Again with a population dilemma


Bhutan’s population figure is ever confusing.  Whether the figure is deliberately meant to create confusion is not known. The first official census conducted countrywide was in 1969 prior to the entry into UN at the time of third monarch, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk.  And that census brought out a figure of 1.3 million as official population data of Bhutan.

In the subsequent years, especially through out 1980s, census taking and retaking became usual government business. There was an upsurge of fear in the government officers that a large influx of illegal immigrants was continuing in the southern border, being considered porous. The census in 1985 and 1988 is believed to have found illegal migrants settled in Bhutan without the government knowledge.

However, the assumption of having pretty large ( as big as 100,000?)  illegal immigrants settled without government knowledge is born out of baseless fear that Bhutan might be another Gorkhaland or Sikkim. Historically, this fear was created and instilled in Thimphu elites by a political officer in Sikkim.

Despite the unofficial conduct of Bhutanese representatives in presenting the official data in the regional forums like SAARC or ASEAN,  Bhutan’s donors are not deterred to provide help. India as a close ally and special friend, is taking the side of Bhutan’s measure to keep a demographic balance, even the at cost of throwing out a large population.

Now, another set of data with discrepancy is out in the media. The discrepancy is between the projection by national statistics bureau and the actual data recorded by the home ministry’s civil registration department. The difference is again the interesting figure of 100,000.  The national statistics bureau is believed to have made the projection on the basis of PGR 1.9% of 2005 population.

What does the discrepancy in the registered and projected figures every year suggest? Is that the vital registration is faulty or the projection method used by NSB is erroneous?

Such difference in the figures can be interpreted and maneuvered any way the concerned officials may please. It can also be interpreted upside down to mean that although the actual figure is low, there are more illegal migrants living in the country. That also means a strategy to come for another massive demographic balance. Will this too come with Indian aid?