TWO LADY OFFICIALS from an Asian kingdom that measures economy by the happiness of its people today visit Bohol—where money is an economics of happines, one measure to be happy.
Tshering Wangmo and Sonam Om, both from the Office of the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bhutan, paid courtesy call on Gov. Arthur Yap at the Capitol this afternoon
They like to know Bohol’s philosophy of development and vision of health and happiness for the people.
Bhutan measures development not by GNP (gross national product) or GDP (gross domestic product) but in terms of “gross national happiness” through free education, health services, housing, and land from birth to death.
The nation of only 741,700 population is, in fact, notable in the world for pioneering the concept of gross national happiness.
It is South Asian region’s second least populous nation after the Maldives.
Bhutan is a landlocked country in South Asia. Located in the Eastern Himalayas, it is bordered by the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China in the north, Sikkim state of India and Chumbi Valley of Tibet in the west, Arunachal Pradesh state of India in the east, and Indian states of Assam and West Bengal in the south.
Thimphu is Bhutan’s capital and largest city while Phuntsholing is its financial center. Ngultrum is its currency.
NEVER BEEN COLONIZED
Bhutan’s independence has endured for centuries. It has never been colonized in its history.
The Bhutanese state developed a distinct national identity based on Buddhism.
In 2008, Bhutan transitioned from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy and held its first election to the National Assembly.
The government is a parliamentary democracy; the head of state is the King of Bhutan, known as the “Dragon King.”
In South Asia, Bhutan ranks first in economic freedom, ease of doing business, and peace, and is the least corrupt country in the region as of 2016.
It continues to be a least developed country, but expects to graduate from this status by 2023.
Hydroelectricity accounts for most of its exports.
AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY
Progressive changes in farming and forestry practices have been introduced in Bhutan since the late 20th century to increase the productivity of the agricultural sector.
A large number of orchards have been established, and thousands of fruit plants have been distributed to farmers to popularize fruit growing. Emphasis also has been given to the development of small-scale irrigation schemes.
The sector remains a leading contributor to gross domestic product and a top employer of Bhutan’s labor force.
Most Bhutanese farms are small in size, and terraces are used extensively to raise crops on hill slopes.
EXPORTER OF HYDROPOWER
The country’s economy has been on a general upward trend since the late 20th century. Propelling much of the growth has been the Chhukha Hydel hydroelectric power project (completed in 1988), which enabled the country not only to provide for its own energy needs but also to export electricity to India.
Limited tourism, closely controlled by the government, began to develop in Bhutan in the mid-1970s. In the early 1990s, however, tourism industry was privatized, and since that time the volume of tourists, tourist facilities and income increased monumentally.
In the early 21st century, there remained a government-imposed daily tourist tariff to ensure significant tourist input into the economy.
The visiting Bhutanese lady officials exchanged tokens with the Bohol governor.
WOMEN AND MEN
Women and men in Bhutanese society enjoy an essentially equal legal status. Bhutan’s inheritance laws are favorable to women, and most Bhutanese households are managed by women.
The three main ethnic groups of Bhutan—the Bhutia, Nepalese, and Sharchop—display considerable variety in cultures and lifestyles.
Although the Bhutia have a tradition of polyandry (marriage of a woman to more than one man), their family system is basically patriarchal, with estates divided equally between sons and daughters.
Both men and women may choose whom they marry and may initiate a divorce.