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Title: Dhamma and grassroots development movements in rural Thailand
Author: Janyakul, S.
Awarding Body: University College of Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 1994
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In Southeast Asian history, Thailand is the only nation which resisted Western colonialism. No nationalist movements agains the Western colonialist rulers emerged as in Burma and Sri Lanka. As far as rural villagers who constitute the majority of Thai population are concerned, there were two significant historical events which had a tremendous impact on Thai society. One was the 1855 Bowring Treaty between Thailand and Britain which gave birth to the seeds of capitalism in Thai society. The other was the proclamation of the military dictator's First National Economic Development Plan of 1961 (and subsequent plans) which represented the World Bank's capitalist model of national development. While the former functioned as an external factor stimulating Thai peasants to produce more for the world market, the latter took the role of internal 'westernizing agent', armed with large-scale financial resources and nation-wide bureaucratic apparatuses, intending to transform Thai self-sufficiency into a monetized/consumer-oriented society. In this process of planned change, Buddhism was considered irrelevant to modern development by the capitalist-inspired rulers. In the course of time, while a materialistic and consumeristic ethos was promoted, communal culture, which is deeply rooted in Buddhism, began to erode and Thai rural villagers experienced much suffering. Even though Buddhism was not taken into consideration in the process of national development planning and implementation, Buddhist teaching (or the Dhamma) and Buddhist institutions still remained significant and meaningful in various aspects of people's lives. The existence of Buddhist teaching and the pervasiveness of Buddhist institutions in Thai society provide a firm basis on which several grassroots development movements have developed. These movements were initiated by Buddhist monks as well as lay Buddhists. They work hand in hand and establish both local and national networks, with assistance from Thai and international NGOs. They carried out various kinds of development activities throughout the country to encourage the disadvantaged to work together in solving their own problems.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available