Gross National Happiness.

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Gross National Happiness.

What is Gross National Happiness (GNH)?

GNH is a holistic and sustainable approach to development, which balances material and non-material values with the conviction that the basic human desire is to strive for happiness. The objective of GNH is to achieve a balanced development in all facets of life so that the goal of GNH –happiness-is fulfilled. GNH is a unique approach to national and global development.

The concept of Gross National consists of four pillars: fair and equitable socio- economic development, conservation and promotion of culture, environmental protection, and good governance.

The four pillars are further divided into nine domains: psychological well-being, living standard, health, culture, education, community vitality, good governance, balanced time use, and ecological integration. In accordance with these nine domains, Bhutan has development 38 sub-indexes, 72 indicators and 151 variable that are used to define and analyze the happiness of the Bhutanese people.

Back Ground of National Happiness.

The development philosophy that ‘Gross National Happiness (GNH) is more important than Gross Domestic Product (GDP)’ was propounded by His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Forth King od Bhutan, in the 1970s. He realized that the existing development paradigm-GDP-did not consider the ultimate goal of every human being happiness.

A Development Path with Values.

Since the 1970s, Bhutan has pursued the GNH path undeterred. Bhutan’s Constitution and the government’s polices are based on the four pillars of GNH. ‘Today GNH has come to mean so many things to so many people, but to me it signifies simply – development with values. Thus for my nation today GNH is the bridge between the fundamental values of kindness, equality and humanity and the necessary pursuit of economic growth. GNH acts as our National Conscience guiding us toward making wise decision for a better future ‘said His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgayel Wangchuck.

Bhutan has:

  • declared at COP-16 that it would remain carbon neutral always;
  • invested heavily in green hydropower;
  • achieved more than 80% forest cover;
  • protected 33% of the country in national parks or reserves for the benefit of wildlife;
  • initiated GNH education in schools;
  • begun the process of developing GNH accounting.

GNH Screening Tool.

Bhutan uses GNH to evaluate monitor, set goals and to build a national consciousness about the causes of happiness. The government of Bhutan has, among other things, developed a GNH screening tool, which is used as a GNH lens to vet any news policy, programmed or project. For example the policy of accession to WTO did not pass GNH standards and was therefore rejected. GNH screening is done by the Gross National Happiness Commission. All bills must go through Gross National Happiness before being submitted to the Cabinet. The private sector is also subject to GNH screening. It is not possible to start a new business without a license and business idea needs to pass the GNH screening.

GNH Accounting.

Bhutan will create balanced GNH accounts for the country, and thereby build the world’s first comprehensive set of national accounts. Bhutan has started accounting properly for all the country’s precious wealth-including natural, human, social, and cultural wealth- and it has stopped focusing narrowly on financial and manufactured wealth alone . Bhutan will be able thereby to reckon the true costs of economic activity, and be able to balance that activity with a proper accounting of natural, human, social, and cultural wealth, which are key pillars of Gross National Happiness.

GNH in a Global Development Perspective.

The world is suffering from the devastating side effects of people and nations clamoring for unfettered economic growth and materialism at the expense of other aspects. The consequences of this trend may be observed in many place in our planet, in terms of pollution, climate change, species extinction, inequality, economic insecurity and deep- rooted poverty. Bhutan sees a world, in which many place do not produce happier people despite an ever- increase consumption, since the increase in consumption is achieved at the expense of health, leisure, social relationships, spirituality and the environment.

GNH Inspires the World.

On 19 July 2011, the united Nations (UN) General Assembly unanimously adopted happiness as an independent goal for all countries. The UN is thus engaged in a process towards encouraging countries of the world to seek a more holistic approach to development.

‘Happiness is now accepted by the international community as a timeless, shared vision that binds all humanity together, rich and poor’’,said Jigme Y. Thinley, former Prime Mister of Bhutan.

In a follow up to this resolution, titled ‘Happiness: Towards a Holistic Approach to Development’’, the royal government of Bhutan held a high level meeting on ‘Happiness and Well being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm’’ on 2 April 2012 at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The summit was attended by a select but representatives, by all United Nations missions, and by leading economists, scholars and spiritual and civil society leaders, representing both developed and developing nations.

The heads of several states now want to learn how GNH can inspire them on their development path. Canada, Brazil and France are among countries that have begun to integrate GNH into national politics as a more viable alternative to focus on growth and GDP.

GNH Centre, Bumthang.

The purpose of the GNH Centre is to manifest in living practice Bhutan’s balanced the development philosophy of GNH. At the center, Bhutanese and foreigners (researchers, students, civil servants, business people, parliamentarians, farmers and others) will learn and experience how to bring GNH values and practices into their daily work and lives, and how to serve their families, neighbors, and the country with genuine purpose, compassion, and effectiveness.