The Second Annual Conference on Gross National Happiness The Second International Conference on Gross National Happiness
Local Pathways to Global Wellbeing
St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada
June 20 to June 24, 2005
  Media Coverage: Before :: During :: After :: Related :: All

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November 15, 2006

The Montana Standard — Eric Weiner
What does the GDP mean to you?

“  A quick quiz: What do the following have in common? The war in Iraq. Sales of cigarettes. The recent fires in Southern California. The answer: They all contribute to the U.S. gross domestic product, or GDP, and therefore are all considered "good," at least in the eyes of economists. ”

November 11, 2006

The New Brunswick Telegraph Journal — Eric Weiner
In Bhutan, happiness makes sense

“  A quick quiz: What do the following have in common? The war in Iraq. Sales of cigarettes. The recent fires in Southern California. The answer: They all contribute to the U.S. gross domestic product, or GDP, and therefore are all considered "good," at least in the eyes of economists. ”

April 20, 2006

Kuensel Online, Bhutan — Meiko Nishimizu
Gross National Happiness: Before it's too late...

“  Many national constitutions, including that of Japan, and legal codes of similar statue tend indeed to make explicit references to valuing “happiness.” But, that does not mean public servants behave in that way. They normally do not. If “done” well, Gross National Happiness would guide public servants to look at the world through the people's eyes, not through the eyes of those with power, privilege and authority.  ”

March 24, 2006

Excerpt: — Mark Gilbert
Money, Sex, Happiness Come to the Bank of England: Mark Gilbert (192K PDF)

“  In a May 2005 paper called “Happiness and the Human Development Index,” Blanchflower and Oswald say that rich nations overemphasize economic growth. “The industrialized countries should, in our judgment, use a broader conception of well-being than the height of a pile of dollars,” they write. Maybe we should “substitute the goal of Gross National Happiness for the more traditional economist's objective of Gross National Product.''  ”

March 9, 2006

BBC News in Pictures
Bhutan's happiness formula

“  The remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is the only country in the world which puts happiness at the heart of government.  ”

March 9, 2006

The Chronicle-Herald, Halifax — Jim Meek
Are you happy and wealthy - or what?

“  In short, GDP measures growth grossly, and doesn't give a hoot if economic activity is produced by (non-Iraqi) terrorists developing weapons of mass destruction – or Girl Guides selling cookies. Thus the new attempt to measure well-being. Well, it's actually not new. Atlantic Canada has long had its own Genuine Progress Index, produced by the good people at GPI Atlantic. And Bhutan has generated a measurement called Gross National Happiness – just to confound those people who can't put a value on the sunrise.  ”

February 4, 2006

Kuensel Online, Bhutan — Kencho Wangdi
Measuring GNH

“  “If we can measure the changes within these indicators, we could approximate the movements or changes in the collective happiness of the Bhutanese population,” Karma Ura said. Karma Ura said that the centre was researching and trying to assimilate lessons from “like-minded” organisations from as far as in Canada and the UK. The idea was to arrive at a theoretical construction of the GNH indicators and indices. Surveys would then be carried out to test the theoretical construction which would go through the process of revision and refinement. The head of the centre for well-being at new economics foundation in London, Nic Marks, with whom the centre for Bhutan studies will work closely in formulating the indicators, told Kuensel that GNH indicators should be able to support Bhutan in its pursuit of the GNH policy even as it became more democratic and more economically developed because the danger would be that economic indicators could take over, like they have in the west. “It's a challenging job.” Nic Marks said that the UK government had also recently put up a tender to commission “robust and valid” indicators for well being. Marks is also a part of a research team that will soon attempt to measure personal and social well being across Europe.  ”

January 30, 2006

Business Report, South Africa — AFP
Business leaders reminded of moral obligations

“  Davos - With economics an increasingly dominant factor shaping everyday life, business and political leaders must not forget their moral obligation to help improve the world, senior clerics of six major faiths said here. "We must be the change that we want to see in the world," Buddhist Matthieu Ricard, quoting Mahatma Gandhi, told Sunday's closing session of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. A close aide and translator for the Dalai Lama, Ricard told a final seminar in the Swiss Alp resort: "Here what we can contribute on top of gross national product is to contribute some inner conditions for gross national happiness." Several seminars at the Forum explored ethical and religious issues, but if "corporate social responsibility has become ingrained in modern corporate life", as one summary said, groups such as the disgraced US energy trader Enron belie the image often portrayed in glossy annual reports.  ”

January 25, 2006

Newsweek Video Blog — Christopher Dickey
Voices From Davos - Matthieu Ricard

“  Matthieu Ricard — A Buddhist monk, author and photographer who has lived in the Himalayas for more than 30 years and works closely with the Dalai Lama talks about the concept of well-being, particularly the notion of 'gross national happiness.'  ”

January 23, 2006

San Francisco Chronicle — Charles Burress
Finding happiness outside the GNP
Bhutan searching for a way to stop drift from harmony

“  You don't have to live in a remote mountain kingdom to rise above the world's frantic pursuit of wealth and consumer goods. Anyone can do it, says his Excellency Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley, minister for home and cultural affairs for the Himalayan nation of Bhutan. In Bay Area public appearances, he wants to encourage others to do as his country has done, which is to seek "Gross National Happiness" more than gross national product. "What we need," Thinley said in a phone interview Friday, "is a more caring and compassionate society." Happiness "is the end purpose of life for every individual, every society," he said. "What we're doing is moving further and further away from the possibility of finding happiness in life." To forestall this unhappy trend, Bhutan has made Gross National Happiness — which its officials also call GNH — its official index for evaluating development.  ”

December, 2005

Cyprus Mail, Nicosia — Nicos A. Rolandis
King Jigme and floundering Cyprus

“  I was reading recently in the Time Magazine of the December 19, 2005 about King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. He has been for 31 years the monarch of Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan Kingdom, between India and China (still five times bigger than Cyprus). The enlightened King Jigme does not believe in wealth or in power. Instead of a Gross National Product index he has introduced a Gross National Happiness index. Furthermore he is urging his people to get rid of him. He does not like power. He wants to go home. So, I thought, if this wise king leaves his high office why not invite him to Cyprus? We might learn a few things from him about the Happiness Index and how to get rid of our power syndrome. Perhaps we might thus come back to our senses and try to save whatever is left on this land, if it is not too late.  ”

December 30, 2005

Khalid S. Al-Khater, Doha, Qatar (Blog)
How I Was Deceived by G. W. Bush Foreign Policy?

“  Military power alone does not sustain empires, let alone that the idea of empire is no longer either possible or acceptable. The Roman Empire collapsed because it decayed morally and not because of military weakness. Nowadays, a nation is powerful if and only if that power is in the hands of its people and not in the hands of its elite. It is powerful if it stands on moral and ethical foundations, and not on aircraft carriers and air power. It is powerful when it is not dishonest and hypocritical with its own people and the rest of humanity. It is powerful when it cares more about its GNH (Gross National Happiness) than its GNP.  ”

December 29, 2005

New York Times, USA — Darrin M. McMahon
In Pursuit of Unhappiness

“  Like the cycle of the seasons, our emphasis on mirth may seem timeless, as though human beings have always made merry from beginning to end. But in fact this preoccupation with perpetual happiness is relatively recent. As Thomas Carlyle observed in 1843, " 'Happiness our being's end and aim' is at bottom, if we will count well, not yet two centuries old in the world." Carlyle's arithmetic was essentially sound, for changes in both religious and secular culture since the 17th century made "happiness," in the form of pleasure or good feeling, not only morally acceptable but commendable in and of itself. While many discounted religious notions that consigned life in this world to misery and sin, others discovered signs of God's providence in earthly satisfaction. The result was at once to weaken and transpose the ideal of heavenly felicity, in effect bringing it to earth. Suffering was not our natural state. Happy was the way we were meant to be. That shift was monumental, and its implications far reaching. Among other things, it was behind the transformation of the holiday season from a time of pious remembrance into one of unadulterated bliss. Yet the effects were greater than that. As Carlyle complained, "Every pitifulest whipster that walks within a skin has had his head filled with the notion that he is, shall be, or by all human and divine laws ought to be, 'happy.' "  ”

See also: International Herald Tribune

December 28, 2005

Voice of America, USA — Anjana Pasricha, New Delhi
Himalayan Kingdoms on Opposite Political Paths

“  Bhutan too is a poor country, but its literacy and health indicators are gradually improving. And the king has adopted unusual parameters to judge his nation's development, such as "Gross National Happiness." Kinley Dorji, the editor of Bhutan's only newspaper, Kuensel, says the King is drawing lessons from the rest of the world to ensure that there is balanced development in the country. "When Bhutan began development - Bhutan was a late-comer to development - the leadership of the country looked around and saw many countries which had [were] so-called developed had lost many important elements like their environment, their culture, their heritag," he said. "So Bhutan said immediately, 'OK development should not mean material development. We should have a higher goal.'" For King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the goal is to bring about democracy peacefully, in a way that will not disrupt life in his country. In Nepal, however, there are increasing fears that if the king continues to ignore public demands for democracy, there will only be more violence.  ”

December 27, 2005

The Baltimore Sun, USA — Opinion
Shangri-La, changing

“  This is only the latest big change to come suddenly from on high for the Bhutanese, who until fairly recently were so isolated from the rest of the world by their mountains and sealed borders that their land was viewed abroad as a latter-day Shangri-La, the very last untouched place. Many of these changes have met with ambivalence. Foreign tourists can now enter Bhutan but only on tours and in limited numbers. Cable TV and the Internet came only in 1999, immediately prompting a running national debate over adverse influences. While pushing for modernization of schools, roads and telecommunications, the Buddhist king likes to talk more of gross national happiness than gross national product  ”

December 26, 2005

Newspaper Tree, El Paso, Texas, USA — Vanessa Johnson
Letter from the Publisher

“  One of the many things I love about El Paso is UTEP's architecture. The campus appears as a mirage, a fantastical Himalayan kingdom in an unlikely desert. This architecture comes from Bhutan, a small monarchy squeezed between India and China. Bhutan is fascinating and attractive in many ways. It is, however, one of the most underdeveloped nations in the world. Perhaps to defend its poverty to outsiders, or perhaps to genuinely foster an alternative economic system, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1972 developed an indicator that is called Gross National Happiness (GNH), as opposed to the more conventional Gross National Product (GNP). According to the royal government, "Gross national happiness comprises four pillars: economic self-reliance, environmental preservation, cultural promotion, and good governance. These four goals are mutually linked, complementary, and consistent. They embody national values, aesthetics, and spiritual traditions." The Buddhist idea of "jimba," or public service, is a key component of all four pillars.  ”

