Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Magical Bhutan - The Land of Thunder Dragon

In 1972, Bhutan’s poverty, illiteracy and infant mortality were amongst the highest in world – being one of the remotest nations in the world (read : no roads, electricity, motor vehicles, telephones, postal services) – which prompted King Jigme Shingye Wangchuck to redefine the meaning of development by inventing a phrase – Gross National Happiness (“GNH”).

For Bhutanese, this is their blueprint for survival. Gross National Happiness is based on four pillars – sustainable development, environmental protection, cultural preservation and good governance.

I guess GNH works in Bhutan as Business Week rated Bhutan the happiest country in Asia while University of Leicester’s survey showed that this nation was the eight happiest country in the university’s World Map of Happiness, both in 2006.

In response to accusations by a journalist from UK’s Financial Times in 1987 that development in Bhutan was slow, the King responded that GNH is more important than Gross National Product (“GNP”).

My fascination with this little nation, I came across this article published in UK’s The Guardian back in 2003. It is scary to note that even an introduction of TV and cable TV could lead to crime in various forms imaginable in Bhutan, as” they had never experienced serious law-breaking before”.

So, it took a TV to shake this nation. Hmm…I bet our B(e)N(d) politicians watch too much TV with current state of our Ibu Pertiwi. People, be selective on what you are watching on TV. For now, I’m going to stick to AFC, Travel & Living, NatGeo and Animal Planet.

p.s. What prompted me to write about Bhutan and learning more about this nation? I borrowed from my office library National Geographic March 2008 and read upon “Bhutan’s Enlightened Experiment” by Brook Larmer. Looking at those photos, Bhutan is magical.

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