Gross National Happiness in Bhutan

Bhutan is famous for it’s emphasis on happiness rather than GDP. The king of Bhutan assumed his reign at the age of 17 in 2006, educated in the US and UK. Two years later he established a constitutional monarchy and legislature. The constitution guarantees preservation of the national environment. Instead of dams, hydroelectric power allows rivers to flow. It’s the only country that absorbs more carbon than it releases and the king and other officials often travel by mountain bike. Logging for export is banned as 60% of the land is reserved for forests. The king is revered because he aims for Gross National Happiness (GNH) in one of the few Buddhist countries (see photos ). The happiness policy was established in 1971. Street signs advise “Let Nature be your guide.” A UN panel studied how Bhutan’s model can be replicated.
The government surveys citizens annually about their quality of life in one of the poorest nations where most people are farmers. Youth unemployment is a major problem, similar to other countries. Most survey respondents say they’re happy, but women work more than men and have less access to education although most children are in elementary school. A head teacher stated that education prepares children to be good people; “This next generation is going to face a very scary world as their environment changes and social pressures increase. We need to prepare them for this,” including with daily meditation. Films are censored with no kissing is allowed but teenagers like Korean popular music and watch films like Rambo.
Annie Kelly, “Gross National Happiness in Bhutan,” The Guardian, December 1, 2012.


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