We all have heard about the concept of GDP (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 which introduced by Bhutan in 1970s as a substitute of GDP.
GNH over the years
You all must be inquisitive to know how a country could replace GDP which is one of the most important indicators of economic growth in a country. The following is a small timeline tracing the emerging of GNH-
In 1629, 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.”
In 1972, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the 4th King of Bhutan stated- “Gross National Happiness is more important than GDP.”
These statements show that Bhutan puts emphasis on happiness of the people and eventually lead to the coinage of the term, Gross National Happiness. In order to encourage other countries to follow the example of Bhutan, certain events took place-
In 2011, 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 UN.
Four main pillars and nine domains of GNH
Now let’s take a look at the base of this indicator, on what principles does it actually works? What helps the lawmakers to make any legislation regarding GNH?
The four main pillars which form the base of GNH include sustainable development, good governance, environmental conservation and preservation and promotion of culture.
The nine domains include
⦁ Psychological well-being
The government of Bhutan takes health as one of the most important factors in account. The Ministry of Health ensures that healthcare is feasible to all the citizens and everyone has easy access to it.
⦁ Usage of time
In order to promote and encourage people to pursue education, the government has made primary education free for a span of 6 years. Still, Bhutan is struggling to control the prevailing high literacy rates.
⦁ Good governance
Good governance focuses on increasing the efficiency of government and its increased participation for the well being of citizens. It also aims at enhancing transparency and accountability of the government structure.
⦁ Cultural diversity and resilience
This domain aids to retain and protect the cultural practices and knowledge gained over the years from excessive globalization and modernization.
⦁ Community vitality
⦁ Ecological diversity and resilience
⦁ Living standards.
These nine domains help to analyse 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 implementation of this philosophy. It was first recorded in 2008 and then in 2010. The GNH index was developed by the Centre for Bhutan Studies along with 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. If you are an economics fanatic, then you must explore this topic in detail!