The truth about Bhutan

In: Uncategorized

6 Dec 2009

SA Aiyar, writing in his Swaminomics blog in the Times of India, argues against romanticising Bhutan as a haven of happiness.

Prominent thinkers such as Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz have lauded the Himalayan kingdom for proclaiming happiness as a priority and downplaying economic growth. Yet in reality it has enjoyed rapid growth as a result of heavy investment by India in hydroelectric power projects.

On the other hand, it is far from the happiness idyll it is often portrayed to be:

“A nasty ethnic struggle has led Bhutan to expel 100,000 people of Nepali origin, who now languish in refugee camps in Nepal. Ethnic Bhutias constitute 50% of Bhutan’s population, and ethnic Nepalese 35%. Nepalese migrants have swamped original ethnic groups in neighbouring parts of India like Sikkim and Darjeeling. The Bhutias of Bhutan are determined not to be swamped too. Those expelled say they are regular citizens who have been ethnically cleansed, while the government claims they are illegal immigrants. Such ethnic strife does not look like a recipe for happiness.”

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