the Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) of 2000 became the base information for subsequent exercise in estimating poverty and publishing the first-ever Poverty Assessment and Analysis Study12. Given the lower food poverty line fixed at rupees 612.1 and upper poverty line fixed at rupees 748.1 per capita expenditure per month in Bhutan, a large number of people were found to be poor and deprived of basic minimum income in the year 2000. The average household income in most eastern and southern Bhutanese village settlements in the districts of Gasa, Trongsa, Zhemgang, Trashi Yangtse, Pemagatshel and Samdrup Jongkhar was almost below the national average. Regionally, the average income was much below in almost all the villages falling in three eastern region districts of Trashiyangtse, Pemagatshel and Samdrup Jongkhar in 2000, and it was the consequence of a trend of continuous decline during the last five years. While household incomes were about average in many village settlements, some gewogs (cluster of villages) faced stagnation in household incomes in the districts of Dagana, Wangduephodrang, Sarpang, Samtse, Punakha and Lhuntshe. There were larger number of households and villages in Thimpu, Haa, Chhukha, Punakha and Yangtse (all falling in the western part of the country), which were having however higher income than the national average. Subsequently poverty analysis was conducted in 2004 and 2007. These were based on the surveys related with estimating the standard of living of people in the country. The Poverty Analysis Report in 2004 claimed that there were almost 230,000 people who were below the poverty line. These poor constituted nearly 31.7 percent of population. They had been surviving with monetized income standing just at village 7400 per person per month in 2003. The poverty was higher in rural areas; the overall percentage of poor in the countryside was 38.3 percent of the rural population. The population of the eastern region was comparatively more affected by the wretchedness of poverty. In the eastern part of the country, the number of poor people comprised almost 48.8 percent of the population living there. This was to be contrasted with the central region where there were only 29.5 percent population living in poverty; in terms of households, there were merely 22.2 percent who were poor. This was to be further contrasted with the western region, which had the lowest incidence of poverty. In the western region, the number of people below the poverty line constituted only 18.7 percent of the population living there; in terms of household counting, the percentage below poverty line further came to only 12.7, according to the 2004 Poverty Analysis Report. The 2007 Poverty Analysis Report indicates that poverty reduces to 28.3percent and there were only 146,000 persons who were below poverty line (BPL), they constituted between 21.7 and 24.7 percent of the population. The poverty was higher in the rural areas; the rural poor constituted 30.9 percent of the population (between 29.0 to 32.0 percent) in 2007. In other words, 49 out of 50 poor persons resided in rural areas. In the regional perspective, the poverty rates were quite high in the districts of Zhemgang, Samtse, Mongar, Lhuntse and Samdrup Jongkhar in 2007. The biggest proportion of poor and extremely poor resided in the district of Samtse only. Mahmood Ansari 5|Page
  6. 6. Rural Poverty and Human Resource In short, the continuous exercises in the assessment and analysis of income, expenditures and the standard of living of people has established in recent years that income poverty does exist, the inequalities in the consumption pattern across households and regions do also exist, and any poverty eradication programme would involve almost rupees 502.2 million to be spent per year on the assumption of nil leakages to eliminate the poverty in the country but not until 2015. Such an annual public expenditure would be equivalent to almost 1.36 percent of the GDP at factor cost in the current prices of the year of 200513. Table – 1 Imports of Rice and Wheat by the Food Corporation: 1981-2006 (In metric tons) Years of Observation Amount of Commodities Imported (in Metric Tons) Rice Wheat 2345 873 5843 2725 6033 2123 5388 2599 7211 2450 11282 3350 16750 5767 11600 4990 9900 2834 8776 1450 10301 1470 10088 1912 10788 2936 11145 2884 6599 1371 7434 2310 18262 2625 7187 2500 6226 36 8293 00 Sources: FCB data quoted in table 5.15 of Central Statistical Organization, 1991, p.45; FCB data quoted in table 5.20 of Central Statistical Organization, 1996, p.63; and, Central Statistical Organization (2001) and Ministry of Agricultural (2000) quoted in S. Shrestha (2004), pp.12-20 1981-82 1982-83 1983-84 1984-85 1985-86 1986-87 1987-88 1988-89 1989-90 1990-91 1991-92 1992-93 1993-94 1994-95 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Much of the poverty had been related to the shortage of food, despite that the country had been rich in the availability of forest-base food and a number of people from tribal areas had traditionally depended on the forest for supply of vegetables14. The modern agriculture had been in deficit not only with regard to the staple food but also the livestock products since 1960. The trade in agricultural commodities had declined sharply in the early sixties, and the national economy become heavily dependent upon the institutional supplies of rice by India15. Mahmood Ansari 6|Page
  7. 7. Rural Poverty and Human Resource In the mid-seventies Food Corporation was to handle an increasing volume of imports in a transparent manner. The principal crops of maize and rice were grown by controlling almost 40 percent and nearly 29percent of cultivated land respectively, but the average annual output of these two crops hovered around 40,000 tons and 43,000 tons respectively only in 1990. The low crop yield per hectare of maize at 890 kilograms and that of rice at 1,654 kilograms, compared to an Asian average figure of 3,641 kilograms, was the main reason for food deficit the country (Griffin, 1995, p.88). As a result of stagnation at low level of productivity, food deficit kept on mounting. The amount and volume of import of food grains through the Food Corporation since 1974 had not been a reliable source of data to estimate the nation-wide deficit. It was nonetheless clear that the institutionally recorded volume of import of rice which hovered around 5000-6000 metric tons. The Food Corporation imported only one-third of rice consumption requirements from India during 1995-2000. It was only towards the close of the century that the 1999 Nutrition Survey could reveal it that the nation-wide phenomenon of malnutrition had been pervasive and its extent had been quite high. There was moreover highly unequal spatial division of the scar and wretchedness of life in the country. An average child belonging to the pockets of settlement in eastern region had comparatively been more nutritionally worse-off than those from other regions of the country (UNICEF, 2000). The 1999 Cadastral Survey report affirmed that the national self-sufficiency level in the principal food grain of rice was below fifty percent. It was but almost more than fifty percent of the requirement of rice by the population, which used to be met only through the foreign food-aids and commercial importing of rice by the commercial trading organizations active at the international border. In other words, the annual average requirements of food needed to survive for almost 2.2 months in the year were to be obtained through non-domestic sources of supply so as to meet the national shortage of food. All in all, in such analysis, one must but remember that quantitative data and information is controversial in this small nation; the official data source over-estimates the extent of food security. The official data source called the Renewable Natural Resource estimated in 2000 that the self-sufficiency in food grains was almost sixty percent16. This was found to be doubtful in later enquiries and survey works in the country. Keeping aside the issue of food deficit at an aggregative national level, the “Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping” survey found that there were 51 village settlements out of all 201 villages that were identified as most vulnerable to food insecurity. The food insecure three administrative districts out of first five were there situated in the eastern zone of the country. The administrative district with rank one was Zhemgang. It was moreover concluded that many of the village called gewogs were suffering from the insecurity of availability of, access to and utilization of food in 2000 (almost after forty years since modernization of the country). The food insecurity was rather regionally unequally distributed. The victims were also unequally distributed. More than 60 percent of the gewogs in the districts of Chhukha, Dagana, Tsirang, Wangdue and Zhemgang mentioned children as the most vulnerable to food insecurity whereas more than 60 percent of the gewogs in the districts of Gasa, Ha, Punakha, Sarpang and Trongsa said that pregnant mothers were more food insecure. More than 90 percent of the gewogs in the districts of Chukkha, Dagana, Gasa, Ha, Punakha, Samdrup, Jongkhar, Sarpang and Trongsa identified either children or pregnant women, or both as groups who were most vulnerable to food insecurity (Pek, 2005, p.29). The World Food Programme of the United Nations Organization was active in the country for a long time. According to the Annual Report 2005 of the World Food Programme in the Mahmood Ansari 7|Page