December 25, 2005

Excerpt: - Ernakulam, Kerala, India — Amulya Ganguli
An enlightened king's journey to democracy

“  Although India cannot but welcome Bhutan's entry into the modern world, its formal happiness is bound to be tinged with some anxiety. It is no secret that every fledgling democracy passes through a period of turmoil in the initial stages, when its generally unsettled conditions are exploited by troublemakers of all hues. India's concern will be whether Bhutan too will pass through a similar phase when all the malcontents - Maoists, Islamic fundamentalists and the anti-Indian secessionist groups - will be able to hide in and operate from Bhutan, as they do from Bangladesh and Myanmar. The only consolation is that Bhutan's relations with India have been uniformly satisfactory, something which cannot be said about New Delhi's ties with Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and even Sri Lanka. There is no reason to believe, therefore, that the introduction of a new form of government will mark a departure from the past. Besides, India's success in holding together diverse communities within a vibrant pluralistic system, which is now winning the world's applause, can serve as an inspiring example to the new democracy.  ”

December 25, 2005

Shadbaad, Pakistan (Blog) — M. Ismail Khan
Development alternative – Pakistan's Gross National Happiness

“  We need a model that can address both the immediate and the long-term well being of the people. We need a just model that catalyses development by compromising neither human and natural integrity, nor the resource base of the society. This can only be achieved by inter-marrying the current cut-throat development paradigm with conservation, good governance, and social and cultural cohesion for the sake of a 'happy' Pakistani society. Obviously, this is not something that a ministry or a government can do alone. In Pakistan, we see multiple tiers of governments, multiple layers of non-government entities, a truncated political and religious landscape, an insecure and shaky business sector, and around 140 million largely 'stressful' and 'unhappy' people.  ”

See also: The News, Pakistan — M. Ismail Khan
Pakistan's Gross National Happiness

December 24, 2005

Kuensel Online, Bhutan — U. Penjore, S. Wangchuck and R. Wangchuck
Trashigang faces the future

“  His Majesty said that, looking back over the past 33 years of his own reign, there had been numerous important responsibilities that he had been required to fulfill in the interests of the country and the Bhutanese people. However the future was more important than the past. The Chhoetse Penlop was 25 years old and, going by the provisions of the Constitution, he would have the opportunity to serve his country and people for 40 years. It would continue to be the responsibility of the King, the government, and the people to strive for the economic development of the country, to strengthen the sovereignty and security of the nation, to ensure peace and prosperity for the people, and to make the goal of Gross National Happiness a reality.  ”

December 24, 2005

British Medical Journal, London, UK — Editorial, Tony Delamothe
Happiness: Get happy—it's good for you

“  What must I do to be happy? Allow the brief moment of introspection precipitated by this editorial to pass, then stop thinking about yourself. Armed with psychologist Oliver James's injunction to "be happy with what you've got," look outwards—not to compare yourself unfavourably with others, but to develop your relationships with them. It's a surer route to happiness than the pursuit of wealth. Embark on a loving relationship with another adult, and work hard to sustain it. Plan frequent interactions with friends, family, and neighbours (in that order). 3 Make sure you're not working so hard that you've no time left for personal relationships and leisure. If you are, leave your job voluntarily to become self employed, but don't get sacked—that's more damaging to wellbeing than the loss of a spouse, and its effects last longer. In your spare time, join a club, volunteer for community service, or take up religion. Urge the government to follow the lead of the King of Bhutan, who announced that his nation's objective would be the gross national happiness. Cite in support Richard Layard's Happiness: Lessons from a New Science, which argues that happiness should become the goal of public policy and that the progress of national happiness should be measured and analysed as closely as the growth of gross national product. "It is self evident that the best society is the happiest," wrote economist Layard, echoing Jeremy Bentham 200 years ago. "This means that public policy should be judged by how it increases human happiness and reduces human misery."  ”

December 24, 2005

The Statesman, Kolkata, India — Sanjoy Hazarika
Bhutan’s monarch: A democrat bows out

“  But he [the King] remains unique in a number of ways, not least his conceptualisation of Gross National Happiness as an esoteric goal pursued by his government and presented at international forums as a genuine aspiration as posited against Gross National Product. His persistence in pursuing a constitutional path which leads to democracy, however flawed, and his leadership of the Royal Bhutan Army, where he commands fierce loyalty, remain strong legacies. It is to be seen how Bhutan fares under a new leadership and with a population which increasingly seeks to connect with the outside world. How will a two-party system handle growing aspirations and needs? The current King has set the bar high and is leaving a secure foundation for his son and his people.  ”

December 22, 2005

Missoula Independent — Ari LeVaux
Gross National Happiness
What we can all learn from Bhutan about sustainable development

“  The Bhutanese embraced us with open minds and hearts, inspired us with their sincerity, creativity, and warmth, and haunted us with piercing questions that beg many more of our own. Is it better to have a benevolent king or a hawkish president? How do you balance individual rights within a community? Is Shangri-La a place on the map, a place in your heart, or a myth? What is most important? How do we get there? A Tibetan woman at the market gave me some clues when she taught me how to pray. “First” she said, “pray for all beings. Then pray for the sick, the blind, and all those who suffer. Then, pray for the ones you love. Finally, pray for yourself.”  ”

December 22, 2005

Jamaica Gleaner — Ashford W. Meikle
Jamaicans unhappy on account of crime - Frankson

“  DOREEN FRANKSON, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA), says the country's spiralling crime rate has negatively affected the country's psyche and, as a result, Jamaicans are unhappy. The key ingredient in controlling crime, said Ms. Frankson, was a qualitative investment in the country's human resources. "For years we have concentrated on the economic variables of the gross domestic product, and although we have had some growth I think it is time to focus on an index that I have dubbed the GNH, or gross national happiness."  ”

December 22, 2005

Open Democracy — Charlie Devereux
Unbecoming Citizens: Culture, Nationhood, and the Flight of Refugees from Bhutan by Michael Hutt, Oxford University Press

“  Bhutan’s PR machine has done a good job of painting the country in an enchanting light: towering Himalayan mountains, deep wooded valleys, Shangri-La, the Land of the Thunder Dragon, bans on television (only recently introduced) and smoking, a spotless environmental record, a culture barely touched by modernity, which has preserved its (pre-eminently) Buddhist roots, and the national objective of Gross National Happiness rather than Gross National Product. It all apparently adds up to a perfect antidote to the modern world and an ideal destination for the intrepid traveller in search of the most obscure and exotic holiday. Luxury health spas perched on the side of mountains draw Hollywood types in droves (and with a visa costing $200 a day perhaps only they can afford it). It may be a commendable aspiration, to wish to preserve a nation’s culture in a world that is homogenising fast through pervasive western influence, but when this occurs at the expense of a large proportion of a country’s population who have a legitimate claim to citizenship, it smacks of totalitarianism.  ”

December 21, 2005

The Times of India — Editorial
Palace to the People

“  King Wangchuk obviously has his eye on history. The preferred political institution in most parts of the world is democracy. Those resisting it are doing so on borrowed time. The ones who have survived the surge of parliamentary democracy are those who bowed to the will of the people. What is significant about King Wangchuk's renunciation of power is that he has not waited for a revolution to demand his ouster. The coup has been bloodless and staged by the king himself. For a king who posited gross domestic happiness against gross domestic produce as a measure of a nation's progress and prosperity, transfer of power ought to be with minimum fuss.  ”

December 21, 2005

Pravda, Russia
Bhutan's king takes the lead in bringing democracy to Himalayan kingdom

“  The two landlocked Himalayan kingdoms of Nepal and Bhutan lie almost side by side, each of them sandwiched by giant neighbors China and India. But if they share a common geography, they have wildly differing political histories. Nepal has been rocked by violent protests, a large rebel movement and increasingly angry calls to abolish the monarchy over the past two decades. When change has come there, it is usually only after the streets of the capital filled with angry marchers. In Bhutan, though, change has quietly come from above, as the king has taken the lead to shrink the role of his generations-old monarchy, and usher in a parliamentary democracy. On Sunday, King Jigme Singye Wangchuk, Bhutan's ruler for the last 33 years, astounded his subjects by declaring that he would step down as ruler in 2008, abdicate the throne in favor of his son and hold the country's first-ever general elections. If the announcement came suddenly, for Bhutan watchers the King's decisions were no surprise. Since the early 1980s, Wangchuk has been introducing steps to shepherd in democracy, cutting at the roots of the monarchy his family has held since being installed by the British in 1907. By all accounts, though, the king hopes that by curtailing his family's power he'll help his country move ahead. "It's a move the king has taken without any pressure from below ... the natural culmination of a process he has started himself," says K.S. Jasrotia, a former Indian ambassador to Bhutan. "This is the best time for change. Bhutan has peace and stability. The King wants to bring the crown prince and democratic change while he is still around," said Kinley Dorji, editor of Kuensel, Bhutan's only newspaper.  ”

December 21, 2005

Asian Tribune, Bangkok, Thailand — Q. Perera - Reporting from Colombo
Happiness in employment vital for productivity

“  To eradicate poverty and hunger people should be provided employment that are intellectually satisfying and economically rewarding and the much used economic term "Gross National Product (GNP)" should be changed to "Gross National Happiness" (GNH), said Professor M S Swaminathan, UNESCO-Cousteau Professor in Eco-technology for Asian and Chairman, M S Swaminathan Foundation. Professor Swaminathan, who is widely considered as the 'Father of the Green Revolution of India' was speaking at the 61st Annual Sessions of the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science (SLAAS) held at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall.  ”

December 21, 2005

Excerpt: - Italy
King promises parliamentary democracy by 2008

“  Gauhati (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The king of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, has said he will hand over power to his son in 2008 when the tiny Himalyan nation holds free elections to become a parliamentary democracy. This was reported by the government-owned newspaper Kuensel. “I would like our people to know that the first national election to elect a government under a system of parliamentary democracy will take place in 2008,” the king told a crowd gathered in the isolated town of Trashi Yangtse, a three-day drive from the capital, Thimpu. However he did not specify what type of government there would be nor how much power would remain in the hands of the monarchy. He said he was certain that when his son acceded to the throne, “Bhutan will remain strong and glorious and our country will achieve greater prosperity with the sun of peace and happiness shining on our people”.  ”

