27 January 2004

Could There Be a Sharper Contrast?

As martial Nepal sinks into bloody anarchy, blessed Bhutan begins "operationalizing the concept of Gross National Happiness"!

Nepal (see map):
Outside the capital, a dangerous anarchic vacuum is developing throughout the countryside, the majority of which is under the control of neither the Maoists nor the army. Nepal's civil structure is disintegrating in the face of conflict, weak central control and the absence of local elected leaders. Thomas Marks, author of Insurgency in Nepal, says that since 1996, Maoists have destroyed 1,321 village administration buildings and 440 post offices, while police have abandoned 895 stations and teachers have abandoned 700 schools. Little has been done to address the endemic poverty that fuels the conflict, with 42% of the population earning less than $1 a day. Adding to the sense of a nation in flames, past weeks have seen students demanding a republic by setting fires, torching effigies of the King and smashing car and shop windows in Kathmandu. The fear of deepening chaos is now on every observer's lips. "The smell of burning tires on the streets of the capital reeks of democracy in decay," writes Nepali Times commentator C.K. Lal. Says Kenichi Ohashi, the World Bank's country director for Nepal: "The student agitation could get out of hand. And outside the capital there is a risk of things slowly falling apart, a sense that the country is at risk of becoming a failed state. The next 12 months seem pretty critical--it's a race against time."
Bhutan (see map):
“Gross National Happiness” represents the highest Bhutanese values. The development philosophy of Gross National Happiness was first expressed by His Majesty the King of Bhutan. Rooted in Buddhist philosophy and culture, it provides an alternative to GNP as a measure of, and approach to, development. Gross National Happiness (GNH) is Bhutan's vision of development beyond material economic development and growth. Bhutan had recognized and accepted happiness as a policy concern and objective. However, there are no substantial or innovative studies done to further this concept. This seminar is the first national initiative to bring cross-fertilization of ideas from various disciplines and cross sectors.
A Gurkha royal salute to The Argus.

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