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Youth and crime

We saw it coming.

Increasing crime rate is not an encouraging sign of development. This year saw the national crime rate shoot up by worrying 95 percent – 4081 crimes were reported against the previous year’s record of 2,093.

With high youth unemployment in the country, bigger population centres are witnessing rise in urban unemployment. For instance, Thimphu saw crime rate rise by about 161 percent, an increase from 921 in 2016 to 2,409 in 2017. Forty-one percent of reported crime in 2017 happened in Thimphu.

Of close to 1,900 offences reported last year, offence against property constituted the most. Larceny, robbery, armed robbery and related offences accounted for More than 1,379 cases; 555 people were arrested in connection with narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and substance abuse, a rise of about 75 percent from the previous year. Close to 500 young people were arrested in connection with drugs, alcohol and other crimes.

According to the new population and housing census, youth unemployment has come down to 10.6 percent from 13.2 percent, but in the period of more than ten years, the percentage of youth unemployment has in fact remained the same more or less.

Increasing rural to urban migration, which presently is at 21.7 percent, is making the unemployment situation worse. There is a need to look at rural Bhutan for job creation. And that will require making agriculture viable and attractive to the young people.

As we dawdle with interventions to address growing youth unemployment, urban unemployment and poverty is fast becoming the greatest spectre facing the nation. Consequences could be far-reaching and dangerous. Tackling this problem soon enough, therefore, is critically important.

We can ill afford to not take a blind bit of notice. Any kind of foot-dragging cannot be entertained because we have already squandered enough time and opportunity.

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