Cultural diversity and resilience

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The significance of cultural diversity for humanity is now being increasingly recognised by several international organisations. The UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity represents the first international instrument aimed at promoting cultural diversity. Developing cultural resilience is also given importance, which can be understood as the culture’s capacity to maintain and develop cultural identity, knowledge and practices, and able to overcome challenges and difficulties from other norms and ideals.

The key importance of culture, as I perceive, includes: to instill values for the full development of human being, to meet spiritual and emotional needs, to temper the pace of modernisation and the negative impacts of globalisation, to safeguard and strengthen the country’s sovereignty and security, to develop resilience, and to promote diversity for meaningful contribution.

Culture is a concept that cannot be easily explicated and quantified. As such, not all variables of culture are included in this study; priority was given to those that have a strong relation to one’s sense of well-being. The data was largely collected based on existing cultural practices, values and norms as traditionally laid out in Bhutan. This paper attempts to assess the strength and relevance of various aspects of culture in Bhutan through the perceptions of respondents towards basic cultural elements such as language; sense of identity; core values, change in values, beliefs, norms, and customs; and participation in various cultural activities, such as festivals, sports, and songs. Also, a modest attempt has been made to see whether Bhutanese culture as a whole is capable of maintaining and developing itself in spite of challenges from other ideals and norms – a feature of cultural resilience.