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The greatest thing that the Buddha has done is to tell the world that the world cannot be reformed except by the reformation of the mind of man, and the mind of the world
Agenda • 1) Bhutan at a glance • 2) The positives GNH • 3) Some problems - Joy, Agony and Silence
Bhutan at a Glance • Population: 634.982 ( M:333.595, F:301.387) • Population age structure: 0-14: 33.1%, 15-64: 62.3%, 65+: 4.7%, median age-22 years • Population by areas: Urban-30.9%, rural-69.1 % • Poverty rate: Overall: 23.8%, urban-1.7%, rural-30.9% • Literacy: literate-59.5%, illiterate-40.5% • Happiness: very happy-45.2%, happy-51.6%, not very happy-3.3%! • Multi-cultural society (three separate ethnicgroups – Ngalong, Lhotshampa and Sharchop) – One official languageDzongkha (language of the palace) – English medium of instruction in schoolsetc – up to 15 otherlanguages
Bhutan at Glance • Inequality: top 20% of population consume 6.7 times more than to the poorest 20 % of the population. • Net-enrolment rate: at primary level (82 %). • 91% of the population have access to improved water sources. • Proportion of households with access to BHU – 99.2
Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan or DrukYul – Land of the Thunder Dragon • The relative success has been explained by at least three salient features: Gross National Happiness (GNH or gyelyonggakidpelzom) which has replaced GNP as a measurement of well-being of the individual and the nation.
Another explanation refers to the peaceful transition from absolutist monarchy to democracy exposing the country to international spotlight as a potential role-model of peace and harmony in contrast to some of its neighboring countries in South Asia, not least Nepal, where a similar transition has been chaotic, violent and still contains features of autocratic governance
The third reason is related to Bhutan’s social system. By having a quite effective free delivery of public social services, not least education and health universally accessible to the whole population, it has become one of the most successful nations in the region in terms of social achievements and an example for others to follow.
The positives GNH • Gross National Happiness (many more dimensions than those associated with GDP, better quality of life, 4 pillars, attempt to use scientific approach, 9 domains). • Pro-poor public policy (rural development, decentralization, 24 % of total 9th FYP budget on social services, balanced regional development…) • Economic growth rate 7 % (PAA, 2002-05). • Bhutan and MDGs , SDGs & Vision 2020.
GNH Creation of an enlightened society in which happiness and well-being of all people is the ultimate purpose of governance
Community Vitality Education Health Culture Governance Lifestyle (Time Use) Ecology Economies (Living standard) Technology Human Ecological (Natural Systems) Means and ends of GNH Means Ends Resources Human GNH / Well-being Ecological
Some problems In recent historical perspective Government created a national identity homogeneity a uniform political-cultural matrix denoting and promoting one dominant ideology related to the expulsion and marginalization of ‘the other’ Ethnic nationalism the denominator and “collective exclusiveness” created the space for establishing a discourse relying on ethnic purity and the pretention of cultural affinity or “shared amnesia” of non-existence of minorities in general and more specifically of the Nepali Bhutanese ethnic entity
It is interesting to note the sequence: • First step … denial of Bhutanese citizenship and subsequent exodus of more than 100.000 Nepali Bhutanese (Lhotshampas in Dzongkha meaning Southerners) • Laid the foundation for creating an ‘ethnic clean sheet’ or in other words Buddhist hegemony and the royally sanctioned imposition of ‘one nation, one people’ as overarching ideology
Second step…. introducing GNH by the throne as the overall encompassing ideology based on the paradox “at least one country in the world has decided that cultural homogeneity is a vital part of its citizen’s happiness” • Not possible to question or criticize GNH
Third step …. gradual introduction of ‘guided democracy’ by fifth King JigmeKhesarNamgyalWangchuck • Although the backbone of the emerging Constitutional democratic monarchy formally rests on a multiparty system and separation of powers and check-and-balances it is probably more accurate to see it as “democracy by decree” or “a gift from above” • But the democratization process has so far not let to a situation where the multi-ethnic composition of Bhutanese society and GNH can be questioned or debated in public. This ‘silence’ and ‘invisibility’ of opposition or competing views is a major characteristic of present day politics in Bhutan • No autonomous civil society, no trade unions, no political party question the role of the King or GNH
Taktsang “Tiger’s Nest” Monastery http://www.bhutanmajestictravel.com/bhutan-districts/paro
Joy, Agony and Silence • Real explanations for Bhutan´ssuccess: • Over dependency on ODA • Over dependency on India • A Technocraticdevelopmentalstate – highautonomy of the bureaucracy • Cleveruse of ODA (raising human dev. And health) • DogmaticMahayanaBuddhism – noone perform hardlabourexcept in agriculture and animalhusbandry (infrastructure, butcheringanimalsetcpoorAssamese) • Etc • Silenceaboutalmost all politicalissues, Lhotshampas, conflict, the King and the elite, inequality, GNH etc • ----------------------------------------------------------------------- • Below the surface and behindcloseddoors… Agony…..
This way, GNH becomes an ideological instrument • utilized by political authorities, i.e. those in power, to install one, and only one, development trajectory • leaving virtually no space for opposition, competing discourses or alternative visions for directions of Bhutan’s future • The elite and the King mainly belong to the Ngalong ethnic community, who speak Dzongkha