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BHUTAN

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suze
100589.  Sun Oct 08, 2006 7:22 am Reply with quote

A small nation which nestles between India and Tibet. Bhutan is one of the world's odder nations, with its laws and customs a bizarre mix of Paradise and Stalinism.

Smoking is heavily restricted in Bhutan. Tobacco products may not be sold anywhere in Bhutan, although smoking is permitted on private property. But the smoking items must be imported, and tourists must pay a 100% import duty on them. (For Bhutanese, the duty is 200%.)

When the policy was introduced, the King claimed that the move wouldn't affect many people since only 1% of Bhutanese smoked in the first place. It is true that the variety of Tibetan Buddhism observed by most Bhutanese advises against smoking, but independent observers reckon it was closer to 5%.

The wearing of traditional Tibetan costume is compulsory in public - a rule which was seemingly designed solely to irritate the minority Nepali community. The same community were less than keen on a 1985 law which declared any ethnic Nepali who could not produce proof of 27 years' residence to be an illegal immigrant - this in a country which did not at the time have birth certificates or passports!

On the upside, the Bhutanese managed without television until 1999 and the sport of choice is archery.

They also used to have two Kings. The Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King) is in charge of administrative matters - there is a Prime Minister, but he doesn't have much power (this is changing, but very slowly). There is also the Je Khenpo, who is a spiritual figure a little like the Dalai Lama - although it tends to be an old man, rather than one chosen as in infant. Many believe that the Je Khenpo is a bodhisattva.

Until the 20th century, neither was subordinate to the other and both exercised authority in their own areas. That has now changed, but the Je Khenpo remains the only person with any serious chance of changing the Druk Gyalpo's mind.

 
suze
100797.  Sun Oct 08, 2006 12:43 pm Reply with quote

Absolutely typical. I forgot the fun thing about Bhutan. The King isn't especially bothered about the economy - he just doesn't think economic figures are very interesting.

But he's extremely interested in happiness, and Bhutan is the only country which officially calculates Gross National Happiness.

 
Jenny
100945.  Sun Oct 08, 2006 7:25 pm Reply with quote

I do like the idea of Gross National Happiness. I like to think that QI contributes to ours.

 
JumpingJack
103541.  Mon Oct 16, 2006 4:59 am Reply with quote

This is the long forgotten entry from the dormant qwiki:

Squashed in the Himalayas between China and India, Bhutan is the most rural country in the world. Over 90% of the population work on the land, and only 6% live in towns.

Less than 0.01% of the country is connected to the Internet, and though the international code is .bt, there are fewer than 6,000 telephones. Bhutan was the last country in the world to get the telephone– not till 1980. There is one radio station, and one weekly newspaper called Kuensel (“Enlightenment”).

The average age is 20. It is traditional to give money to anyone carrying manure.

It is impossible to tell the sex of a Bhutanese from their name.

Bhutan is one of only two countries in the world where female life expectancy is less than the male. The other one is Nepal.

The Bhutanese for ‘girl’ is ‘bum’.

Until 1974, there were no foreign journalists in the country and no tourism. All visitors were guests of the Royal Family.

The King is married to four sisters. (There’s nothing odd here. They’re not his sisters). His national policy is “Gross National Happiness”.

There are no political parties in Bhutan, and talking about politics is forbidden. More than Nepali-speaking 100,000 refugees have been driven from the country back into Nepal. Christianity is banned and Christians cannot be registered as Bhutanese citizens since only two religions are named on the form – Buddhism and Hinduism.

Bhutan has been invaded by Tibet five times, but never conquered. Archery is the national sport, but Buddhist monks are forbidden to participate. Instead they play darts. They’re also not allowed to smoke. Bhutan hopes to be the first country in the world to eradicate smoking completely.

The capital, Thimpu, is the only capital in the world with no traffic lights. A set was put in place but residents complained they were too impersonal and they were removed within days. Traffic is obliged to pass holy buildings in a clockwise direction. Car parks are in short supply, but the country has the world’s only Yeti Park – the Sektend Wildlife Reserve.

Bhutan was the last country in the world to get its own television station. Until 1999, there weren’t even any television sets.

But things are changing. In February 2004, the Bhutanese Broadcasting Service started pumping out three hours of television a day. In April, parking fees were introduced in Thimpu for the first time and there are now 15,000 cars in the city.

