‘happiness is more important than money’. Lyonpo Jigmi Y. Thinley, Prime Minister of Bhutan, on Gross National Happiness.
Rajni Bakshi | July 2004 issue
“While conventional development models stress economic growth as the ultimate goal, the concept of GNH is based…”
“Gross National Happiness.”
“… is based on the premise that true development of society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other. For the last two decades happiness has been formally incorporated in Bhutan as a guiding principle in our development policies and plans.”
Ah, I see, Buddhist values, right?
“No, not alone. To the extent that GNH becomes a subject of serious research, analysis and a basis for social, economic and political change, it could be offered as Bhutan’s contribution to the global search for a more humane approach to development.”
How do you measure GNH?
“We have not been overly concerned with this. But I do know that Bhutan is more secure than ever before, it is more green than most countries and becoming greener. Despite the advent of satellite TV and Internet, the social fabric is still intact and life in the small police force is not the most exciting.”
One day, Bhutan might find it difficult to maintain the primacy of GNH over GNP, Gross National Product.
“We have an unshakable faith that, given an enabling environment, each citizen will find the wisdom to engage in the quiet but infectious pursuit of happiness rather than being trapped in the jungles of supposed means. However, it will always be challenging to keep GNH over and above GNP because of the spread of ideas and artifacts that stimulate material aspirations. But then, all that man has sacrificed at the alter of material advancement to appease insatiable wants, had not been in the best interest of furthering human civilization. There is little that potential converts can find in Bhutan beyond our simple belief in the primacy of happiness.”
Lyonpo Jigmi Y.Thinley is Prime Minister of Bhutan, a small country in the Himalayas bordering India and China. See also: http://www.bhutanstudies.org.bt/ and http://www.grossinternationalhappiness.org/.