December 20, 2005

Hindustan Times, India — Editorial
Democracy gets royal sanction

“  Being one of the last few monarchies around, Bhutan’s democratic transition will be keenly watched by the rest of the world. What’s so remarkable is that the king has chosen the democratic path voluntarily, and not to pre-empt the possibility of riots or overthrows. Bhutan doesn’t have any major law and order problems or political or economic unrest like, say, neighbouring Nepal where the monarchy is under siege, and there’s nothing to really force the king to adopt parliamentary democracy. But then it’s hardly surprising for a ruler like Jigme Singye — who famously prefers ‘gross national happiness’ to gross national product — to try to end his country’s isolation in a globalised world by opting for democracy and modernisation. It probably also makes strategic sense for the tiny kingdom —  hemmed in by an unpredictable China and a restive Nepal, and militant organisations like the Ulfa and Bodo posing a serious threat to its security — to have an inclusive government running the country. Bhutan is ideally suited for grassroots democracy, thanks to its small population. The draft Constitution apparently takes this into account while outlining a representative democracy — right from village councils at the bottom to the National Assembly and cabinet at the top. But that said, special care should also be taken to accommodate the Nepalese in Bhutan who form a quarter of the population.  ”

December 20, 2005

Gulf Times, Qatar
Bhutanese in shock over king’s abdication move

“  THIMPHU: The Land of the Thunder Dragon is reeling under shock and disbelief over Bhutan King Jigme Singye Wangchuk’s announcement about ending 100 years of royal rule in 2008 by abdicating the throne and holding the country’s first national elections. “The entire nation was bewildered when the king made this surprise announcement of stepping down in favour of the crown prince and holding democratic elections,” Kinley Dorji, editor of Bhutan’s national newspaper Kuensel, said. “The people of Bhutan did not really expect this historic and dramatic decision to come so early.” The 50-year-old King Wangchuk on Saturday told a crowd of some 8,000 yak-herders, monks, farmers and students in Trashiyangtse village, about 900km east of capital Thimphu, that he would step down. Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk, 25, would be enthroned as the new king before Bhutan adopts a constitution and goes to the first ever polls in 2008 to choose a prime minister under a parliamentary democracy. The king would then be just a constitutional monarch, devoid of absolute power in the largely Buddhist nation of about 600,000 people that measures its well-being not in GNP (gross national product) but in GNH (gross national happiness).  ”

December 20, 2005

Gulf Times, Qatar
India praises Bhutan king, welcomes democracy move

“  The prospect of having to deal with a diversified power structure under parliamentary democracy, rather than just with the king who is an acknowledged friend of India, does not worry New Delhi. Dilip Mehta, who also served as an envoy to Bhutan in the 1990s, said: “Being a democratic country, we must welcome this move. We should not forget that the king laid the foundations of this broad and strong relationship with India which will not be shaken by any thing.” Jasrotia said: “This should be treated as a challenge for Indian diplomacy. Besides, the king is very much going to be a key figure in the power structure.” The tiny kingdom’s foreign policy is guided by India, which also contributes substantially to its development budget. India recently provided an assistance package worth $450mn to Bhutan for its ninth five-year plan ending 2007.  ”

December 20, 2005

Human Events: National Conservative Weekly (Blog), USA — Thomas P. Kilgannon
Top 10 Countries That Vote Most Against the U.S. at the United Nations

“  7. Bhutan (92.9%). King Jigme Wangchuck measures economic and social progress not by “Gross National Product,” but by “Gross National Happiness.” Uncle Sam’s happiness with the king is slipping as Bhutan’s opposition to the U.S. at the United Nations increases.  ”

December 19, 2005

Asia Media, UCLA, USA — South China Morning Post, Hong Kong
BHUTAN: King to step down when tiny nation goes to the polls

“  In his speech, the king said he believed that during his son's reign "Bhutan will remain strong and glorious and our country will achieve greater prosperity with the sun of peace and happiness shining on our people". Bhutan has no political parties and few newspapers. Until recently, it rarely let in foreigners and television only came in the past decade. Even now, only about 6,000 tourists a year are allowed in, and only on carefully supervised tours to protect the environment and ancient culture. The king has shepherded the poor but beautiful country gradually towards modernisation, cherry picking what he wants from the modern world, saying "gross national happiness" is more important than gross national product.  ”

December 19, 2005

Financial Times, UK — Jo Johnson
Bhutan's King Sets Date for Election

“  Wedged into the eastern Himalayas, the tiny mountainous kingdom is flanked by India to the south and by the Tibet region of China to the north; an enviable location if trade between the two giants continues to develop at its current blistering pace.  ”

December 19, 2005 The Seattle Times, USA — Wasbir Hussain, Associated Press
Bhutan king to step down in '08 (Map)
December 18, 2005

Bhutan's king to abdicate by 2008 as country moves to democracy

“  TRASHIYANGTSE, Bhutan (AFP) - The king of the remote Himalayan country of Bhutan has announced that he will abdicate in 2008, when the country is scheduled to hold elections under its first constitution. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, 50, told a crowd of 8,000 yak-herders, monks, farmers and students at this remote village that he would start handing responsibility to the crown prince immediately. "I would also like our people to know that the Chhoetse Penlop (crown prince) will be enthroned as the Fifth Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King) in 2008," the king told the audience according to a transcript posted in the national newspaper, Kuensel. "As it is necessary and important for a king to gain as much experience as possible to serve his country to his fullest capacity, I will be delegating my responsibilities to the Chhoetse Penlop before 2008." The 25-year-old Crown Prince Dasho Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck is the eldest of the king's five sons and five daughters. He is a keen basketball player like his father.  ”

December 18, 2005

International Herald Tribune, ASIA PACIFIC — The Associated Press
Bhutan's king says he'll step down

“  The king has shepherded the poor but beautiful country gradually toward modernization, taking what he wants from the modern world and proclaiming that “gross national happiness” is more important than gross national product. The environment in Bhutan is fiercely protected. It has some of the strictest rules in the world to preserve some of the planet's last great remaining forests. The national assembly declared in 1995 that 60 percent of the country must be forested, including 26 percent that is set aside as protected.  ”

See also:
ABC News International — Associated Press
Bhutan's King to Step Down and Hold Nation's First Democratic Elections in 2008

LA Times, USA — WASBIR HUSSAIN, Associated Press Writer
Bhutan's King to Step Down in 2008

Houston Chronicle, USA — Associated Press
Bhutan's king announces democratic elections for 2008, when he will step down

Seattle Post-Intelligencer — Wasbir Hussain, Associated Press
Bhutan's king to step down in 2008

New Orleans Times-Picayune, USA — Wasbir Hussain, Associated Press
Bhutan's king to step down in 2008
December 16, 2005

The Chronicle Herald, Halifax, Nova Scotia — Chad Park and Tamara Lorincz
A Step forward

“  Many of the social and environmental consequences of unsustainable production and consumption are first noticed at the community level, because this is where we live and work. In communities across Nova Scotia, we see first-hand how smog, clearcutting, pesticide runoff, mining, dragnet fishing and factory-farming are contaminating our air, land and water and depleting natural resources, and how homelessness and poverty are causing despair. Municipal governments are charged with planning our development and managing our waste, water, energy, transportation and social systems. While municipalities are critical players in creating sustainable communities, they cannot do it alone. All groups in a community must be engaged and contributing to sustainable solutions. However, the interests of these groups are so complex and diverse that a clear path toward a sustainable community is often difficult to negotiate. To overcome this challenge, many communities around the world and in Canada, including the Halifax Regional Municipality, are using The Natural Step. The Natural Step is a framework that provides an elegant, rigorous and scientific understanding of sustainability together with a field-tested planning approach. The framework gives decision-makers a common perspective and a foundation for working together toward sustainability.  ”

December 16, 2005

The Australian — Dennis Shanahan and Natasha Robinson
Happiness index is a vital statistic, and Tim's up for it

“  STATISTICS are used to measure almost every aspect of our lives, says Tim Fischer – except the one that really counts. The former deputy prime minister reckons the nation should launch a wellbeing and happiness indicator, to be collated and controlled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics just like the consumer price index of inflation. Saying the concept was a "straight pinch" from the tiny mountainous South Asian kingdom of Bhutan, and is being tested in the northeast Victorian shire of Indigo, Mr Fischer believes the time has come for a national measure of wellbeing and community cohesion. "People today are seeking a better life and work balance, communities and governments are starting to seek ways of better measuring progress - so let the light shine on life beyond the economic template," Mr Fischer says in a speech to be given at the Australian National University today.  ”

December 11, 2005

TIME Asia — Alex Perry
Down with The King?
Bhutan's monarch is pushing his subjects to adopt democracy

“  King Jigme Singye Wangchuck of Bhutan is trying to abolish himself. The enlightened monarch of this tiny Himalayan kingdom, who has introduced such innovations as the use of a Gross National Happiness index to measure Bhutan's wealth, is now urging his people to get rid of him. "Monarchy is not the best form of government," he said last month at a stop on his anti-royalty campaign in the northern town of Haa. "It has many flaws."  ”

December 10, 2005

Kuensel Online, Bhutan
Constitution must preserve the Bhutanese identity

“  As 4,000 representatives of Wangduephodrang met with His Majesty the King they expressed the over-riding concern that two provisions in the draft Constitution - the Druk Gyalpo having to step down from the Throne at the age of 65 and the generalisation that “Buddhism” is the spiritual heritage instead of “Drukpa Kagyu” – would affect the essence of the kingdom’s strength, the unique Bhutanese identity. In a frank and open discussion on December 7, the Nishu gup pointed out that, in the case of the Druk Gyalpo abdicating the Golden Throne or on his demise, there was a provision that the heir apparent would be the eldest prince subject to the requirement that, in the event of the shortcomings in the elder prince, the Druk Gyalpo would select and proclaim the most capable Prince or Princess as heir to the Throne.  ”

