Gross National Happiness
The phrase “Gross National Happiness” was coined in 1972 by Bhutan’s fourth King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. He used this phrase to signal his commitment to building an economy that would serve Bhutan’s unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values instead of western material development gauged by gross domestic product (GDP).
GNH is a much richer objective than GDP or economic growth. In GNH, material well-being is important but it is also important to enjoy sufficient well-being in things like community, culture, governance, knowledge and wisdom, health, spirituality and psychological welfare, a balanced use of time, and harmony with the environment.
The 2015 GNH Index on a purpose-built survey of 7153 Bhutanese in every Dzongkhag of Bhutan. From that, analysts create a GNH profile for each person, showing their well-being across in the 9 domains mentioned above. The national GNH Index draws on every person’s portrait to give the national measure.
The 2015 GNH Index At-A-Glance
- 91.2% of Bhutanese are narrowly, extensively, or deeply happy.
- 43.4% of Bhutanese are extensively or deeply happy, up from 40.9% in 2010.
- Across groups:
– Men are happier than women
– People living in urban areas are happier than rural residents
– Single and married people are happier than widowed divorced, or separated o More educated people are happier
– Farmers are less happy than other occupational groups.
- Across districts, GNH was highest in Gasa, Bumthang, Thimphu, and Paro, and lowest in Dagana, Mongar, TashiYangtse, and Trongsa.
Economy Of Bhutan
Bhutan’s Economy is a tricky one given its unique philosophy of measuring the country’s progress by Gross National Happiness index rather than Gross National Product. This ensures an equitable spread of prosperity rather than skewed developments in an ad hoc manner.
Bhutan still remains an LDC with the rugged terrain making it difficult to develop roads and other infrastructure. Despite this constraint, the hydroelectricity, tourism and construction sectors continue to be the two major industries of growth for the country. Bhutan is predominantly an agrarian society where almost 80% of the population depends on agriculture and animal husbandry for their livelihood. Besides the dependence on agriculture, the economy is largely based on hydroelectricity, tourism, and forestry. The hydro power project makes up for generating most of the revenue while tourism remains to be highest foreign revenue generator for the country. It is estimated that the total hydro power potential of the country is 30,000 MW of which a mere 5% is currently being tapped.
Of late, many industries are coming up and there are hopes of more to follow suit mainly attributing to the new FDI policies of the kingdom. The Tala hydroelectric project, completed March 2007, has bolstered government revenue and exports, and will continue to do so for the next several years. In late 2009, Bhutan signed four memorandum of understanding (MOUs) with India to set up four additional hydroelectric projects in Bhutan. India continues to be the major trading partner on whom the Bhutanese economy very much relies upon. Bhutan also shares monetary links with India and as a result Ngultrum, the Bhutanese currency, is pegged with the Indian rupee.
Bhutan’s economy has been on an upturn due to recent sub-regional economic cooperation efforts. Already this plan has strengthened the current trade relations with India, as well as opened an avenue of trade with Bangladesh. In May 2003, the Bilateral Free Trade Agreement between Bangladesh and Bhutan was re-signed. Bangladesh is Bhutan’s second largest trade partner, after India. In January 2004, as a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Bhutan also joined the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA); In February 2004 Bhutan joined the Bangladesh, Indian, Myanmar, Singapore, and Thailand Economic Cooperation Forum (BIMSTEC). Bhutan has applied for membership in the World Trade Organization and is in the process of get accession to it.
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