‘Gross National Happiness’ is a philosophy that governs Bhutan towards developmental activities. The concept was bought up by the 4th Dragon King of Bhutan who became King at the age of 16 (youngest king in the world). It says much on Material growth and advancement alone does not bring the ultimate happiness and well-being to individuals. The richer nations have to be happier otherwise. But, this is not true. And even the riches that affluent nations around the globe have amassed have come with a deluge of compromises on many areas such as cultural and spiritual values, and environmental degradation. Bhutan cannot afford to trail on this beaten path. Hence, His Majesty the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck envisioned a special Bhutanese path to development in 1972: Gross National Happiness (GNH).
GNH is the development philosophy that aspires to ensure economic progress along with the spiritual and emotional well-being of the people. The four pillars were designed to ensure GNH. They are sustainable and equitable socio-economic development, conservation of environment, promotion and preservation of culture, and good governance.
Bhutan believes in sustainability and equitable socio-economic development. While the present generation enjoys their fair share of development, it is believed that this should not affect the development of future generations. Investment in education and health, and eco-friendly hydroelectric power is strongly accentuated. And the development progress is undertaken qualitatively and quantitatively and distributed evenly across all sections of the society.
The country’s efforts to maintain 60 percent of its area under forest cover is an important milestone that harmonizes man’s coexistence with nature. To this end, the entire nation plants trees on June 2 every year. According to Wangchhuk (2008) Bhutan currently has 72.5 percent of its land under forest cover and 26 percent of it is declared as protected areas.
Preservation and promotion of culture plays a pivotal role in fulfilling GNH. The nation makes constant efforts to preserve and promote both tangible and intangible cultures. This helps to treasure and strengthen the family bond and community spirit.
The nation can be only happy if the government’s developmental initiatives are targeted to the people. The decentralization process spearheaded by the Fourth King has enabled the people of all walks of life to express themselves and build their capacities in planning and working towards achieving those plans. The Fourth King also drafted Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan in 2008 and at the same time, he abdicated the throne in favor of his son the Fifth King. […more…]