December 9, 2005

Orlando Sentinel — Liz Langley
Simple joys often bring the greatest pleasure

“  It's a decree by King Wangchuck and is more or less about everybody having fun tonight. Wangchuck is the king of Bhutan. "Instead of seeking a gross national product," says Lynn Sherr of ABC News, in a Nov. 11 20/20 story online, "the official goal here is gross national happiness." The declaration was actually made in 1972, according to a story in Time magazine from this year, which says that this idea -- contentment, in a nutshell -- is being looked at by other countries, including Germany, Italy and France. Britain's Tony Blair conducted "a seminar on life satisfaction and its public policy implications." The notion seems to be that maybe how we're buying is not necessarily an indicator of how we're doing. This might be partly true, though I am very leery of falling into the "money doesn't buy happiness" trap. That's a generality. People who say money doesn't buy happiness are usually trying to avoid giving you any money. Money does or doesn't buy happiness, case by case. If you have a broken heart, it will still hurt whether you drink Grey Goose or Pabst. If you have a broken tooth, however, you can just write a check and get it fixed. Abstract problems (love) demand abstract solutions (new love). For everything else, there's MasterCard.  ”

December 6, 2005

Gross National Happiness in Bhutan

“  In a world where material prosperity appears to be the only measuring stick for progress, it is important and highly interesting to investigate this alternative approach by GNH through an audio-visual documentary. All levels of the Bhutanese society, ranging from government level to farmers in remote areas will be filmed and questioned about their reaction to the GNH-policy: Does-it work or not? Fully, partially, not at all?  ”

December 5, 2005

The Christian Science Monitor — David R. Francis
Monogamy is good - and good for you

“  GDP measures the total output of goods and services a nation produces. But for rich nations to focus excessively on ways to raise the level, or growth, of GDP would be "a mistake," says economist David Blanchflower. That's because "money buys some degree of happiness, but not a lot," he says. A far bigger contributor to happiness is marriage. A spouse provides as much extra happiness as $100,000 in new income, reckons Mr. Blanchflower, an economist at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.  ”

December 2005

Marion Institute, USA
Gross National Happiness

“  In order to obtain an inside view of Bhutan and the mind of its people, a trans-cultural documentary film crew consisting of Bhutanese and Swiss nationals will realize a documentary film. A team of the Bhutanese Broadcasting Services [BBS] is working on the content and the places of filming. The purpose of this project is to draw attention of decision makers worldwide to the idea of "Gross National Happiness" that Bhutan is experimenting on a nation-wide range under real-time conditions. This government strategy will be "captured" by a documentary film that describes it without preconceived ideas: A "trans-cultural" crew of Bhutanese and Swiss nationals will do its very best to ensure that this production will represent a factual description of GNH and will not dwell in an interpretative mode of expression.  ”

December 2005

The Non-Toxic Times, USA
A New Way to Measure Human Progress:
Gross National Product Gets Less Gross

“  The world has begun to take notice of these and other outcomes of Bhutan’s successes. Experts from government, business, and academia in many countries around the globe are currently working to develop ways to measure not just the flow of wealth but things like access to health care, free time, environmental protection, and a variety of other important gauges of a healthy society. In the United States, researchers at Princeton University have collaborated with the Bureau of Labor Statistics to develop a new time use survey now being administered to a cross section of 4,000 Americans every month. The purpose of the survey is to understand what makes people feel fulfilled, and help governments create conditions that contribute to this sense of satisfaction. Earlier this year, the British government announced that it was creating an “index of well-being,” which would track things like mental illness, public civility, access to public parks and green spaces, and crime rates. Canadian officials have been working to develop a similar index, and hope to release their first report soon, which will chart community health, general standards of living, and the distribution of time between work, home, and other activities. In the course of the next few years this data will be combined with figures detailing education, environmental health, community health, and government responsiveness to create a national well-being score. Comparable efforts have also begun in Australia and New Zealand.  ”

November 21, 2005

MaxSpeak (blog)
The Politics of the Happiness Studies Fad

“  That it is a fad reflects a major change in attitudes of economists. In the past we did not like survey data, or anything based on what people say they think or feel. We only trusted data on how they actually behave or behaved. That has now changed as mounds of studies pour out of the journals analyzing a now vast and accumulating pile of data on peoples' replies to questions such as "Are you generally happy?" or "Are you mostly satisfied with your life?" from many countries and over time. The big stylized fact coming out of these is called the "Easterlin paradox," originally identified 30 years ago by Richard Easterlin, the major professor of my major professor. It arises from the apparent fact that at any moment of time in a particular society, those who are richer claim to be happier/more satisfied than those who are poorer, but that over time as incomes rise in a society, people do not appear to get happier. He first observed it for Japan, but it holds for most other countries. Indeed, for the US, aggregate happiness appears to have peaked in 1956 and to have been vaguely drifting downward, with a few blips, since. This is the "hedonic treadmill," where people work harder and harder just to stay where they are, if that.  ”

November 14, 2005

First post:
Bhutan Times — Forum
GNH thread with 9 posts.

“  Although HM says that happiness is very important for our people, he doesnt mention "Gross National Happiness". Do you know of any instance where he mentioned it specifically? Maybe I am mistaken. I think it is the mainly ministers that brag about it a lot. What do you think? Like all things, it will lose its luster if it is over-used.  ”

November 10, 2005

ABC News 2020 — Lynn Sherr
Should America Boost Gross National Happiness, Rather Than GNP?
Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan Favors Contentment Over Commerce

“  In Bhutan, as in America, greed is a sin. "It is one of the three so-called poisons," said Karma Ura, director of the Centre for Bhutan Studies, the country's largest think tank, explaining that greed "enlarges your ego." That selfishness is exactly what "gross national happiness" is trying to avoid, the excesses of consumerism gone rampant … a danger reflected in Bhutan's first feature film, starring journalist Tshewang. He plays a disaffected young man with bigger dreams, eager to go to America to get rich. A colleague tells him, "Don't get lost there." I asked Tshewang if he thought it was possible to get lost in America. "Of course," said Tshewang, who studied journalism at the University of California at Berkeley for two years, learning about us. Like some 95 percent of all Bhutanese who study abroad, he returned home. "I missed the simplicity," he said. "It was too complex for me." ”
Watch Lynn Sherr's full report Friday night (11/11) at 10 p.m. on '20/20.'

Nov. 12, 2005 20/20 Forum: The real meaning of life?

November 4, 2005

The Kathmandu Post, Nepal — S K Pradhan
Bhutan’s draft constitution

“  The democratic Bhutan, it is hoped, would further promote and preserve kingdom's uniqueness in providing space for different communities to live together. The history of Bhutan shows the kingdom has the inherent capacity and tolerance to maintain its uniqueness by accommodating all its people and live together despite its diversity. As different flowers can blossom in a small garden, similarly diverse groups and communities can flourish and live together in a tiny country like Bhutan. The idea of Gross National Happiness propounded by King Wangchuck can turn into a reality only when this unity in diversity is maintained in Bhutan. Though tiny in size and population, Bhutan as a sovereign and independent country has come a long way in fighting against poverty, illiteracy and disease despite financial constraints and limitations. Modernization and development have paced together with preservation of culture, ecology and environment. The efforts of the Bhutanese government to reach the benefits of development and modernization to the people at grass root are exemplary. The struggle to combat poverty, illiteracy and disease continues despite problems and difficulties. With democracy and people's participation in politics Bhutan can turn into a real Shangri-La. Let us hope the democratic Bhutan guided by the king would develop enough capacity and tolerance to accept the exiled citizens back. ”

November 2, 2005

The Nation, Nairobi, Kenya — Jaindi Kisero
Figures Don't Tell the Whole Story

“  History will record that the greatest mistake this country made this decade was to make far less investment in human beings — investment in education, nutrition and in public health — than in brick and mortar plants and factories. That is why, although our Gross National Product will increase, the Gross National Happiness will not change. Yet we all know that the purpose of economic activity is to increase the well-being of individuals. Improving living standards is the objective of economics and development much more than mere accumulation of capital.  ”

November 1, 2005

World Bank News, Washington, USA — Erik Nora
Bhutan: World Bank Group Launches New Assistance Strategy

“  The new World Bank Group Country Strategy for Bhutan envisages a lending program of around US$15 million per year from the International Development Association (IDA) to support the country’s unique development vision. In FY06, IDA assistance will be provided as grant.  ”

Includes excellent mp3 audio excerpts from an interview with Alastair Mckechnie, World Bank Country Director for Bhutan.

October 29, 2005

Kuensel Online, Bhutan — Gopilal Acharya
Good governance crucial for parliamentary democracy

“  A review of governance in Bhutan, conducted by a special task force established by the prime minister, Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup, recommends two new ministries, strong anti-corruption measures, a private sector policy, the departure of ministers from corporate boards, and other measures to respond to the needs of the country with the introduction of a parliamentary democracy in a few years. The nine-chapter report called Good Governance Plus, which was formally handed over to the prime minister on October 27, is a review of the Good Governance Report of 1999 and recommendations on the structure and performance of the present government.  ”

October 28, 2005

HappyNews, Texas, USA — Christine Smith
A trip to ‘Shangri-La’

“  The pursuit and experience of happiness, as Bhutan illustrates, can be both an individual goal, as well as the goal of an entire society. It's not just a utopian or ideological idea; it's an attainable way of life if the majority chooses to make it a priority.  ”

October 28, 2005

Deccan Herald, Bangalore, India — Dipti Nair
Feelin' bubbly

“  It seems rather incongruous to be talking happiness when the sky and earth are in an adamant conspiracy to rain woes. With the recent earthquake in Pakistan and J&K, and incessant rainfall closer home, any talk of happiness would seem like a cruel joke. Yet, happiness has its own way of seeping into the unlikeliest of places and at unlikeliest of times — like a ray of sunshine through the dark clouds. Traditionally, it is the season for celebration, for festivities, for spreading cheer and feeling bubbly. People have worked hard the year round, earning lots of money and spending it gleefully on iPods, flat screen TVs and jewellery. They indulge and gratify all the while in the pursuit of happiness.  ”

October 23, 2005

Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, USA
Why so gloomy?

