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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Bhutanese people take the measure of “happiness” around them very seriously. For them, GNH is an enlightened path to progress, a lesson learnt from the mistakes that more advanced countries have made in their path to development. It is drawn from the Buddhist teaching that happiness has no external source, but is drawn from within an individual. As Bhutan shifts from monarchy to democracy, it has made GNH its guiding principle; it is embedded in all governmental policies, plan documents and laws.
If smiling faces and cheerful disposition of the people of a country are any indication of their level of contentment, then Bhutan is a happy country. Distinct as the Bhutanese people are in their language, attire and culture, they are tolerant, affable and polite. In fact, in a survey conducted in 2006 among foreign tourists in Bhutan, more than 75 per cent of them used the word “friendly” when asked to describe Bhutan in two or three words; 73.7 per cent described it as “beautiful”.
The Bhutanese people are very comfortable with their culture and are not easily swayed by the changing fashions of the world around them. It is not that Thimphu is bereft of a nightlife – there are at least 10 discotheques and nightclubs here – nor that the Bhutanese youth are impervious to the latest fashion. But the majority of the Bhutanese men prefer to wear gho, their traditional long robe tied around the waist by a cloth belt called kera, and the women seem most comfortable in their brightly coloured kira.
Agriculture and livestock rearing are the principle occupations of the people, contributing to about 45 per cent of the national income. The farms are, however, small and cut into terraces. Forestry accounts for 15 per cent of the GNP and industry and mining about 10 per cent. The main export earnings of Bhutan, however, are from the sale of hydropower to India and the inflow of foreign tourists.
The architecture of its buildings is one of the most distinctive features of the kingdom. Massive Dzongs with their walls sloping upward, the ancient monasteries, and humble farm houses dominate the country’s landscape. Each valley in Bhutan retains its own architectural character in terms of the type of building material used (ranging from mud to stone), and the special ambience of its most famous monasteries and Dzongs.

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