Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh

By: Alissa Coyle

Comparing Social Groups

Nepal- They used to have a caste system, but in the 1900’s it got abolished. The political system is dominated by those from the upper caste (level). There are many different ethnic groups in Nepal most of which descend from various Tibeto-Burmese groups. If you are in the upper class then you probably have much higher of an education.

Bhutan- There are three major ethnic groups located in Bhutan, the Ngalop, the Sharchop, and the Lhotshampa. All three are very populated groups of people. Most of Bhutan’s population is people the age of 15 or younger. The small, poorer families live in farming villages. Although there are differences between Bhutanese, there is no major social group separating them from each other.

Bangladesh- Everyone gets the chance to go to public school for free. But only the educated move on to a government-owned university. These people will move on to subjects such as computer science, telecommunication technology, medical science, and more. There are those that live in the urban areas. These people are referred to as the middle class.

Comparing Languages

Nepal- Nepali is the official language of Nepal. Although, people generally prefer to use their ethnic group's native language. Mostly the only people who know how to speak English have a better education and have a higher social status.

Bhutan- The official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha. Almost everyone in bhutan can speak and understand this language. This used to be the language spoken by officials but most officials speak English now. Official documents are written in Dzongkha but the educated find English easier to read and write. There are different ethnic groups among Bhutan that have their own language.

Bangladesh- Bangla is the country’s official language. People with a university education usually speak English. Small ethnic groups along the southeast border and elsewhere speak their own languages.

Comparing Religions

Nepal- About 80% of the population is Hindu. Buddhism is the second biggest religion in Nepal. Buddhists and Hindus tend to share customs and worship at each other's shrines.

Bhutan- Most of Bhutan’s population lives to the cultures of Buddhism. There are monks at important events such as naming a baby and village festivals. They have offerings to spirits and worship at shrines. The elderly are greatly devoted to their religious beliefs. Even the younger generations visit temples and pray for good luck. People at all age strive to do good deeds. There are people that don’t follow the Buddhist culture. These people are Hindu. Very few people practice Christianity.

Bangladesh- Muslim is the largest religion that is practiced in Bangladesh. Muslims pray 5 times a day. Hindu’s are the second largest religion in Bangladesh and only make up around 9% of the population. Religion has a strong influence on society. Bangladeshis stress cleanliness near holy books and places. They remove their shoes before entering mosques and temples. Muslims do not drink alcohol or eat pork. Hindus do not eat beef.

Comparing Daily Lives

Nepal- The two most popular sports in Nepal are soccer and cricket. Cricket is mainly played by boys. Most adults consider sports and games for children only. Lack of recreational resources is a problem throughout the whole country. Nepal's national sport is called Kabbadi, which is a wrestling game. People who live in rural areas don't usually have much time for recreation and tend to create their own entertainment while working.

Bhutan- Bhutan men and women are equal, although women have more restrictions than men. The stereotype for women is weak and indecisive. Most women become teachers and more and more women are working in government positions. Children are supported by their families until they are married or have a job. Children are expected to take care of their parents at their old age. Archery is a major part of their daily lives. Children play soccer, basketball, badminton, and table tennis.

Bangladesh- Men enjoy soccer, field hockey, cricket, table tennis, and badminton. The national cricket team is increasingly popular. With the exception of handball, girls are discouraged from playing sports. Visiting friends and relatives is a form of recreation that reinforces the family support network. Most people do not travel for pleasure. Families and young people enjoy picnics. Most young girls spend their leisure time watching movies, reading books and magazines, and shopping with friends. TVs are popular in cities.

Comparing Histories

Nepal- There is little record from Nepal’s early kingdoms. Nepal’s palaces and temples were created in a place that is now known as the Kathmandu Valley. Feuds broke out over territory. This weakened the kingdom, defeating Malla rulers. Nepal was able to maintain a strong defensive system. Conflict erupted between the royal families and the military. This resulted in the defeat of the ruling Shahs. In 2006, the government and rebels signed a deal that ended the insurgency. They became a transitional government. They are now on there way to a democratic government.

