Gross National Happiness (GNH)
The Kingdom of Bhutan is tucked in the eastern flanks of the Himalayan range, with Tibet (China) to the north and India to the south, east and west. A landlocked country, Bhutan remained in self-imposed isolation until the late 1960s. The heartland of Mahayana Buddhism, this mystical country is also known as the last Shangri-La. However, in the last five decades, Bhutan has progressed in leaps and bounds.
Bhutan’s development is based on the Gross National Happiness (GNH) model, a unique development philosophy, propounded by the Fourth King of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
GNH emphasizes the pursuit and achievement of happiness – a fundamental human desire – as the end of socio-economic development. In other words, GNH places happiness as the primary goal of development. GNH philosophy ensures that development does not come at the cost of environment and people’s wellbeing. Understanding the fact that material growth necessarily does not translate into happiness, the GNH approach to development aspires to balance the spiritual and emotional well-being with material needs of individuals and the society at large. GNH recognizes the importance of economic growth as essential, but not an end in itself, to support and nurture the spiritual and social needs of the community. GNH is the overarching philosophy that guides government policies and development activities in the country.
Gross National Happiness has four main pillars: Sustainable and equitable socio-economic development, Conservation of environment, Preservation and promotion of culture, and Promotion of good governance.