80+1 » Thimphu http://www.80plus1.org A Journey Around the World Thu, 25 Nov 2010 14:24:05 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.7.1 en hourly 1 World Wildlife Federation announces discovery of 21 new species in Bhutan http://www.80plus1.org/blog/world-wildlife-federation-announces-discovery-of-21-new-species-in-bhutan http://www.80plus1.org/blog/world-wildlife-federation-announces-discovery-of-21-new-species-in-bhutan#comments Thu, 13 Aug 2009 07:19:57 +0000 Cyrus Farivar http://www.80plus1.org/?p=3028 Earlier this week, the World Wildlife Federation published a new book, “The Eastern Himalayas: Where the World Collides.”

In it, the conservancy organization touted the discovery of over 350 new species in Bhutan and parts of India and Nepal over the last…

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Earlier this week, the World Wildlife Federation published a new book, “The Eastern Himalayas: Where the World Collides.”

In it, the conservancy organization touted the discovery of over 350 new species in Bhutan and parts of India and Nepal over the last ten years. Most of these new discoveries are plants (244), and invertebrates (60), but there are two new mammals and two new bird varieties as well.

One of the most interesting discovery was that of the world’s smallest deer. As the organization notes in its press release:

The report mentions the miniature muntjac, also called the “leaf deer,” which is the world’s oldest and smallest deer species. Scientists initially believed the small creature found in the world’s largest mountain range was a juvenile of another species but DNA tests confirmed the light brown animal with innocent dark eyes was a distinct and new species.

The above photo of the arunachal macaque was first identified in 2005 and at the time was the first new monkey species identified in more than 100 years. The WWF also says that it’s “the highest-dwelling macaque in the world, occurring between 1,600m and 3,500m above sea level.”

Press Trust of India covered the launch from Thimphu, noting:

“Notwithstanding incredible diversity of biological resources, the eastern Himalayas, including Bhutan, is faced with many threats and challenges, the most prominent ones of which are climate change and poaching. Both of these pressing challenges are trans-boundary and regional in nature and scale,” Bhutan’s Agriculture Secretary Sherub Gyeltshen said at the launch.

WWF programme director Vijay Moktan told state-run daily Kuensel that the discoveries showcase the unexplored biodiversity in the Himalayas.

“This indicates that ecosystems, necessary for the survival of species in Bhutan, are still intact despite emerging development pressures. Bhutan still provides east-west and north-south connectivity for the eastern Himalayas and its diverse species to thrive and evolve,” Moktan said.

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Bhutan opens first private college http://www.80plus1.org/blog/bhutan-opens-first-private-college http://www.80plus1.org/blog/bhutan-opens-first-private-college#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2009 16:41:39 +0000 Cyrus Farivar http://www.80plus1.org/?p=2503 While Bhutan is well-known for its commitment to happiness (and in recent months, an uptick in suicide), hopefully things will turn around with the new private college, the Royal Thimphu College.

According to a recent article in The Hindu, classes began…

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While Bhutan is well-known for its commitment to happiness (and in recent months, an uptick in suicide), hopefully things will turn around with the new private college, the Royal Thimphu College.

According to a recent article in The Hindu, classes began here earlier this week on a 25-acre campus about 10 kilometers from the capital, Thimphu. The college, which is affiliated to the Royal University of Bhutan, has offer bachelor’s degrees in “computer application, business administration, commerce and arts programmes in English, economics, environmental science, Dzongkha (national language), sociology and political science.”

Currently, the campus has 16 buildings, including dormitories, dining facilities, a bookstore, a gym and a football field. However, more is planned and construction is due to be completed by 2011. By the time everything is complete, about $11 million will have been spent.

No word yet on what the tuition costs will be, nor what the first senior prank will involve.

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Bhutan’s suicide rate jumps http://www.80plus1.org/blog/bhutans-suicide-rate-jumps http://www.80plus1.org/blog/bhutans-suicide-rate-jumps#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2009 14:48:40 +0000 Cyrus Farivar http://www.80plus1.org/?p=2104 The BBC reports in a surprising drop in the country’s overall level of happiness — because after all, three suicides in the last week alone aren’t exactly a great indicator of things.

The news service adds: “The country’s main newspaper, Kuensel, says…

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The BBC reports in a surprising drop in the country’s overall level of happiness — because after all, three suicides in the last week alone aren’t exactly a great indicator of things.

The news service adds: “The country’s main newspaper, Kuensel, says that in January there were 15 suicides and seven in February.”

That’s no good for a country that purports to be the promoter of Gross National Happiness.

So the question is why?

“People tend to commit suicide when they lack the social skills to cope with stress,” psychiatrist DK Nirola told Kuensel [a major Bhutanese newspaper].

He said that old age, unemployment and depression are the most common causes of suicide which is far higher among males than females.
However excessive alcohol consumption, money worries and mental illness are also thought to be significant factors.

[via FP Passport]

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Gross National Happiness moves from idea to theory http://www.80plus1.org/blog/gross-national-happiness-moves-from-idea-to-theory http://www.80plus1.org/blog/gross-national-happiness-moves-from-idea-to-theory#comments Fri, 22 May 2009 20:00:59 +0000 Cyrus Farivar http://www.80plus1.org/?p=1031 In a recent trip to Thimphu, New York Times reporter Seth Mydans spent some time with Kinley Dorji, Bhutan’s secretary of information and communications.

