GNH and being Bhutanese

One often finds there is so much discussion on and about Gross National Happiness or GNH where ever the Bhutanese inteligensia is said to be found. I do not disagree with it’s significance given especially the deep and powerful impact on all our lives that GNH as the core givernance and development philosophy commands. It is only befitting that such an issue be discussed at all levels of society more than ever now.

Thinking about Happiness, one is inevitably confronted with the question of the definition and understanding of Happiness in context of persons, people and ultimately communities. It is in this light that it is absolutely critical that one needs to first understand people and communities before even beggining to discuss general happiness as a subject.

In arriving at what GNH now means to a Bhutanese, we perhaps might need to understand what being Bhutanese is all about. Maybe then GNH can truly be said to have worked it’s way into the very social fabric of the Bhutanese life. Perhaps then GNH would mean more to invidials as Bhutanese and as one large community.

Even as academics and great thinkers discuss GNH; more often than not one would find that for someone who has no technical understanding of GNH and it’s nuances find themselves simply lost. Someone like that would probably think of happiness in his or her context which is only logical. In identifying and characterizing Bhutaneseness, we are then trying to characterize a commnunity which is the agrregation of Bhutanese individuals.

One would find that even though we have GNH in our constitution and every other important document in the country, many ordinary Bhutanese still do not understand how to relate to GNH. Does GNH leave room for individual happiness or is it only as one large community or it is the one and the samething?

The four pillars seem fine in the order of the priority but really, why is that ordinary Bhutanese can not find themselves to relate to them easily.


About Sangay Khandu

Elected to Parliament of Bhutan twice. Previously worked with the Central Bank, the largest SoE (power utility) and international organization.
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