Monday, 15 September 2014


Today, we all live in a highly globalized world. Thanks to advancement of science and technology, the entire world is just a click of the button away. But, all these technological breakthroughs have not necessarily made the world a more habitable and better place to live in and, globalization has the potential to obliterate the very essence of civilization like unique culture, tradition and way of life.

 Life has become so much easier now even for us Bhutanese with rapid development bringing about material comfort. While this is a good thing to happen, there is also a real danger of unchecked materialism and globalization leading to the loss of our identity if we don’t know how to strike a balance.

Development is good and it is necessary for people to live quality life but, the pursuit of quality life through materialism is what will drag us all in pursuit of endless wants and be the cause of our sufferings. Today, we must consider ourselves lucky to have been born in a land blessed by Guru Rimpoche and other luminaries including our successive monarchs. We have to consider ourselves lucky to have inherited largely intact environment, culture and traditions not by freak accident but by the blessings of these great saints and our collective good karma. The onus now lies with us, the present generation to pass on these invaluable assets to our future generations. Whether we can do that remains a question.

I think, we have all the aggregates necessary to become a perfect place that can be called a true Shangrila if we are prepared to make small adjustments in life. Because, we opened up relatively late to the outside world, the bad influences of modernization are late to arrive in the country to have caused larger impact. But this is changing rapidly and the indications are that, we are becoming no different from any race when it comes to materialism.

The good thing is that, we have a sound development guiding principle based of Gross National Happiness (GNH) that will hopefully curb those mindless pursuits even at individual level. Secondly, as a predominantly Buddhist country, individuals are always governed by its principles and thus help us in being reminded of the importance of living in moderation.

But, the ideals can change with generational transition and this is what we must all be worried about. Already the outside influences are visible in our urban centres and are making inroads into the villages. Our youth are fascinated by Korean styles and try and emulate them through weird hairdos and dressing styles which are alien to our own standards. How deep these external influences are in our society is a matter for us to introspect? And I think, oblivious to us, dramatic changes are apparently taking place that must worry us.

A non-resident Bhutanese, returning back to Bhutan after a gap of about five years was little shocked to see children in the streets mimicking the so called Korean styles. He said, what worried him was whether Bhutanese parents are making any effort at all to educate their children on making informed choices because these children will carry with them these residual impact of their present lives into their adulthood. Another interesting observation he made and shared is quite damning for those affluent living in the cities where there are increasingly less Bhutanese in their lives.

An interesting mention was made on how he felt he was entering a home of a Bollywood star and not a Bhutanese home, when he was invited to a get-together. Except for the curved designs of the windows and an altar (Choesham) in one room, there is nothing that can merit that home to be called a Bhutanese home. He said he not only felt sad but was worried with the kind of a culture alienation taking place in the towns. He also shared how living in a foreign land has made him endear and realize just how precious our own culture and values are. These values have molded Bhutanese to become humane human beings and the world needs that, according to him.

This incidence of a chance meeting with the non-resident Bhutanese opened up a poignant issue on where our society is moving in the face of rapid development and globalization. There is a real danger of the generation next from those parents living in towns and cities to appreciate less about our own culture and tradition as they get influenced more by cosmetic attractions of foreign culture and way of life.

It is sad too that, the affluence brought about in the first place by education has the potential to be the main cause for the dwindling appreciation of our own culture and tradition and that the uneducated rural folks have to once again lead the way in the preservation and appreciation of the Bhutanese culture. I think educated people have lot of introspection to do.

His Holiness Gyalwang Drukchen speaking to Bhutanese delegate in one of the Annual Drukpa Council said, “Nothing is as important in life as your identity.” I think, this is even more important for us, Bhutanese because we can easily be overwhelmed and swallowed up. We need more than just the ability to wear ghos and kiras to be a Bhutanese. We need Bhutanese essence in everyday life.

I may be wrong but, try giving deeper thoughts on anything we do with our children and see how much of them are in tandem with our culture and tradition. One day, they will also become parents and will have the onus to pass on these values to their children too and, we want them to do it the Bhutanese way.

We are walking the tight rope; we must know how to balance ourselves first.

Wishing all the readers health and happiness. Take care until my next post. I am extremely sorry for the long post, I promise, it will be shorter next time. I am really bad at keeping things short.

Gyembo Namgyal
September 15, 2014


  1. Gyembo sir, I absolutely agree with your observation that we're walking the tight rope. If things go at this pace, maintaining a balance would become all more difficult. thanks.

  2. Thank you Sangay sir, for reading and agreeing with my view. And thank you for commenting too. Have a good night and take care.

  3. Gyembo sir. World is what science and technology made now. along with your observation into this reality is very fact that we are walking into the tight rope all times...nice reading ...

  4. thank you sancha sir, have a good day.