Thimphu’s Growing Pains: Challenges of Implementing the City Plan

Thimphu’s Growing Pains: Challenges of Implementing the City Plan by

Manka Bajaj

This study analyses the urban planning efforts of the government for an explanation of some unintended outcomes. A popular perception is that development in Thimphu city could do with better planning. On the contrary, there have been extensive efforts from both the Thimphu Thromde and MoWHS to control land use and regulate building design through policies like the Thimphu Structure Plan 2003-27 and its attached Development Control Regulations 2004. The question driving the research is to explain why despite the rules in place, planning goals are not achieved. The study identifies why and how actors avoid compliance to the original planning codes.

Situation of Children in Bhutan

Situation of Children in Bhutan by Fredrik Barth & Unni Wikan

The data on which this report is based were collected in Bhutan during the periods: 14-27 March 1989 (Wikan), 14 March to 24 April 1989 (Barth), 28 July to 21 October 1989 (Barth), 24 August to 12 November 1989 (Wikan), from published sources, reports etc., and during the remaining periods between 1 March 1989 and 15 January 1999. The field study has comprised of survey visits covering all districts except Samtse and Dagana; while visits of longer duration and repeated revisits, have been made in Paro; Punakha; Phobjikha and Rukubji in Wangdi Phodrang; Chendebji in Trongsa; Jakar and Ugyencholing in Bumthang, as well as Thimphu and environs.

Voices of Bhutanese Youth: Through Their Dreams, Experiences, Struggles and Achievements

Voices of Bhutanese Youth: Through Their Dreams, Experiences, Struggles and Achievements by Lham Dorji

The voices of the Bhutanese youths have not been ever recorded – this publication, therefore, contains individual stories and views of young people on wide-ranging issues pertaining to them. The Centre for Bhutan Studies conducted unstructured interviews of 209 young people across twelve Dzongkhags, focusing on the individual experiences, problems and perceptions about life. This document is intended to provide the interested groups and organizations with thoughts and views of young people on a range of issues related to youth.

In some cases, the names of these young people have been modified as to avoid any blame against them for sharing their feelings with us.

Part A contains the youth narratives that cover various themes on youth: education, employment, family-related problems, dreams and other challenges. These narratives are recorded as related to the interviewers by the respondents.

Part B includes the analysis of the narrative report. It mainly focuses on problems faced by the children of poor families in relation to education and employment.

Part C contains a report based on the questionnaires survey of 942 young people in 12 Dzongkhags by Dorji Penjore. This report contains the issue of youth and their relations with the families.

Youth in Bhutan – Education, Employment, and Development

Youth in Bhutan – Education, Employment, Development by Lham Dorji and Sonam Kinga

Author’s Note

Youth development should entail the views of young people who can offer a perspective that is unique to them. What they express about their experiences, challenges, expectations and outcomes can bear so much on the policies and programs pertaining to them. This monograph series contains the papers that relied heavily on young people’s views, valuing what they have to say about wide-range of problems that our youth are facing today. Organizations and programs can be more cost effective and responsive by ensuring that the problems of young people are heard, recognized and acknowledged with the appropriate actions.

The purpose of this monograph is not to portray youth as helpless victims of circumstances, deranged by contemporary dilemmas and ominous to the society, but to identify problems based on their views and stories. In general, we acknowledge the contributions of Bhutanese youth in the overall development.

This study is funded by Save the Children, Bhutan Program, the orgnisation that works closely with children, their families and communities to meet the ever changing needs and ensure their positive physical, cognitive and social-emotional development. The Centre acknowledge the financial support of this organization, and offer our wish that this organization would continue to play its positive role in understanding about youth development and broaden the base for youth development opportunities.

Traditional Forms of Volunteerism in Bhutan

Traditional Forms of Volunteerism in Bhutan by Tashi Choden

Traditional Forms of Volunteerism in Bhutan is a brief introduction to some of the various forms of volunteerism, social engagement and responsibility that we find in the country. The premise here is that volunteerism in Bhutan is rooted in its traditional beliefs and practices, and that emerging trends are a continuation of these traditions of community participation.

This theme is perpetuated in brief presentations on Community Benefaction of Anim Jitsem and The Choethuen Tshogpa. These associations serve as examples that further the notion of volunteerism and social consciousness, as illustrated by the growth of various tshogpas and associations, which, while modern in organization and structure, are nonetheless a continuation of the traditional Bhutanese ways of helping each other.

Economic and Political Relations Between Bhutan and Neighbouring Countries

Economic and Political Relations Between Bhutan and Neighbouring Countries – a Joint Research Project of The Centre for Bhutan Studies (CBS) and Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization (IDE/JETRO


Bhutan is a Himalayan Buddhist Kingdom that is physically small with limited economic dimensions and military might. Unlike its neighbours in the region, it was never colonized; while two world wars and the cold war ushered the world into an atmosphere of instability and alignments, Bhutan was spared such direct impact. Nevertheless, Bhutanese society has traditionally been sensitive to issues of security, and preserving its sovereign independence and territorial integrity has historically been a constant challenge. With the launch of planned development in the 1960s, socioeconomic development and gradual political reforms have been additional and main issues of priority.

