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Gross national happiness: With human happiness as the ultimate goal of all development efforts, Bhutan’s fourth king, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, pronounced Gross National Happiness (GNH) as the guiding philosophy of the country’s development process soon after his enthronement in 1972.

However, it was only in the last fifteen years that Gross National happiness has increasingly gained global currency with more and more countries adopting the general well being and long-term happiness of their citizens as an important development indicator.The philosophy of GNH offers a more humane approach to development by aiming to balance material well being with spiritual well being.

Four pillars of Gross National Happiness:

  • Sustainable and equitable socio-economic development
  • Conservation of environment
  • Preservation and promotion of culture
  • Promotion of good governance

The Center for Bhutan Studies & Gross National Happiness Research has been assigned the task of developing the GNH Index and continues to scientifically study this radical concept on a daily basis. The Center has worked out nine domains and seventy-two indicators to further simplify this complex idea.

The idea of GNH entails a huge state obligation, in the sense that once a country adopts happiness as its ultimate goal it becomes imperative on the part of the government to create that enabling environment for its people to pursue happiness in a meaningful way. And the Bhutanese government has promised that it will do all it can to facilitate its citizenry find happiness.

The Bhutanese government places the happiness of its citizenry at the center of all its development plans.Hence, all its policies and plans must pass a GNH screening, a strategy that ensures that plans and policies bring about maximum benefits to the people without compromising the basic principles of GNH.

In the past decade, scores of international conferences have brought together the best minds from across the world to lead a deeper inquiry into the idea of GNH’s global applicability. In July 2011, with Bhutan’s sponsorship, the General Assembly adopted a non-binding resolution that aimed to make happiness a ‘development indicator’. The resolution invited member states to draw up their own measures of happiness and contribute them to the UN’s development agenda. Subsequently, the UN declared 20 March as the International Day of Happiness.

Speaking to a large gathering of global intelligentsia in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 2005, Bhutan’s Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley said GNH is based on the conviction that man is bound by nature to search for happiness. He said GNH is the only viable alternative to the traditional economic model that has failed the world.

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