Gross National Happiness is the guiding development philosophy in the country. The term was first coined by the fourth King His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1972. It is a concept developed with an attempt to define an indicator that measures quality of life or social progress in a more holistic and psychological terms than gross domestic product. The King used the phrase as a gesture of his commitment towards building an economy that would serve Bhutan’s unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values. The concept is now being taken up by the Centre for Bhutan Studies, and implemented by the Gross National Happiness Commission.
Discussions on GNH revolve round four main pillars, nine domains and seventy indicators. Today, the concept of GNH has traveled across the world to define prosperity in better terms and to measure actual wellbeing rather than consumption. The conventional concept of Gross National Product measures only the sum total of material production and exchange in any country. Thus, three major factors seem to be responsible for the expanding credibility of GNH. One, there is wider awareness that GNP is a one-dimensional and thus misleading measure. Two, a wide range of indices have been devised which offer a more realistic assessment of even material prosperity. Three, there is growing pressure for an infusion of moral and cultural values into the core of economic policy.
GNH has allowed Bhutan to both expand its network of roads and increase its forest cover. In most other developing countries the arrival of roads is inevitably followed by deforestation. Bhutan’s move towards GNH has been indeed fruitful. For example, the high value low volume tourism policy has facilitated in high revenue generation as well as promotion and preservation of cultural and traditional values.
Guided by Gross National Happiness, Bhutan has tread on the trail of economic development but not to the detriment of the Happiness of the people. This development philosophy has made the lives of the Bhutanese comfortable by embracing the Middle Path. Bhutan has savored immense stride of economic progress that had complemented in the preservation and promotion of the four pillars of Gross National Happiness. Thus, Bhutan extols its forest cover and diversity of flora and fauna when elsewhere many species are disappearing. In the age of globalization, Bhutanese spiritual, cultural and traditional values continue to influence the lives of the Bhutanese. The government strives to enhance self reliance and reduce the gap between rich and poor. Intensive efforts have been made to ensure good governance for it is the main source of progress and happiness.
Courtesy to Tourism Council of Bhutan.