“  Living in the world's sole superpower, Americans always feel that we largely control our fate, that we can bend others, even nature, to our will. Katrina blew that away, at least temporarily. That has left us shaken, not stirred. Measuring the national mood is an imperfect science. Social scientists and others have tried to concoct a "gross national happiness" scale, along the lines of how economists measure gross domestic product. This would take into account not just industrial output and the flow of money into and out of wallets, but also access to health care, the amount of free time with family, care of natural resources and other factors.  ”

October 17, 2005

San Diego Union-Tribune — Karen Mazurkewich
Bhutan sets sights on creating 'gross national happiness'

“  THIMPHU, Bhutan – Five years ago, Tashi Wangyal had it all: a master's degree in philosophy from Cambridge University, a beautiful girlfriend and an attractive job offer as a consultant in London. But the scholarship student, then 25, threw it all away for a $120-a-month job in his native Bhutan, the isolated Buddhist kingdom perched in the Himalayas. The decision confounded his university friends, but Wangyal can find plenty of understanding at home. Despite Bhutan being among the poorest nations in the world, almost all of its scholarship students overseas return home after graduation. One reason they cite: Along with improvements in health care, education and the environment, the Bhutanese government has pursued the more elusive goal of promoting its nation's happiness. "The more I traveled and lived abroad, the more I learned to appreciate what we had at home," Wangyal says.  ”

October 16, 2005

New York Daily News — Lenore Skenazy
Lessons of King Wangchuck

“  It may be time to think about a trade-in. Goodbye bigger-is-better, happiness-is-a-Hummer, excess-is-best American Dream, hello Bhutan Bliss.  ”

See also: Tallahassee Democrat, USA — Lenore Skenazy
It's time to take the time to dream a new American dream

October 14, 2005

Ministry of Agriculture, Bhutan
Towards Elimination of Hunger

“  According to the World Food Summit, Food security exists when all people at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life (FAO, 1996). Therefore to apply this definition to Bhutans situation, the Ministry of Agriculture takes utmost initiative to develop a Food Security Strategy, which then will ultimately contribute to the further growth of the Gross National Happiness.  ”

October 07, 2005

The Times of India — Jug Suraiya
Scrap GDP in favour of Gross National Happiness (32K PDF)

“  Says Stefan Priesner of the UNDP, who has written a paper on GNH for Johns Hopkins, "It is widely recognised that Bhutan has fared well in terms of development". He goes on to say that higher GNH has "limited the social, cultural, ecological and human costs" of development. Bhutan has shown that people-centric development is a workable economic model.  ”

October 07, 2005

The Brown Daily Herald, USA — Nate Goralnik
Nate Goralnik '06: Let the economists take care of it, OK?

“  Actually, the hermit kingdom of Bhutan - not exactly an exemplar of financial sophistication - has recently moved in Dennison's proposed direction by adopting a measure of "gross national happiness." This will likely be a fabulous propaganda tool for the country's monarch while telling economists very little about the actual health of the economy. Not only will cooking the happy books be child's play, but issuing debt to buy Red Stripe and seasons of "South Park" will become the new Keynesianism. The more serious problem with rolling a variety of measures of economic wellbeing into one index is that there is no theoretical basis for assigning weights to various indicators. Which is worse, suicide or divorce? Taxes or inflation? War or poverty? Obesity or crime? The Yankees or the Red Sox?  ”

October 06, 2005

New York Times Editorial
Net National Happiness

“  To talk about gross national happiness may sound purely pie in the sky, partly because we have been taught to believe that happiness is essentially a personal emotion, not an attribute of a community or a country. But thinking of happiness as a quotient of cultural and environmental factors might help us understand the growing disconnect between America's prosperity and Americans' sense of well-being. Some sociologists worry that the effort to quantify happiness may actually impair the pursuit of happiness. But there's another way to consider it. The world looks the way it does - as if it is being devoured by some grievous species - partly because of narrow economic assumptions that govern the behavior of corporations and nations. Those assumptions usually exclude, for instance, the costs of environmental, social or cultural damage. A clearer understanding of what makes humans happy - not merely more eager consumers or more productive workers - might help begin to reshape those assumptions in a way that has a measurable and meliorating outcome on the lives we lead and the world we live in.  ”

October 06, 2005

New York Times Letters
Being Happy

“  Re "A New Measure of Well-Being From a Happy Little Kingdom" (Oct. 4): The efforts of Bhutan and others to develop new measures and to carry out new policies that increase "gross national happiness" should be vigorously encouraged.  ”

October 06, 2005

The Reaction Blog — Michael J.W. Stickings
Don't worry, be happy: You're in Bhutan!

“  What is happiness? How is it measured? What is a healthy society? How is it measured? Given our emphasis on money, on economic well-being, happiness is often linked to financial success both individual and political. Money may not be able to buy us love or happiness, but it can go a long way towards satisfying our most primal needs and our most desperate longings. Towering figures like Socrates were poor, to be sure, but they were the exceptions.  ”

October 05, 2005

AFP TOKYO via Yahoo News
Mega-economy Japan should learn from 'happy' Bhutan: conference

“  "There are lots of things that Japan can learn from Bhutan," Takayoshi Kusago, an associate professor of Osaka University and former World Bank economist, told a symposium on GNH held by the Japanese foreign ministry. He said he was working on proposals of better indicators for Japan "that reflect other aspects of human happiness that are not reflected in the GDP." He said that if using instead an indicator that looked at areas such as crime and overtime work, Japan -- the world's second largest economy in GDP terms -- has seen little progress since the 1980s. Japan also has the industrialized world's highest suicide rate. Japanese economic planners routinely express concern about the rate of GDP growth, which has been stagnant or negative for much of the last decade.  ”

October 05, 2005

Kuensel Online, Bhutan
Beyond the numbers game

“  We have a tendency to measure success by figures and numbers, like the length of roads, number of bridges, the student population, amount of revenue earned, even the budget spent in a particular year. They are used today as a measure of the Ninth Plan and as benchmarks for the 10th Plan with additional goals like transport vehicles, computers, telephone, and television sets to determine the level of development. But it is time to re-think some of these goals in this new era of development... ”

October 05, 2005

The Pitt News, USA — Staff Editorial
Happiness, world's most valuable currency

“  Quantifying happiness is no easy task, and researchers have their work cut out for them. If Gross National Happiness becomes an accepted term, though, the work will pay off. A healthy, contented population is far more desirable than a relatively wealthy but unsatisfied one. Most people readily admit money does not buy happiness, but that does not stop them from hoping for a raise. There's nothing wrong with striving for wealth, but money must not be treated as the ultimate measure of success. Happiness, after all, has no price tag.  ”

October 05, 2005

New Economist Blog, UK
Latest from the happiness industry

“  The NYT story notes that the UK government has said it aims to come up with an index of well-being, although so far this work seems much more about sustainable development than anything else. It also cited work by Hans Messinger from Statistics Canada and Ronald Colman of GPI Atlantic on developing a Canadian index of wellbeing. Their June 2004 joint paper to the Canadian Economic Association Annual Meeting, Economic Performance and the Wellbeing of Canadians (PDF) provides more details. While I am sceptical about the value of such measures - the methodological problems are immense - I also recognise they can be a useful means of raising awareness and encouraging debate about non-economic aspects of well-being, such as health and the environment. Happiness and well-being are topics we will be hearing a lot more about from economists and other social scientists in coming years...  ”

October 05, 2005

Private Sector Development (PSD) Blog — Pablo Halkyard
Gross National Happiness, the new GDP?

“  The New York Times has a good summary article (and great chart) on the debate that has surrounded the new welfare indicator, Gross National Happiness, since it was first suggested by Bhutan in 1972. The article discusses the debates surrounding ‘happiness’ indicators, which seem to be gaining momentum — groups in Canada, Australia and New Zealand are planning indexes, and Princeton and the US Census Bureau have also shown interest.  ”

October 05, 2005

Slate, USA — today's blogs by Bidisha Banerjee
Nails in the Hammer's Coffin?

“  Happy happy joy joy: Some bloggers are intrigued by a New York Times article about how nations measure their citizens' happiness. It notes that Bhutan has focused on its "Gross National Happiness," instead of its gross domestic product, since 1972. Read more about Bhutan and gross national happiness.  ”

October 04, 2005

Sepia Mutiny (Blog) — abhi
Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness

“  Blah Bla Bla Blah Blah.  I’m not freakin’ Alan Greenspan and I’ve never taken an economics course in my life.  What else you got? The New York Times reports on Bhutan’s economic indicator of choice. It is a measure that in my opinion is ready for export. The GNH, or Gross National Happiness  ”

September 28, 2005

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan — Announcement
Symposium on Bhutan and Gross National Happiness, 2005, Tokyo

“  A Symposium on Bhutan and Gross National Happiness, 2005, Tokyo, will take place on October 5 (Wed) at Mita House in Tokyo. The Symposium will be attended on the Japanese side by researchers and officials concerned with Bhutan, aid and other activities; and on the Bhutanese side by Mr. Lyonpo Dago Tshering, Royal Bhutanese Ambassador to Japan, and Mr. Karma Galay, Senior Research Officer of the Center for Bhutan Studies. The Symposium will include lectures and panel discussions on the Kingdom of Bhutan and gross national happiness.  ”

September 22, 2005

The Heritage Foundation, USA — Paul Rosenzweig
Gross National Happiness: A Faith-Based Constitution for Bhutan

“  On matters religious, Bhutan has made its choice clear: Buddhism is the spiritual and cultural heritage of the country. Period. As a result, Buddhism is an integral, vital part of the new constitution. Yes, portions of the constitution would look familiar to Westerners. It proposes a parliamentary democracy. And it protects many of the same fundamental rights found in the American Constitution -- freedom of speech and the press, for example. But despite all that familiarity, the Bhutanese draft constitution contains many distinctive provisions. Most of these can be traced to the Buddhist religion. Here’s one example: Buddhist theology finds its way into the constitution in the form of a state commitment to maximize “Gross National Happiness.” It’s hard to conceive of a country where the stated purpose is to make the citizens happy -- but there it is in Bhutan. Another example: Right next to the section on fundamental rights, there is a section on fundamental duties -- and those duties are mostly derived from Buddhist culture. So the constitution, in a requirement that is very unusual to Western eyes, actually requires citizens to be good Samaritans. “A person shall have the responsibility to provide help, to the greatest possible extent, to victims of accidents and in times of natural calamity,” it says. There is a constitutional duty to be a pacifist, to “uphold justice” and to “act against corruption.” Can you imagine provisions like that in a Western constitution?  ”

September 19, 2005

Kuensel Online, Bhutan
Foreign minister addresses plenary UN meeting

“  Addressing the high level plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York on September 14 the Bhutanese foreign minister, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, reiterated Bhutan’s commitment to the Millennium Development Goals and briefed the international community on the progress made to achieve them. He also spoke on Bhutan’s development philosophy of Gross National Happiness and called upon the international community to reflect on it.  ”

