Dr David’s critique of Bhutan’s GNH story- Part 3

Dr David L Luechauer

1. Will Bhutan stand to benefit in a significant way by propounding GNH to the international community?

 

At some level it may attract attention and even a few visitors.  However, the let down was amazing.  Bhutan over promises and under delivers.  The more people who come to Bhutan, particularly those who come unscripted and with a sincere desire to help, will likely walk away with the same impression as I. I believe you will sense that while she had much love for the Bhutanese people, Lisa Napoli the author of Radio Bhutan, holds much the same opinion as do I.

 

Bhutan needs to get a basic infrastructure in place and demonstrate that is has a self-sufficient economy in place before it even begins to tell the world it has any meaningful operational model for the rest of us to follow. Singapore, Sweden, Finland are places that could advocate GNH as a model for others to follow – but, not Bhutan.  Advocating GNH could possibly attract some international development dollars and grants but again that would attract attention and I fear that corruption could be or become an issue with a large influx of grant and aid packages.

 

2. What is your view on the application of GNH values in Bhutan?

 

I think the first issue is to build your democracy and get people away from relying so much on the government and on foreign aid.

 

Concomitantly, Bhutan needs to build a quality infrastructure (hospitals, roads, schools, public toilets); build a large middle class of people who have skills (plumbers, electricians, medical technologists) and purchasing power. Build a culture of self-sufficient, self-reliant and entrepreneurial people who come up with ways to generate internal products and internal demand for those products.  Goodness, every time we wanted anything the common refrain was, go to India and buy it.

 

GNH is a measure nothing more, nothing less.  The devi so to speak is in the application.   I am a big believer in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

 

The pursuit of higher order constructs such as happiness -follows from the meeting of base level needs.  My fundamental concern from touring Bhutan and speaking with ordinary people is that Bhutan really has too many people whose base needs are not being met.  For example, the living conditions for the majority of the faculty at Gaeddu College of Business Studies (GCBS), which I would estimate to be some of the best living conditions in the country are substandard at best and in many cases are worse than substandard. Gedu was rife with TB. Even basic over the counter medications were unavailable and finding clean and sanitary toilets was a major challenge on almost any trip we took.

 

Medical care, albeit free, is most problematic. It’s hard to describe just how challenging and difficult the living conditions are for the “average Bhutanese citizen.”  Until recently, this probably has not been a problem because the average citizen didn’t know any better.  However, the advent of TV and Internet is going to heighten awareness among the populace of how “relatively deprived” they are in comparison to others in the region.  Moreover, the “standard” by which one defines base will escalate in the minds of the populace and as those needs go unmet social problems will increase drastically.  We already see this at GCBS and in the Capital.  Over 30% of the student population already tests for having alcoholism, not social drinking but alcoholism.  Sadly, the problem isn’t being created in college as the second semester students report that drinking and drinking heavily beyond socially acceptable or healthy limits starts back in high school.  “Happy” and content people do not drink at problem and alcoholic levels.

 

It is hard to type an answer to this question but it is just imperative that Bhutanese leaders understand just how much basic infrastructure work needs to be done before launching out and telling the rest of the world to follow GNH.   Rather than following GNH, I would much rather see Bhutan look at the New Deal program of Franklin Roosevelt and seek to emulate something along those lines. However, even that would be a challenge.

 

I fear that too much emphasis is being placed on the happiness component of GNH.  At this stage of development what Bhutan needs is the development of self-reliance and entrepreneurship.  However, as my eldest son experienced in talking with many students about business ideas and start up ideas, they just couldn’t understand.  They kept telling him he was simply a money grubber or that the best jobs were in the civil service.

 

I tried to have groups comprised of five students in my classes generate 25 ideas on how they could make more money than what the government was supplying them by starting up local businesses in and around Gedu (e.g., doing laundry, offering grass mowing services, collecting and selling all the discarded wood and fallen branches as starter fuel for the bukharis, collecting recyclables and selling them, etc were just some of the thoughts that had sprung to my mind.)  I couldn’t find one group that could even come up with 10 ideas.