  8. 8. Rural Poverty and Human Resource country (2006), the daily food basket supplied by the programme was made up of seven commodities in total: rice, Kharang, pulses, vegetable oil, fish, sugar, and CSB/PWD. Such a basket of food had presumably been successful in providing almost up to 87 percent of the recommended daily calorie intake and up to 99 percent of the recommended daily protein intake to the Bhutanese children in the nation-wide network of schools. The role of World Food Programme in the country has been widened, and the possibility of diminution of its role is not foreseeable in the near future17. It is however clear that only a small portion of the population is covered under the Programme. Table – 2 Net Import Value of Food-grains from India in Bhutan: 1980-2005 (In million Ngultrums) Sr. Consumable Products 1. Years Cereals, Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, Coffee, Tea and Spices 2. Vegetable Fats and Oils 3. Prepared Foodstuffs 5. Animal Products 6. All Plant and Animal Eatable Products Sources: Department of Revenue and Customs of Bhutan, 2005, p.89 2000 304.7 2001 275.7 2002 216.4 2003 488.2 168.6 201.0 220.9 174.5 227.8 285.3 337.3 182.6 209.6 270.6 317.2 368.6 910.7 1032.6 1091.8 Bhutan quoted in Royal Monetary Authority of Table – 3 Annual Imports of Processed Meat, Fish and Eggs in Bhutan: 2002-03 (In metric tons) Years Amount of Processed Food Items in Metric Tons Beef Pork Chick-en Fresh Fish Dry Fish Eggs (Cart) 2002-03 2539 1103 914 455 761 259 2003-04 2494 980 965 501 1159 243 Source: BAFRA Agricultural Progress Report, 2002-2003 & 2003-2004 quoted in Siok Sain Pek, 2005. Bhutanese economy is characterized by perennial deficits in the supply of food grains, dairy products like cheese and butter and poultry product like chicken meat and eggs. The informal and registered trade and exchange with the neighboring India compensates the deficits in grains, dairy and poultry products and other ready-made foods. The vegetables, fruits, cheese, butter and meat, which form ingredient of the normal diet of a typical individual and family, are not in the World Food Programme basket; these are imported either through the Food Corporation or private trades and itinerant hawkers at the border. The import of these items of food forming the ingredients of staple diet of an individual has kept on increasing over the years. More than a thousand million rupees were annually spent in paying for the net import of all plant and animal Mahmood Ansari 8|Page
  9. 9. Rural Poverty and Human Resource eatable products during 2001-03. Almost six thousand metric tons of processed meat of port, beef and chicken and fishes were imported during 2002-04. In rural areas, the most abundant resource had been the free gift of nature called ‘water’. In the country, the per capita availability of water has been 58000 cubic meters per year. If land has been a valued property and income-generating asset, water has been a vital necessity and core element of survival in the household as well as the farm in the countryside. The modernization and development drives since the sixties have brought about changes and transformations in the way of life of people. The provision of use of safe drinking water in rural areas is still not adequate. While being rich in the history of efforts centered at developing a number of marvelous traditional bridges over the streams and rivers, there is as yet but low consumption of water in the countryside. Such low consumption is not at all a reflection of the frugality and thriftiness of the rural populace but rather the dissuading high cost of carrying the water to its place. Given the inadequate development of the public water supply system, the per capita consumption clean water is as low as being only 13 cubic meters per year (Zurcher and Choden, 2004, p.151)18. There has been for some time an acute competition for irrigation water between up-land and lowland owner-farmers. There have been disputes with regard to the direction of farm-channels of irrigation water. The traditional water users associations have rather deteriorated and fallen into disarray in many parts of the country. Whereas the new households established nearby the roads in recent times have driven the settlements farther away from the traditional source of drinking water and irrigation water, the household water supply system has not adequately improved to the convenience of the population. There is dualism emerging in the sector of activity where women labourforce is active; whereas the far-off rural women are as yet the traditional water-carriers from a distance over rugged terrains of mountains, the affluent and educated women are beneficiary of being free from this work of being the traditional water carriers19. In view of the increasing migration rate orchestrated by the push factors of poverty and food shortages at the places of origin of migration, it is but urgent to make the availability of water a national agenda since the dimensions of ease of life associated with water is equally a pull factor at the destination20. To bring back the issue of food and specifically trading in food, the Food Corporation of Bhutan was supposed to complement the already existing efforts of the private trader-importer of food grains in the country. The early seventies rather necessitated heavy reliance on the food imports through the branches of the Food Corporation of India at Siliguri (West Bengal) and Guwahati (Assam) to the stores of Food Corporation at Phuentsholing. In 1976, a Country Office of the World Food Program of the United Nations Organization was established. The arrival of projects of food distribution among the road workers and school children in the country through the World Food Program of the United Nations Organisation was a further reminder to the ensuing food insufficiency and insecurity. There are till date two significant public reports on the theme of food security and insecurity. The first is the “Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping” report of 2005, and second the “Rapid Impact Assessment of Rural Development” report of 2007 of the Planning Commission. The second report was more categorical in its conclusion 21. In the poverty, living standard and food security surveys of 2004 and 2005, it was clear that there were almost 35 percent of the respondents who faced food shortages during the year. They faced shortages of food for almost three to four months in the year. There was a close relation between the percentage of population below the poverty line and the percentage of population facing the food shortages in Mahmood Ansari 9|Page
