Article

THE MOUSE THAT ROARED: BHUTAN’S BUDDHIST APPROACH TO DEMOCRACY AND DEVELOPMENT

The small, remote country of Bhutan is the only democratic, mixed market country in the world that is rooted constitutionally and culturally in Buddhist principles. As such, it provides an authentic basis for theoretical and empirical comparison between two distinct models of democracy and development (Western and Buddhist) that differ on important, first-order principles. This article illuminates the differences in philosophical assumptions and social theory between the two models, and documents how, in real world terms, Bhutan organizes and operates a political and economic system consistent with its Buddhist worldview. It considers whether Bhutan's unique pursuit of "Gross National Happiness" rather than Gross National Product as its ordering principle for policy can withstand the forces of globalization and what insights Bhutan might have to share with the rest of us about dilemmas facing Western democracies and the need to pursue development in a more holistic and sustainable way.

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