Bhutan- Bhutan has been inhabited by Tibeto-Burman peoples since the second millennium BC, but Bhutan's written history began in the seventh century AD with the arrival of Buddhism. Bhutan has been largely isolated from the rest of the world throughout its history. The kingdom was never colonized. It wasn’t until the 1770s that the Bhutanese really encountered with the outside world. In the 19th century, the area of Druk Yul was named Bhutan by the British. After India’s independence from Britain in 1947, Bhutan was recognized as an independent country. The start of the hereditary monarchy era dates back to the early 20th century. In 1907, Sir Ugyen Wangchuck, the penlop of Tongsa valley, gradually consolidated power until he was elected the first king of Bhutan. Since his death in 1927, Bhutan's throne has passed from father to son. In 2008, the kingdom’s first parliamentary election, concluded Bhutan's shift from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy.

Bangladesh- The first written records date back to Alexander the Great’s campaigns in India. Bangladesh became independent after Pakistani armies surrendered to Indian forces. Bangladesh’s new leader Khaleda was challenged with natural disasters, regional problems, and more that he eventually resigned. Their new leader led them to victory, away from Khaleda’s Bangladesh’s Nationalist Party (BNP). Bangladesh continues to have political instabilities.

Comparing Arts

Nepal- Buddhist and Hindu beliefs greatly influence Nepali arts. Religious themes and stories form the basis of popular folk dance and music. Traditional music is played on the drums, wooden flutes, and stringed instruments. The most common stringed instrument is the sarangi that is used to accompany singing and dancing. Traditional styles dominate religious work.

Bhutan- Women are a big part of folk dancing and silk weaving. Many festivities include instruments and dancing. Three popular styles of dances are English, Hindi, and Korean free styles. There is wood carving, painting, metalwork, and more that represent religious symbols and subjects.

Bangladesh- Bangladeshis are proud of their artistic tradition, which is much older than their young country. Bangali poetry really reflects the character of the Bangladeshi people. Folk dances are often based on everyday themes and activities. Islamic mosques provide a visual foundation for contemporary architects, who blend native appearance with Western structural elements. Decorative arts thrive in several media. Rickshaw carts are brightly decorated, and domestic items are beautified by paint, engraving, and embroidery.

Comparing Governments

Nepal- There is no permanent constitution, although there was an interim constitution that guaranteed their right to freedom of assembly, religion, and press. The government does limit these freedoms in practice though. People are able to vote at age 18. Their political parties are lined up according to their ethnic, religious, caste, and regional status. Political issues are not common for Nepalese people. Nepal struggles to maintain peace with Maoists, who they fought against in the civil war.

Bhutan- Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy. His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is the nation's head of state. The prime minister is the head of government. Bhutan’s two main political parties include the People’s Democratic Party and Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party. The constitution guarantees many basic freedoms, including freedom of speech, assembly, press, and religion. However, the government has the power to limit freedoms in order to preserve the unity and peace of the country. The legal voting age is 18.

Bangladesh- The National Parliament contains 350 members. Their president is the head of the state and deals with mainly ceremonial duties. The Prime Minister deals with most of the executive powers. Religious freedom is a respected principle but there are occasional discrimination and harassment circumstances. The voting age is 18.

Comparing Economies

Nepal- Agriculture employs the majority of the labor force and accounts for nearly one-third of Nepal’s export earnings. Just and rice are primary export crops. Tourism is the second most important industry. Underemployment is high. The incomes of Nepalese working in India are a major support for the economy. Private trade across the Indian border helps bring needed goods into Nepal. The currency is the Nepalese rupee.

Bhutan- Bhutan’s economy is based on agriculture and forestry. 40% of Bhutan’s population depends on farming and animal husbandry. There are industries along the southern border produce cement, processed fruit, and mineral products. Only a small amount of tourists are allowed into Bhutan at a time. Their currency is the ngultrum (BTN).

Bangladesh- Agriculture employs half of the labor force. Rice is the most important crop and food staple. Some exports include tea, shrimp, leather, and some others. They import most of its consumer goods and food. Bangladesh has struggled as a result of explosive population growth since the 1970s. The agriculture industry is not able to meet Bangladesh's high demand for jobs, and many people move to other countries in search of work. Natural disasters such as cyclones, tornadoes, flooding, and droughts have also affected the economy. Thirty percent of the population lives in poverty. Efforts are being made to diversify the economy, mainly through industrial development. The manufacturing and energy sectors have potential for growth and have a number of foreign investors. The Bangladesh currency is the taka.