  10. 10. Rural Poverty and Human Resource the country. Both poverty and food shortages affected both males and females equally (Planning Commission, 2007, pp.19-49). It was therefore increasingly realized that neither in-land distribution activities of the World Food Programme and Food Corporation of Bhutan nor the continuing endeavors to import and smuggle the food and beverages by the private traders and hawkers are permanent solution to the food deficit. It was in the final analysis required to boost the level of production in the country. The problem of food insecurity has been chronic and needed to the tackled without late in this principally heterogeneous agricultural society. The considerable income and food insecurity disparities across the country underlined the importance of targeted interventions for poverty reduction necessary. It was with the assistance of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations that a comprehensive food security programme was developed in 1994, which began operational in 1997. The significant macro-reason behind the rural poverty, among other vital reasons, is this that there is noticeable absence of roads in the countryside. It is a major contributing factor to poverty in this landlocked Himalayan country. There are almost about 21 percent of populations, who as yet live within one to four hours’ walk from a road, and another 21 percent live more than four hours away. Such an impediment reflects itself in rural people having to pay almost 50 to 70 times more to transport their products to markets than people living in connected areas using motorized transport. Since there are only 33 percent of village-gewogs, which are at present fully connected by road communications, any attempt to increase the rural accessibility would have a significant impact on poverty reduction in the country. It will reduce travel time, transportation costs, and commodity prices. The current efforts would support programmes and projects to augment rural income and employment opportunities, which would help to slow the pace of rural out-migration, which is at present very high. The World Bank grant US$ 10 million would also improve rural access project aims to improve transport infrastructure and services for selected rural districts. The project will finance the construction of new feeder roads and bridges as well as the upgrading of existing rural roads. 3. Human Resource and Labour Productivity The relation between human resource development and labour in the country is unique. The development of human resource in the country has been adversely affected due to institutional weaknesses. The problem was one related with the so-called ‘registration’ of citizens for the administrative purpose, which was taken to be the approximation of the population of the kingdom for a long time 22. An attempt was made later to conduct the extemporized sample surveys23 to estimate the population. The development of education was given due importance. The pursuit to gain literacy and education started in the very second and third decade of the twentieth century. In 1960, there were only eleven formal schools with enrolment of 400 students in the country. These schools were the nursery for the building future bureaucrats and civil servants. In the second half of fifties, it was already emphasized that the main emphasis in the field of education and training was on the creation of “cadres of qualified technical personnel at all levels for manning the various services” of the government (Second Plan Document, 1956-61, p. ix). Mahmood Ansari 10 | P a g e
  11. 11. Rural Poverty and Human Resource In 2006, there were 512 formal schools running within the country with enrolment of approximately one hundred and fifty-four thousand students. In matter of practical training and skill formation, the recent estimates show that there were in total 646 non-formal education centers with 18550 students. The neighboring India has been an active partner in developing educational system, and enrolling the Bhutanese students in its institutions for educational degrees and diploma courses over the years. India is till to date the single largest donor to the department of human resource development, particularly in the field of undergraduate studies. An estimated 5,000 students had graduated from Indian institutions under the scholarship programmes over the past few decades. Since the early fifties, almost 2,000 training institutions in India had been opened for Bhutanese citizens to benefit under various schemes. In 1982 and attempt was made to estimate the manpower requirements of the various agencies of the government. The Manpower Planning Division of the Royal Civil Service Commission conducted a survey for the period of 1983-90, in 1987 to estimate and forecast the manpower requirements of the country. Table – 4 Degree/ Diploma Holders in the Civil Services: Bhutan, 1991 (in Numbers) Sr. Name of the Educational Qualification 1. Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com.) 2. Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) 3. Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) 4. Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) 5. Master of Arts (M.A.) 6. Master of Education (M.Ed.) 7. Master of Commerce (M.Com.) 8. Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) (Dzongkha) 9. Bachelor of Veterinary Science (B.V.Sc.) 10. Bachelor of Education (B.E.) 11. Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) (Sanskrit) 12. Master of Science (M.Sc.) 13. MBBS 14. Total Graduates 15. Total Diploma holders 16. Grant Total Source: Royal Civil Service Commission, Bhutan Number of Nationals 78 282 53 26 19 06 03 50 14 33 05 31 49 671 506 1177 Number of NonNational 65 245 137 55 55 19 04 00 00 00 00 26 18 639 101 740 In the country, due to lack of health-care facilities, the rate of mortality and diseases has been quite high. In the list of ten major causes of morbidity indicated by the Annual Health Bulletin of the Ministry of Health, 2007, the fatal diseases had been the common cold, skin infections, diarrhea, peptic-ulcer syndrome, acute pharynigitis/tonsillitis, other disorders of skin and subcutaneous tissues, other musculo-skeletal diseases excluding arthritis and arthritis, disease of digestive system, respiratory and nose diseases, and conjunctivitis. Acute respiratory infections in winter and diarrhoeal diseases in summer still the list of infant morbidity, and also contribute Mahmood Ansari 11 | P a g e
  12. 12. Rural Poverty and Human Resource to the mortality reported inside the basic health units in the country. The root causes behind such diseases have usually been attributed to the facts of existence of poor nutrition level and living environment of the children in the rural communities combined with natural conditions of dry atmosphere in the winter, poor quality of drinking water and sanitation in summer. With the change in the life-style commensurate with the transition and movement from the agrarian society to more complex modern competitive world, the rheumatic heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, especially cervical cancer, have also been increasing. Table – 5 Numbers of Trained Personnel in the Health Sector: Bhutan, 2002-03 (in Numbers) Sr. No. Name of Health Personnel Numbers Employed in the Health Sector 2002 2003 1. Doctors 122 145 2. District Health Supervisory Officer (DHSO) 27 24 3. Health Assistants 173 144 4. Basic Health Workers 175 172 5. Nurses 500 493 6. B.Sc. Nurses 05 08 7. General Nurse Midwife/Staff Nurse (GNM) 174 173 8. Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) 145 144 9. Assistant Nurses 176 176 10. Other Technicians 252 305 11. Indigenous Physicians 32 29 12. Indigenous Compounders / Menpas 23 26 13. Malaria Workers 66 47 14. Village Health Workers (VHW) 1,202 1,400 Sources: Health Bulletin, 2007, Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan; Annual Health Bulletin, 2003, Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan. The population growth rate had been high at approximately 3 percent in the past; it had dropped to 1.3 percent in 2005. The life expectancy has increased from 48 years in 1984 to 66 years in 2003. According to the Annual Health Bulletin, 2003, issued by the Ministry of Health, there had been a nominal difference in the life expectancy for males and females. The infant mortality rate had also dropped from 102.9 per 1,000 live births in 1984 to 40 per 1000 live births in 2005. The under-five mortality rate of children had also declined significantly from 162.4 per 1000 live births inn 1984 to 61 per 1000 live births in 2005. The material mortality ratio decreased from 770 per 100,000 live births in 1984 to 255 in 2000. There were only 2 doctors per 10,000 populations in 2005, and the country does not as yet have any medical college. The students are till date being sent to the neighboring countries of Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka for their medical courses. Labour Productivity and Standard of Life Mahmood Ansari 12 | P a g e
