Happiness has always been at the core of Bhutan’s development policy, which is guided by the philosophy of Gross National Happiness. The fourth King of Bhutan Jigme Singye Wangchuck stated that happiness is more important than economic growth and subsequently Bhutan adopted the GNH index to measure wellbeing and happiness.
Bhutan’s leaders have always placed great importance on happiness. According to Bhutan’s legal code of 1729, “If the government cannot create peace and happiness for its people, then there is no purpose for the government to exist.”
The basic idea of Gross National Happiness is to create an enabling environment where everyone has the opportunity to pursue happiness. This means the government must focus on development activities that does not dilute culture or harm the environment.
In many countries, GDP (Gross Domestic Product) as the standard indicator of growth has failed to capture the real progress of a society, as it lacks the objective of generating happiness for its citizens.
All plans, policies and programs by the government are put through a GNH screening test that ensures that the policies are in line with the philosophy of Gross National Happiness. Any policy that does not pass this test are modified and changed to match with the idea of GNH.
The concept of Gross National Happiness has four broad pillars, which are: good governance, cultural preservation, sustainable economic development and preservation of the environment.
Bhutan is the only carbon negative country in the world and has been recognised for its strong conservation efforts. GNH provides answers and solutions to some of the urgent challenges faced by the world today such as climate change, loss of ethics, environmental damage and cultural dilution.
Studies have shown that cultural dilution or loss of culture has a negative implication on human health and happiness as it leads to loss of identity and self worth.