1. A proposition “Bhutan is a Democracy”: Beyond the Constricted, Popular Wisdom of “Democracy” by Katsu Masaki
This article seeks to dissect, with reference to Bhutan’s polity, how the Eurocentric, popular wisdom of democracy, privileging liberal democracy, inadvertently enforces closure to other plausible, non-liberalistic interpretations. In Bhutan, the monarchy and Buddhism carry moral authorities constraining the arbitrary use of governmental power, and nurturing associative bonds in society. This “natural democracy” contravenes the orthodoxy of liberal democracy, according to which the state, as a neutral arbiter, must not accord a special status to any leader or religion. For this reason, political analysts tend to doubt whether Bhutan is a democracy. The circumscribed, liberal-democratic notion emanates from the history in which European universalism has been fabricated as a universal standard to be disseminated throughout the globe. It has thus served to rank different societies in a linear trajectory that positions Europe at the pinnacle of “progress”. The case of Bhutan potentially helps to rectify the constricted wisdom of democracy, to facilitate more open, thorough deliberations, and to start conceptualizing a multipolar world.
2. Does Democracy promote Social Capital? Evidence from Bhutan by Sangay Chophel
This paper aims to study the effects of democracy, as measured by voting in elections, on social capital after Bhutan transitioned from monarchy to parliamentary democracy in 2008. The lack of systemic study on widely supposed decrease in social capital in Bhutan due to the transition to democracy served as the motivation for this study. In addition, there does not seem to be any quantitative study on whether democracy promotes social capital when countries transition from monarchy to democracy. This study uses two cross-sectional survey data of Bhutan conducted in 2008, which contains respondents who voted for the National Council (non-party based) election, and 2010, which contains respondents who voted for the National Assembly (multi- party) election, to study the effect of democracy on three elements of social capital, namely trust in people in general, trust in neighbors and socializing with neighbors. Analyzing the two survey data separately using ordered probit regressions revealed that voting in both National Council and National Assembly elections did not have any significant effects on trust in people in general and trust in neighbors. However, voting in the National Council election had significant positive effect on socializing with neighbors whereas voting in the National Assembly election did not have any significant effect on it. After the two survey data were pooled together and analyzed, the introduction of democracy did not serve to increase the levels of voters’ trust in people in general and trust in neighbors. However, the positive effects of voting on socializing with neighbors as seen in the National Council election were removed due to the significant negative effect of multi-party election.
3. Was Tobacco Described in Bhutanese Buddhist Texts Before the 16th Century? by
Michael S. Givel and Rebecca A. Sherry
The small Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan has banned tobacco sales since 2004, citing prophets of the country’s state religion, Mahayana Buddhism, who described the evils of tobacco 200 years before its introduction to Asia. To address whether tobacco really is the plant designated in these early texts, we commissioned new translations of these documents, including one of the first translations out of Choekey of the first legal code of Bhutan, known as “The Golden Yoke of Legal Edicts.” A set of allegorical stories predict that a demon will make a plant appear that will be smoked, sniffed or eaten, and will cause a myriad of physical and societal ills. The stories in the ancient documents are allegorical and apocryphal (in the sense of mystic and esoteric) and do not describe the plant in enough detail to identify it as any real plant. In some cases, the word “thamakha,” meaning “the very worst black poison,” was transliterated as tobacco. Nevertheless, modern day interpretations in Bhutan of “thamakha” as tobacco are congruent with Buddhist tenets that intoxicants of any type will cloud the mind and inhibit the journey to seek Nirvana.
4. Examining Rupee Reserves in Bhutan: An SVAR Approach by Jigme Nidup
The substantial deterioration of rupee reserves in 2012 had detrimental effect on the economic growth in Bhutan. Therefore, this study investigates the implication of government investment on construction, private credit expansion and imports from India, on the rupee reserves through a four-dimensional SVAR approach. The results indicate that in the immediate term, it is the government construction expenditure, private credit growth and imports from India that deteriorates the rupee reserves. Over the medium period, it is found that the government investment on construction leads to private credit expansion. Though government investment on construction is desired for economic growth, policy makers, however, should strategize investments so that it does not create rapid private credit growth.