  13. 13. Rural Poverty and Human Resource A developed human resource means an educated and healthy person with reasonable real income and standard of life in the society. In the country, the civil services of the government employs the largest number of people with formal education, and thereby provides a decent level of real income to the already educated human resource and opens up further prospects of enhancing their skills, training and health status. In 1991, there were 11,228 people employed in the civil services. In the public and joint ventures incorporated under the Companies Act, the total employment size stood at 2,576, out of which 715 were non-citizens in the beginning of 1991; the manpower that were employed on a daily wage system as a casual labour were not included in the figure. According to the survey covering 157 industrial units, carried out by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, only 2,900 persons were offered employment by the private sector. The data of manpower employed in the retailing, hotel and trading sector was not known. The first-ever survey to estimate the labour conditions in the country was accomplished only so late as in 1998 and then in 2000. The aggregate population was declared to be 752,700 persons, according to the Labour Force Survey of 2004. It was further established by ILO survey that the population of all employed persons stood at 210,100. The employment ratio was thus 0.28. The National Labour Force Survey of 2006 claimed that the labour force participation rate was 61.8 percent in 2006, and the agricultural sector alone employed nearly 43 percent of the labour force in 2005. According to the Survey, the employed persons engaged in the ‘main economic activity of agriculture and forestry’ were 132,800 persons (i.e. 63.21 percent of all employed persons in the country). The classification of the labour force was as such that the number of peasants (owning land and cultivating it) was 61,221 the number of (own-account) unpaid family worker 62,549 persons, the number of casual and regular paid-employee 6,640 persons, and the number of paid nonfamily apprentice and worker by piece-rate together 1,594 persons, and the number of sharecroppers was 797 persons approximately; they were engaged in the ‘main economic activity of agriculture and forestry’. Almost 70 percent of all these employed persons had worked for nearly 40 to 69 hours in the week, and nearly 15 percent of them had worked almost 70-plus hours per week, according to the BLFS 2004 (Statistical Yearbook of Bhutan, 2005, p.45). In matter of educated employment, the royal civil services have been the preferred venue. In December 2008, there were in total 5,763 females and almost 13,753 males employed in the civil services of the country constituting 29.5 percent and 70.5 percent respectively of total civil service strength. Almost 26 percent of all civil servants were about 40 years of age whereas the rest 74 percent were below the age of 39 in the year of 2008. The human development indicators in the country were estimated for the first time in 1998. In 1998, the HDI value was estimated at 0.550; the country was in the ranks of the medium human development countries. The country published its first report “National Human Development Report, 2005” which focused on the theme of Gross National Happiness, and the second report covered the theme of youth employment. At present, the Royal Civil Service Commission is responsible for implementing all forms and types manpower training in the country24. It employs the educated unemployed; it is worth remembering that it is not the agency to guarantee employment and income to a peasant and rural labour in the countryside, which constitute the bulk of human resource in this agricultural country. Mahmood Ansari 13 | P a g e
  14. 14. Rural Poverty and Human Resource Table – 6 Classification of Rural Employed Labour by Professions: Bhutan, 2004 Category of Employment Status Number of Employed Persons 1. Sharecroppers 797 2. Owner-cultivator 61221 3. Own-account and unpaid Family worker 62549 4. Casual and Regular paid employee 6640 5. Paid non-family apprentice and Paid Worker by piece 1594 rate 6. All Employments Status in Agriculture and Forestry 132801 Source: Statistical Year book of Bhutan, 2005, p.44 Note: the number of employed persons refers to those engaged in the main economic activity of agriculture and forestry in the country According to the Population and Housing Census, 2005, there were only 289,701 persons, who constituted the rural labour force. Rest of the population was those of unproductive consumers, who contributed nothing to the material production and value-addition process in the economy. The rural active labour was 183,313 persons in total, out of which only 178,898 persons could, however, get employment in various agricultural and non-agricultural activities in the rural settlements. These rural workers, who were variously engaged in agricultural and nonagricultural primary and secondary rural occupations, were distributed among 87,804 rural households in the country (PHCB, 2005 and BLSSD, 2007). In the context of the country as a whole, a further classificatory exercise by the Census operators and tabulators informed that there were approximately 76,669 unpaid family workers25 in rural areas (irrespective of agricultural and/or non-agricultural employment). The unpaid family workers consist of the family labour on the farms, the herders in the pastures, and weavers in the household cottage units and household artisans principally. The number of the ‘family labour’ employed in the agriculture was 69,754 persons; it was but difficult to calculate the accurate number of the family labour employed especially on the ‘agricultural farms’ only. The own-account workers26 were those who neither employed any body (i.e. not an ‘employer’) nor worked for anybody as a ‘paid-employee’; they were certainly not even the ‘unpaid family workers’. In other words, they were the independent self-employed workers in the rural locations. Such workers in rural locations of the country were 39,348 persons in number, out of which almost 30,877 persons were there in the agriculture occupation only in rural areas. What was noteworthy was this that there were almost 104,577 persons who were employed in the occupation of ‘agriculture only in the rural areas’. If the employment status of 4,040 persons employed in ‘agriculture in the urban areas’ is also included, there were almost 108,617 labourers working in the agricultural sector (rural plus urban agriculture) in the country. It was therefore clear that this was the principal segment of population, who were working on land, supporting the farming activities, and supplying food to almost 125,484 households in total in the country. Mahmood Ansari 14 | P a g e
  15. 15. Rural Poverty and Human Resource The country being primarily an agricultural and rural economy needs to raise the productivity and skill level of rural population so as to develop the base of human resource in the county. Unfortunately, the human resource development planning for this sector is lacking. Second, the PHCB 2005 estimated that the rural population in the eastern region was 143449 persons whereas the rural population of western region was 161620 persons in 2005. The rural labour force consisted of 91680 persons in eastern region and in western region it was 109643 persons in 2005. The number of actually employed active rural labour in eastern region was 57305, and in western province the same was 71155 in number. A further classificatory exercise of the employed rural labour in different dzongkhags was not available with the census, and therefore, the regional distribution of cultivators, unpaid family workers and agricultural labour is as yet unknown. Such lack of information has posed a constraint in regional planning of human resource development in the county. It has therefore been difficult for the planners and policy-makers to ascertain as to how much of the time, money and efforts have to be allocated to different regions in matter of developing the rural human resources in the country. There exists therefore no systematic planning to regional targeting of human resource development programmes. Third, according to the PHCB, 2005, there were almost 4415 rural labourers, who were seeking jobs but were without any job in the past one-week before the census operation began 27. The growth in employment opportunities had not kept pace with growth in the supply of labourforce. Many remain excluded from the labour force for want of appropriate and timely information on job opportunities and income generating avenues. The category called the open unemployment per se needed not to be a major