We all have heard about the concept of Gross Domestic Product somewhere or the other, but did you come across the idea of Gross National Happiness? Quite intriguing as it appears, GNH is an index to measure the happiness and well being of the population. It was introduced by Bhutan in the 1970s as a substitute for GDP.
GNH over the years
In 1972, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the 4th King of Bhutan stated- “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product.”
Moreover, Bhutan’s first legal code which was written at the time of unification read- “if the government cannot create happiness for its people, there is no purpose for the government.”
These statements show that Bhutan puts emphasis on the happiness of the people.
Encouraging the nation members to follow Bhutan’s example, in 2011, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution “Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development”. It also addressed happiness as the “fundamental human goal.”
In 2012, ‘High-Level Meeting: Well-being and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm’ was organized in which the first World Happiness Report was issued. Due to this, 20 March was declared as the International Day of Happiness by the UN.
Four main pillars and nine domains of GNH
The four main pillars of GNH are good governance, sustainable development, preservation and promotion of culture, and environmental conservation. These pillars serve as the base for lawmakers to formulate any legislation.
The nine domains include psychological well-being, health, time use, education, cultural diversity and resilience, good governance, community Gdp vitality, ecological diversity and resilience, and living standards. These nine domains help to analyze the distinct dimensions of happiness.
Implementation in Bhutan
The Gross National Happiness commission which consists of the Prime Minister, secretaries of government ministries, and secretary of the commission itself, helps in the implementation of this philosophy. It was first GDP recorded in 2008 and then in 2010. The GNH index was developed by the Centre for Bhutan Studies along with the assistance of Oxford University researchers.
The Gross National Happiness Index focuses on the non-economic aspects of well being however, it has been subjected to criticism.