Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bhutan tales - 4 - Gross Happiness Index

'We believe that  be happy with what you have. Don't desire more than what you have. Because desire has no destination.'
This is what I heard from drivers, guides and even hotel staff when I initiated conversation  about the  world famous  happiness index of Bhutan.
 Bhutan's growth is measured by Gross National Happiness Index (GNHI) instead of GDP. It was introduced by their 4th King-Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1972. Over the years it has been criticized as well as well received and  has been spoken a lot in global level. Obviously, this idea has its origin from their Buddhist philosophy. They believe material and spiritual growth should happen hand in hand.
I was wondering how do they measure GNHI. I was told they take a survey of Bhutanese people  based on their cultural, economical, environmental,  mental, physical and political wellness.
GNHI has 4 pillars
1.Promotion of sustainable development
2.Promotion of cultural values
3.Good governace and
4. Conservation of natural environment

I could see  their honest efforts in all these areas. Recently they have integrated GNHI principles into their education system.

 I saw a  lot of construction activity happening in Thimpu. It is a  part of the  development to expand Thimpu till Paro. I didn't hear common people appreciating this. They were concerned about  their city entering  into too much of hustle bustle and loose its identity and calmness.This clearly shows their concern to protect their environment and culture. At the same time they can't ignore growth.
I was wondering how do they balance. I was reading in their newspaper about rising cost of living and many other challenges they are facing including vulnerable climate in addition to other environmental and social pressures.

Does GNHI  really work ???? No idea...

Two hearty laughter memories  which left a deep impression in me echoing their efforts towards happiness and sustainability...

This boy in phobjikha valley was playing with a stick. He was so joyfully playing I kept watching him.  When he realized I am watching him, he played even more merrily.He appeared to me like an embodiment of happiness.

Then there were 4 boys in Wangdue valley.They were on their way back home from school. I guess they had bought ice candy on the way. Making  themselves comfortable on the wooden bench beside the road, they were about to eat. Look at their expression!!! I just liked it ... 

When they saw me taking pictures they burst out with laughter loudly especially first two.It's still echoing in my ears. It was music to my ears and manifestation of happiness to my eyes. 

 “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” - Mahatma Gandhi

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