Handbook on the South Asian Economies
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Handbook on the South Asian Economies

Edited by Anis Chowdhury and Wahiduddin Mahmud

This Handbook on the South Asian Economies (a companion to the Handbook on the Northeast and Southeast Asian Economies) is a comprehensive and unique collection of original studies on the economic and social development of countries in South Asia. The analytical narratives draw upon a wide range of extant literature in an easily accessible way, whilst highlighting the impact of socio-political factors on economic outcomes. The introductory chapter by the editors provides a comprehensive survey of the main features of South Asian economic development, especially in respect of the policy reforms since the late 1970s.
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Chapter 6: Bhutan

S.R. Osmani, S. Tenzing and T. Wangyal


S.R. Osmani, S. Tenzing and T. Wangyal The background Bhutan is a small landlocked country at the foothills of the Himalayas. An especially rugged mountainous terrain, lack of easy access to seaports and a small population living in scattered low-density settlements all conspire to make life difficult in Bhutan. Yet, unnoticed by most of the outside world, the country has quietly made significant strides in both economic and social spheres. The economy has grown at an average rate of close to 7 per cent per annum for more than two decades, lifting the material standard of living more than two-and-a-half-fold within a single generation. At the same time, a benevolent welfare-oriented state has tried to ensure that every one of its citizens is assured of minimum basic needs such as access to land, housing, health and education. As a result of these efforts, mortality has gone down sharply, life expectancy has soared and the goal of universal access to basic education is well within sight, even though it still remains poor enough to be designated as a least developed country by UN definition. Significantly, Bhutan has achieved all this without the kind of environmental degradation and cultural atrophy that has bedevilled the development efforts of many other countries in the world. The nation of Bhutan was born in the early 17th century, when a number of small but independent principalities were brought together under a unified administration by a charismatic leader called Shabdrung...

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