Bhutan votes today as economic crisis hits ‘national happiness’

Bhutan votes today as economic crisis hits ‘national happiness’

Thimphu [Bhutan]: Bhutan is conducting general elections on Tuesday amid significant economic challenges, raising questions about the country’s longstanding commitment to prioritize “Gross National Happiness” over economic growth, as reported by Al Jazeera.
Both parties, the Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are committed to a constitutionally enshrined philosophy of government that measures its success by the “happiness and well-being of the people.”

Despite its size, comparable to Switzerland, Bhutan is witnessing some voters trekking for days to participate in the elections.
The younger generation of the country is struggling with chronic unemployment and a brain drain from migration abroad, according to Al Jazeera.
Bhutan’s youth unemployment rate stands at 29 per cent, as per the World Bank, while economic growth has sputtered along at an average of 1.7 per cent over the past five years.
Following the rise in unemployment, young citizens have left in record numbers, looking for better financial and educational opportunities abroad since the last elections, with Australia as the top destination.
According to a local news report, nearly 15,000 Bhutanese were issued visas there in one year, which is more than the preceding six years combined and almost 2 per cent of the country’s population.
Reportedly, the issue of mass exodus is central for both parties contesting the polls, according to Al Jazeera.
Career civil servant Pema Chewang of the Bhutan Tendrel Party (BTP) said that the country was losing the “cream of the nation.”.
“If this trend continues, we might be confronted with a situation of empty villages and a deserted nation,” the 56-year-old added.
His opponent, former prime minister and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief Tshering Tobgay, 58, raised the concern of Bhutan’s “unprecedented economic challenges and mass exodus.”
His party’s manifesto cited that the government statistics showed that one in every eight people is “struggling to meet their basic needs for food” and other necessities, Al Jazeera reported.
Moreover, tourism, a small share of Bhutan’s economy but a key earner of foreign currency, has yet to recover from the disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic.

Srinagar News

Srinagar News is one of the oldest newspaper in kashmir it was founded by Late Mehraj-ud-Din Wani Sahab in 1975.

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