Gross National Happiness

Unlike other parts of the world where development is gauged by per capita income, in Bhutan the development index is monitored by a concept, unique to Bhutan only, namely the Gross National Happiness, where the country’s development is measured in terms of citizen’s "happiness".

GNH Origin ~ By: Dasho Karma Ura, President, the Centre for Bhutan Studies

“The 5th King of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, popularly known as King Khesar, proclaimed that fulfilling the vision of GNH will be one of the four main responsibilities of his reign in his Royal Address of 17 December 2006. His Majesty King Khesar underlined that the ultimate goal for social, economic, political changes in Bhutan is the fulfillment of GNH. His Majesty the King has said that a GNH society means the creation of an enlightened society in which happiness and well-being of all people and sentient beings is the ultimate purpose of governance. His Majesty The King reemphasized that again in his Coronation Address on 7th November 2008:

The 4th King of Bhutan, HM Jigme Singye Wangchuck, promulgated GNH since the beginning of his reign in 1972. The happiness of the people was made the guiding goal of development. The exact phrase Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product was coined by His Majesty the 4th King of Bhutan, who is the author of GNH. The fact that he said GDP needed to be channeled towards happiness in the 1970s and 1980s was quite new. Since then, GNH has attracted attention, and opinion around the world has started to converge on happiness as a collective goal.

In the reign of the 4th King, the actual road map for good development in terms of laws and policies consistent with GNH were developed. He believed that happiness is an indicator of good development and good society. He also believed in the legitimacy of public deliberation, public discussion, and public opinion in defining any goal, including GNH, through democracy and enlightened citizenship. Hence, full parliamentary democracy was introduced in 2008 with the declaration of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan, although decentralization policies prepared the people for parliamentary democracy from the 1970s onwards.”