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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gross National Happinesss

Some of you may have heard of Bhutan's Gross National Happiness index. I have not been to Bhutan, but found some informative videos on Youtube, which I have included here, as they have helped me to reflect on my life and the priorities I set for myself daily.

Some data about Bhutan (from Wikipedia):

Location: In the Himalayas, in between China and India.

Capital: Thimpu

Land area: 47,000 sq km

Population: 672,425

Per capita GDP: $5,477

For more on the history and geography of Bhutan, click here

Here is an introductory video of Bhutan:


Click here to watch this video entitled, "Dragon Kingdom Bhutan". It depicts the country, its culture rooted in Buddhism and their reverence to their King, who embraces happiness above their GNP.

Early this year, Bhutan became a constitutional monarchy, with their first democratic elections:




As Bhutan opens up, some of the social ills found in the West have started to surface in the country. The following documentary depicts the situation, where alcoholism and drug abuse has become an increasing problem.



1. Do you think Gross National Happiness can be applied to the country you live in? Does it apply to a densely populated city-state like Singapore that relies heavily on industrial efficiency, foreign labour, foreign trade and tourism?

2. Do you think Happiness should be the ultimate end of companies and organisations in their quest for material wealth? Watch the commuters in mass rapid transit in the morning rush hour. I have tried observing this in London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Budapest, Singapore and Hong Kong. They always give me a quick and rough guide to a city. Is GNH feasible amid the vagaries and the harsh cut-and-thrust forces of the market economy? Is there a better economic model? Communism failed. Socialism is expensive! :) How about Bucky's vision of the 'World Game'? Read here . Or Alvin Toffler's Revolutionary Wealth? Read here

3. Do you think as an individual, you can put happiness first? Is this feasible with the meritocratic and competitive school system you go to, or the organisation you serve?

4. As a parent, do you tell your child to study hard to make more money and have a comfortable life after that? Or do you remind your children to be educated so that they will grow up to be useful citizens that can put a smile on every other person he meets everyday?

5. In the quest for happiness, does it necessarily mean that you will have less material wealth? Do you think it is worthwhile to sacrifice material for happiness? Or does sacrificing happiness for material wealth makes more sense to you?

6. Many of us have been happy children when we were little, yet we didn't realise we were poor at the time, until years later as an adult. Why is this so?


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