September 14, 2005

International Herald Tribune — Bunker Roy
Why the millennium goals won't work

“  Any goal that is driven from the top by international donors and governments not accountable to the communities and without financial transparency is doomed to fail. That model encourages colossal falsification of figures, the excessive hiring of private consultants and contractors, conflicts of interest and a massive patronage system. When poor communities think at the human level, all their goals are interconnected. But under the present top-down model, with the absence of a global grass-roots movement with the communities as equal partners, the goals have been broken up compartmentally into project mode, to suit donors and governments. That's the ultimate recipe for disaster, and that's why the MDGs will be achieved only on paper.  ”

September 9, 2005

Smart Communities Blog, USA — Suzanne Morse
Measuring Progress

“  Ever wonder how you might go about measuring a concept like progress? A group in Canada called GPI Atlantic is trying to do just that by developing what they call the Genuine Progress Index. They describe the index as “a new measure of sustainability, wellbeing and quality of life consisting of 22 social, economic and environmental components.” Among the variables covered in the index are some pretty complex factors like Human Freedom Index, Composite Livelihood Security Index, and Ecological Footprint Analysis.  ”

August 30, 2005

lifestylism blog, Canada — Jeremy Hiebert
Poverty and Gross National Happiness

“  It looks to me like the measures of economic growth we're depending on aren't reflecting the reality on the ground. Perhaps it's time to take a closer look at Bhutan's attempt to measure and foster gross national happiness instead of assuming that all economic growth and activity is a positive thing.  ”

August 30, 2005

Malaysian National News Agency :: BERNAMA — Mikhail Raj Abdullah
Companies Can't Operate On Insulated Terrain Amidst Globalisation

“  Harvard Business School Alumni Club of Malaysia President Tan Sri G. Gnanalingam ... said Vision 2020 would continue to inspire and drive Malaysia towards holistic development to become a developed country with a minimum wage of RM2,020 by 2010 and achieving "gross national happiness" in the process as well.  ”

August 29, 2005

The Bahama Journal, Nassau, Bahamas — Editor
Balance and Happiness

“  Imagine – if you can – a country in this world where the government makes it its primary business to see to it that its people experience happiness to the maximum extent possible.  ”

August 29, 2005

Portland Transport Blog, USA — Karen Frost
Write Happiness into the Transportation Plan

“  We understand we must make the route pleasant and convenient or few will choose active transportation over driving. And recently, we have made the connection between public health and transportation, but at the Second International Conference on Gross National Happiness in Nova Scotia, Canadian Catherine O'Brien Ph.D. is asking us to make the connection between happiness and transportation.  ”

August 26, 2005

Grandinite Blog, Canada — Aaron Braaten
The Problem with GDP

“  Krugman has an article in the NYTimes today about the disconnect between the GDP growth rate and how Americans feel about the economy. Americans (and Canucks) also care about their environment, for the most part. Maybe North Americans should look at more comprehensive measures of GDP such as the Genuine Progress Indicator. It's not perfect, but it is really interesting.  ”

August 19, 2005

BBC World's Earth Report, UK — Tracy Worcester
Gross National Happiness Documentary film

“  The Foreign Minister says: "To us [in] maintaining our gross national happiness it is very important that we do not unsettle our population. All our development is people centred and therefore we do programmes that ensure the wellbeing of the people, and the wellbeing includes spiritual as well as material contentment." Balancing economic development with the contentment of an entire nation is an impressive task. Although the measurement of wellbeing will vary greatly by culture and region, simply acknowledging its value and incorporating it into national economic planning creates a different approach to governance. Bhutan has certainly taken its first steps along a new path.  ”

August 18, 2005

BBC News World Edition, UK — Tracy Worcester
Bhutan puts farms before markets

“  Bhutan is at a cross roads. Either it signs up to the WTO rules that will give foreign multinationals and investors rights over their laws in trade, resources and services or it continues to protect small local producers and rural economies from the vagaries of the global economy. At a time when governments across the world are grappling with urban slums, hunger, social breakdown and environmental degradation, Bhutan's choice of development pattern could have global significance.  ”

August 2, 2005

MacLeans, Canada — Sue Ferguson
In praise of grumpiness

“  We've even turned happiness into an international competition in which Canada, by the way, fares relatively well, usually placing in the top third in international comparisons — often ahead of our wealthier neighbour to the south. What's more, many industrialized nations — Canada very much among them — are now exploring a concept first introduced in 1972 by the king of Bhutan: the GNH, or Gross National Happiness index. The Atkinson Charitable Foundation in Toronto has given $1.5 million to a high-profile group of academics and government officials to come up with a specific Canadian index of well-being that would measure such intangibles as the work-life balance. The group includes such luminaries as former health care commissioner Roy Romanow, economist Judith Maxwell and happiness guru Alex Michalos of the University of Northern B.C., and it asks: why measure a nation's well-being simply by what it produces or exports when you can also add in the contentment factor?  ”

August, 2005

MIT Technology Review — Stephan Herrera
Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise? The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan wants to show that modernization can be enlightened.

“  Now comes the real test: can Bhutan and the king's enlightened framework withstand the messy business of democracy and development, and the problems that tend to follow? "With China, India, and Nepal sitting on its borders," says Stephen Cohen, a senior fellow at the Washington, DC, policy think tank the Brookings Institution who specializes in south-Asia security matters, "and donor nations in the West constantly pushing new models upon the developing nations they fund, anything can happen."  ”

July 19, 2005

The Kathmandu Post, Nepal — Dr Shreeram Lamichhane & Dr Mana Prasad Wagley
Reforming higher education

“ If we make an attempt to understand initiatives taken by other countries we find them aligning their higher education policy with their national development philosophy defined in a holistic manner. For example, one of the South Asian countries has adopted Gross National Happiness (GNH) as its holistic development philosophy around which the entire system of education is carried along. Actually GNH stands on four pillars, such as economic growth, preservation and promotion of cultural heritage, sustainable environment and people-centered governance. Might it be possible to reflect our educational policies for reform in this light by crystallizing the frontier of our development philosophy? ”

July 10, 2005

Domain: created — Andy Shmuckler
Gross National Happiness

“  The name comes from an interview with the spiritual leader of Bhutan. When asked why his people seem so happy while living in poverty he responded by saying, "In your country you have a gross national product. In Bhutan we practice GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS". The band would have the same thing going in that we all write songs and contribute to each others music. All that without letting too much ego get in the way of making the best possible song.  ”

July 8, 2005

The Scotsman, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK — Jennifer Hill
Sentiment is highlighted by reaction to London bombings

“ Some 20 years ago, the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan devised an alternative index to GDP - GNH: gross national happiness. It draws on a broad set of indicators that relate to social, environmental and health matters, which the Bhutanese believe better reflect overall wellbeing. That should give us pause for thought. ”

  Some History:
Pre GNH 2 conference references to "Gross National Happiness"
May 27, 2005

Bhutan Travellers Website — An excellent introduction to GNH
Gross National Happiness

“  Literally, there seems to be a close similarity between the Gross National Happiness and Jeremy Bentham’s theory of utilitarianism wherein he emphasized on the ‘sacred truth’ that men inevitably pursue pleasure and avoid pain, and “greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation.” Presumption here is that whole of morality could be derived from ‘enlightened self-interest.’ His idea was that the greatest happiness of the greatest number should govern judgment of every institution and action and this brings very close to the theory of development from the Gross National Happiness perspective. Of course the difference between these two philosophies being that former is too logical and mechanical rationalization of facts while latter believes in the spiritual values too. Some believed that Gross National Happiness would be achieved in the state “where everyone cares enough and everyone shares enough so that everyone has enough” other wise it is merely a utopian concept best suited for intellectual brain-storming.  ”

May 20, 2005

Wisiting The Well (blog) — Paul Holland
Gross National Happiness

“  An extraordinary measure in an extraordinary country. It’s easy to assume that the game’s over and all the world is embracing the universal teachings of Googalism, The Golden Arches, Microsoftology and the Church of the Bottom Line. It’s nice to know that we can still be surprised and delighted by little outbreaks of human ‘illogic’ and the search for happiness.  ”

April 16, 2005

Social Science Research Network — Rafael di Tella & Robert MacCulloch
Gross National Happiness as an Answer to the Easterlin Paradox?

“  The Easterlin Paradox refers to the fact that happiness data are typically stationary in spite of considerable increases in income. This amounts to a rejection of the hypothesis that current income is the only argument in the utility function. One possible answer is that human development involves more than current income (e.g., as argued by the UN). We find that the happiness responses of almost 400,000 people living in the OECD during 1975-97 are positively correlated with absolute income, the generosity of the welfare state and (weakly) with life expectancy; it is negatively correlated with the average number of hours worked, measures of environmental degradation (SOx emissions), crime, openness to trade, inflation and unemployment; all after controlling for country and year dummies. The estimated effects separate across groups in a manner that appears broadly plausible (e.g., the rich suffer environmental degradation more than the poor). Based on their actual change, the biggest contributors to happiness in our sample have been the increase in income and the increase in life expectancy. Our accounting exercise suggests that the unexplained trend in happiness is even bigger than would be predicted if income was the only argument in the utility function. In other words, introducing omitted variables worsens the income-without-happiness paradox.  ”

April 8, 2005

True Cost Economics —
Reprint of Nadia Mustafa's TIME article
Forget GDP. How about Gross National Happiness?

“  The king of Bhutan has a new formula for measuring prosperity. It considers economic self-reliance, a pristine environment, the preservation and promotion of Bhutans culture and good governance. Are you paying attention Mr. Greenspan?  ”

April 1, 2005

American Machinist, USA — Thomas Grasson
Let's get happy

“  Nobel economics laureate Daniel Kanneman is developing a formula to rank governments according to the happiness they deliver to their citizens. He is working with three U.S. universities to build a methodology that allows countries to rank themselves, as Britain is doing, on a scale of gross national happiness. Now I don't hold a doctorate in psychology or economics, but I do know that happiness means different things to different people. That's why I find this whole idea of measuring happiness absurd. Let's face reality — we can't even come to an agreement on how to measure job satisfaction in this country.  ”

March 15, 2005

ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) TV, — Peter Lloyd
Bhutan - Dragon Kingdom

“  Reporter Peter Lloyd accompanies Tim Fischer and his Australian touring party on a trek to the Tiger's Nest Bhutan's most famous monastery. The tourism dollars are vital to Bhutans economic development yet the king is on record as saying that gross national happiness is more important than gross national product.  ”

March 12, 2005

Canadian Content Community — Online Forum
Gross National Happiness

“  Bhutan challenges the conventional yardstick for measuring economic development and growth, the quantitative measure of gross national product (GNP). Bhutan has introduced and is working with the holistic, multidimensional measure of gross national happiness (GNH). According to the Royal Government of Bhutan, "Gross national happiness comprises four pillars: economic self-reliance, environmental preservation, cultural promotion, and good governance. These four goals are mutually linked, complementary, and consistent. They embody national values, aesthetics, and spiritual traditions."  ”

March, 2005

World and I Journal — Thinley Choden
Bhutan’s Emphasis on Expanding “Gross National Happiness”

“  Bhutan's national health-care program and the charity of individual acts of feeding, clothing, or sheltering the poor can reduce suffering. However, unless a subtle balance and thoughtful consciousness is applied, charity can increase suffering and decrease happiness. In Western societies, the institutionalized charity of welfare programs often produces dependency and idleness while increasing desire and unhappiness. The foundation of true happiness in Bhutan can only come from the spirit, from Bhutan's spiritual heritage, individual practice, and belief in creating happiness through the practice of jimba. Of course, jimba/public service creates happiness for the giver as well as for the receiver--perhaps even more happiness.  ”

January 26, 2005 Wikipedia new entry:
Gross national happiness

January 20, 2005

Slate, USA — Eric Weiner, NPR
The First Nonsmoking Nation
Bhutan banned tobacco. Could the rest of the world follow?