concern as it had been hovering around the low level of the order 2.5 percent, but the hidden unemployment was high in the country. In the agriculture, livestock and forestry sector, the underemployment had been almost 22 percent in recent past. The United Nations Development Programme-Human Resource Development project for training nationals abroad for a period of five years was started in 1987. In 1989, an ad-hoc manpower survey was again conducted under this development project. In 1987 for the first time the agenda of human resource development was fully integrated as the nine priority objectives of the sixth five-year plan in the country. The Asian Regional Team for Employment Promotion of the International Labour Organization and the subsequent publication of a report on manpower assessment and planning needs of the county in 1991 to be a landmark in the history of human resource development planning. In the framework of policies informed by attention to the development planning of human resource, the un-employability of school leavers has therefore been a principal area of concern. To make them employable, initiatives at developing the human resource have been funded in recent years with aids and grants from the international donor agencies, organizations and countries. The creation of productive job opportunities, which in turn has increasingly required the emphasis on the skill formation by widening access to training facilities and programs run with the help of the international donors, is today the core of human resource development programmes in the country. In other words, the focus of human resource development policies is on employing the unemployed. The contemporary official perception about the problems of human resource in the country centers therefore on highlighting the problems of poor employability of labour supply, oversupply of literate but unskilled persons in the labour force, under-supply of skilled personnel, aspirations of students and their parents for white collar jobs in the civil services, and poor working conditions and unattractive remuneration packages in the Mahmood Ansari 15 | P a g e
  16. 16. Rural Poverty and Human Resource private sector of the economy, and the rural-urban drift and huge exodus of people to the capital of Thimphu28. In December 2004, New Delhi had agreed to provide 50 postgraduate courses every year to citizen-students, the programme starting from 2005, Denmark, Germany, JICA, Switzerland, Austrian Embassy Development Cooperation (ACO), United Nations, and World Bank have also been active in strengthening the educational level in the country. In the education sector, there is a contemplation going on the include Asian Development Bank assistance and coordinate it with the already existing international aid and assistance programs running in the country. Total – 7 Rural Labour Particulars in Bhutan: Eastern and Western Regions, 2005 (In numbers) Demographic and Economic Particulars Agro-Eco-Demographic Regions Eastern Bhutan Western Bhutan All- Bhutan 143449 161620 438871 91680 109643 289701 57305 71155 183313 55935 69432 178898 1370 1723 4415 39040 32923 104577 1. Rural Population 2. Rural Labour force 3. Rural Active Population 4. Rural Active Employed Population 5. Rural Active Unemployed Population 6. Rural Active Employed Population in Agriculture Sub-sector only 7. Rural Active Employed Population of Unpaid Not available Not available Family Worker only 8. Rural Active Employed Population of Own Not available Not available Account Worker only 9. Rural Active Employed Population of Unpaid Not available Not available Family Worker in Agriculture Sub-sector 10. Rural Active employed Population of Own Not available Not available Account worker in Agriculture Sub-sector Source: Office of the Census Commissioner (PHCB 2005), 2006, pp.304-415 76669 39348 69754 30877 At present, the UNDP is active in helping the country in matter of strengthening the informational base of human resource development programmes in the country. It is instrumental in updating the National Human Resources Development Plan (BNHRD) of 2003. The country has considerable access to the grants in the health sector; it has been receiving international assistance from many countries including Denmark, India, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Mahmood Ansari 16 | P a g e
  17. 17. Rural Poverty and Human Resource Conclusion There exists no systematic information on macroeconomic and social indicators and human resource development. There has been urban-bias in the human resource development programmes in the country in matters of skill development through formal educational and vocational training as well as health-care. The pace of agricultural development and mechanization has slowed down due to the lack of developed human resource in the country. The shortage of skilled, trained and healthy manpower, both causal and contract labour, presents a major constraint in the development of most sectors of the economy in general and agriculture in particular. The trickle-down effect of economic growth has not percolated down to the level of marginalized and poor section of the society. It is amidst land ownership inequity, food and water deficits and poverty in the country that the eastern region has been continuing to be rather economically backward in comparison to the western province. Such disparity combine with the unequal division of human resource development initiatives in the rural areas has been having its inescapable economic repercussions on the rural facets of livelihood and life-conditions in the country. The region to region outmigration of people in general and of the labour-worker in particular establishes the push factors of distress and hardships suffered at the place of origin and of the pull forces of convenience and privilege enjoyed at the place of destination. There exist no quantitative data about the past levels of such outmigration; the firstever estimate became available only in 005. There are huge outmigration and exodus towards western and central provincial cities in the country. Notes: 1. The first hydroelectric project in Bhutan was constructed on the Samteling Chhu and commissioned as a mini hydel in 1967 in Thimphu. At that time, the newly established capital was gradually emerging from the paddy fields around the extended Thimphu dzong (Zurcher and Choden, 2004, p.129). 2. When the first would-be Ambassador of India arrived there on October 29, 1967, Thimphu, the capital, was smaller than even the smallest of villages of his native place. He observed that the only prominent building was the Dzong (the Secretariat, literally meaning a fortress), the only guest house consisted of three rickety rooms, and there were just about thirty lights at night in the capital of Bhutan (Das, 1995, pp.4-5). 3. The Central Statistical Cell (CSC) which acted as a division under the Planning Commission was renamed later in 1979 as the Central Statistical Organization (CSO), and renamed again finally as the National Statistical Bureau (an autonomous body) in October 2003 (UNESCAP, 2005, p.2). 4. One reason for this was the lack of statisticians in the country. The district sector heads and the planning officers were at the forefront of collection of all data from the field since there were no field offices of the CSO until the year 2001. In 2005, with statistical offices established in all the twenty districts and a diploma-level trained statistician being placed in each district, the statistical personnel in the districts were the main link between the centre office and the regions/districts (UNESCAP, 2005, pp. 6-7). Mahmood Ansari 17 | P a g e
