Being Practical: Modernization in Bhutan


Bhutan, a country more isolated than North Korea, is finally getting modernization. The country which requires both locals and tourists to wear the national costume still uses 19th century equipment for its services, such as typewriters for computers and donkeys for trading. Although it is a 3rd world nation, lack of funds isn’t the reason for their lag. They follow their tradition of being simple, hence they chose not to go with the latest fads such as the internet, the theatres or even the tv.  King Jigme Wangchuck, their current King is seeking to connect the country to the internet. The King also plans to appoint a legislative body to abolish the monarchy and replace it with a state appointed leader. The country’s GDP is just about $ 3 Billion, one of the world’s smallest. Its’ economy have grown rapidly in recent years, ranging from eight to ten percent starting in 2005. Mainly because of the investment to build a hydroelectric power plant (part of modernization), it now sells hydroelectric power to neighboring India. The economy is also, still based on agriculture and tourism. Its annual internal revenue is about $220 M but spends up to $300 M, most of which are funded by India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

Ok, so enough about Bhutan. Let’s talk about the point of this article, being practical. This attitude is badly needed in our country, the CBCP or the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines badmouths the government when they start talking about birth control. Saying, its “immoral”. Yes, it is true, but what would God chose: for us to sin, which we do everyday for we are only humans. Or for us to starve to death? I’m not saying anything in behalf of God but for me he would rather see us sin than starve. Remember the STENDEC incident? The British Airways plane that crashed in the Andes? The survivors had to eat human flesh, which is one of the worst sins anyone could do, but eventually they were forgiven by the Pope. Why? Because they were forced to do so to avoid starving to death. Now premarital sex is a big sin, but what do you think is heavier premarital sex or cannibalism? For me, cannibalism is. And yet they were forgiven. And heres another thing, high power costs. The rapidly growing population is accounted for the rapid increase of power costs. In order to put an end to this, we must activate the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. But each time the government revives this issue, they are marred with protests. Why? Because the public are scared, both of destruction and widespread corruption. They fear that the Philippines’ might suffer the same fate as Chernobyl, which I talked about in my first article. And the other set are worried that the funds used to activate the project might be pocketed by the brokers and politicians, underspending could lead to the improper activation of the power plant which may spell disaster. But then again, we must take risks and we must learn to trust. We should take the risk so that we could progress, we should not look at Chernobyl but instead we should look at South Korea and Australia wherein nuclear power become the reason for the cheap power cost.

People say corruption is the reason why we could not progress, true maybe, but then being practical would help a lot as well. We should stop being traditional and be practical, face it we have to wake up from yesterday and face the reality of today. We have to keep up with the modern world, something Bhutan is only realizing.

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