While Bhutan had historical ties with Tibet, its less definite dealings with China and the shedding of an isolationist policy gradually led Bhutan to develop political orientation towards India. Since the 1950s, Bhutan’s foreign policy focused on building a close relationship with its southern neighbour, thereby enhancing its territorial security and prospects for socioeconomic development. At the same time, the Himalayas to the Indians were natural barriers that could enhance India’s security vis-à-vis China. The first visit of India’s Prime Minister Jawahalal Nehru to Paro Bhutan in 1958 was the initiation of a “special relationship” between the two countries. Looking back over the decades since then, it is the expansion of Indian assistance in every field of Bhutan’s development that has facilitated Bhutan’s socioeconomic growth. Among all other donors today, India continues to provide the largest economic assistance to Bhutan.

The diversification of Bhutan’s relations began with its entry into the United Nations in 1971, and while external relations continued to be largely confined to India, the establishment of its relations in other areas and at various levels gained momentum over time. This has enhanced the recognition of Bhutan as a sovereign and independent nation, and resulted in the facilitation of economic and development cooperation. As of now, Bhutan has diplomatic bilateral relations with 22 countries. Realizing the need for economic diversification in achieving self-sufficiency and to remove constraints inhibiting its expansion, Bhutan’s interactions at the bilateral and multilateral levels have increased substantively. Today, Bhutan not only looks toward building up a strong export-oriented economy to compete in the regional market, it also awaits accession to the WTO in the near future. Given the realities of its economy, however, Bhutan’s trade and other economic relations are confined to only a few countries in the sub-region, mainly India, Bangladesh and Nepal, and a few countries outside the sub- region. And while most analysts agree that the pattern of Bhutan’s economic growth is highly people-oriented, the pace of growth resulting in necessary diversification of domestic economy is yet to come about. However, the adoption of the unique development philosophy of Gross National Happiness has brought about a distinct position for Bhutan in the region and beyond, and it is this principle that is meant to serve as the guiding philosophy in Bhutan’s socioeconomic development initiatives.

The subsequent chapters mainly reflect on the various facets of Bhutan’s political economy in relation to neighbouring countries in the region. Chapter one provides an overview of Bhutan’s Economy discussing its size and nature, its gradual economic integration, macroeconomic performance and future outlook, as well as its growth profile over the last four decades. These elements have substantively been presented by drawing comparisons with other countries in the South Asian region.

Chapter two looks at Bhutan’s Economic Development Policy with consideration of various economic reforms that have taken place over the years including development strategy and Bhutan’s cautious move towards economic liberalization with its proposed accession to the WTO. Bhutan’s Economic Relations with the Neighbouring Countries and Areas is explored in chapter three by looking at various levels of Bhutan’s involvement in regional integration, and its future outlook in such setting is considered by examining some of Bhutan’s advantageous areas in production and policy coordination. The prominence of Indian involvement in Bhutan’s economic and political affairs is highlighted in chapter four, which covers Economic and Political Relations between Bhutan and India. This section shows that even within regional cooperation and amidst processes of diversification, India remains the most important development partner for Bhutan. It also covers various areas of concern with special emphasis on the issue of militant insurgents from India and their illicit penetration into Bhutanese territory.

In Chapter five, Bhutan’s Perspectives on Regional Cooperation is mainly focused on SAARC and briefs on bilateral relations between Bhutan and the member countries (with the exception of India since this section has been covered abundantly in chapter four). With regard to Bhutan-Nepal relations, the main issue of concern hovering over the verification of people in the camps in eastern Nepal has been attached in the annexes as a backgrounder. In light of the fact that China figures considerably in Bhutan’s regional outlook, some attention has been given to relations with this neighbour in the north.

Download full article

Wayo, Wayo – Voices from the Past

Wayo, Wayo – Voices from the Past 

It is a collection of different articles on the different festivals Ha, Goleng Roop, Wamling Kharpu, Goshing Chodpa and Lhabon that are celebrated in different parts of the country.

Download the different articles from the following:

Sl.No. Title Author Page No.
1 Ha: The Bon Festival of Gortshom Village Tashi Choden 1
2 Goleng Roop- A Cult of Feast Offering Lham Dorji 24
3 Wamling Kharpu: A Vibrant Ancient Festival Dorji Penjore 29
4 Goshing Chodpa Phuntsho Rapten 72
5 A Brief History of Chendebji Village and Lhabon Celebration Sonam Kinga 105
6 Kharam – The Cattle Festival Karma Galay 117
7 Khar Phud: A Non-Buddhist Lha Sol Festival of Eastern Bhutan Ugyen Pelgen 125