Bhutan: Gross National Happiness, Democracy and ****January 13, 2008
Gross National Happiness:
* The official criterion of the Bhutanese Govt to measure the Gross National Happiness is by the levels of environmental protection, cultural promotion, good governance and economic development. The last factor is only as important as the other three.
* The king of Bhutan was responsible for the definition of development in terms of the Gross National Happiness of its people, instead of an abstract economic measurement such as GNP.
* Bhutan has always emphasised that development can also be based on non-material values such as cultural, social and environmental values. The country has followed a traditional model of development which is based on improving the quality of life while respecting natural and cultural constraints, rather than the quantity of material production and consumption.
* 50 Years ago, Bhutan was not even an monetarized economy. Everything was barter.
* A 1995 Law in Bhutan mandates that 60% of Bhutans land must remain forested, while another 26% is already protected as parkland.
* Tourism and Industrialization is limited and restricted, which is viewed as a deliberate tactic to preserve national culture.
* Forests are safe-guarded and only a small amount of timber is felled each year.
* Healthcare services are free in Bhutan and education is funded by the Government.
* The entire country has more or less been declared a no-smoking zone.
* The king of Bhutan ordered legal experts to study constitutions of all the worlds great democracies and arrive at the final version.
* The final version, beginning with “We the people” was mailed to every home in the country.
* For contesting the elections all the contenders HAVE to be university graduates, despite no nominations being filed for four districts in the recent polls.
* In the mock elections, people voted for Drukyellow, which was about the preservation and promotion of Bhutans rich cultural heritage and tradition. This implied favouring the monarchy as they were happy with it.
* The Bhutans king voluntarily abdigated power and ruled in favour of democracy. This is in total contrast to the rest of the world where peoples revolution,overthrowing of monarchs, stronger country forcing democracy on weaker ones, moral policing, subjugation etc which brought about democracy through sheer force.
* Some people of Bhutan say why change a system that works, while others said that they were not educated enough to make decisions on their own and hence the king should be knowing better.
* One of the kings main initiatives, after deciding on democracy, was the establishment of an anti-corruption commission, on which a lot of ordinary people pin their hopes in case the new national parliment which would be elected next year sinks into money politics and electoral skulduggery.
* Says a 18 old resident of Thimpu(Capital city) – “We see all the commercials on TV (Which was introduced 7 years ago) and ofcourse it is tempting to say we want to have all the latest products”
* For the king, living in the modern world means accepting both the good and the bad from outside Bhutan: Not only TV, but also mobile phones and the internet.
Now you know what **** means!
PS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/satisfaction_with_Life_Index is an interesting link you would want to visit to look at the happiness index and rating for each country. In case you are eager to know India’s rating, I suggest you better not click the link. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss indeed. But yes, we are better than Pak.
You could find similar articles in the People Places and Culture section of this blog.