The recent Rupee Crisis in Bhutan has left many Bhutanese worried. The government’s ban and restriction on the rupee was very sudden and hit the Bhutanese market bad. People now started looking for an alternate source to earn rupees. In such times, some bad guys took advantage of the situation; Royal Monetary Authority should not have made it like INR 10,000 for anyone holding Bhutanese citizenship identity card. This has lead to thriving black market. Some people waited all day in Bank of Bhutan to get their share of Rs. 10,000 they did not need only to be sold to the next person at Nu. 10,200/- or more.
Personally I am very worried. For now I have no use of Indian currency but I have a brother who’s going to college in India soon. What then? I started worrying. The rupee crunch situation is giving me sleepless nights too. I can’t ask my brother to email me an invoice for every item he purchased. Similarly, many people are worried like me. However, the better side to this crisis is perhaps it’s time for us Bhutanese to wake up to the alarm and review the situation. It has happened because we are heavily dependent on the Indian government. Why buy vegetables from India when we grow vegetables ourselves? Farmers in my village have acres of barren wetland because the cost of cultivation is much higher than its produce. Bhutanese vegetables fetch no money because Bhutanese people prefer to buy chemically-preserved fresh vegetables imported from India. Some say Bhutanese potatoes are exported to India at say Nu. 10/- per kg, the same potatoes are preserved in India with chemicals in a huge storage reserves in Falakata. And the very same potatoes are sold back to Bhutan in winter season at Nu. 15 per kg. Now the question is why buy back our potatoes at Nu. 5 a kilogram loss? What we need is storage facility, we have our own potatoes.
We are self reliant if we encourage our Bhutanese farmers to grow our own food. Why not build storage house in every region/district and buy vegetables from our farmers and sell to the civil servants, corporate and private employees. If the rates are fixed and subsidized price I don’t think anything will be costly. If we utilize our barren land and put ban to Indian vegetables not only will Bhutan be self-reliant but rural-urban migration would reduce too with our farmers sticking to their base.
Being a bank employee with all loans suspended, I’m scared about my future. Though recession or downsizing has not really happened to Bhutan yet but we should always remain prepare for the worst. Perhaps it’s time to mull over an alternate source of bread earning.
Let us all take a small step toward self-reliance. Let us not import non-essentional items from outside. Let us buy vegetables from Bhutanese farmers and let us not purchase a posh car only to be bumped by other reckless drivers. Let us not give back the Indian currency given to us as grant by the Indian government.