  18. 18. Rural Poverty and Human Resource 5. The historical path of progress in terms of stages of transformation linked with the emergence of explicit goal of “development” was as such that the years between 1961 and 1973 may be characterized as the first phase. In this phase, the road construction and the so-called internationalization of relations were accomplished. The establishment of health, education and agricultural extension services expanded rapidly between 1973 and 1983. This second phase was marked by drastic expansion of services. During 1983 to 1987, the state concentrated on revenuegenerating investment in hydro-electric and mineral based projects with foreign technical aids and financial assistance. The fourth phase, roughly stretching from 1988 to 1998, was characterized by expansion of air-links and digital telecommunications networks. The dominant features of the period after 1998 was claimed to be one centered on decentralized democratization and participation in the phenomenon of globalization (Ura, 2003, p.5). 6. Till date, Bhutan has not formally completed a statistical master plan. Dr Sid David, an Asian Development Bank consultant, drafted a Statistics Act, and presented a Development Strategy for the Statistical System of Bhutan before the government. A Master Plan for the National Bureau of Statistics under a World Bank TFSCB-financed technical assistance programme on “Strengthening the National Statistical System for Enhanced Poverty Reduction” is underway, and expected to be implemented by early 2007 (Mc Lennan, 2006, p.3). 7. The estimated gross domestic product in mid-1980s was rupees 1020.5 millions, and with a mid year population of 1.165 million, the per capita gross domestic product worked out to be rupees 876 – a clear case of one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world (Fifth Plan Document, 1981-86, p.1). 8. In 2003, after passing of more than twenty years, it was informed that the revised nominal gross domestic product at market prices was estimated at rupees 28, 542 millions and the estimated percapita gross domestic product was rupees 38,868, which was equivalent to US dollar 834. The percapita gross national product was estimated at rupees 35,411 or equivalent to US dollar 760 (N. S. B., 2004, p.1). 9. An ideologue insists that a GNH state requires three primary components: the institutions, personnel and specific ideological and operational instruments. In Bhutan, the institutions are claimed to be in place, created by the development state in the more than ninety years since 1907. Its personnel are also in place in the form of the Civil Service. It is required that now needs to be directed to achieve the third component of the GNH state (Mancall, 2004, p.36). 10. This is because the contour-line of this budding novel state is not as yet much clear: It is argued that it is possible that a GNH state is analytically different from socialist, liberal or free market states. If this is the case then the creation of a GNH state would entail a political and economic programme that must be based on a different set of tools and instruments to facilitate its birth. A GNH state would create per say a different kind of polity and economy (Ura, 1999, p.6). 11. There is a caveat involved here. The HIES [Household Income and Expenditure Survey] 2000 was the first nationwide survey of its type, with the primary objective of providing data required for updating the consumer price index and the national accounts series. The HIES data were used in a first attempt to determine income poverty thresholds for Bhutan. The first-ever attempt to define a lower and upper poverty line was made in the pilot HIES 2000 and this as such became the basis for the Poverty Assessment and Analysis 2000. By all standards, household incomes were low in the country. In retrospect, it appears that these lines were established without a broad national consensus, and thus these definitions were neither officially endorsed nor used again in any other documents (UNDP, 2002, p.5). Mahmood Ansari 18 | P a g e
  19. 19. Rural Poverty and Human Resource 12. It was not the purpose of this Survey to estimate the poverty. To quote an observation: “Due to limitations in the data – in particular, the fact that seasonality in consumption expenditures was not taken into account – the poverty ratios should be treated as preliminary and used cautiously ……………….… In short, the poverty ratios generated by the HIES cannot be relied upon to provide an accurate picture of the incidence, severity and depth of poverty in Bhutan …………… Despite the data constraints, some preliminary conclusions can be drawn” (UNDP, 2002, p.7). 13. The World Summit for Social Development Declaration of 1995 was a landmark, and Bhutan committed itself to become a party to a Poverty Reduction Partnership Agreement. It became later a party to the United Nations Declaration at the Millennium Summit in 2000 as well, and subscribed to the idea of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through reduction of poverty. In October 2001, the Government of Bhutan and Asian Development Bank signed a poverty reduction partnership agreement that aimed to improve living standards and promote social equity. In year of 2001, the first-ever report on the assessment of poverty and its analysis in Bhutan was made available. The Planning Commission of Bhutan attempted to complete the first-ever nation-wide pilot survey of the income and expenditures of the families in the country, which led to the publication of the first-ever Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) Report in 2000. The quantitative information and data of HIES 2000 was used to make first-ever attempt to determine the income-poverty thresholds (rather than the consumption-poverty threshold) for Bhutan, and the first-ever report on the Poverty Assessment and Analysis Study (PAAS) was published in 2000. In 2003, the Bhutan Living Standard Survey (BLSS) was initiated with support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and completed with the help of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); its data became the base of estimating further the poverty level in the country. In December 2005, the Government of Bhutan completed its second Millennium Development Goal Progress Report with UNDP support. The Planning Commission of Bhutan and National Statistics Bureau of Bhutan were then successively at the forefront of analyzing the incidence and depth of poverty in the country, and the so-called ‘Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper” (PRSP) was discussed with the government officials of Bhutan by the Boards of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank) in February 2005. The outcome of all these would be as such that: “It is expected that, in keeping with the Tenth Plan Guidelines, the rural development interventions identified by the MDG Needs Assessment and Costing exercise will reduce the proportion of the population living below the national poverty line from 31.7 percent in 2003 to 20 percent by 2015. The proposed interventions to increase agricultural productivity and promote other rural income generation seek to triple rural per capita income by 2012” (Tshiteem and Rosellini, 2007, P. VIII). 14. Forest forms an integral part of the farming system. It is used for fuel wood, fodder, manure and construction materials. It also provides various kinds of minor produce such as medicinal plants, and mushrooms. In some localities, forests significantly supplement the dietary intake of populations and thus form an integral part of their food security – such as in the remote district of Zhemgang. The wild root crops always formed an important supplement to the diets of farmers here in the event of crop failures. It is a good source of vegetables. While undertaking the anthropological study of the tribe of “Lhop” in Bhutan, it was discovered by a bureaucratresearcher that the important vegetables collected from the forests were the naag ked (shoots of ferns), damru (green leafy vegetable), patsha (cane shoots), shon-shang (delicate layer inside the banana plant), namnah (green leaves that produce heat when eaten), nga-peh (biter plant whose Mahmood Ansari 19 | P a g e
