Gross National Happiness

        Vir Singh

One of the Himalayan nations – the Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan – is an exemple of how a state can formulate its policies to ensure happiness of its people. Unlike most of the world’s economies pursuing Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Bhutan bases its socio-economic framework on what it calls GNH – Gross National Happiness. Gross National Happiness is one of the most talked about policies of economy-linked happiness which has also been recognised by UNO, but Bhutan is the only nation to have adopted it. Kudos to Bhutan for its devotion to the highest principle of human existence.

GNH has emerged as a core value and unique identity of this small Himalayan kingdom. GNH itself has become a philosophy of human living. Many scholars, policy makers, ecologists and sensitive economists across the world are studying GNH and advocating its relevance in the contemporary world. Every programme, every project and every policy in Bhutan is examined by the GNH Commission and is implemented when it is found worth adding to national happiness.  Some policy decisions implemented by Bhutan, such as ban on cigarettes and polythene bags, naturally add to national happiness. Now Bhutan is engaged in making its national dream of complete shift to organic farming come true. Noted environmentalist, eco-feminist and an ardent proponent of organic farming, Vandana Shiva, is committed to help Bhutan Government realise organic revolution and emerge as the first organic nation in the world. This is another revolutionary stride towards Bhutan’s national happiness.

Bhutan has many other symbols of happiness. Spirituality the Buddhist population of Bhutan practices itself is a great source of national happiness. Pursuing peace and commitment to honest means of living, austerity etc are other vital means of Bhutan’s happiness. Bhutan has its national dress which provides its people a unique identity. Colourful garments bearing myriad pieces of embroidery and all buildings, houses and monasteries decorated with flowers and Buddhist art called dzongs proclaim that Bhutanese are distinctive,satisfied and happy people. And the most important sources of happiness are Bhutan’s forests. This is the greenest nation in the Himalayas. Protection and conservation of forests for balanced and vibrant ecology is part of Bhutan’s culture.

An ecosystem stocked with variety of living species – plants, animals and microorganisms – is a natural repository of human happiness. Greenery in our surrounding, clean water sources in our habitats, clean air in our environments, and beauty are all the natural resources of happiness for us. Best articulation of our minds having positive impacts on the society elicits happiness from these natural resources. Bhutan is cultivating happiness amidst its vibrant ecosystems. The whole world can learn from Bhutan.

Bhutanese philosophy of GNH must transcend to GGH – Gross Global Happiness. GGH will serve as the real wealth of humanity. Every human being has a birthright to happiness. All humans of the world have right to have access to happiness. Happiness is accessible through lively, vibrant and sustainable ecosystems. Global happiness is accessible through lively, vibrant and sustainable biosphere. Such a biosphere is an imperative of cosmic designs for its creative evolution. And we humans are the children born to perform our truthful duty to keep our biosphere full of happiness.

(The writer is a Professor of Environmental Science at GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology. He is author of numerous books on environmental, agroecological and eco-philosophical issues). Friday, 17 May 2019 | Vir Singh | in Devbhoomi Spiritual

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