When I finally listed my ideas, the general response was “that would be a lot of work doc” or “we don’t do those kind of jobs.”

This was a particularly tragic line of thinking when we also found out that the typical student at GCBS spends less than two hours a day studying or preparing for class.  What do they do with all their time?

 

A new deal type program would actually require Bhutanese citizens to get out and build roads, build damns, haul away trash, fix toilets, clean increasingly polluted streams and roadside areas but sorry to say, my candid observation is that there is at least two generations of Bhutanese who are content with either letting things decay or are waiting for foreigners to do the real hard work of building the infrastructure the country so desperately needs.

 

In the cities, the work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit is tragically low.  The Minister of Labor even reported in a speech/talk delivered to GCBS faculty that he could not find students to fill seats in the many vocational schools because they were told by their parents that such jobs were not prestigious enough or too much hard work.  In a sense, these parents were telling their kids it was better to be unemployed than to do real work, the type of work that actually builds nations, builds wealth, etc.  The government will soon learn that it can’t provide for the growing number of unemployed youths in the country and that many are unemployed in a sense by choice because they simply do not want to do the type of jobs which need to be done. All this emphasis on happiness is also breeding a sense of laziness or entitlement which the nation simply can’t afford.  I would recommend having a program where college students have to do two years of “labor work” around the country before they get their free tuition and stipends.  I would also recommend that all Bhutanese College Administrators come to the USA and study in Berea College.

 

 

3. You claim that countries such as Singapore, Sweden, USA, Finland, Denmark, Netherland, Germany and etc are closer to GNH than Bhutan. Please elaborate?

 

Seriously, look at the policies, the laws the actual practices in everything from waste disposal and collection, to employee rights, to civil liberties.  Singapore is much cleaner than Bhutan.  Finland currently boasts the best education practices in the world.  For all its faults, the USA demonstrates a concern for the well being of its own citizens as much or more than any nation I have ever visited.  You know, we are not all miserable in the West and as nations all of the above are among the first to be on the scene anytime there is a catastrophe anywhere in the world whether it happens to friend or foe.  Bhutan could pick the best practices from all of them and seek to emulate and then surpass them.  Simple things like child safety laws which are in place in all of those places, are non-existent in Bhutan, so how can Bhutan claim to have any great concern for the well being of its children.

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48 comments

  1. Dr.David you have correctly pointed out the Bhutanese attitudes and mentality.
    We read every year in Kuensel that the fresh graduates always want to join civil service.It is their first choice.Why?It is just because civil servants are the most unproductive groups of people.Go to any government offices and you will find them either playing games or face booking.Call up any office for any inquiry,and they will keep on passing the call or the person will be out of office into the archery ground or for some personal work.And every year the fresh job seekers want to join in civil service so that they don’t have to work hard.They can relax and  wait for the month the end for monthly salary and we talk of GNH.

    The other thing you have pointed out correctly is the basic need-Public Toilet.It is very much true.Capital City Thimphu doesn’t have a proper public toilet.The one we have is infact unusable, blocked with sticks,papers and stones etc.In other districts we don’t have one at all.

    And one more observation you have made,littering around and waiting for some to clean it up.I agree fully with you in this too.Thimphu-where most of Bhutan’s education elites reside is also the dirtiest one.They throw wastes everywhere they like.They throw wastes out of their car windows while driving land cruiser and wait for some Indian sweepers to clean it up.Or wait for some foreign funded cleaning campaign to do it.

    And the attitude of the Bhutanese students where they do not want to collect woods or work in the roads as your subject of discussion in the class.It is sad and pathetic.Yes,we wait for some Indian labourer to come and do it for us.We talk so much about ourselves but just to build a simple road where only Bhutanese vehicles ply,we wait for India to do it.If ever Bhutanese make a road,it will be with lots of controversy and of poor qualities.Just an exmple -Paro Thimphu Highway and the rest of the Bhutan’s road built by DoR and PWD.Just see the qualities by  ourselves and we find that Dr.David is right more and more and not to forget Minister Khaw Boon Wan of Singapore.