  20. 20. Rural Poverty and Human Resource flower is eaten), thinge spice, tender tsampakai flowers, tapioca stem and roots, bamboo shoots, and mushrooms (Dorji, 2003, p.53; Dorjee, 1995, p.19). 15. Whereas the price of rice in Bhutan ranged from Rs. 10 to 15 a maund (82 pounds) in 1960, in Phari Dzong, north of Yatung in Tibet’s Chumbi Valley, rice sold however at prices ranging from Rs. 160 to Rs. 180 per maund. The advantages, which had been derived from price arbitrage and trade, were obvious. Bhutan however sealed the entire border with Tibet in 1960 in retaliation to the publication of a series of maps by China in 1959, which claimed sections of Bhutan as Tibetan. The trade with China and Tibet was thereby completely suspended. The loss of Tibet as a market especially hurt the farmers of the Paro and Ha Valleys. India was not considered a feasible alternative market since rice was selling there for Rs. 20 per maund, and because the absence of roads made it difficult to carry on a sizable commerce (Scheinberg, 1978, pp.49-50). 16. The same survey report elaborated that agricultural area under cereal cultivation was steadily declining since 1996. The population had increased by 0.15 million over a period of eight years, but the domestic supply of food grain did not keep pace with the domestic demand. The RNR 2000 report also estimated that cereal self-sufficiency was at 65 percent. In Bhutan, since cereal production was largely for personal consumption, the marketable surpluses varied within the 4.5 percent to 4.8 percent range during 1996-2004. It could then be easily discerned that the food self sufficiency level had not improved particularly when compared to the demands by the growing population, and these data conveyed serious concerns on maintaining food self-sufficiency targets in the country (Pek, 2005, pp.11-12). 17. The focus of World Food Programme in Bhutan was on implementation of the activities related with ‘food for education’ and ‘food for work’. In 2005, the World Food Programme provided 17 million meals to 41,396 school children at 196 schools throughout the country. In addition, 8,753 individuals in remote communities benefited from “food for work” support through rural access projects. WFP was actively involved in the management of a counterpart fund generated from road workers’ salaries under “Improving Road Workers’ Access to Education and Health Services” with a remaining balance of over $700,000, and a total of 9,095 national road workers benefited under the Road Workers’ Welfare Scheme (Daly, 2006, p.25; World Food Programme, 2006, pp.17-8). 18. The authors of a recent work on the theme of water in Bhutan remarked that on a global scale, Bhutan has one of the highest per capita availability of water but a comparatively low consumption at present. There are as yet very simple uses of water, that is, irrigation on farms and drinking in households (Zurcher and Choden, 2004, p.151). 19. It is affirmed that the household mainly uses water for cooking and thus many benefits accrue from piped drinking water in villages. Most importantly, it reduces the burden of carrying water over long distances, as well as saves time for women and girls, the traditional water carriers in Bhutan. Although piped water has reached almost all the villages, very few families actually have it in their houses, and in such a situation, women still ensure that there is water in the house all the time. Such gender inequity continues because the shifting cultivators in the country generally select a piece of land, which is based on the fertility of the soil and the maturity of the forests. It is not influenced by the availability of water (Zurcher and Choden, 2004, pp.20-4). 20. It is increasingly realized that scarcity as such is not an immediate problem in Bhutan but insufficient water availability at the local level is a reality. During the dry season in winter there are competing demands for water for irrigation, drinking and hydropower. The irony is this that when farmers need water for irrigation, hydropower production is bottoming out because of lack of water. Adequate quantity and quality of water may be ensured only by bringing to the people of Mahmood Ansari 20 | P a g e
  21. 21. Rural Poverty and Human Resource the localities a sustained level of well-being through development, by reducing poverty and rate of emigration. It is tragic to witness that these are not happening till date in the Himalayas (Zurcher and Choden, 2004, pp.146-9). 21. In 2007, the Planning Commission of Bhutan, assisted by the UNDP Country Office, undertook a nation-wide cross-sectional, mixed methods sample interview survey documentation of the perceptions of stakeholders at multiple levels about the food insecurity in Bhutan. It got the data analysis performed by the international consultants and published a report entitled “Rapid Impact Assessment of Rural Development”. This survey floated the first-ever primary data on food insecurity in the country since it was based on interviews of a total of 1,141 household respondents, drawn from 57 villages of 57 gewogs of 20 dzongkhags, and thereby claimed to be more precise in analyzing the phenomenon of food vulnerability in Bhutan. It claimed that the present survey recorded people facing food shortage from all the villages surveyed regardless of whether they were classified as least vulnerable or most vulnerable to food insecurity by the Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) report (WFP/MoA, 2005). For instance, the VAM classified Kabjisa Gewog as one of the least vulnerable yet the present survey found that 15 out of 20 respondents in the village of Petari, Kabjisa Gewog faced food shortages. The VAM did not accomplish an extensive field survey. On the other hand, the present survey actually went to the villages and asked the villagers themselves whether they faced food shortages or not and other details. This approach provided a more precise and refined tool for analyzing food vulnerability in Bhutan (Planning Commission, 2007, p.54). 22. In Bhutan, a system of headcounts of its citizens under the Civil Registration System formed the basis for issuing the citizenship identity cards. Besides the Registration System, the country did not conduct any population census based on international standards. Until the population census of 2005 was completed, the country’s population was based on the estimates derived from various surveys and administrative records only (Office of the Census Commissioner, undated, p.1). 23. Population surveys were undertaken in Bhutan in 1969 and 1980. Since the vital registration system did not provide the full coverage of births and deaths, it had been necessary to undertake special sample surveys (the first one in 1984, and second one in 1994 and 2000) to obtain important demographic information. These special surveys carried out at certain intervals provided the changes that were occurring in the population and its indicators. It was informed that the Census was scheduled for 2005 and preparations were underway. The Census would be carried out based on the international standards (Statistical Yearbook of Bhutan, 2005, p.1). 24. The modus operandi is as such that the Royal Civil Service Commission centralizes all powers related with recruitment, promotions and trainings. Individual organizations submit proposals with justifications and the final decision to approve or not to approve rests with the RCSC. It is the final authority to approve the recruitment based on the government policy and the availability of the candidates. If the required candidates are not available, it is the RCSC, which selects candidates with the required qualification and sends them for training either in-country or outside. It is only the internal transfers that are carried out by the individual organizations. Since RCSC is also the authority for staff development, all organizations are required to submit all training plans for the Plan period and these sectoral training plans are incorporated in what is called the HRD Master Plan of the government. Based on the HRD Master Plan, trainings are approved by the RCSC (UN-ESCAP, 2005, Pp. 10-11). 25. According to the PHCB 2005, an unpaid family worker is a person ‘who helps in running an economic enterprise operated by a member of his or her family without payment of wages or salary (e.g. wife who helps her husband in apple farm or in cultivation of rice, daughter who helps in hand-loom weaving)’ (Office of the Census Commissioner, undated, p.18). Mahmood Ansari 21 | P a g e
