KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOUR ? BHUTAN

Hanging to the north of India in the east, is the great isolated country, Bhutan, one of our neighbours. The country is landlocked in Himalayas and is separated from Nepal by the state of Sikkim. China is in the north and India in south, east and west are its neighbours.

Bhutan was recognized as a country by United Nations Organization in the year 1974.  The word Bhutan is known to be derived from the Sanskrit language?s 'Bhotant' which means 'End of Tibet' or from the same language?s 'Bhu-uttan', meaning 'highland' as it is situated in the mountains. Bhutan is also known as 'Land of thunderbolt' or 'Land of thunder dragons'. There are two stories behind this sobriquet. It was believed in Bhutanese mythology that there was a strong man from China who once happened to visit Bhutan. During his visit, he observed a powerful thunder and lightning. As China was already called ?Land of thunders? by that time, he thought of giving a more powerful name and so named it as 'Land of thunderbolt.' The second reason is Bhutan being a country landlocked among the mountains experiences heavy rainfall and some really powerful thunders. These thunders seem to be like fire exhaled by a dragon. So, it's called 'Land of thunder dragons'.

The capital and largest city of the kingdom is Thimpu. The country is at an altitude of 7300 feet and has an area of about 38,394 square kilo meter. Bhutan is a sparsely populated country. With a mere population of 7, 50, 000, Bhutan is one of the most eco-friendly nations in the world. It is the world's only sink of Carbon dioxide (CO2). That is it absorbs more Carbon dioxide (CO2) than what it releases. This is because most of the country's land is under the green cover. In fact as much as 60% of the country's land is under forest. Not just that, conservation of the environment has been given a lot of weightage. Any person found in creating danger to the endangered species is strictly punished.

 

CULTURE AND RELIGION:

For most of the history, Bhutan has remained as a kingdom that is isolated from the world in a view to preserve its culture. The country is very rich in its cultural heritage. The people of country wear traditional costumes. Men wear a gho which is a long robe tied at the stomach using a belt called kera. Women wear what is called a kira, an ankle-length's dress.

People from Bhutan are called the Drukpas. There are people from three main groups in Bhutan. They are the 'Sharchops', the 'Ngalops' and the 'Lhotsampas'.  About two thirds of Bhutan?s population follow Buddhism which is their state religion. It is believed that Buddhism was, is and will be pivotal in the social, cultural and ethical development of the nation. Annually people come together and celebrate spiritual occasions as festivals which are related to Guru Rimpoche. Hinduism is the second most followed religion. The way of life of Bhutanese people is greatly influenced by religion. We can find a separate room for offering prayers in every Bhutanese house and this house is called a 'chosum'

There was never any rigid class differentiation in Bhutan. Everyone was considered as an equal. No person is shown back on the basis of his or her rank or class. Opportunities in every field are genuine and fair to each and every one. The women of the kingdom enjoy equal rights with men in all the fields.

Though there is lot of development and a rapid modernization, most of the people or the majority of Bhutan's population still lives in village. The urban people constitute the minorities of the nation. Their diet is rich in meat, poultry, dairy and rice.

 

ECONOMY:

Bhutan's economy is mainly based on agriculture, tourism, forestry and sale of hydroelectric power to India. Farming is chief occupation. But as the altitude of the place increases farming is replaced by animal husbandry, (i.e,) crops give way to cattle and yak.

Bhutan's economy is one of the world's fastest growing economies with a whopping growth rate of 22.4%. The currency of the nation is Ngultrum whose value is equal to that of a rupee. The large scale industries are growing in number.

POLITICAL STATUS:

Bhutan has a constitutional monarchy or a democratic monarchy. The elections were held for the first time in 2008 in which two parties have contested for elections. The parties are People's Democratic Party (PDP) headed by Sangay Ngedup and Druk Phuensum Tshopa (DPT) headed by Jigme Thinley who became the first Prime Minister of Bhutan. But in elections of 2013, The PDP came to power and Tshering Tobgay is elected as Prime Minister.

Until 2008, the king of Bhutan was King Jigme Singye Wangchuk who was the fourthking of the kingdom. But in 2008, he stepped down and allowed his eldest son as the new and the fifth king of the Nation. The king Jingme Singe Wangchuk promised that he will protect the people like a parent, care like a brother and save like a son. The king of Bhutan is revered as God by the people of the country.    

TOURISM:

Bhutan is an exceptionally beautiful country. A place which is a perfect example of scenic beauty. With high mountains around and greenery everywhere the kingdom is landlocked as one of the main tourist attractions of the world. Tourism is one of the main sources of revenue to the nation. The only international airport is in Paro. There is no railway system but a good road connectivity system. Recently India and Bhutan signed an agreement according to which, Bhutan will be connected to the vast railway network of India by constructing a railway line between south Bhutan and Hashimara in West Bengal. Bhutan is well known for mountain adventures like trekking and hiking.

 

NATIONAL SYMBOLS

The National flag of Bhutan is a rectangle divided into two triangles. The upper triangle is yellow in colour and the lower triangle is orange in colour. The yellow triangle signifies the secular power of the king. And the lower orange triangle refers to Buddhism. There is a white dragon called Druku at the centre of the flag. The National language of Bhutan is Dzongkha which is also known as the Bhutanese language. The national sport is archery. The National flower is The Blue Poppy and the National animal and bird are takin and raven respectively. Their National emblem is a circle that projects a double diamond thunderbolt placed above the lotus. There is a jewel on all sides with two dragons on vertical sides. National Day is celebrated on December 17 to commemorate the ascension to the throne of the first king Ugyen Wangchuk.

All and all Bhutan is a wonderful kingdom which has stood by the principles it has believed from ages. The kings are regarded as the gods. India has always had close relationship with the country. Our current Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi has chosen Bhutan as his first foreign destination in developing global ties so as to strengthen our relations with the Himalayan Kingdom.