    • You can’t generalise by saying that ” civil servants are the most unproductive groups of people” because not all civil servants are like what you described. Some civil servants work round the clock for the betterment of the society. And I also don’t quite believe that fresh graduates are seeking to join civil service because they don’t want to work; it might be because most of our private firms do not care about the welfare of their employees. Bhutanese private firms don’t even have pension systmem for their employees which is necessary to lead a good retirement life. These reasons could be one of the detering factors for fresh graduates to join private sector. By the way I am a civil servant.

  2. We would like to request to the people concern to kindly revisit in regard to the pedestrian day. How about shifting pedestrian day on sunday when every one is free including the construction workers who work till mid  day. On sunday no vehicles should move including taxies.

  3. A brutal truth once again!

  4. Nicely commented on GNH in Bhutan

  5. GNH for sale 

  6. David’s analysis and thoughts on Bhutan’s much spoke about GNH holds true and I too believe that basic things such as health care, very basic nfrastructures like road, schools, etc are still at lest 100 yrs or more backward. Preach less GNH and do more towards developing a viable economy. I even feel  ashamed to talk about GNH when traveling abroad. 

    Dr. David, thumbs up for ur candid views and in fact for your real concern towards Bhutan. 

    • Another ungrateful guy, after sponging of the government, he has the audacity to complain.

    • Haha, feel ashamed to talk about GNH when traveling abroad, in the first place, how is it possible for you to travel abroad,.I am sure the government was the one that gave you free education, which then allowed you to get a university degree because of which you now get the opportunity of traveling to exotic destinations. The least you can do is appreciate what the country has done for you, instead of complaining about everything under the sun. As far as I am concerned, our roads are fine, schools are fine, medical facilities are adequate, what more do you want. And do you really mean it when you say that our roads, schools and other facilities are 100 years more back ward, I don’t think anyone would believe you.

      The bottom line is, you are what you are because of the RGOB, never forget that.

      • good…haha..You are totally right. That is the only reason why our university graduates want to get into civil service. They too, like you, wanted to show some gratitude towards the government  for the free education they received and then lazy around for the rest of the life sucking and seeking holes within the system. By the way, I didnt know that our government sends someone to exotic destinations of the world just like that. Wish I am a civil servant too. 
        good….. if you haven’t got it, Dr. David has taken trouble only to substantiate this point – that Bhutanese are lazy and if they are anything are a bunch of hypocrites. So wake up!

  7. this is the slap on our govt……dr davids criticism is concrete and evident in all walks of bhutanese life…..look the pillars of thimphu town….its all filled with doma n lime marks .n dat stream full of plastic n garbage……n so many corruption cases ….and we preach gnh to oyher countries…..

  8. thinley wangchuk

    Mr. David seems to be viewing GNH prospective from his own material view. GNH is not having to wear five pairs of suit for the gathering nor having a class A residence to live in. GNH is very basic, GNH promotors do not need basic services either. What matters most in a GNH society is a sense of brotherhood and selflessness. Where is the limit to basic servises, it could be 1000years and beyound untill we realize that we have been too selfish and greedy for that many years.

    Do not attempt to look at places like finland ,sweden etc.. they are 1500 years before us.
    we can’t afford to waste 1500 years to fight wars and loose lives. Do not emulate on what someone from west speaks,dwell on our own possibilities of being happy in our own ways.

  9. David: I too share some of your candid observations and comments on GNH. Howerver, you can also see some bright ideas and proposals out of the GNH. Yes, I agree with you mostly. But you also must appreciate that Bhutan such a small country has allso got the potential to demonstrate some of its capacities to share with the world, for instance sustainability development, environment conservations. Overall, I appreciate your comments and would like to engage with you through this forum.

