BhutanThis is the dragon King, his majesty, Jimge Syngie Wangchuck. These are two of his four royal wives, all sisters. These are his loyal subjects. Welcome to the last Shangrila. In a world where _________ being modern means being the same, where you cannot necessarily tell by the streetscape what country you are in, it is refreshing to come to the mystical kingdom of Bhutan. This has not been the fastest country on earth to _________. It wants to take it slowly; to learn by other’s mistakes. Ours, that is. Take traffic for example. Thimphu is now the only capital city in the world with no traffic lights. They did have a set installed a few years ago, but people complained that they were _________, so they were taken down and the traffic policemen returned. And why not? I’ve never seen a set of traffic lights enjoying themselves as much as this man.
Bhutan does of course have its traffic jams, but even these have their own individualistic styles, and there seems to be a total absence of __________________. Such is life in an undeveloped country. When people talked about development in the past, they always asked what the gross national product was, and the King then turned around and said “we are not interested in gross national product; we are interested in gross national happiness. And what the king says goes. While the rest of the world was _________ with economic rationalist fervor towards a new millennium, this king took a bizarre step and opted for the wellbeing of his subjects. To us, gross national happiness basically means that ultimately, the long-term and the ultimate goal of development should be happiness, that people should be happy. And Bhutan believes that this happiness cannot come from purely material development, economic development, but that it must be very carefully _________ with spiritual health, with the environment and generally the quality of life. One might be tempted to think that the gross national happiness here is drug-induced, after all the streets are _________ not with gold, but with marihuana. From every nook and cranny, in every street, cannabis grows like a weed, but virtually no one smokes it. Instead, they feed it to the animals. This farmer told me his cows didn’t like it much, but the pigs were hooked. While the pigs can’t just say “no” to drugs, it seems the Bhutanese can. Yes, marihuana grows wild all over, it is more common than normal grass, and I think it reflects the innocence of Bhutanese society that it’s not used as a drug. You know that marihuana is the most popular food for pigs. People go round, you’ll find, eh…you walk around, every…, any time of the day... you’ll find people _________ it to feed their pigs. I think Bhutan is one country where pigs do fly. But here, high in the Himalayas, half way to heaven, something is at foot. Important people are in town. There is magic in the air. Just days away are the biggest celebrations here for 25 years. It’s the Silver Jubilee. The dragon king has been on the throne for a quarter of a century. The whole city is _________, bristling with anticipation, for on this coming royal day of days there can be no mistakes, everything must run smoothly. Not that the king is a beheading king, just the opposite. Indeed, he seems to be honestly and universally admired. “Yeah, he is a good king.” During the king’s reign, __________________has increased an astounding 20 years. Figures on education, health, clean water supply, electricity, all are just as impressing. The government has paid for the improvements with hydroelectricity, which it sells to India, just down the mountains.
The second biggest money _________ is tourism. To get a glimpse of heaven tourists pay top dollar, there is no tourist quota, but the government charges a minimum 250 USA dollars a day to keep the numbers down. The main tourist attraction is the _________.In these Himalayan foothills there is a cornucopia of diversity, a treasure house of the word’s plants and animal species. And the government is well aware of its value. This is her Majesty, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, the Queen, well, one of the queens. She is guest of honour here at this tree-planting ceremony. But it is not just the government paying _________while tearing the forest apart. Bhutan’s record with its ecology is exemplary. Even the greenies agree. The king, right from the start I think, was most conscious of the need to preserve the Bhutanese, well, let’s just take it simply, the forest, the forest cover. And from the very beginning he introduced a ban on _________by private companies which were there when he took over. Bhutan is the only country in the region that can boast an increase in forest cover over the past twenty-five years. Even on a day-to-day basis, the environment gets a look-in. The king recently banned plastic bags in the kingdom. He even _________ a Royal Decree, whereby, given even the king himself, who, according to our law is usually above the law has to obtain a permit to be able to get a tree for his own use. It comes as no surprise that the _________ factor in the king’s philosophy has a spiritual rather than material ethic. The landscape and the culture go hand in hand, and the culture was just basically based on Buddhism, again, is very benign to the environment and we believe in not harming any __________________ and not harming anything, not only human beings. Buddhism is the _________ force of Bhutan, the strongest of all their traditions; traditions that have remained protected by the remoteness of the Himalayas. Many hundred years it has been (sic) in that tradition. But, I don’t see that, you know, we have to continue with this tradition exactly the same. Bhutan has recognized that change is now inevitable, that their geographical _________ would no longer protect them from outside forces. During the king’s reign, tradition has been encouraged. At this government-run school in Thimphu, the best young _________ and women from around the country receive expert tuition. The skills being learnt here are ancient, steeped in Buddhist mythology, but increasingly, these artefacts are valued not just for their use in Buddhist ritual but as products that can be sold to the _________ tourist market. The culture is changing, but to Buddhists nothing remains the same. Tradition or culture, whatever it doesn’t matter, but “main ting is the people’s intellectual way” that development, intellectual development is the important, so I think so far, within these 25 years, at the Bhutanese people intellectually there are lot development I can say. But some developments just about to happen could test Buddhist patience to the limit. High above the city preparations are being made. A new deity is about to arrive. Television is coming to Bhutan, and that is not all (someone talking, Buddhist mantras). In this jubilee year everything seems to be happening at once. Not only is television coming, the Internet has arrived. The Bhutanese will now be able to surf the super-highway. (The choice of content on Internet is indeed vast. What is downloaded and how internet is used is up to the prudence of the users. Like all tools, on one hand it is very powerful. On the other hand it can be put to _________ use and _________ the users. With yet another official opening in this week of ceremonies, Bhutanese home life is changed forever. Television finally arrives.
Television will become a very important force for national integration, for the promotion of Buddhist culture, including music and (…) activities. But some __________________on the impact that it will have. I think there’ll be the whole _________ culture, the impact of the very aggressive advertising which is on television. And I think ah, I mean that is why, was, because it is all (…) new to Bhutan, it is all going to be very attractive, very glittering, very bright. I think it is going to be, it is going to be a problem. Night one, and the good people of Timphu sit down expectantly to spend their first evening in front of the telly. Buddhists believe that all of life is an illusion. One man pointed out that television must therefore be an illusion of an illusion, and if something is so unreal, perhaps it is not so dangerous. Anyway, world is the illusion, anyway, so therefore, if you understand the nature of the (depth) of illusion or realise the nature of the depth of the illusion, so television is (?). And so in the Kingdom of Bhutan arrives the royal day of days. In other parts of the world, royalty is in trouble. Here, the fairy story just gets stronger. Far from _________ to power, this young king last year shocked the parliament by introducing new legislation devolving his power to his subjects. In effect, parliament, by a vote of no confidence could now sack him. But nobody wants to. They want him to continue development this tiny kingdom while maintaining the country’s _________ identity. It is an identity that they are _________ with the world to leave intact. I think Bhutan is looking at global trends, seeing the so called globalisation and especially mourning perhaps the disappearance of many diverse cultures. In that sense, Bhutan really believes that the world needs Bhutan. Perhaps the real question is “Does Bhutan need the rest of the world?” Yet another first, a Ferris wheel, it’s taken a while to get here, but the Bhutanese respond with innocent passion that Connie Island and Luna Park lost long ago. As they whirl into a new technological orbit, renouncing the isolation of their ancient hermit kingdom, you could only wish them well.