Date of Award

2016

First Advisor

Katie Boswell

Second Advisor

Chris Coggins

Abstract

I propose to explore through my thesis how Bhutan’s youth face a unique challenge of balancing tradition with modernity, while preserving traditional values and culture. My thesis will explore the social problems that affect Bhutan’s youth and young adults in times of extreme societal change. Therefore, I have chosen to do research on how modernization affects the culture and tradition of Bhutan. In this paper, I present my first chapter on the history of Bhutan. I have added this chapter to uncover the medieval days in Bhutan, where the country lived in a traditional Bhutanese way of life. This means that the country had a self-sufficient economy and mostly used traditional technology in their daily lives. Most of the people were farmers and agriculture was their only occupation. The community was built on ethical traditional Buddhist belief, founded on the unity and mutual interdependence in the society. In this chapter, I also present all the powerful leaders in the early history of Bhutan who unified the country and the people as one through many events that took place at that time period. The country was also pure and untouched by the “Western” ideals of industrial culture. It was a society without waste and pollution, a society where crime hardly existed; the society was healthy and resilient but as globalization grew through the country around Bhutan, it had to adopt modernization as a way to earn a place in the international status as an independent country because being a small country in India’s territory was a big threat to the sovereignty of the Bhutanese state. As development originates in this Bhutanese society through modernity such as tourism, technology and modern education, 5 one can discover various social problems that heavily affect the precious youth of Bhutan. With the urgency to sustain balance, Bhutan adopts a “unique” development path, which is trying to balance modernization in one hand, and the conservation of the natural environment and the traditional Bhutanese way of life on the other hand. This holistic approach in development is known as Gross National Happiness in Bhutan. Bhutan is recognized internationally for the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH). The phrase was coined as a signal of commitment to building an economy that would serve Bhutan’s culture, based on Buddhist spiritual values instead of the western material development, which was represented by gross domestic product (GDP). Bhutan’s “Gross National Happiness” has attracted praise from many foreigners and countries regarding the concept of ensuring happiness for the Bhutanese people over country’s economic development, but at home the country suffers vaious social issues that affects the citizens and the country’s development. I would like to explore the impact of modernization in Bhutan I will also present the positive and the negative side of its effects on the Bhutanese youth today. Lastly, this being the biggest problem in the present time in the Bhutanese society, I would like to present to my reader on how the Bhutanese government has made this their number one top priority to help address this problem in a holistic and integrated approach. I would also present the National Youth Policy that was developed to help the youth become more engaged in ensuring that they are provided with all the support and significant opportunities to help them achieve their ambitions and goals in life while actively participating in the society.

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