Political Culture and Democracy in Bhutan: An Insight

Authors

  • Rana Sonia Tez Bahadur ICSSR Post Doctoral Fellow (2018-19), Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi & Assam University, Silchar.

Keywords:

Political Culture, Democracy, Kingdom, Monarchy, Transition

Abstract

The democratic transition of Bhutan is often romanticised in popular media through utopian projection of Gross National Happiness. While it is glorified for its top-down democratisation, it has a flip side with no effective opposition either from the parties or the people. Adhering to the democracy as tailored by the King is viewed by the Bhutanese as a gift to live by without questioning or even criticising. This has largely to do with the policies long adopted by the Bhutanese Royals to develop a strong sense of national loyalty that does not bespoke of any form of opposition. Accordingly in an age of globalisation where people in most democracies vociferously voice their opinions even on the social media platforms, a quiet adherence to government rules and policies in Bhutan gives a mystified picture. A demystification of this phenomenon perhaps lies in the study of the political culture of Bhutan which is unlike that of other democratic countries. Political culture implies the system of beliefs and values that the people have towards their political system. It denotes the emotional attitudinal environment within which the political system operates. Accordingly, the paper will examine the political culture of Bhutan so as to give an insight into its process of democratic transition and functioning. It will attempt to understand the Bhutanese political culture to analyse the danger of inaccurate conclusions based on misconceptions not entirely true to Bhutan’s reality. This article is written with the support of the ICSSR postdoctoral fellowship programme (2018-2019) on ‘Democracy and Nationalism in Bhutan: Challenges and Prospects’.

Author Biography

Rana Sonia Tez Bahadur, ICSSR Post Doctoral Fellow (2018-19), Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi & Assam University, Silchar.

Rana Sonia Tez Bahadur is an  awardee of ICSSR Post-Doctoral Fellowship.  This paper is an outcome of the Post-Doctoral Fellowship sponsored by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR).  However, the responsibility for the facts stated, opinions expressed, and the conclusions drawn is entirely of the author”. 

References

Almond, Gabriel A. and Powell, Bingham G. (1966). “Comparative Politics: A Developmental Approach”. Boston: Little, Brown.

Canovan Margaret. (2001). “Democracy and Nationalism”. In Democratic Theory Today: Challenges for the 21st Century, edited by April Carter and Geoffrey Stokes. Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers.

Dahl Robert. (2000). On Democracy. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Dhurba P. Rizal. (2001). Bhutan Decentralisation and Good Governance, Delhi: Adroit Publishers.

Gellner Ernest. (2009). Nations and Nationalism. New York: Cornell University Press.

G N Mehra, (1981). Bhutan Land of the Peaceful Dragon, Delhi: Vikas Publishing House Pvt Ltd.

Gyeltshen, K. and Sripokangkul, S. (2017). “Bhutan’s Unique Transition to Democracy and its Challenges.” Journal of MCU Peace Studies 5, No.5.

Mathou, T. (2009). “The Politics of Bhutan: Change in Continuity.” Journal of Bhutan Studies.

Lyonpo Sonam Tobgye, The Constitution of Bhutan: Principles and Philosophies, www.judiciary.gov.bt/education/constitutionphilosophies.pdf

Phuntsho, K. “Bhutan’s Unique Democracy: A First Verdict.” Retrieved from https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/institutions/bhutan_s_unique_democracy_a_first_verdict

Rizal Dhruba. (2015). The Royal Semi-Authoritarian Democracy in Bhutan. USA: Lexington Press.

Sebastian Sarish. (2016). Parliamentary Democracy in Bhutan: A Journey from Tradition to Modernity. New Delhi: Adroit Publishers.

Sinha A.C. (2016). “Evicted from Home, nowhere to go: the case of Lhotshampas from Bhutan”. In Nepali Diaspora in a Globalised Era, edited by Tanka B. Subba and A.C. Sinha. New Delhi: Routledge Publication.

Stephen, A. Linz Juan J. and Minoves Juli F. “Democratic Parliamentary Monarchies”. Journal of Democracy 25, No.2 (2014): 35-50.

Political Culture, http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in.

Downloads

Published

2022-08-05