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The Monetisation of Bhutan

Keywords: Monetisation in Bhutan

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The objective of this paper is to describe how Bhutanese society hasbecome monetised over the years, at first very slowly, but rapidlyduring the last half century. I will briefly comment on the effect that monetisation has had on Bhutanese Society, and the potential conflict that exists between traditional values in Bhutan, which are largely non-monetary based, and so-called “modern” values, which are almost entirely money oriented.Since the idea of coinage was first developed in Asia Minor aroundthe year 600 B.C., money has played an increasingly important role inevery “developed” country and society in the world. In many ways,monetisation has become a necessary accompaniment, not only toeconomic modernisation and development, but also to thedemocratisation of political processes. Money gives a personeconomic freedom of choice, and the ability to make a living withoutdepending on the goodwill and patronage of his political lord andmaster. However, lack of money in a monetised society, can be agreater hardship, because it can be accompanied by feelings that theindividual concerned has mismanaged his finances. In a nonmonetisedsociety, on the other hand, poverty can usually be blamed on outside forces, such as famine, drought, war or political mismanagement.Bhutan has been a very latecomer to the concept of money. It is only in the second half of the 20th century that currency has started to play a significant role in the fiscal policy of the state and in the wider economy. Bhutan provides an interesting subject for research into the social, political and economic effects of monetisation as the country continues its development process.


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