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Bhutanese Economy

A landlocked country Bhutan is populated with 700,000 inhabitants distributed not uniformly in the arena. Depending on its geographical feature, the settlements differ from one place to another. The people dwelling in a specific location develop intra-relations among themselves and inter-relation with other societies. Hence, all kinds of people are bonded to one another. For an instance, the rich are bonded with the poor, the old with the young and women and men in collective survival strategies. Thus despite the inhabitants being scattered in this mountainous area, centralized political and religious institutions unanimously unite them. The prevailing social situation is characterized by a long-established underlying stability. In this sense it is somewhat atypical – underdeveloped, yet essentially free from the major social problems associated with poverty, disparity, unemployment and degradation.

When the other countries are undergoing different stages of development, Bhutan is also going through fundamental transformations. Bhutan stepped into the room of modern world in 1960s and thereafter, people of Bhutan are experiencing basic alterations in their society. In the olden days, there is no word called mobile phones, computers, laptop and etc.… in the country but now such words came into existence. Thus having these words in reality all the places in and out of Bhutan are connected internally and externally. The bond between the government and its society is becoming more and more intimate; modern technologies has improved the health status; it has provided a range of new choices and opportunities to the people, which were not there in olden days and also, school going students have new opportunities along with an exciting challenges.

The alteration in the living style of people alters the economy of the nation thereby stepping into the period of restless reformation. The restless communities are looking forward for further improvement. As the number of opportunities increases people become more enthusiastic and hereby develops ambition with aspiration. Hierarchies are coming into picture around the center related to relationships with multiple aspects of modernity, the most significant and lasting associated with wealth. On the other hand, subtle evolutions are evident at the village level, towns represent the primary arenas for the formation of a modern Bhutanese society.

No one can guarantee whether the swift alterations in the country will retain its overall consistency or not. When the process of advancement occurs, it should have a balancing act to not disrupt a steady transition but when the population is growing and with increase in urbanization, this steady transition cannot be maintained and it’s slowly on the verse of disruption. The informal local arrangements are being overlapped or substituted by formal national infrastructure. Some sorts of inequalities are coming up in wealth and status, between sex, race and regions. Instances of delinquency are slowly rising as some are finding themselves outside the boundary of mainstream arrangements. Like the parasites getting benefit from their host, the benefits harnessed from the host of modernisms are caught in an optimistic whirlwind and as a result popular expectations are running ahead of society’s ability to fulfill them. In the dilemma state of tradition and modernity, the nation along with its citizens face a series of challenges.

As Bhutan had stepped into modern world recently, Bhutanese economy is significantly underdeveloped. Despite the country having considerable socioeconomic changes since the 1960s, the economy is still very young. Majority of the population depend on subsistence agriculture and barter system to earn their livelihoods. However improvements in infrastructures and technologies are the keys of encouragement to open the room for the diversification of production, the development of markets and the emergence of a modern sector. On the process the country has to balance between natural resources and the high initial returns of technology. Nevertheless, the existence of small size trade-based modern private sector signifies that the country still have to travel a long journey.

As Bhutan’s economy undergoes major structural transformations the state will continue to play a central role. Not withstanding the responsibilities it takes for macroeconomic management and development interventions, it is the main resource owner, the leading producer and the major domestic market. Much more depends on the government’s economic and broader development policies. The approach that it adopts is based on the concept of Gross National Happiness, which primarily focuses on stability, balance and equity across all dimensions. With the aim of protecting the culture, the environment and effect of social and political reforms, the modern sector has been gradually brought up. The above point is clearly reflected in heavy market regulation and tight investment rules. On top of that, the management of public finance and external assistance has slowed immediate economic change. However, it’s very crucial to develop modern private sector to maintain sustainable growth and provide suitable employment opportunities.

Nonstop economic progress is essential for successful modernization. Keeping in mind the above point, the Bhutanese government possesses few vital assets and fundamental constraints. To call a system as a well functioning state system, it should be committed to national advancement and must endeavor to create an effective enabling environment. Moreover, the country’s rich natural resources and small population is a blessing to the government. The geographical location of Bhutan in Himalayan area is a blessing as well as hinders to maintain sustainable economic development. Bhutanese people mostly depend on agriculture and the country’s location in the mountainous terrain does not suit to provide smooth agrarian transition. As a result there is high chance that a dual economy will arise. Also the modern sectors, which are forced to compete with others on the more competitive export market, is hindered by need of large labor and transaction costs. The slow growth and response of the private sector is indicating that the lucrative accommodation of modern technologies and associated forms of economic organization will become problematic. For the realization of the long term objective of an economy based around “sophistication and civilization” (Planning Commission (1999:94)), the government lead and the private sector response will be of critical importance.