History of Population Growth in Bhutan

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The first human ancestor appeared between 5 million and 7 million years ago, probably when some ape like creatures in Africa began to walk habitually on two legs. They were faking crude stone tools by 2.5 million years ago. Then some of them spread from Africa into Asia and Europe after two years ago (Wilford, 2012). With the passage of time, number of people started increasing and they also got interested in raising child. Eventually the practice of having children without any protection has led to drastic increase in population. Bhutan, one of the last Shangri-La on earth is a landlocked country surrounded by rich biodiversity which also embodies rich cultural heritage, traditions and many more.

After the development of 5 year plan, many people from Nepal and India migrated to the southern regions Bhutan who are now known as the lhotsampas. Adding to the population, the eastern people of Bhutan popularly known as the sharchokpas are originally from the Assam Himalaya. The Nepalese of southern Bhutan and the Lepchas of western Bhutan came later, in the nineteenth century (P. Karma, 2013). Bhutan in relation to the population growth, it is basically the increase in the number of men, women and children living in a geographical boundary in a particular period of time. Population growth mainly depends on the dynamics of population that is fertility, mortality and migration which includes immigration and emigration (Oxford Dictionary, 2002). In some countries, such as China, population growth also depends upon government restriction in which people are allowed to have only a certain number of children like the ‘one-child policy.’ The population growth rate of the world changes every year, likewise in context to Bhutan, the growth rate has been increasing and decreasing constantly. For example, in 2015 the growth rate was 1.4% but in 2017 it was 1.2% which is a total contrast to the population growth of Bhutan in 1990 that is 2% (PHCB, 2018). The change in population growth in the history of Bhutan is mainly brought up by cultural values, social and economic factors.

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Prior to the introduction of Tibetan Buddhism in the 9th century, the turmoil in Tibet forced many monks to flee to Bhutan that is why it is said that people of Bhutan actually originated from the eastern part of Tibet. And also before the closing of the border between Bhutan and Tibet in 1959, there used to be a fair of trade and barter system which attracted lots of Tibetans to our country. Hence increasing the population growth in our country (Wikipedia). In past years since Bhutan was isolated from the outside world, it lacked in various developmental and modern fields however they were kept connected with strong culture and believes.

According to the olden beliefs, it was a sin to stop the production of babies as children were considered as god’s gift. In addition, there was a trend of Bhutanese man getting married to more than one wife which ultimately leads to producing more number of children. Moreover, there are also large number of illegitimate children resulting to increase in population. Not only that the culture of early marriage was very prominent in those olden days. According to the religious belief of Bhutan, people who are sterile and who wants to have a daughter or a son in particular goes to visit some of the prestigious temples to receive blessing of having their desired children. There are temples known as chimi lhakhang, rimochen lhakhang and some others where people are blessed with the child and hence alters the population growth. However with the change in time the people had become more socialized and scientific where they no longer have those believes. Hence, some of the culture are no longer practiced which leads to the change in population growth.

In addition, health facilities and services provided to the people regarding health issues is one of the important indicator that changes the population growth. Health related issues like keeping the surrounding clean, washing our hands every time, taking bath frequently, eating healthy foods plays a major role in keeping away from diseases, and hence attaining mortality from a younger age. In the olden days majority of the people being uneducated kept themselves unhygienic, therefore some died without the notice of any particular diseases. While some even if they went to the hospital or BHU due to poor health facilities and less specialized doctors, they were not able to save most people. Thus, decreasing the population rate. Moreover, back then Bhutan had limited number of educational facilities and therefore many people were left uneducated. So, many of them did not have any knowledge about population growth and its effect. They were also not educated regarding family planning, birth control and due to unavailability of various contraceptive methods, it greatly effected on the rate of population. On the other hand, as the country develops to a bigger nation, urbanization keeps taking place giving the people who do not want to have children the chance to practice safe sex and use contraceptive methods. The people are given the knowledge based on the awareness given through Social Medias and by learning through the curriculum of the education system. The women nowadays also wants to have an independent life where they want to have a job and stand on their own feet without depending on their husband so, since having a job can lead a busy life, they aim to have less children as more children can be hectic for the couples.

Lastly, producing more number of children can make the economic strength of the family much stronger because there will be more labor working for the family as back then agriculture was the main backbone for their survival and so people gave birth to more number of children. Also, Bhutan was not modernized and there was less budget for developmental activities, so less people were employed with less income where raising of children becomes cumbersome for them. With the pace of time as the country develops new laws was introduced such as prohibition of child labor where children were not allowed to work instead educating them was a must. However, as the country develops the education system becomes more expensive with the standard needs of the students even though education is free in Bhutan. The increase in the living standard of the people also made the couple to have less number of children as it was considered more of a burden rather than a helping hand to the family (Asha & Tara, 2008). The needs and wants of the people in accordance to the society also makes the people to get employment overseas and seek permanent residence thus, decreasing the population in Bhutan.

In a nutshell, population changes with the change in the development of the country. Due to the lack of knowledge of our ancestors and forefathers, education and school was never a choice during that period of time and therefore, people kept on giving birth as they were not given the basic knowledge on how it drastically effects the population rate. Also as Bhutan was isolated from the outside world there was lack of health, education, transportation and other facilities, people were not aware of family planning, contraceptives and other birth control methods which contributes in increasing the population whereas people who were unhygienic suffered from various diseases which made population to decrease. So, the cultural norms, social and economic factors plays a major role in altering the fertility and mortality rate, thus changing the population overtime in the history of Bhutan.

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