This third issue focuses on the topic “Bhutan and Modernity: Responding to Change.” We have previously looked at national identity and at the institutions of the State in the context of Bhutan. In this issue, we look at how Bhutan is responding to change, the only constant, brought about by modernity.

Bhutan takes pride in the claim that, as we deal with the inevitability of change, we have been able to preserve what is most important to a small nation in a large world: our distinct national identity. This is largely a fact, visible in our political and socioeconomic systems and in our cultural heritage as they exist today. The blend of good fortune and wise leadership has indeed distinguished our country for its successes in keeping the undesirable aspects of modernisation at bay.

Yet the challenges persist, and will continue to do so. And it is also a fact that the impact of change on Bhutan is taking its toll. We see new problems that are a direct result of the process that we, with more than a little irony, call the process of development. We see a traditional society breaking down, the pains of political evolution, an economy that tugs us in the direction most countries are being pulled, the invasion on a culture that is forced to evolve, and the other side of a lifestyle which is changing rapidly.

Governance has seen dramatic initiatives in Bhutan as political power that was submitted by the people to a hereditary Monarchy was returned after exactly one century. Culture, the essence of the Bhutanese identity, is under pressure from globalisation that comes from an aerial threat with the onslaught of the international media. As the interdependent existence of Bhutanese communities succumbs to the more independent existence of individuals, we look to new laws for social stability. Youth are forced to deal with the risks that come with generational change and new needs that come with disparities in economic affluence.

How are we responding to these changes? How are we dealing with the new realities that emerge almost by the day? Are we driving change or is change driving us? This phenomenon called modernisation–is it really westernisation? This collection of articles takes a serious look at these issues. And we hope that they will stimulate debate and discussion so that we will reach a deeper understanding of the challenges that come with the new times.

The Druk Journal is a nonpartisan publication. Our purpose is to serve the national interest through the development of serious conversation about policy from every possible constructive point of view. We have no editorial position of our own. We believe that our stated objectives and the means we will use to achieve them are the best way in which we can serve our country and His Majesty the King. In this spirit, we invite your participation and the participation of all interested citizens in this endeavour. We wish you Good Reading, Good Thinking, and Good Conversation.