Monday, November 16, 2009

From November's Monocle.

Interview with Jigme Yoser Thinley, current PM of Bhutan.

M: Can you explain what Gross National Happiness (GNH) is?

JY: GNH is based on the theory that since happiness is the ultimate desire of every human being, it is the responsibility of the policy-makers to create conditions whereby citizens can pursue happiness. Happiness is a state that one is able to attain when equilibrium is achieved between the body's material needs and the mind's emotional and psychological needs.

*** end of excerpt ***

That's a first. GNH instead of GDP. What coincidence, I met up with some people from Temple of Fine Arts recently (who are the same good people behind Annalakshmi restaurant) and they enlightened me about how they are a not for profit organisation. So how do they define 'growth', I asked? Since most business/corporate organisations quantify growth in terms of profit. Growth to which they answered, is quantified by how much more they are reaching out to the public - in terms of the various social projects carried out and in terms of the number of volunteers signing up.

Our capitalism definition is always about economic growth surrounded by tangible modernity in brick and mortar infrastructures. Well, Bhutan doesn't need any of those. Obviously, there are no Hiltons and Westins kind of amenities catering to spoilt first world tourists. Bhutanese having found the centre of peace embrace their tradition and environment and don't need heated toilet seats. Yup, they've found equilibrium. A country should first and foremost serve her citizens. According to Jigme, Bhutan is 97% happy. And that's all that matters, ain't it? I won't be surprised that countries like Japan, America and Britain, having chased materialism for decades on end and touted as world urban leaders, would not be able to score anywhere close to Bhutan's level of happiness.

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