  22. 22. Rural Poverty and Human Resource 26. According to the PHCB 2005, an own account worker is a person ‘who operates his own enterprise (e.g. a farmer growing apple in his own land, petty–trader, advocate who practices independently) and who does not employ anybody to work for him in operation of his enterprise. He or she neither employs anybody nor is employed by anybody (a fruit seller who does his or her business all alone)’ (Office of the Census Commissioner, undated, p.18). 27. Some facts and figures are clear. The population of the country is small at 635,000 in 2005 as per PHCB 2005. The natural rate of growth of population is also very small at 1.3 percent per annum. The labour force participation rates (LFPR) are also not very high: for male it is 0.4885, and for female it is 0.3212. While sex ratio is 903 females per 1000 males, LFPR for females is only 68 percent of male LFPR. Cross-sectional analysis of LFPR, based on PHCB 2005, reveals that for males across administrative districts it is less fluctuating and thus close to the national average but for females it has been widely fluctuating across districts. The phenomenon of rapid expansion of education, particularly, at the school stage has resulted in unmanageable supply of the unemployables. There is a lot to be done in this area but the process set in motion so far is too modest (Ramanujam, et al, 2007, p.11). 28. There are specific problems faced in the country. Predominant are those related to human resources, the examples of which are skill shortages, rural urban drift, poor employability of job seekers, and apathy of job seekers towards blue collared jobs, and poor working conditions and monetary benefits. Some of these issues were the focus of attention in the Bhutan National Human Resource Development Plan (BNHRD) prepared in 2003. BNHRD 2003 was based on a variety of multiple overlapping goals relating to sector-wise economic growth trends, employment norms, skill training needs and generation of supply of human resources. The choice of multiple goals overshadowing the concrete focus were constrained primarily by the lack of reliable information regarding population and its structure, labour market trends, performance of and development options in crucial sectors of the economy, and trends in student intake and school leavers. T is claimed that changes have definitely taken place in all fronts now, and the systems for generation and documentation of information/data have improved considerably to the effect of enhanced access to more reliable data (Ramanujam, et al, 2007, p. i). Mahmood Ansari 22 | P a g e
  23. 23. Rural Poverty and Human Resource References Bhutan Agricultural and Food Regulatory Authority (2005), “Agricultural Progress Report, 2002-2003 & 2003-2004” quoted in Siok Sain Pek (2005), “Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping of Bhutan”, A Study Conducted Jointly by Ministry of Agriculture and United Nations World Food Programme, Policy and Planning Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Thimphu Census Commissioner (2006), “Acknowledgement” in the Office of the Census Commissioner (2006), Results of Population & Housing Census of Bhutan 2005, Thimphu Central Statistical Office-Planning Commission (1989), “National Account Statistics (Revised Series on Gross Domestic Product of Bhutan: 1980 to 1987”, National Account Statistics Monograph Number 5, Royal Government of Bhutan, Thimphu, May Central Statistical Organization (2001) and Ministry of Agriculture (2000) quoted in Shrestha, Samjhana (2004), An Economic Impact Assessment of the Rice Research Program in Bhutan, International Rice Research Institute, Los Banos, Philippines Chairman of the National Census Committee (2006), “Foreword” in the Office of the Census Commissioner (2006), Results of Population & Housing Census of Bhutan 2005, Office of the Census Commissioner ,Thimphu Das, B.S. (1995), Mission to Bhutan a Nation in Transition, Vikas Publishing House Pvt.Ltd., New Delhi Dorjee, Kinlay (1995), “An Analysis of Comparative Advantage and Development Policy Options in Bhutanese Agriculture”, Dissertation ETH No. 11081 submitted to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (Mimeo) Dorji, Jagar (2003), “Lhop: A Tribal Community in South Western Bhutan, and its Survival through Time”, National Institute of Education, Paro (Bhutan) Food and Agriculture Organization-United Nations (2001), “Improvement of Agricultural Statistics in Asia and pacific Countries – General Status of the System of Food and Agriculture Statistics in Bhutan”, GDP/RAS/171/JPN, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Bangkok Food Corporation of Bhutan data quoted in Table 5.15 of Central Statistical Office-Planning Commission (1991), Statistical Yearbook of Bhutan 1990, Catalogue Number 101, Royal Government of Bhutan, Thimphu Food Corporation of Bhutan data quoted in Table 5.20 of Central Statistical Organization (1996), Statistical Yearbook of Bhutan 1990, Catalogue Number 101, Royal Government of Bhutan, Thimphu Food Corporation of Bhutan, Phuentsholing quoted in Table – 5.16 of Central Statistical Organization (2007), Statistical Yearbook 2007, Royal Government of Bhutan, Thimphu Gerald Daly (2006). “Preface” in The World Food Programme (2006), Bhutan – Annual Report 2005, World Food Programme, Thimphu Gorsucuch, J. (2002). “Bhutan-IRRI Project:Local Tradition Meets Modern Know-how”, IRRN 27.1, International Rice Research Institute, Manila ILO-ARTEP (1991), Human Resource Development Planning in Bhutan: A Report on Manpower Assessment and Planning prepared for the Royal Government of Bhutan, International Labour Organization-Asian Regional Team for Employment Promotion, Geneva Mahmood Ansari 23 | P a g e
  24. 24. Rural Poverty and Human Resource Monetary Authority of Bhutan (2008), Annual Report, 2005-06, Research and Statistics Division, Monetary Authority of Bhutan, Thimphu Munro, L.T. (1989). “Technology Choice in Bhutan: Labour Shortage, Aid Dependence, and a Mountain Environment”, Mountain Research and Development, vol. 9, no. 1 National Statistical Bureau (2004), Statistical Yearbook of Bhutan – 2003, Catalogue No. – 1, Thimphu National Statistical Bureau (2005), Statistical Yearbook of Bhutan 2005, Catalogue No. 101, Thimphu Office of the Census Commissioner (2006), Results of Population & Housing Census of Bhutan 2005, Office of the Census Commissioner, Thimphu Office of the Census Commissioner (undated), Census Enumerator’s Manual: Let’s Get Counted! – Population & Housing Census of Bhutan 2005, Office of the Census Commissioner , Thimphu Pek, Siok Sain (2005), Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping of Bhutan – A Study Conducted Jointly by Ministry of Agriculture and United Nations World Food programme, Policy and Planning Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Bhutan Planning Commission (2007), Rapid Impact Assessment of Rural Development – Bhutan, Planning Commission, Thimphu Ramanujam, M.S., Tashi Wangmo, Ugyen Dorji and Deki Wangmo (2007), “Bhutan National Human Resource Development Report”, UNDP Funded Project on Strengthening Human Resource Information Base in Bhutan, Ministry of Labour and Human Resources, Bhutan Scheinberg, Seymour (1978). “Strategic Developments in Bhutan”, Military Review, January Thinley, Jigmi Y. (2006a), “GNH: An Alternative Design for Human Development”, Keynote Address at the 28th Japan Inter-Design Forum, Japan Thinley, Jigmi Y. (2006b), “GNH: An Alternative Paradigm for Human Development”, Special Presentation at the IX World Leisure Congress, Hangzhou, China Thinley, Jigmi Y. (2006c), “The State of Mind and Heart: Are Happy Workers Productive Workers? Gross National Happiness (GNH)”, Keynote address paper presented at the 11th World Human Resource Congress, Singapore Tshiteem, Karma and Nicholas Rosellini (2007), Bhutan Millennium Development Goals Needs Assessment and Costing Report (2006-2015), Planning Commission of Bhutan, Thimphu United Nations Development Programme (2002), Monitoring Poverty in Bhutan – Poverty Reduction and Economic Development, United Nations Development Programme in Bhutan, Thimphu United Nations Development Programme (2004), Bhutan Annual Report, UNDP Country Office, Thimphu United Nations-Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (2005), “Country Case Study: Central Statistical Organisation of Bhutan”, Third SIAP/UNESCAP Management Seminar for the Heads of National Statistical Offices in Asia and the Pacific, Thailand Ura, Karma (1995), The Hero with a Thousand Eyes: A Historical Novel, Centre for Bhutan Studies, Thimphu (Reprint: 1999) Mahmood Ansari 24 | P a g e
  25. 25. Rural Poverty and Human Resource Ura, Karma (1997), “Tradition and Development” in Christan Schicklgruber and Francoise Pommaret (1997) (Eds.), Bhutan: Mountain Fortress of the Gods, Bookwise (India) Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi Ura, Karma (2005), The Bhutanese Development Story, Monograph 15, Centre for Bhutan Studies, Thimphu World Food Programme (2006), Bhutan – Annual Report 2005, World Food Programme of the United Nations, Thimphu Zaman, Wasim (2005), “Censuses in South and West Asia, A Note For Discussion” in United Nations Population Fund and United Nations Statistics Division (2005), Advocacy and Resource Mobilization for the 2010 Round of Censuses, United Nations Population Fund Agency, Rome Zurcher, Dieter and Kunzang Choden (2004), “Role of Water in Daily Life” in Zurcher, Dieter and Kunzang Choden (2004), Bhutan: Land of Spirituality and Modernization, New Dawn Press, Inc., New Delhi Mahmood Ansari 25 | P a g e