Gross National Happiness


“What GNH is will never change but how we achieve it will change” The Fifth King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

The idea of People’s Happiness existed since the 17th century, during the time of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal who was the political and spiritual leader of the country then. Then the policies were framed out in accordance with spirituality, compassioning all the sentient being.

The fourth King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck said, “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product” at an interview with British journalist at Bombay Airport, India in 1972. The GNH philosophy was started by youth to youth since 1972 when the fourth King of Bhutan was just 17 years old.

In the era of the Fifth King, GNH is the main key to development and policy making process of the country. Hence the development of the country is mainly based on four GNH pillars;

1) Sustainable and equitable socio-economic development

2) Preservation and conservation of natural environment

3) Conservation and promotion of cultural heritage

4) Good governance.

 These four pillars are put into account based on nine domains, each with indicators;

  1. Psychological well-being – life satisfaction, positive emotion, negative emotion, spirituality
  2. Health – self-reported health status, number of healthy days, disability, mental health
  3. Time use – work, sleep
  4. Cultural diversity & resilience – literacy, schooling, knowledge, value
  5. Education – Zorig chusum skills (Artisan skills), cultural participation, speak native language, driglam Namzha (code of conduct)
  6. Good Governance – political participation, services, governance performance, fundamental rights
  7. Community vitality – donation (time and money), safety, community relationship, family
  8. Ecological diversity & resilience – wildlife damage, urban issues, responsibility to environment, ecological issues
  9. Living Standard – Income, assets, housing

These 33 indicators of nine domains are equally weighted to achieve 100% deeply happy, extensively happy and narrowly happy. As per the National GNH survey conducted in 2015 by Center for Bhutan Studies and GNH Research, 91.2% of people were happy.

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