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GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS

If there is one thing Bhutan is known for outside country, it is Gross National Happiness. With his famous declaration in the 1970s, the former King of Bhutan (His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wang chuck) challenged conventional, narrow and materialistic notions of human progress. He realized and declared that the existing development paradigm – GNP (or GDP) – did not consider the ultimate goal of every human being: happiness.

Today, GNH has come to mean so many things to so many people but to me it signifies simply – Development with Values. Thus for my nation today GNH is the bridge between the fundamental values of kindness, equality and humanity and the necessary pursuit of economic growth. GNH acts as our National Conscience guiding us towards making wise decision for a better future.”

– His Majesty, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck


Perhaps inspired by age-old wisdom in the ancient Kingdom of Bhutan, the fourth King concluded that GDP was neither an equitable nor a meaningful measurement for human happiness, nor should it be the primary focus for governance; and thus the philosophy of Gross National Happiness: GNH is born. Since that time this pioneering vision of GNH has guided Bhutan’s development and policy formation. Unique among the community of nations, it is a balanced ‘middle path’ in which equitable socio- economic development is integrated with environmental conservation, cultural promotion and good governance. Bhutan remained largely isolated from the world; GNH remained largely an intuitive insight and guiding light. It reminded the government and people alike that material progress was not the only, and not even, the most important contributor to well-being.