Gross National Happiness
Bhutan’s development has been guided for several decades by the philosophy of GNH which goes beyond the sustainable development concept to actually relate development to contentment and happiness. Conceived by our fourth king, it is based on the belief that happiness can be achieved through development that balances the needs of the body with those of the mind within a stable and sustainable environment. It stresses that the material enrichment must not lead to spiritual impoverishment and that it must address emotional, psychological and spiritual needs of the individual. Above all, GNH requires that the Endeavor of the government must be to create conditions that would enable its citizens to pursue happiness. Even our constitution holds the state as having the responsibility of promoting GNH as an arbiter of public policies and plans. This responsibility of the riyal government is undertaken through a four-pronged strategy, popularly referred to as the four pillars of GNH .all development policies and programmers of the kingdom must serve to strengthen these four pillars.
1.EQUITABLE AND SUSTAINABLE SOCIOECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
This pillar comprises the indicators of education, health and living standards. It represents mainly those aspects of the development which include both the real and imagined needs of the body in the broadest sense. Government delivery of the related services and opportunities are to be guided and regulated by the two conditions of sustainability and equity.
The first condition of the sustainability prescribes the moral responsibility of each generation to ensure that that development is pursued to benefit not only the present but future generation as well. This consideration questions the nature and purpose of economic growth and support research findings which dispel the fallacious belief that having more after meeting basic needs results in more happiness. It urges moderation of consumption and scaling down our way of life on the basis of real need. it cautions against the cancerous nature of mindless and limitless economic growth to raise GDP.
The second condition of equity requires that all actions of the state are aimed at and carried out, to benefit equally. All section of society. this is particularly challenging in a country with forbidding geographic features, scattered population and the resultant high cost of service delivery .this further raises our understanding that material suffering in the world is not because of scarcity of food, shelter, clothing and medicine but because of lack of moral persuasion for equity and will to share through a more just and efficient distribution arrangement. Recent action and program in this public domain are;
- A minimum program aimed at alleviating rural poverty and closing the gap between the rich and poor
- A program to promote Bhutan as a green economy
- Promote of Bhutan as an Eco literate society
2. PRESERVATION AND PROMOTION OF CULTURE
In this widest sense, this pillar holds up the non tangible and finer values of human society which include a dynamic set of beliefs, expressions, practices and manifestations for the true advancement of civilization. this ,in fact ,is the main driver of GNH.It is the cultural frame within which our psychological and emotional needs are addressed and the moral and ethical bases for our thoughts and actions established .this pillar is measured against the indicators of cultural resilience, time use and balance ,community vitality and psychological well being.
Culture, unfortunately, has been a principal victim of the corrosive effect of consumerist ethics .striving against nuclearization of family; the challenge of single parenting; and the shame of edging out the old to the fringes of society, we are determined to save, revive and nourish the traditions and practices (such as tsechus and family chokus) that bond families and keep communities thriving. We treasure the extended family network as the natural and most sustainable form of social safety net to provide for emotional, economic and social needs and support that even the richest countries are unable to provide through artificial state managed welfare system. In the ultimate analysis, happiness is about caring and sharing and being able to moderate one’s desire and craving. Happiness abounds when relationship grow. We think true wealth has to do more with relation wealth and social strength than material accumulation. Some of our recent successes in addition to maintaining our unique identity are; the designation of Bhutan as the host country for the BIMSTEC center for cultural industry.
A Bhutanese film industry that has completely edged out both Holly and Bolly -wood exports in movie theaters. A media corpus that is growing and expanding in an enabling climate. A growing talent pool of writers and publisher in English and Dzongkha (national language)
3.CONSERVATION OF THE ENVIRONMENT
The third represents the dynamic space in which we live. It is within the natural environment that the mind and the body receive nourishment. Our way of life should thus be conditioned by nature. but believing in our supremacy over all forms of life, we have shown little respect for the laws of nature of late however, saner voices appear to pave the way albeit, ever so slowly, for man and nature to abide in harmony. For Bhutan, highly vulnerable mountain ecology, the integrity of the environment is an everyday concern. But measures taken at home to conserve the environment are not enough. recent action taken in the legal and policy domains are ; A constitutional requirement that our country must always have a minimum forest cover of 60%.however ,our forest cover is actually more than 72% with 51% of our land falling under parks and protected nature reserves.
A voluntary pledge to the international community that Bhutan will always remain carbon negative, meaning that its carbon sequestration capacity will exceed that amount of GHGs it releases, thereby serving as a global carbon sink.
A tourism policy that will continue to emphasize high quality and low impact (volume) while promoting a major expansion with greater spread of its benefits.
Promotion of Bhutan as organic brand, whereby all agricultural produces originating in Bhutan will be free of chemical contamination to cater to the India to fuel its amazing growth.
4.PROMOTION OF GOOD GOVERNANCE
The role of this pillar is pivotal in that it provides the strength for the other pillars to hold up the architecture of happiness. The success with which one pure and finds happiness has much to do with justice, freedom, peace security and access to basic services. These are the functions of governments which can be best fulfilled within a democratic culture where the citizen are capable of exercising the power of the vote with responsibility to not only bring honest and competent leaders to public office but to hold them accountable and remove them in a perfectly orderly manner.
This pillar has received the highest priority of our former king since the time of his coronation in 1974.deeply convinced that the fate of Bhutan must not depend on the accident of birth. He worked methodically against popular will to transfer the absolute power of the ruler to the people. in so doing ,he stands as a leader who has worked hard to distance and separate himself from the source of power and having succeeded, abdicated the throne at the age of 53.some notable development in strengthening this pillar are;
Establishment of Bhutan as the youngest democracy in the world in 2008,with the first democratically elected government having assumed the privilege to serve on a platform of justice ,equity and change with continuity
Commitment of the government to the principles of transparency, accountability and responsiveness and ensuring full independence in the functioning of the constitutional oversight mechanism and arrangement for check and balance.
A conscious pursuit to establish resilient democratic culture within, government, party, institutions and society at large to ensure that the faith of the people in democracy is firmly established ,and that the people should never be compelled to consider other undemocratic alternatives.