A Faltering Smile

Listen to Today's Edition
Voiced by Amazon Polly

Bhutanese voters go to the polls Tuesday, as economic challenges overshadow the country’s longstanding practice of favoring happiness over growth, which has seen spiking youth unemployment and a brain-drain, Agence France-Presse reported.

The philosophy of focusing on well-being is enshrined in the Buddhist kingdom’s constitution, and both parties competing in the election have pledged to uphold it.

Behind the “Gross National Happiness” index, however, Bhutan’s youth is facing soaring unemployment, amid slow economic growth. Nearly one in three young Bhutanese are unemployed, according to the World Bank.

The situation has led to increasing emigration and a brain-drain. In the past year alone, 15,000 Bhutanese were granted visas – a total exceeding that of the preceding six years combined, and amounting to 2 percent of the population.

Both parties running in the legislative election, following primaries held in November, have pledged to address the economic and demographic predicament faced by the country and find ways to boost Bhutan’s growth.

One idea favored by both parties is to invest more in hydropower. The mountainous region offers a great opportunity for the development of the energy industry, the World Bank estimated.

Because of this and other issues including border disputes, the election in Bhutan is being closely monitored by its neighbors, especially China and India, both of which have vied for influence in Bhutan. China signed a “cooperation agreement” with Bhutan last year to settle issues regarding the kingdom’s northern border, triggering concern from India.

Not already a subscriber?

If you would like to receive DailyChatter directly to your inbox each morning, subscribe below with a free two-week trial.

Subscribe today

Support journalism that’s independent, non-partisan, and fair.

If you are a student or faculty with a valid school email, you can sign up for a FREE student subscription or faculty subscription.

Questions? Write to us at hello@dailychatter.com.

You don't have credit card details available. You will be redirected to update payment method page. Click OK to continue.

Copy link