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Archive for June, 2010

Costa Rica looks to Bhutan for happiness

June 22, 2010 By: Bridge to Bhutan Category: Gross National Happiness

Costa Rica is consulting with Bhutan for how to remain among the happiest places on earth.

A small country of 680,000 inhabitants, the Kingdom of Bhutan is located in the Himalaya mountains on the eastern border of India, and is the only country in the world to measure the happiness of their country like most countries measure their gross domestic product.

Costa Rica, which topped a list drawn up by the United Kingdom’s New Economics Foundation for being the country with the highest life satisfaction, is looking to Bhutan for tips on how to remain in first place.

Bhutan began measuring the happiness of its people in 2008. On a census distributed nationwide, the last question on the form was, “Are you happy?” a question which 97 percent answered affirmatively. (more…)

Will the tobacco ban work this time?

June 22, 2010 By: Bridge to Bhutan Category: News

The ban on tobacco has resurfaced again from its dormancy. While it is for everyone to guess whether it will be successful this time round, one thing is certain; the sellers have laughed their way to the bank all the while.

The ban succeeded in inflating the price of tobacco products, but achieved little in restricting its inflow. Tobacco has been smuggled into the country in myriad of ways, some ingenious. And the ban could not match the ingenu­ity of the people. There is no assurance that the same thing will not happen again.

The law-makers have at­tributed the failure to im­proper implementation. But the truth might be that the ban itself was lopsided. It is not il­legal for people to use tobacco products; only selling is an offence. This elicited failure.

One need not be an econo­mist to see the marketability of an item dictated by its de­mand It is not the sellers who force people to buy but the buyers who persuade them to sell. As long as demand exists, sellers may go to any length to sell it. Therefore, the prison penalty, which is meant to intimidate people, may not be the ultimate solution. At any rate, three to five- year prison term seems a little irrational considering the gravity of the crime.

It appears as though we, in Bhutan, are short of reasons to send people to prison. If the implementation should happen as resolved, a time will come when our prisons will be filled to the limit. There will be a dire need to build more pris­ons making the government bear greater financial implica­tion than the ban itself.

Tobacco is a big killer. No one can argue that. But it is for an individual to decide wheth­er one should use it or not. If people wish to smoke even after realizing it is injurious to their health, so be it. Everyone has the right to compass his own end. It looks like the ban infringes into the personal choice of the people.

If tobacco should be banned because it is injurious to health, what about the vehicle fumes that we inhale more abundantly everyday? Should we put a ban on the use of vehicles? Should we censor every other bad thing that we see before us? (more…)

Revised Sales Tax And Custom Duty:Imported cars to cost more

June 17, 2010 By: Bridge to Bhutan Category: News, Sustainable Development

Starting today all imported vehicles entering the country will be subjected to a revised sales tax and custom duty, according to a finance ministry notification. This includes those vehicles ordered months ago that have not reached Bhutan as of today.

The sales tax and custom duty were increased, based on the cylinder capacity or cc (cubic centimeter volume of the engine cabin), and categorised vehicles into petrol and diesel run vehicles.

However, vehicles imported from India will only have to pay an increased sales tax. Sales tax for petrol and diesel vehicles imported from third countries is up by five percent for vehicles up to 1500 cc, and by 15 percent for vehicles above 1501cc.

Custom duty for petrol and diesel vehicles up to 2500 cc has been increased by 10 percent, and by 30 percent for vehicles above 2501 cc. (more…)

The Buddhist Outlook & Bhutan

June 15, 2010 By: Bridge to Bhutan Category: Buddhism, Environment, Sustainable Development

Written by ManjuWakhley, Oxford,UK
Since Bhutan is predominantly a Buddhist country, policies often stem from Buddhist perception and ethics. Buddhist philosophy stresses the importance of all sentient beings and how all beings are interdependent. This notion also agrees with the scientific ecosystem theory that all species have a place and a function. The relationship between human beings and the environment is seen in a fundamentally different way as compared to the western approach. While the latter is based on the Christian instrumental view that nature exists solely for the benefit of mankind, the Buddhist concept of Sunyata (Form and Emptiness) holds that no subject or object has an independent existence; rather it dissolves into a web of relationships with all dimensions of its environment. Buddhism perceives reality as circular and not linear unlike western thought, which means human form is a part of the Karmic cycle and is really difficult to obtain, all forms are transient and therefore sustainable development is in everybody’s self interest instead of just that of the nature and future. Bhutan has never exploited it natural resources on grounds of commercial profitability. (more…)

NGO Spotlight: VAST Bhutan (Voluntary Artists’ Studio Thimphu)

June 12, 2010 By: Bridge to Bhutan Category: NGO, Sustainable Development, Youth

There are countless non-profit art organizations in the world. While most of them utilize the power art holds for positive and productive social purposes, VAST Bhutan stands apart from the rest.  I have had the privilege of witnessing the workings of VAST, first hand, over the last six weeks. It is always an incredible thing to participate in social services, but VAST’s volunteers have reminded me how true activism through art can benefit a world.
VAST has initiated several special projects alongside the regular classes that are taught by its volunteers- projects that are born out of the core of true humanitarianism.  Last year, volunteers came together to develop a rice bank to help the needy. They also built a home for a family in Punakha.  While both of these projects were incredible, VAST’s ‘Make a Wish’ project deserves particular recognition.

For futher information on VAST bhuan please visit:

(Courtesy: BusinessBhutan)