There are few key takeaways and thoughts that come to my mind as I read this excellent article by Karma Choden on the Australia Dollar Rush. This new gold rush is currently draining our civil service, especially our teaching profession.
– Dollars don’t grow on trees. Actually, they don’t come easy at all. Don’t expect a windfall at least in the first few years of your stay there. Be ready to go unemployed or underemployed for an extended period. And in any case be willing to do odd jobs.
– Be honest with yourself about your abilities. Are you OK to live on a small or no income, starve for good food, wake up at midnight, drive or commute to work every day or night with red eyes? Do you understand the emotional and psychological consequences – besides the financial risks and the danger to your life? It is not for everyone, mind you. I know many who did everything to get there, found the sad realities and came back after few months. These stories hardly get to the glittery social media – let alone our mainstream newspapers. Nobody shares their personal failures, hardships or struggles because of our strong face-saving culture.
– If you are ready to take all these risks and if you have nothing to lose, I guess, you could give a try. If there is someone willing to defray you for a while or if there is a job waiting, it is even better. But do not get enamoured by the selfies and celebrations from picnic outings and parks from Down Under. You might earn, no doubt. But tough life awaits. Be prepared.
– If you are willing to wake up at midnight, do double shifts and odd work round-the-clock till 5 pm in the evening – for many years, won’t you earn the same? And together with your folks and community in our own country? What is really standing between modern Bhutanese and hard work at home? Is it our ego? Is it the social pressure? Is it because we are so judgmental? I had to pay Nu. 13,000 to a plumber for a real shitty job he did over a weekend last year. Can we have Bhutanese taking up such jobs and do better?
– Why can’t we create similar opportunities back home? I first heard the phrase “private sector development as the engine of growth” during the Vision 2020 exercise – way back in 1996. The exercise involved all the government employees above Grade 7. That was 21 years back. Since then, nothing much has changed. Our private sector continues to struggle with unpredictable rules, over-regulations and substandard services. Can we take a very honest look at why this “engine of growth” refuses to roll on? Except for few in tourism business, why is it that our economy doesn’t enable for people to move up, from lower income level to the next? This despite all the chest-thumping statements of fastest growing economy, ease of doing business and untold riches from hydropower development. Isn’t jobless growth dangerous? In 11th Plan Nu. 140 billion (140,000,000,000) was pumped into the economy, besides a similar amount in the hydropower projects. Where is this wealth going? Outside? Or into just a handful of people here?
– Lastly, seeking fortune elsewhere is fine as long as it is an individual choice. However, I am totally against sending young and unemployed Bhutanese to the Middle-East as a solution to the growing unemployment problem. I don’t agree with this short-term quick-fix response to a very serious national issue. It is one thing for people to go seek greener pastures. But it is a failure if our youth are forced to leave the country and face exploitations of all sorts in a foreign land.
These views do not pertain to those receiving AusAid scholarships. I, myself, have recommended several applications for postgrad studies. Besides, if advancing your qualification is your aim, just go for it. The above article is a cautionary note, and not a dissuasion, for those planning to give up well-paid jobs, take loans and mortgages – looking for ‘better’ future in the Kangaroo Land.