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Bhutan

The first week of this month has been all about the primary round of elections that concluded recently. Talks are flying high of political parties and support for the parties, of the bigger picture and larger benefits at hand for the nation and its people. A recent graduate Tandin Wangchuk, 23, expressed his disapproval of the final results.

 

My parents lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s and were profoundly affected by it. They taught us to work hard to earn a living, live within our means, save for tomorrow, share and not be greedy and help our neighbours because one day we might need their help. Those homilies and teachings seem quaint in today’s world of credit cards, hyper-consumption and massive debt.

 

The hardships for Bhutanese refugees are not over, both for those languishing in camps in Nepal and for those who chose resettlement in the US. A report commissioned by the American agency, Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement shows that the suicide rate among the Bhutanese is much higher than the global or national average in the US. The suicide rate for Bhutanese in the US is 20.3 per 100,000 people whereas the comparable statistics for global population is 16. The rate for the US population itself is 12.4.  The Bhutanese suicide rate in the camps in Jhapa is also abnormally high at 20.7. In addition, the incidence of depression is also higher among them.

 

Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan kingdom sandwiched between two super powers India and China, has gained popularity after introducing a new development measure, Gross National Happiness (GNH), in recent years. The fourth monarch of Bhutan, Jigme Singey Wangchuck, introduced it in the early 1990s along with his vision of establishing good governance, promoting sustainable development, conserving natural environment and promoting cultural values that created interest far and wide in this exotic country.

 

Often, there are many solutions to a problem or an issue. But it is the approach and the process – goals and methods – that matter the most.

 


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