“  The tiny, trendy Himalayan kingdom recently became the world's first nonsmoking nation. Since Dec. 17, it has been illegal to smoke in public or sell tobacco. Violators are fined the equivalent of $232—more than two months' salary in Bhutan. Authorities heralded the ban by igniting a bonfire of cigarette cartons in the capital, Thimphu, and stringing banners across the main thoroughfare, exhorting people to kick the habit. As if they have a choice. Meddling with an issue as personal as smoking is always tricky, and politicians err at their own peril. Yet Bhutan's ban appears to be sticking and with little public outcry. Even the country's smokers seem resigned to a smoke-free future. "If you can't get it, you can't smoke it," concludes Tshewang Dendup, who works for Bhutan's only broadcaster. He picked up his smoking habit while studying at Berkeley, but says he is now rapidly "downsizing" his consumption.  ”

January 10, 2005

TIME — Nadia Mustafa
What About Gross National Happiness?
Measuring policy success as an increase in wellbeing

“  King Wangchuck’s idea that public policy should be more closely tied to wellbeing — how people feel about their lives — is catching on. “There is a growing interest in some policymaking circles in looking at these measures,” says Richard Easterlin, economics professor at the University of Southern California. “We have been misguided in dismissing what people say about how happy they are and simply assuming that if they are consuming more apples and buying more cars they are better off.” There are efforts to devise a new economic index that would measure wellbeing gauged by things like satisfaction with personal relationships, employment, and meaning and purpose in life, as well as, for example, the extent new drugs and technology improve standards of living.  ”

January, 2005

Resurgence 228 — Rajni Bakshi
Gross National Happiness
New ways to measure human wellbeing.

“  Today, the concept of GNH resonates with a wide range of initiatives, across the world, to define prosperity in more holistic terms and to measure actual wellbeing rather than consumption. By contrast the conventional concept of Gross National Product (GNP) measures only the sum total of material production and exchange in any country. Thus an international conference on Gross National Happiness, hosted by the Bhutan government in the capital city of Thimphu in 2004, attracted eighty-two eminent participants from twenty countries. The evolving concept of GNH could well be the most significant advancement in economic theory over the last 150 years, according to Frank Dixon, a Harvard Business School graduate who is currently Managing Director of Research at Innovest Strategic Value Advisors. Innovest is the largest international financial services firm catering to ethical investment funds. "GNH is an endeavour to greatly enhance the sophistication of human systems by emulating the infinitely greater sophistication of nature," says Dixon, who presented a paper on ways of 'Improving Unsustainable Western Economic Systems'. Just what would it mean for economic structures to emulate nature? Dixon and others explain it as follows. At present individual companies and entire countries are compelled to keep growing indefinitely. The only parallel for this in the natural world is cancer cells, which by growing exponentially destroy the host body and themselves. Today it is widely acknowledged that the human economy cannot keep growing at the cost of its habitat. Yet even after two decades of expanding environmental regulation we are still losing the race to save the planet. This is partly because production systems and consumption patterns are out of sync with the carrying capacity of the planet. The pressure for ever higher GNP is merely one manifestation of this.  ”

See also: EnviroHealth

December, 2004

WIRED !2.12, USA — Daniel H. Pink
The True Measure of Success
Forget GDP. A better metric for prosperity is Gross National Happiness.

“  Since the time of Adam Smith, we've used the wealth of nations as a proxy for the well-being of nations. We measure whether life is getting better by checking whether the good numbers (GDP, personal incomes, and so on) are going up and the bad numbers (unemployment, inflation, and so on) are going down. However, over the past half century, something strange has happened. The US's per capita GDP - the value of all the goods and services a nation produces divided by its population - has nearly tripled, but American well-being hasn't budged. We've grown almost three times richer but not one jot happier. There's ample evidence that in all postindustrial societies, material wealth and broader happiness are no longer closely in sync. Fortunately, there are new, direct indicators of well-being. In the past decade, psychologists, neuroscientists, and behavioral economists have performed an enormous amount of research into personal satisfaction and happiness. It turns out that beyond a relatively low threshold, more money doesn't make us much happier.  ”

November, 2004

American Scientist, USA — Amos Esty
The New Wealth of Nations

“  Bhutan, say an increasing number of psychologists and economists, may have a point. Economic measures such as GNP and the more widely used GDP (gross domestic product) after all, have many "blind spots." They fail to take into account factors such as volunteer work, the value of vacation and leisure time or the loss of natural resources due to environmental degradation. Last February, more than 300 academics, journalists and students enthusiastic about GNH gathered in Bhutan's capital of Thimphu to spread their message. As the title of one paper put it, it was "A Good Time for Gross National Happiness."  ”

October 24, 2004

The Japan Times — Editorial
Tallying national happiness (203K PDF)

“  Bhutanese scholar caught its essence in an inspired image, explaining that GNH does not mean rejecting modern advances, including education and technology, in the name of tradition, but figuring out how to place "the hamburger of modern development in the Bhutanese mandala." For Bhutan, this might mean opening the door to fast food, television and the Internet while at the same time preserving and celebrating -- as the country tries hard to do -- its cultural and spiritual heritage and its superb environment. Its small size and physical isolation make the task easier. what might GNH mean for larger, more developed countries such as Japan? According to Ed Diener, an American professor of psychology who has taken an interest in the approach, the first thing that is required is "a huge shift in the way policymakers think." Instead of merely considering economic indicators as a measure of national progress, governments would have to get used to the idea of factoring in both social indicators, such as education, health care and the state of the environment, and much more subjective measures of what Mr. Diener calls "life satisfaction."  ”

August 15, 2004

Government Executive — Denise Kersten
The Happiness Factor

“  Happiness may be the ultimate goal, but it's also a means to an end. Some assume that widespread happiness would hurt productivity, but research shows happiness is good for the economy. Happy people are richer and more productive than unhappy people. The traditional attitude says that pursuing national wealth will lead to greater happiness; these researchers show pursuing national happiness leads to greater wealth. At Brookings, Diener quoted Robert Kennedy: "The gross national product does not include the beauty of our poetry, the strength of our marriage, the intelligence of our public debate, the integrity of our officials, neither our wit nor courage, wisdom nor learning, devotion to country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile." The GNH couldn't capture everything, either. But it would be a start.  ”

August, 2004

Global Village News
Gross National Happiness: The True Measure Of Success?

“  A group of western economists, inspired by Bhutan’s concept of Gross National Happiness, are working to get the idea adopted internationally. “Gross International Happiness could be the next level of evolution in our economic thinking,” says the Dutch economist, Sander Tideman.  ”

July 2004

ode magazine 15, USA — Rajni Bakshi
One last thing…

“  ‘happiness is more important than money’. Lyonpo Jigmi Y. Thinley, Prime Minister of Bhutan, on Gross National Happiness.  ”

June 17, 2004

International Development Research Centre, Canada — Patrick Kavanagh
Happiness and Progress:
Measuring Human Wellbeing in Bhutan and Canada

“  In modern times, human prosperity and wellbeing have been measured by blunt economic standards, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), that are essentially gauges of economic activity. More often than not, however, these indicators fail to take account of whether that activity is good or bad. Perversely, a rise in crime rates may come across as an economic benefit because it stimulates economic activity: more crime leads to the building of more prisons, the hiring of more police, and so on. By the same dispassionate logic, natural disasters could also be seen as contributing to the economy, for example if they created a repair and reconstruction boom. It all depends on what you choose to count. The alternative approach draws upon a broader set of social, environmental, and health indicators aimed at more accurately representing the real condition of society.  ”

March 27, 2004

Asia Times — Joseph Harris
In Bhutan, it's happiness that counts

“  The conference began boldly, with much pomp and circumstance, and with a great amount of local Buddhist color injected into the activities. When the business began, though, conference participants discussed the problems and pitfalls of building a GNH indicator in such detail as to reveal the real difficulty in moving forward (something that the government had not yet decided it would do before the conference was over). But it was on the seminar's first day that one British researcher misspoke and accidentally offered what might have been the most crucial thinking point of the entire seminar: "As Bhutan seeks to find the Middle Ages, I mean, the Middle Way ..." The slip raised a laugh from the audience, but it also gave pause for thought in greater detail about the development policy offered by GNH. Is GNH truly a forward-thinking, ahead-of-its-time economic tool for measuring development progress? Or is it rather a scenic detour away from the real business of development, which is about raising the living standards of the poorest, first and foremost economically?  ”

February 25, 2004

Shambhala News Service — Dr. Ronald Coleman
Measuring Genuine Progress: Indicators for Enlightened Society

“  The Shambhala and Buddhist teachings recognize not only that all people want to be happy and free from suffering, but that they are inherently decent and good by nature. All human beings - whatever their culture, ethnicity, religion, gender, or age - have the complete ability to lead dignified lives, to realize their innate wisdom, and to create a brilliant, vibrant society based on kindness and compassion. This is not a theory or mere wishful thinking. It is the profound understanding that comes from the careful study and contemplation of the human mind and the nature of existence. ¶ [...] What are the pillars of such an enlightened society based on human dignity, and what are the measures by which we can assess the health of a society and its progress towards Gross National Happiness?  ”