5.Factorial Validity and Reliability of 12 items General Health Questionnaire in a Bhutanese Population by Tshoki Zangmo
The aim of this study is to test the factorial structure and the internal consistency of the 12-items General Health Questionnaire. A sample of 6861 Bhutanese completed the GHQ-12. Internal consistency was assessed by Cronbach’s alpha coefficient. The factorial structure was extracted with an exploratory factorial analysis (EFA). The EFA run on the data yield to a one- factor structure without rotation and two factor structures after rotation. Cronbach’s alpha showed a very good internal consistency of the scale (α= 0.88). Cluster analysis resulted in two clusters. Overall, the findings support that the GHQ-12 is a reliable and valid instrument for measuring minor psychological distress in a Bhutanese sample.
Beneficiary Labour Contribution (Woola) by Karma Ura
This monograph studies the labour contributions made by households, primarily rural, to the construction and maintenance of a wide range of communal infrastructure.
This study is carried out by including one-page questionnaire on ‘woola’ with the larger literacy survey form 2004, which is attached in the last page.
1. The Role of English in Culture Preservation in Bhutan by Dorji Thinley & T.W. Maxwell
This study explores issues surrounding the preservation and promotion of culture in the context of the secondary school English curriculum in Bhutan. The languages of Bhutan carry a rich and diverse tradition of oral literatures, but these genres and the cultural values they embody may disappear if they are not promoted. In Bhutan, schools are an active culture preservation site. For this reason, and also since English is the language of curricula for most subjects taught in school, we assumed that one of the ways in which Bhutan’s diverse cultures can be honoured and enlivened is through the study of folk literature in the English curriculum.
2. Diversity in Food Ways of Bhutanese Communities Brought About by Ethnicity and Environment by Kunzang Dorji, Kesang Choden & Walter Roder
This article tries to document traditional food systems in five ethnically distinct communities in Bhutan (all located in lower mid hills of the country with subtropical climate), especially focusing on: 1) Ethnobotanic information, 2) Crop diversity, 3) Cultivation practices, and use of crops.
3. Exploring Bhutan’s ‘Natural Democracy’: In Search of an Alternative View of Democracy by Katsu Masaki
This paper seeks to make an alternative translation/ interpretation of Bhutan’s democracy, in place of the mainstream view that the country has recently made a decisive transition toward democracy. It calls our attention to the country’s time-honored ‘natural democracy,’ which rests on monarchical authority and cohesive rural communities. Both of them represent vernacular forms of freedom and equality, contrary to their widely held image as being averse to democracy. This research was made possible by funding from the Japanese Government’s Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research.
4. Wangdü Chöling Dzong: The Masterpiece of Gongsar Jigme Namgyel by Gengop Karchung
This paper attempts to figure out the significance and role of this well-known historical structure besides throwing some lights on establishment of the dzong and its renovation. It also tries to present other information related to this Dzong through available written and oral sources. Besides researching on written sources, interviews were conducted with Lam Jampel Dorje, Wangdü Chöling Lam, Agäy Rinzin Dorje, 84 (2010) and Agäy Sherub Wangdü, 76 (2010) who shared valuable information.
5. The Old Man ‘Mitshering’ at Nyima Lung Monastery by Tenzin Jamtsho
This article documents the significance and meaning of an easily distinguishable performer ‘Mitshering’ (the old man) which is seen in some monastic festivals of central Bhutan like Nyima Lung.
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.
Buddhism Without Borders – Proceedings of the International Conference on Global Buddhism
Edited by Dasho Karma Ura and Dendup Chophel
This book is a compilation of the papers presented during the International Conference on Globalized Buddhism, themed Buddhism Without Borders. Attended by about 31 national and international scholars, the conference was jointly organized by the Centre for Bhutan Studies and the Ministry of Home and Cutural Affairs from 21 to 23 May, 2012 in Bumthang, Bhutan. The papers discuss a wide range of traditional Buddhist motifs and emerging developments in the global Buddhist scenario. Even though the papers were presented under seven themes (stated in Hon’ble Home Minister’s keynote address) during the course of the conference for sake of convenience, they are essentially a fluid mix of the above concerns and fitted uneasily into those classifications. Therefore, for this publication, no such attempt at categorization has been made. The papers are thus presented here in random order. The Hon’ble Home Minister’s adapted keynote address which was delivered at the conference has been reproduced here, forming an introduction to this publication.
Contents of the book
First Published: 2012
© The Centre for Bhutan Studies