Jigme Singye Wangchuck is the man who would rather not be king. When he ascended the throne as Bhutan's absolute monarch in 1974, Wangchuck was the closest thing to God in his tiny, closed Himalayan kingdom of half a million people. His reign has been a benevolent one. Rather than oppose modernization only to be run over by it, the King championed various reforms, such as allowing in foreign tourists, television and the Internet, while limiting their impact in order to preserve the country's values and traditions. Mindful of some pernicious side effects of economic growth, he introduced the idea of...

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