Gross National Happiness (also known by the acronym- GNH): The phrase ‘gross national happiness’ was first coined by the 4th King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in 1972 when he declared, “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product.” The concept implies that sustainable development should take a holistic approach towards notions of progress and give equal importance to non-economic aspects of wellbeing. Gross National Happiness is a philosophy that guides the government of Bhutan. It includes an index
which is used to measure the collective happiness and well-being of a population.
Since then the idea of Gross National Happiness (GNH) has influenced Bhutan’s economic and social policy, and also captured the imagination of others far beyond its borders. In creating the Gross National Happiness Index, Bhutan sought to create a measurement tool that would be useful for policymaking and create policy incentives for the government, NGOs and businesses of Bhutan to increase GNH.
The GNH Index includes both traditional areas of socio-economic concern such as living standards, health and education and less traditional aspects of culture and psychological wellbeing. It is a holistic reflection of the general wellbeing of the Bhutanese population rather than a subjective psychological ranking of ‘happiness’ alone.
The GNH Index includes nine domains
1. Psychological wellbeing 2. Health 3. Education 4. Time use 5. Cultural diversity and resilience 6. Good governance 7. Community vitality 8. Ecological diversity and resilience 9. Living standards
The Government of Bhutan’s Centre for Bhutan Studies revised and released an updated GNH index in 2011. There are 33 indicators in the 9 domains above and the Index seeks to measure the nation’s wellbeing directly by starting with each person’s achievements in each indicator. The GNH index is based on the Alkire-Foster method of multidimensional measurement, which has been adapted for this purpose. It identifies four groups of people – unhappy, narrowly happy, extensively happy, and deeply happy. The analysis explores the happiness people enjoy already, then focuses on how policies can increase happiness and sufficiency among the unhappy and narrowly happy people.
A measure of Gross National Happiness might be presumed to comprise a single psychological question on happiness such as “Taking all things together, would you say you are: Very happy, Rather happy, Not very happy, or Not at all happy.” However, this is not the case here. The objectives of Bhutan, and the Buddhist understandings of happiness, are much broader than those that are referred to as ‘happiness’ in the Western literature. Under the title of happiness in GNH comes a range of domains of human wellbeing including traditional areas of social concern such as living standards, health, and education, while some are less traditional, such as time use, psychological well-being, culture, community vitality, and environmental diversity.
Though over the past ten years globalization has begun to change in Bhutan, but things remain perfectly balanced. Bhutan is the only country in the world that has a 'GNH’. Bhutan has continually been ranked as the happiest country in all of Asia, and the eighth Happiest Country in the world according to Business Week.
In South Asia, Bhutan ranks first in economic freedom, ease of doing business and peace and is the least corrupt country in the region as of 2016. In Bhutan, it is believed that teaching kids to be good people is as important as getting good grades.
Can we replicate ‘ Gross National Happiness’ in Bangladesh? Yes, we can. But the only thing we need is the wish-bone. As a nation, we need to undergo a psychological metamorphosis. Here let me aptly put the proverb, “What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
Writer : Addl.DIG,Bd.Police.