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Bhutan


Bhutan is situated in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalaya Mountains and is bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by China. Bhutan is separated from the state of Nepal to the west by the Indian state of Sikkim. The Bhutanese call their country Druk Yul (Dzongkha) which means "Land of the Thunder Dragon". Bhutan's capital is Thimpu.

Geography

Bhutan is the 143rd country in the world in terms of size with a land mass of 38,394 sq kms. It is an extremely cold country surrounded by the Himalayan ranges in the north and the west, while the south ranges taper down and provide the deciduous forest cover for the country. Most peaks in the north are over 23,000 feet (7,000 m) above sea level; the highest point is claimed to be the Kula Kangri, at 24,780 feet The Torsa, Raidak, Sankosh, and Manas are the main rivers of Bhutan, flowing through this region.

Climate

The climate in Bhutan varies with altitude, from subtropical in the south to temperate in the highlands and polar-type climate, with year-round snow, in the north. Bhutan experiences five distinct seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. Western Bhutan has the heavier monsoon rains; southern Bhutan has hot humid summers and cool winters; central and eastern Bhutan is temperate and drier than the west with warm summers and cool winters

Populations and peoples

The population of Bhutan is estimated at 0.5 million. Life expectancy at birth (years) is 65.7. While life expectancy at birth for males is 64.0%, for females it is 67.6%.

Buddhism is the prevalent religion with Lamaistic Buddhism practiced by 75% of the population. The Indian/Nepalese version of Hinduism is practiced by the remaining 25% of the population.

Bhutan has varied groups of ethnicities ranging from Bhotes to ethnic Nepalese and other indigenous groups and tribes. Dzongkha is the official language of Bhutan.

Literacy

The overall adult literacy rate (% aged 15 and above) is 52.8%. However the male female literacy is skewed with male literacy at 65.0% while female literacy is 38.7%. The combined enrollment ratio in education (%) is 54.1% for 2007.

Economy

Bhutan economy measured in GDP US $ billion in 2007 is estimated at US $ 1.1 billion. In PPP terms it is estimated at US $ 3.2 billion. The per capita income of Bhutan in PPP us $ is 4837

The Ngultrum is the currency of Bhutan and its value is pegged to the Indian rupee. The rupee is also accepted as legal tender in the country.

Bhutan's economy is based on agriculture, forestry, tourism and the sale of hydroelectric power to India.

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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