Edited by Anis Chowdhury and Wahiduddin Mahmud
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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