Thursday, March 31, 2016

An Almost Happy Country

Tshering Tobgay is an amazingly gifted communicator. As the Prime Minister of Bhutan, he comes through as a person with a fine sense of humor, one who has an endearingly hesitant, modest way of connecting with his audience.

Seeing this TED presentation brought back memories of my own trips to Bhutan in in the late 1990s as a part of the JICA team for evaluating the Paro Valley Agriculture Development Project. Of the crisp, clean air, chunky furniture at Tashi Delek hotel, cheerful government officials in white woolen shawls, and of the surreal feel of a country where the citizens were told what to wear, how to build & decorate houses, and what to see on television.

Tobgay's eloquence on Gross National Happiness also made me wonder about the 100,000 ethnic Nepali's who had been expelled from Bhutan in the 1990s. That is one in every seven Bhutanese. Perhaps it is easier to find happiness after a successful round of ethnic cleansing... or perhaps such a move only rankles those who have lived most of their lives in multi-everything countries.

I am also curious to learn more about "Bhutan for Life" which is being described as 'an innovative funding initiative' for ensuring conservation of natural resources, in perpetuity. WWF-Bhutan provides a sketchy outline of the scheme and Tobgay's had claimed in his presentation that the fund - "multi-party single-closing deal"  - based on Wall Street practices, would be ready by the 'end of the year'.

Where can I find details of the this fund? Who are the donors involved here? What is their pound of flesh?


* Tshering Tobgay, PM of Bhutan -
* TED Talk transcript -
* Dowling, Tim (2015): Unhappy? Welcome to Bhutan - the nation of 90% Joy --
* Forbes () - Bhutan for Life -
* WWF Bhutan -

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