Sunday, May 9, 2021

Should we Moonlight?

 The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.

            Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The median age of Bhutan is interestingly 25 to 29, while the rest of the world might see it as a boon, back home, it has ironically become a problematic scenario. Youth Unemployment has soared up to its zenith pinnacle in her history, some being unemployed for more than two years. 

My dream about Bhutan is not of fairy tales, not of wrong hopes and it is obviously not of irrationality.

We cannot sugarcoat our strengths and veil our shortfalls, praise our pride and embark upon our journey towards global economic competition, which has tentacles of disruptive business models, which is known for being robust and has no space for ineptitude. Leaving behind our peccadillos, we henceforth, should embark upon a different journey, a journey which entails cognizant citizens, fervently dedicated to contribute towards Bhutan’s economy.

Fellow countrymen, lend me your time, lend me your eyes, lend me your thoughts, for it is a proposal that I wish to jot down upon how we can succeed. Now, it is not an imposed chore, nor this is a sermonizing ritual of mine. I wish to write with my heart, and all the thoughts here are my own opinions.

Today, we have 5% (NSB Webpage) unemployment rate, while the current population is 756,129. We are expected to reach million 883,866 by 2047, with data supporting fertility rate dropping to 1.7 from 1.9 children per women. Birth Rate is expected to drop to 11 births per 1000 population.

It is no rocket science to understand that we are not growing in numbers and global economic scenario is not in our favor. With many questioning Hydropower projects, which has always been a boon to the economy, we are to think beyond tourism – now that the COVID has screwed the world.

My idea is not to over promise nor is it to speak the spoken, that we ought to be self-reliant. It has been ages, before I hit puberty that we have attended workshops over importance of being self-reliant.

Currently, it is said that about 32% (157,114 persons) (The Bhutanese Newspaper) of working age population are economically inactive. It is projected that working age population is of 488,336. The strength of Civil Service as of January 31, 2019 was 29,442.

It doesn’t require an analyst’s eyes of observations to understand that we are not in a dynamic economy, and that we are very much relaxed. But, the world is not so, and we will always remain the same, if we do not act now. Our streets are not vibrant, and we still don’t get served breakfasts in restaurants, and that our shops only open after 10:00 am, well majority of them don’t. It only speaks that we lack hard work, and that we are very much peaceful, although good for us, bad for economy.

As we have embraced GNH over GDP, there is no harm in increasing our GDP in holistic way, so that we can achieve both.

As statistics have depicted, we really are few, and we really need to do twice the job when the whole world is ahead of us. In this, my suggestion is to embrace moonlighting. Yes, moonlighting. Now, some would state, how can we moonlight, when there are not jobs?

 As most of our offices in Government and in Corporation starts at 9:00 am and closes at 5:00 pm, with one-hour lunch break and Saturdays being holiday, we can utilize these leisure hours. How? We start to train our people in IT sector, yes, we teach people who can cope up with coding. Then there are others who can take up design works, and some in Management. So, when we have coders, and global platform being entangled with internet, anything is possible. We can have companies which can entertain the overtime hours of those who have different jobs. Say, an accountant in civil service by day, a coder by night. We can spare hours, can’t we? It will solve bar hopping problems as well. As mostly, many of us either bar hop or slip our hours in front of Television. This way, when a sect of people will be busy, they will be earning more. When they earn more, other supplementary jobs will be created. Jobs like laundry, food deliveries, babysitting, logistics, street food, night café, night stationary shops, house keeping and the list goes on. Yes, we are impacted by COVID, but during these days of COVID era, we can all learn some new skills. We should legalize moonlighting for Civil Servants in such a manner that it supports them to harness and develop their passion. He or she can be an officer by day, an artist or a musician or a graphics designer or content creator or script writer or anything under the sun. When people will start earning more, they will pay more taxes and it will be beneficial for the economy. A taxi driver goes home around 10 pm now, because there are not much movements. But, if we start to work extra hours, then we can have a very dynamic economy. 

We should also look into matters like paid leaves and maternity leaves. People who wish to increase population should also be compensated from the tax money. Mental health as well should be taken into account and free gym memberships should be given as well. 

Just imagine even if we convert 50,000 people into coding and people get very good at it, most of our problems will be solved. Many people can work from homes after their office hours. The timing being 9 to 5, normal jobs, and 7 to 12 coding or anything that is productive. It need not be throughout the week, it could be four days from a week. Some may even choose to be post card designers, flower pots manufacturers and for that sake, even nursery owners and hundred things under the sun. We can also export these products and services. And when people start earning well, they will spend more and thus, other jobs will be created. Jobs can only create jobs. And we should not limit ourselves to moonlighting in IT only, we can choose other sectors as our moonlighting options. Say if you are overweight and you choose construction sector at night or agriculture sector, it will reduce your weight and it will help your health. Say if you are an ardent reader, you can work on offices which can provide with synopsis, and people will read synopsis more, if people are busy. 

In the construction sector however, it has already started since time unknown. We work on Sundays as well, and every three extra hours fetches half day wage.

If we are prepared by the time when COVID resolves, we can even do better. It will make us more competitive and we can achieve things which we only wish to – as of now.

I know my writing is rustic and this idea seems too dreamy, but we can dream, can't we? It has already started with few lot of population in Thimphu, especially people in Construction Industry. If other sectors join as well, it will only be boon to our society. Rather than wasting time over television shows. 


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