February 23, 2004

This Dew-Drop Bardo (blog) — Mark Szpakowski
Operationalizing Gross National Happiness

“  Bhutan is hosting an international seminar on Operationalizing the Concept of Gross National Happiness. ¶ [...] It's nice to see the mythic element interweaving with the daily news and stories, as in Javanese shadow-puppet plays, and as it does anyway through our TV media screens. How do we choose, care for, show what is important for us?  ”

November 3, 2003

Excerpt: — Environment News Service (ENS)
Measuring Gross National...Happiness

“  CURITIBA, Brazil, November 3, 2003 (ENS) – If you’re the sort who switches stations as soon as the reporter begins to drone on about current economic indicators, imagine an entire conference dedicated not only to them but also to environmental and social statistics. Participants hoped to begin to develop and disseminate “triple bottom line” indicators for governments and businesses that would put environmental and social factors on equal footing with purely economic growth measures. The idea is to end our society’s fixation on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and replace it with what the Dutch former banker Sander Tideman called a measure of Gross National Happiness.  ”

October 22, 2003 Domain: registered — S. Tideman
Gross International Hapiness

September 16, 2003

Tidepool, USA — Derek Reiber
Gross Domestic Happiness? Or why Gross Domestic Product is an inaccurate and incomplete measurement of how we're doing as a country

“  Gross Domestic Product, or GDP for short, is by definition the "total market value of all final goods and services produced in a country in a given year, equal to total consumer, investment and government spending, plus the value of exports, minus the value of imports." Or, to put it more simply, GDP is an overall measure of economic activity, of buying and selling and money being exchanged. It is just one among many economic indicators that serves as "the main feedback loop to national policy," argue Clifford Cobb, Ted Halstead, and Jonathan Rowe in Atlantic Monthly. And here's the clincher: "They define the economic problems that the political arena seeks to address. If the nation's indicators of economic progress are obsolete, then they consign us to continually resorting to policies that cannot succeed because they aren't addressing the right problems." The authors, and many other economic experts, believe GDP is an incomplete and inaccurate measurement of our economic reality. Even though the media and politicians latch onto GDP and similar number-crunching indices as ready-made, authoritative windows on the health of the economy (the Wall Street Journal reportedly calls GDP "the world's most reliable economic indicator"), they really don't tell us much about what is really going on. GDP "makes no distinction whatsoever between the desirable and the undesirable, or costs and gain. On top of that, it looks only at the portion of reality that economists choose to acknowledge—the part involved in monetary transactions," say the article's authors. "As a result the GDP not only masks the breakdown of the social structure and the natural habitat upon which the economy—and life itself—ultimately depend; worse, it actually portrays such breakdown as economic gain."  ”

February 24, 2003

Global Policy Forum, New York — Marc Wolfensberger, Bloomberg
Bhutan Looks to WTO to Lift the Happiness Index

“  Bhutan is negotiating to join the World Trade Organization, a move that would bring into the global economic community a Himalayan kingdom that measures economic growth with a happiness index. "Many good things can be measured, and happiness is definitely one," Finance Minister Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba said Wednesday in Geneva. "The index is rising every year."  ”

January 10, 2003

Excerpt: — Donald B. Ardell, PhD
Gross National Happiness (Part Two)

“  Finally, Brent explained that it is difficult for Americans to understand why every country doesn't have "western style democracy." In Bhutan's case, he told me, there are good reasons why the rulers are moving in this direction but in a deliberate manner. One is the example of neighboring Nepal. After a "peoples revolution" in the 80's, democracy was announced, 40 or so political parties sprang up, a struggle for control ensued and, a decade later, a revolution broke out that so far has claimed over 7,000 lives. Bhutan has made significant strides in political progress, but the rulers prefer to bring things along at a deliberate pace. Brent noted that, little by little, villagers are learning to appreciate democratic systems. Eventually, he believes, systems will be in place that will support a style of democracy with similar benefits as those we embrace (and have to keep struggling to preserve.) Until then, the government's focus will remain on protecting the environment, promoting social harmony, stability and so on -- including the level of GNH!  ”

January 9, 2003

Excerpt: — Donald B. Ardell, PhD
Gross National Happiness

“  Is GNP the truest measure of a nation's wealth? Or, might other measures have a place in such accounting, such as the happiness of the people? In a small Asian country many Americans never heard of, GNP is supplemented by GNH -- Gross National Happiness. This orientation places individual welfare, not the aggregate of all goods and services, as the measure of progress. With Gross National Happiness, the material, emotional and psychological -- even existential needs are all considered, promoted and assessed. A variant on Gross National Product (GNP), GNH is the byword, the theme and the goal of Bhutan, an Asian Kingdom between India and China about the size of Switzerland with a population of slightly less than 700,000. The phrase "Gross National Happiness" is used in Bhutan as were political themes in the US. Do you remember, "The New Deal," "The New Frontier" and "The Great Society?" These were the slogans of the Roosevelt, Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, respectively. However, the Bhutanese seem quite serious about their theme, which is founded on the belief that human happiness is a composite of both material and non-material needs of people -- and that governmental policies can address both sets of needs. In remarks to the UN General Assembly last September, the foreign minister of Bhutan described GNH: We believe that it is the responsibility of the government to create an enabling environment within which every citizen would have a reasonable opportunity to find happiness. The road to happiness has four lanes: sustainable socio-economic development, conservation of the fragile Himalayan ecology, promotion of basic human values and culture as well as the strengthening of good governance.  ”

December 29, 2002

Hammerland Blog, USA — Tom Hammer
Gross National Happiness

“  By now, you probably have heard about the Kingdom of Bhutan and the development policy His Majesty, their king: Gross National Happiness. If you haven't, read on. This is enlightenment on a grand scale, from a country generally considered to be barely breaking out of a medieval age.  ”

June 27, 2002

Solar Electric Light Fund
Powering "Gross National Happiness"

“  Deep in the heart of the Himalayas, the land-locked country of Bhutan is an environmental and cultural Shangri-La. With colorful prayer flags fluttering atop ancient monasteries and age-old traditions passed down through the generations, Bhutan is the world’s sole surviving Buddhist Kingdom, and is home to nearly 600,000 people. The Royal Government of Bhutan is taking a very active role in developing the country at an appropriate pace, hoping to avoid some of the cultural and societal changes that have destabilized other developing countries.  ”

June 27, 2002

Solar Electric Light Fund
Powering "Gross National Happiness"

“  Deep in the heart of the Himalayas, the land-locked country of Bhutan is an environmental and cultural Shangri-La. With colorful prayer flags fluttering atop ancient monasteries and age-old traditions passed down through the generations, Bhutan is the world’s sole surviving Buddhist Kingdom, and is home to nearly 600,000 people. The Royal Government of Bhutan is taking a very active role in developing the country at an appropriate pace, hoping to avoid some of the cultural and societal changes that have destabilized other developing countries.  ”

May, 2002

PBS Frontline, USA — Orville Schell
Gross National Happiness

“  "Happiness has usually been considered a utopian issue," acknowledged Bhutan's foreign minister, Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley, at a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) meeting in Seoul, Korea, in 1998. But he emphasized that because an "individual's quest for happiness and inner and outer freedom is the most precious endeavor, society's ideal of governance and polity should promote this endeavor." What is needed, he continued, is "to ask how the dramatic changes propelling us into the 21st century will affect prospects for happiness [and] how information technology will affect people's happiness."  ”

December 31, 2001

The East African — Charles Onyango-Obbo
What Counts: GNP Or Gross National Happiness?

“  Recently at a meeting in Dar es Salaam, Mr Mynak Tulku, a fine gentleman from Bhutan, that tiny kingdom high up in the Himalayas tucked between the two most populous nations on earth - China to the north and India to the south - startled us. The government of Bhutan, he revealed, measures its wellbeing not just by Gross National Product (GNP), but also Gross National Happiness (GNH). It turns out it is the only country that does so. For me, this was the most intriguing discovery of 2001.  ”

August 1, 2000

Excerpt: Health — Andreas Killen
Happiness is back

“  An even more radical way of tracking happiness comes from an unusual source. Recently on "60 Minutes," the small mountain nation of Bhutan, which neighbors Tibet and is predominately Buddhist, was held up as an example of a nation that measures its output in terms of "Gross National Happiness" — a term referring to progress in the area of ethics, compassion and charity. The story was picked up by American pundits perplexed by the apparent gap between wealth and happiness in the United States. Resulting editorials touted a distinctly Aristotelian-sounding version of virtue-based happiness, while holding out the hope that a connection between wealth and virtue (in the form of charitable giving) might yet be discovered. Why the sudden interest in happiness? Is it a symptom of sunnier times? The result of greater knowledge? Not likely, says Kingwell. "There's still a lot of confusion about happiness," he says. "People may be more interested in the idea of happiness because they are even more deluded than usual about the prospect of 'solving the problem' of being happy."  ”

See also: link to transcript below

June 25, 2000

CBS 60 Minutes, Australia — Morley Safer   VIDEO
Gross National Happiness: nirvana in the Himalayas

“  While the developed nations agonise over their GNP (gross national product) and we fret about the GST, there's a place, perhaps the only place in the world, where the official government policy is GNH – gross national happiness.  ”

See also: link to transcript below

  CBS 60 Minutes, Australia — Morley Safer   VIDEO TRANSCRIPT
Gross National Happiness:
Nation of Bhutan Is More Focused On The Happiness Of Its People Than Global Economics

Featured on: Solar Electric Light Fund Website at
March 29, 2000

New York Times — Paul Krugman
Pursuing Happiness

“  Since World War II, random samples of people in the United States and elsewhere have repeatedly been asked how happy they are. When the economic historian Richard Easterlin surveyed these surveys in a classic 1974 paper, he formulated what has come to be known as the "Easterlin paradox" Basically, above a very low level economic growth does not seem to improve human welfare. Later evidence confirms his observation. Americans were no more likely to describe themselves as happy in the 1990's than they had been in the 1940's. Even the Japanese, who went from near-third-world conditions to widespread affluence between the 1950's and the 1980's, did not become happier. Mr. Easterlin argued that the reason economic growth doesn't make us happier is that people judge themselves largely by their position relative to other people. Someone with an income of $32,000 in a society where the median is $40,000 feels as socially disadvantaged as someone with an income of $8,000 in a society where the median is $10,000; so even quadrupling people's real income may not make much difference in how they feel. Other evidence suggests that even relative income makes less difference than most of us imagine – the rich are happier than you and I, but not very much so.  ”

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