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Date: May 2, 2013

Venue: Aigine CRC

Participants: Aigine team, Elbegzaya Batjargal – Regional Programme Officer, Mountain Partnership Secretariat, Decentralized Hub for Central Asia and Mr. Kinlay Dorjee – the representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO UN).

Topic of the meeting: Spiritual indicators of social development on the example of Bhutan.

Bhutan is a unique country that has managed to preserve its centuries-old culture, traditions and history while being between the two giants such as China and India. The area of ​​the country is 38,394 km ² (for comparison, the area of ​​KR – 198 500 km ²), and the country’s population – 742 737 people. The main economic engines are Hydro-electric stations and export of limestone. When asked how they managed to preserve their unique culture, Mr. Kinlay Dorjee replied that there are three reasons for that:

  1. Buddhism (exists since the 8 -10 centuries);
  2. Independence (Bhutan has never been a colony of any state);
  3. Wise rulers.

In addition, growth indicator of population happiness of Bhutan’s policy comes first, whereas growth of GDP is at the second place. Fourth King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, nationalized all forests in the country, has built schools and hospitals, made education and medical services free of charge, and also he has placed philosophy and culture as core of politics not the economic growth. King saw only one way to preserve the integrity of the country – the preservation of culture, language, religion, and equality. To date, and public servant, and ordinary citizen use medical services on equal terms. Bhutan’s policy is to avoid copying one model, such as one of the United States. It is important to appreciate what society, culture and traditions currently have.

There are 75 indicators for measuring happiness. Census of happiness is held once in 2 years. Questions may be highly subjective, such as “Are you happy?”. During the last census, about 80% of the population answered “Yes”. In assessment of the happiness of the population, there is a difference between rural and urban areas.

In 2008, the king abdicated and Bhutan from the Monarchy was transformed into a democratic country. According to King, putting the entire future of the country to one person is not safe, therefore, it is essential to give power to the people.

As Mr. Kinlay Dorjee noted, nearly 100% of students studying abroad, after graduation return back to their homeland. The reason for this is comprised of 3 factors:

  • No problems of unemployment at the return to their homeland;
  • The uniqueness of Bhutan culture and
  • Close ties to the parents.

The last factor is due to the fact that children from the very beginning of their life learn discipline and respect for elders both in schools and in families.

As in any other state, in Bhutan, there are a number of problems, such as drug abuse, crime, unemployment among youth. There are border problems with Nepal as well. But, nevertheless, the example of Bhutan shows that GDP growth is not the most important, the most important is the growth of happiness among people. Bhutan has once again proved that the culture, tradition, religion play a major role in the existence and development of the united, integral and independent country, no matter of small area, small population and absence of mining. As a result there has been initiated idea on arranging week of Bhutan in Kyrgyzstan.