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Bhutan's happiness formula

BBC News    Translate This Article
5 May 2006

On 5 May 2006 BBC News reported: Led by His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuk, the development philosophy of the Kingdom of Bhutan is 'Gross National Happiness'. Currently Bhutan is the only country in the world to measure its well-being by Gross National Happiness (GNH) instead of Gross National Product (GNP). Global Good News service views this news as a sign of rising positivity in the field of government, documenting the growth of life-supporting, evolutionary trends.

To oversee the project of happiness, the government of Bhutan has ten ministries that work together in making the goal of Gross National Happiness a reality. Bhutan's policy of national happiness has ensured that they never compromise their national culture and spirituality.

The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small, landlocked nation in South Asia, located in the Himalayan Mountains, between India and the People's Republic of China. Its population is slightly more than half a million. After several centuries of divided rule by various influential families, His Majesty Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck unified Bhutan under the name of Druk Yul—Land of the Thunder Dragon. In 2008, the Kingdom will celebrate 100 years as a monarchy.

Since its introduction, there has been worldwide interest in Bhutan's Gross National Happiness system. Recently the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) produced a series on happiness that including Bhutan's happiness formula.

The BBC reported that: 'The politics of happiness has led Bhutan to make very different decisions from countries only searching for wealth.' For example, in order to hold back on consumerism the city council of Thimpu, the nation's capital, banned billboard advertisements for soft drinks.

'We have such fresh water here, do the children need to drink Pepsi or Coca-Cola?' one government minister from Bhutan told the BBC.

The BBC reported that in Bhutan they have tempered material growth with spirituality: Bhutan could be more prosperous if it had forsaken spiritual values and followed the conventional systems that seem to create greed.

The Kingdom of Bhutan is not closed to debate on the pros and cons of GNH, but publicly lists on its website research papers on Gross National Happiness, which are collected by The Centre of Bhutan Studies.

Orville Schell, Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, USA, visited Bhutan both before and after it received television. In his report 'Gross National Happiness' he considers how technology will affect the country's happiness.

He quotes Bhutan's foreign minister, Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley, at a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) meeting in Seoul, Korea, in 1998: 'The individual's quest for happiness and inner and outer freedom is the most precious endeavour; society's ideal of governance and polity should promote this endeavour.'

What is needed, he continued, is 'to ask how the dramatic changes propelling us into the 21st century will affect prospects for happiness [and] how information technology will affect people's happiness.'

Minister Thinley made this statement one year before Bhutan allowed television, cable, and the Internet into the country—the last nation in the world to receive it. The BBC reported that with the arrival of TV in 1999, many traditional family values were lost. Citizens reported that 'People now have TV dinners, instead of eating as a family. They forget to pray.' TV has also been blamed for increased crime and bad behaviour.

The Bhutan government minister commented: 'When children are glued to the TV they are less inclined to do homework and socialise with their peers.' To maintain happiness, TV programmes such as soap operas and wrestling are being taken off the air, but news and educational programmes are aired.

He said that when they look at the developed world, they wonder if there has been progress in civilisation, or if there has been a de-civilisation. He said that civilisation is supposed to support the full development of the individual. 'Happiness is the ultimate desire of everyone,' he concluded.

In his comments on Gross National Happiness, Berkeley's Professor Schell writes, 'The real appeal of Bhutan is that we feel human.'

Currently anyone can send his or her views on happiness to the webmaster at the Kingdom of Bhutan's official website:

Every day Global Good News documents the rise of a better quality of life dawning in the world and highlights the need for introducing Natural Law based—Total Knowledge based—programmes to bring the support of Nature to every individual, raise the quality of life of every society, and create a lasting state of world peace.

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