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

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

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

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

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, the national Bhutanese newspaper site for more riveting stories, such as

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:

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.

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.

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



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!

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.

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".

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

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

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!

200203.  Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:46 pm Reply with quote

Maybe the 95% of the population who don't smoke are very happy.

Nick James
265019.  Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:50 pm Reply with quote

"Bhutan hopes to be the first country in the world to eradicate smoking completely. "

What an awesome policy. My dad has suffered dreadfully as a result of smoking, and so if i had my way i would ban it in Britain - unfortunately i'm only 16 so nothing's happened yet!

This fact may not come as news to anyone, but lung cancer is not the only disease caused by smoking. If one smokes for long enough, you can get something called an "Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm" or AAA. This is what dad got, and the operation is fairly simple, but due to a loss in blood pressure afterwards, some spinal nerves became damaged and he became paraplegic and doubly incontinent.

The lesson here (despite my being 16 and lecturing you being wholly inappropriate) is don't smoke. You could end up in a wheelchair relying on a leg bag and facing a trawl through reems of red tape to ensure the necessary funds to renovate your house to make it wheelchair friendly

What is stated above is my reason for admiring Bhutan for trying to eradicate smoking.

265081.  Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:31 pm Reply with quote

You're right of course Nick - smoking isn't very good for one, and all of here who smoke are well aware of that. Sorry to hear of your dad's illness.

It would be impossible to ban smoking in the UK though, even if there were a political will to do so (which there isn't, because of the vast contribution that excise duty on tobacco makes to the Exchequer).

Only a very small proportion of Bhutanese smoked in the first place - discussed upthread, it was somewhere between 1 and 5% - and the population of the whole country is only about 1 million, so it was rather easier for them.

266183.  Sun Jan 27, 2008 7:32 am Reply with quote

So smoking apart, do they actually quote figures for Gross National Happiness? And do they report on how the information is gathered and colated?

266231.  Sun Jan 27, 2008 9:57 am Reply with quote

Bhutan doesn't give a great deal of information out, and precisely how they determine the GNH seems not to be readily available information.

I've found various links to the website of something called the Center for Bhutan Studies which appear to suggest that that site might explain the matter, but the website seems no longer to exist.

There's been some interest in other countries though of the related concept of a Genuine Progress Indicator - Canada and the Netherlands in particular are interested in this idea - and there have been conferences of the great and good aimed at determining just how to calculate it.


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