WHAT IS HAPPINESS?
- It is relative.
- Happiness comes from a well-rounded balance of the material
- Genuine happiness involves an intricate link between individual
and collective happiness. Both require and consolidate other.
- Positive or pleasant emotions from material and non-material
WHAT IS GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS?
According to Karma Tshiteem, former Secretary of the Gross National Happiness Commission,
GNH is a development approach that "seeks a balance between material wellbeing and
the spiritual, emotional and cultural needs of society“.
(Royal Government of Bhutan [RGoB] 2012, pp. 40— 41).
GNH AND BUDDHISM
Our approach to development has been shaped by the beliefs and values of the faith
we have held for more than 1000 years. Firmly rooted in our rich tradition of
Mahayana Buddhism, the approach stresses not material rewards, but individual
development, sanctity of life, compassion for others, respect for nature, social
harmony, and the importance of compromise.
(“Long term plan” by Planning Commission 1999a, p. 19)
HAPPINESS AND BUDDHISM
Dukkha - represents the notion of suffering,
ranging from extreme distress to minor discomfort.
Sukkha - stable and foundational form of
happiness. Adequate material necessities are
important to avoid dissatisfaction, but true
happiness requires moving from dependence on
such material sources to the harmonization of_the
material and non-material. (Ricard 2011)
PILLARS OF GNH
More specifically: health, education, living standard, ecological diversity and resilience,
cultural diversity and resilience, good governance, community vitality, time use, and
Pillars intended to work together to promote the material and non-material aspects of
PILLARS OF GNH
- Economic growth is important but not an end in itself.
- Humans are intimately interconnected with the natural environment.
- Maintaining culture is particularly important in the onslaught of increasingly homogenous global
FROM PILLARS TO HAPPINESS
- Popular perceptions of GNH often assume a direct link between the implementation of
the framework and the creation of happiness.
- Promoting the material and non-material conditions necessary for pursuing foundational
happiness; the framework itself does not directly lead to happiness.
- According to Karma Tshiteem “ Happiness still remains an individual responsibility, but
the State makes sure that the necessary conditions are there for people to pursue the
path they choose”.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GNH (FOR BHUTAN)
- GNH is deeply infused into the very character
of the state.
- Bhutan’s identity and, consequently, its
- Gross National Happiness is therefore part of
the state’s character as well as its protector.
- According to a former Bhutanese cabinet minister, “ The good thing is that GNH is the
image of our country. It is our North Star. We sail our ship in faith and hope.”
- A farm road is defined by the
Bhutanese government as one that “
links agricultural farmland areas to
national highways and other roads
primarily to enable the transportation
of inputs to the farm and agriculture
produce to the market”.
- Farm road policy intends to integrate the socio-economic, environmental, and good
governance dimensions of GNH.
- Annual grants are provided to dzongkhag and gewog governments to implement
- The annual grant for dzongkhag and gewog was split into tied (80%) and untied
- It is started at gewog level, so they identify farm road locations.
- Investment feasibility studies are carried out by Engineering Division of DoA
(Department of Agriculture) and dzongkhag level engineers.
- An environmental clearance is further required by the National Environment
Commission ( NEC) and Forest Clearance must also be carried out.
- Everyone in the community who is affected by the proposed farm road must sign-off
on its location, known as its alignment.
- The process and the problem:
- Method for constructing a farm road is chosen by gewog officials.
- Once a farm road is constructed, the local government is responsible for budgeting
for its maintenance, but in fact, there is not enough financing.
- Compensation, however, has historically not been provided when private land is
needed for the road.
- “I will die or lay down here before you cut my land”
- In many cases, the community’s proposed realignment has negative environmental
consequences or violates technical standards.
- The solution:
- Locals should be educated that the households that lose parts of
their land to the construction of the road end up seeing their property
values rise dramatically once the road is built.
- Despite the challenges that characterize the process of implementing farm road
policy, the most visible outcome is the dramatic increase in rural connectivity.
- Two Poverty Analysis Reports released just before and at the end of the 10th FYP
demonstrate a dramatic reduction in rural poverty.
- A common situation was summed up by the administrative head of one of the
dzongkhags: “ If you look at the household income, there is a tremendous
difference and it is immediate. The moment a farm road opens, you’ll see a lot of
plantations... So farm roads are the most important aspect of livelihood”.
- The government’s GNH policy intention has been only partially realized.
- Democratic decentralization is taking hold.
- The expression of common cultural values was also constrained by capacity and funding
challenges that accompany decentralization.
- The experience of farm road policy raises the possibility that democratic decentralization
may be shifting how GNH values are prioritized.
- The GNH tools could play a pivotal role in refocusing both government and community
on the integrated nature of GNH values and corresponding dimensions.
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