Cor­rup­tion in Shangri-La

Even a coun­try like Bhutan which is con­sid­ered the hap­pi­est place on earth has to deal with the evils of cor­rup­tion.

Southasia - - REGION BHUTAN - By Al­mas Jawaid Khan

The last Shangri-La’ is how Bhutan is mostly re­ferred to as peo­ple per­ceive it to be the hap­pi­est place on earth. Tourism and hy­dropower sec­tors are largely re­spon­si­ble for the coun­try’s strong eco­nomic growth rates. Bhutan’s po­lit­i­cal elite is small and has demon­strated a con­sis­tent loy­alty to the state and the king, who holds the veto power in­ter­nally and has the au­thor­ity to ap­prove or re­ject bills of par­lia­ment. There is also an al­leged ex­ter­nal veto power, In­dia, which pro­vides con­sid­er­able fi­nan­cial aid to Bhutan and ac­counts for 75 per­cent of its en­tire trade.

Dur­ing the last decade, Bhutan has un­der­gone ex­pe­di­tious mod­ern­iza­tion and de­moc­ra­ti­za­tion, in­clud­ing ex­ten­sive re­forms in the pub­lic sec­tor. It emerged as the world’s youngest democ­racy in 2008, un­der the far­sighted su­per­vi­sion and ini­tia­tives of the monar­chy. There has been sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment to up­grade the skills and knowl­edge of gov­ern­ment and ju­di­cial of­fi­cials through for­eign tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance.

In re­cent years, Bhutan has made steady progress in im­prov­ing the liv­ing con­di­tions of its peo­ple by in­vest­ing in Gross Na­tional Hap­pi­ness (GNH). The GNH serves as a con­sol­i­dated vi­sion for Bhutan's five-year plan­ning process and GNH in­di­ca­tors serve as a mea­sure for de­vel­op­men­tal progress. The gov­ern­ment is mak­ing ef­forts to base its poli­cies on GNH while putting em­pha­sis on cor­po­rate ethics, in­tegrity and in­cor­rupt­ibil­ity of the lead­er­ship. The prime min­is­ter


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