 
Flash
103576.  Mon Oct 16, 2006 6:48 am Reply with quote

Quote:
the Bhutanese Broadcasting Service started pumping out three hours of television a day


... and all bloody repeats.

 
Gray
103602.  Mon Oct 16, 2006 7:50 am Reply with quote

I'm waiting for their new season of Strictly Come Chanting...

 
Southpaw
103617.  Mon Oct 16, 2006 8:26 am Reply with quote

Looks like the anti-tobacco policy gives rise to a lot of smuggling:

Quote:
The vigilance team of the regional revenue and customs office in Phuentsholing b seized tobacco products worth Nu. 205,360 from a truck bound for Thimphu on the morning of October 11.


What an excellent name - The Vigilance Team. I wonder if they have a Nonchalance Team and an Indifference Team to go with them.

Check out http://www.kuenselonline.com, the national Bhutanese newspaper site for more riveting stories, such as http://www.kuenselonline.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=4277

 
suze
103637.  Mon Oct 16, 2006 9:23 am Reply with quote

Southpaw wrote:
Looks like the anti-tobacco policy gives rise to a lot of smuggling:

Quote:
The vigilance team of the regional revenue and customs office in Phuentsholing b seized tobacco products worth Nu. 205,360 from a truck bound for Thimphu on the morning of October 11.


Bhutanese ngultrum come at around 85 to the pound (according to Yahoo! Finance), so the amount of tobacco product seized had a street value of around £2,400.

It's difficult to know how much product that is since the stuff can't be sold legally in Bhutan. But it is reasonable to assume that the cigarettes had come from India, where a pack of 20 costs something like 90p - around 2,600 packs therefore. Since the population of Thimphu is only about 50,000 and the independent estimate is that only 5% smoke, that seizure will have had a real impact.

 
mrLenin
137668.  Mon Jan 22, 2007 11:01 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Absolutely typical. I forgot the fun thing about Bhutan. The King isn't especially bothered about the economy - he just doesn't think economic figures are very interesting.

But he's extremely interested in happiness, and Bhutan is the only country which officially calculates Gross National Happiness.


Soviet Union also had great ideas on future (komunist as a theory is not bad). But the human history shows - impossible creating ideal society.

 
Tas
137757.  Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:25 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
What an excellent name - The Vigilance Team.



.....tried and imprisoned by military tribunal. They promptly escaped prison, into the Bhutanese underground. If you have a problem, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire: The Vigilance Team.

*d-d-d-duh, duh duh duuuuuh, de da de duuuh*

:-)

Tas

 
mrLenin
137884.  Tue Jan 23, 2007 3:29 am Reply with quote

vigilance team - great name! Agree on 100%. Doesn't matter what do they do, but the only name gains respect!

 
Archie
138732.  Thu Jan 25, 2007 5:44 am Reply with quote

Apparently Bhutan translates to Land of the Dragon and there's a dragon on their flag.

 
suze
138756.  Thu Jan 25, 2007 7:02 am Reply with quote

There is indeed a dragon on the flag.

The name of the country is slightly trickier. "Bhutan" is an exonym - it's not the name the Bhutanese use for their land - and the origin of that name is somewhat obscure. Some contend that it comes from Sanskrit words meaning "high place" (which Bhutan is) and others that it comes from Sanskrit words meaning "south of Tibet" (which it also is). Either way, the internationally recognised name of the country is of Indian origin, and is not that used locally.

The language of Bhutan is Dzongkha, which is rather similar to Tibetan - they are as alike as a pair such as Spanish and Italian. And the Dzongkha name for the country is Drukyul*, which does mean "Land of the Thunder Dragon".

The script used for writing Tibetan and Dzongkha is rather beautiful, but just in case anyone doesn't have a Tibetan font on their computer I'll present the Tibetan script version of the name as a graphic.




* This is the standard transliteration, although it's pronounced more like "Brugyul".

 
Ted-B
148491.  Sun Feb 18, 2007 9:43 am Reply with quote

News just in! Bhutan has banned smoking tobacco (not just selling tobacco)

 
Ted-B
200015.  Tue Aug 14, 2007 6:02 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
I do like the idea of Gross National Happiness. I like to think that QI contributes to ours.


I doubt that the National Happiness level is very high since you can't buy Cigs!

 

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