The unveiling of the Gelephu Mindfulness City project by His Majesty the King, followed by media reports and social media posts has had an immense effect on Bhutanese from different walks of life, with most, and especially young graduates already thinking about different ways to seize opportunities that the project would bring forth. While some have already taken up different professions, which they feel would make them prospective employees within the project, others are planning to hone their skills through the up-gradation of their qualifications.
A graduate of the Royal Thimphu College (RTC), Kalyan Kumar Chuwan, is currently looking for a slot in an international organization. “I think that the first few ventures of the City will begin in about two years and if I can work in an international organization, I think I will be able to acquire the required skills to work for any company that begins at Gelephu,” Chuwan said. However, in the long run, Chuwan plans to set up a business of his own, in the City. “It may be competitive but based on the needs of the people and investors, I want to open a business entity later in life,” he said.
Tashi Pem, another graduate from India, says that notwithstanding the type of businesses that may come up at Gelephu, a skill that is required everywhere is communications. “Every business house requires a communications officer, who can deal with the media and communicate on behalf of the company on social media in promoting the business. I have a degree in media and communications, but I am concerned that a degree will not suffice if I have to get a job in the Mindfulness City. I am contemplating pursuing my master’s or a postgraduate diploma,” she said. Pem believes that foreign investors will bank on local skills if it is available in the market. “Firstly, it is a matter of cost. If investors bring their people, they will have to pay more. Secondly, I do not know if they will be permitted to bring people from outside or not, which puts us in a spot of advantage,” Pem said.
According to Sonam Dorji, an upcoming entrepreneur, people should not think that only those with expertise in technology will get a job in the City. “This is what many feel. Though knowledge about Information Technology (IT) is always an added advantage, there are other avenues to explore.” Dorji is honing his skills in event management, further. “By the time the City has its first few business houses, I should be able to learn more about using IT in event management,” he said. However, Dorji has a concern. “With technological development, event management also changes. Thus, investing in the equipment required is a tricky question. No one knows what will come next.”
Interest in the City and hopes of benefits have reached parts of rural Bhutan, such as Chaskhar, in Mongar. Sonam Tashi, who makes several trips to Thimphu and other parts of the country selling dairy and cereal products is excited. “Though nothing has started as of now, time just flies. By the time the City comes to shape, I will also be able to improve my storage kits. I go to sell my products to Gelephu even today. I will not miss the opportunity that awaits,” Tashi said, adding that if awareness is created amongst the rural people, there would be many who would want to be part of the project. “There are several skilled workers in our village, who are very good in Shingzo (art of wood) and other arts. They would be interested as the returns would be more.”
Tsewang, who runs a Karaoke in Thimphu says she is thinking about moving to Gelephu. “I am waiting to learn more about the City, so that I can plan the kind of entertainment which would be most befitting for the city. I do not think that the kind of Karaoke that we have today will run. It has to be something different and unique.”
Meanwhile, there are others like Pema, a recent graduate, who has joined a private company in the marketing division. “Just like me and those that you have spoken to, there are several who are preparing to make the best use of the opportunity that awaits. It is a gift from His Majesty, especially for us and we have to ensure that we do not fail.”
Dechen Choden from Thimphu