Bhutan, of course, is known around the world for its king’s suggestion in the 1970s to pursue “gross…

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In a recent trip to Thimphu, New York Times reporter Seth Mydans spent some time with Kinley Dorji, Bhutan’s secretary of information and communications.

Bhutan, of course, is known around the world for its king’s suggestion in the 1970s to pursue “gross national happiness.”

However, these days, this utopian ideal is turning into measurable, quantifiable, political science.

Bhutan, of course, is a tiny, mountainous country of 700,000 people wedged between India and China, and is famous for its isolation. It only allowed television in the country in 1999.

Dorji told the Times: “Bhutan’s story today is, in one word, survival. Gross national happiness is survival; how to counter a threat to survival.”

So as a way to stay relevant, Bhutan produced a complex model of happiness, which features the four pillars, the nine domains and the 72 indicators of happiness.

Reports the Times:

Specifically, the government has determined that the four pillars of a happy society involve the economy, culture, the environment and good governance. It breaks these into nine domains: psychological well-being, ecology, health, education, culture, living standards, time use, community vitality and good governance, each with its own weighted and unweighted G.N.H. index.

All of this is to be analyzed using the 72 indicators. Under the domain of psychological well-being, for example, indicators include the frequencies of prayer and meditation and of feelings of selfishness, jealousy, calm, compassion, generosity and frustration as well as suicidal thoughts.

“We are even breaking down the time of day: how much time a person spends with family, at work and so on,” Mr. Dorji said.

How long before Gretchen Rubin and the Bhutanese get together to build a Facebook application to determine happiness?

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Bhutan’s Burgeoning Fourth Estate http://www.80plus1.org/blog/bhutans-burgeoning-fourth-estate http://www.80plus1.org/blog/bhutans-burgeoning-fourth-estate#comments Sat, 02 May 2009 04:11:39 +0000 David Sasaki http://www.80plus1.org/?p=876 Bhutan’s isolation from the rest of the world and its focus on “Gross National Happiness” rather than Gross National Product have always appealed to Westerners burned out on hyper-connectivity and accelerated technological change. Until the eve of the new millenium…

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Bhutan’s isolation from the rest of the world and its focus on “Gross National Happiness” rather than Gross National Product have always appealed to Westerners burned out on hyper-connectivity and accelerated technological change. Until the eve of the new millenium Bhutan was arguably the most isolated nation in the world. Then came 1998 when King Jigme Singye Wangchuck introduced significant political reforms, transferring most of his administrative powers to the Council of Cabinet Ministers and allowing for impeachment of the King by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly. The following year the government lifted its ban on television and the Internet. In his speech marking the ruling, the King said that television was a critical step to the modernisation of Bhutan as well as a major contributor to the country’s Gross National Happiness, but warned that the “misuse” of television could erode traditional Bhutanese values.

On June 2, 1999 the Bhutan Broadcasting Service launched its first night of television broadcasts to celebrate Jigme Singye Wangchuck’s 25 years of rule. Today the Bhutan Broadcasting Service remains the only television channel transmitted within Bhutan’s borders, with nightly broadcasts from 6 p.m. to 11 a.m. Most of the programming is aired in Dzongkha, but two current events and news programs are aired each night in English.

The website of the Bhutan Broadcasting Service is entirely in English and offers daily article updates, streaming online radio, and even a section of free Bhutanese Traditional Songs available for download.

If Bhutan is going to move forward with promised democratic reforms, then a vibrant press and informed citizenry will be crucial. Tshewang Dendup of the Bhutan Broadcasting Service is making sure that the world’s youngest democracy is ready for the challenges ahead by empowering emerging Bhutanese leaders with computer, business, and media skills. He was a 2008 PopTech Social Innovation Fellow where he gave this presentation about his country and his vision:

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Thimphu, Bhutan http://www.80plus1.org/places/thimpu http://www.80plus1.org/places/thimpu#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2009 14:36:04 +0000 Cyrus Farivar http://90.146.8.9/80plus1/cyrus-start-here-cyrus-start-here Topic: Happiness
Schedule: Week 1 (June 17 - June 23)
Art Project: Grand Mutual Smiles
School Project: BORG Honauerstraße Linz
Partner School: Pangtokha Primary School (Pangtokha, Bhutan)

For centuries, Bhutan was one of the most isolated and exotic countries in Asia. In 1972, as a…

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Topic: Happiness
Schedule: Week 1 (June 17 - June 23)
Art Project: Grand Mutual Smiles
School Project: BORG Honauerstraße Linz
Partner School: Pangtokha Primary School (Pangtokha, Bhutan)

For centuries, Bhutan was one of the most isolated and exotic countries in Asia. In 1972, as a move toward modernization, its former king coined the phrase “Gross National Happiness” to denote a commitment to its own culture and specifically to Buddhist spiritual values. Though Bhutan has been far from happy and peaceful since – it does maintain an army which has used force against insurgent conflicts in southern Bhutan – its visibility around “happiness” keeps it in the international limelight. When the government finally lifted its ban against television (and the Internet) in 1999, the king conceded that it would further contribute to the country’s happiness.

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