Friday, March 16, 2012

Great ending to "The Enigma of Bhutan" by Kai Bird

Here, about the country's expelling of 1/6 of its citizens 20 years ago, yet having pleasant things in the present like the Gross National Happiness measure:

"Bhutan is a beautiful place. High-end tourists love it. Here is my revealed prejudice: I have lived in Nepal for the past four years. In contrast with Bhutan, nothing works in Kathmandu. The electricity is off as much as eighteen hours a day in the winter months. The streets are jammed with unimaginable traffic. The Bagmati River is clogged with plastic bags and other refuse. The drinking water is sickly. But in 2006 there was a people’s uprising that threw out a truly decadent and inefficient royal family. The royal palace is now a national museum. The newspapers are filled with scurrilous attacks on anything and everybody. Anyone can say anything he or she wants. The politicians dawdle irresponsibly, and the Brahmin elite shamelessly does everything it can to perpetuate a Hindu caste culture that holds the country back. Every month or so one of the twenty-four political parties declares a bandh—a strike—and the city comes to a screeching halt. Chaos reigns in Kathmandu. But I like it. It smells of freedom. And I dare say, someday the Bhutanese will get a whiff of it."

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