Gross National Happiness

Jigme Y. Thinley, Bhutan

Prime Minister of Bhutan

(Submitted by Rachel Potter, Australia)

Bhutan has undertaken the pursuit of happiness for all its citizens through four broad strategies or indicators, and is defined by our GNP or 'Gross National Happiness':

First, we are promoting sustainable and equitable socio-economic development, which can be measured to a large extent through conventional metrics.

Second is the conservation of a fragile ecology, using indicators of achievement, such as the way the green vegetation cover in my country has expanded over the last 25 years from below 60 per cent to over 72 per cent. The very conscious efforts and the very deliberate programme interventions ensure that in no way will Bhutan have loss of biodiversity. We, of course, continue to be very directly involved in raising consciousness and concern and trying to promote policy reorientation, especially with respect to battling climate change.

Preserving our culture
The third strategy is the promotion of culture, which includes preservation of the various aspects of our culture that continue to be relevant and supportive of Bhutan’s purpose as a human civilisation. Among the various things that we do is ensure that, as small as we are and as vulnerable as we may appear to be, no Bhutanese should suffer a sense of insecurity arising from loss of their cultural identity, language, and so on, under the onslaught of modernisation.

Today, Bhutanese have an appreciable sense of pride and dignity about themselves, which I think, again, is key to happiness. Family values and community vitality are things that we are promoting in a very conscious way. It is our hope that, unlike many of the developed, industrialised and urbanised societies, Bhutan will always have the benefit of the social safety net in the form of the extended family network. There are various ways in which we can do this.

Not least among these are, for instance, religious festivals, traditional festivals and social festivals, which serve to bond community and family. It heartens me to see the multi-generational participation of families in these social bonding activities, giving very clear evidence of the vitality of the extended family network - as opposed to the state-supported artificial and unsustainable welfare systems that we so often try to prop up.

Good governance
Then there is the fourth strategy - good governance - on which the other three strategies or indicators depend. We know that democracy is the best form of governance. Democracy is what enables and empowers each individual not only to express his or her point of view, but gives the power to determine what kind of people should lead and how these people should be held accountable. We devote much of our time in trying to promote a democratic culture.

Today, the Bhutanese people have an appreciable sense of pride and dignity about themselves, which I think, again, is key to happiness.


1 comment

Submitted by Anonymous user on Thu, 02/24/2011 - 19:59.

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