  10. GNH is something every one must practice irrespective of country, race and colour. Not only Bhutan. The principles of GNH are found in almost all religious books. When His Majesty the 4th king first coined this phrase, he did it with great insight into it. It did really had and have great meaning in it. But people really don’t practice this, they are only advocating.
    Decades after it was first pronounced by His Majesty, today our politicians have brought on the street, trying if it could be sold like a hot cake. But, many of our own country’s people are not willing to buy it, because others could clearly see that what people at higher echelon do does not conform to GNH principles. Today, that is why people are more confused with GNH.
    In every sphere, there is presence of corruptions. But government pretends everything is clean. Though this is a part of job of media, they hardly dare to do it. Some media are simply government mouth piece. Media news are no more than a street gossips. Advertisement is like a live breathed into media for its survivals. And government would stop this supply of oxygen, should media try to make public any corrupt behaviors of politicians. Is this a GNH?
    On the contrary, thousands of people are job less in the market. Every year many graduates come into the job markets with high aims and expectations. But no jobs which really fuel their spirits. In private sectors, government has great role to play. But they do nothing, because politicians and high level government officials get no personal benefits by engaging themselves into private sectors development. Money is there in other projects.
    Today, Power Project and government are like a young boy and a girl, who have deeply fallen in love. They really don’t care who is around them, and what is happening around them. But, our government is not more than a puppet in the hand of Indian government. They could never negotiate a better deal with Indian government. Indian government is shrewd. Though it is funded by Indian government, all this money again goes back into the Indian Economy through the means of Indian Contractors and Indian labours, and this is their short term gain. In long run, they get electricity. But, Bhutan hardly has any short term economic gain for the country from this hydro project, other than electricity in the long run.
    Stealing, corruptions, drinking, smoking, street fighting, murdering, substance abuse- none of these are part of GNH. These are some of the things that directly oppose the very essence of GNH. Are these not there in our country? If it’s there, then why it’s there? What are the causes? I think government should try to find solutions to these, rather than trying to sell GNH abroad. Else, GNH would be nothing more than a butt of jokes to outsiders.

  11. We Bhutanese need to accept the truth and move ahead…Thank you for you genuine observation Mr. David..

  12. Can’t agree less. I guess the concept of GNH is streached bit too far for whatever reason by our so called GNH experts. When our Majesty the 4th King said “GNH is more important than GDP” I think the reference was made in context to how happy the Bhutanese people are despite the ecominic condition. It was about the contentment and humbleness of the Bhutanese people. It was about being able to adjust and live with whatever conditions- be it poor road network, poor sanitation, unbalanced diet, dieases and so on.

    The challange was never to preach others about happiness…..it is to maintain this level of contentment and humbleness.

  13. The Real Bhutanese

    Doctor  David L Luechauer, Is Part !V on the way or have you ended by now? First one I concerned and want to ask is who are asking you the questions and what is motivated you to emerge and declare yourself as GNH CRITIC.
    Now I want say my feeling. 
    You can be right, but maybe you miss some important points. For me, GNH is my country’s present to world. It is not matter if there is GNH here or not. But you staying here have seen the peace here. Poor are there. But they are happy. This is GNH. So you saying that my country practice to preach is wrong. 
    Then our leaders have not say that Bhutan is full of GNH. We are also going for it. By seeing what is hapenning in world, Bhutan has present GNH to world. Many country feel Bhutan is right and is trying for following. I think doctor should think all this before writing many words. 
    Maybe doctor, you need some GNH. Come here and pray.  

  14. Sorry to say but Dr. DLL talks like Bhutan is not building roads, schools, hospitals or training plumbers, electricians, carpenters and other tradesmen. Those are major priorities and activities of the 10th Plan. What the hell, MoHLR even arranges for training of beauticians and hairdressers. To read this Dr., one would be forgiven for thinking that the RGoB only talks GNH and does nothing else. All that he says should be done are already underway and are very much a part of GNH. We may not have reached the stage of the western countries but given our miniscule resources and our very late start in development we are doing quite well.

    Has he read any of the GNH reports? any of the plan documents? Does he know that the within the domains and the pillars are contained everything that he is calling out for. That the Plan documents are aligned to the GNH docs? How far we have come in the last 50 years

    When one wants to criticise something one should should at least study and understand what one is criticising. Otherwise one is just talking through one’s hat.

    As an academician, one does not usually have direct experience to draw from, but one must at least read what others say/their experiences before one pronounces. He obviously has no idea what GNH is all about. It is OK to not be interested in GNH but if you want to criticise you better read up and know what its all about before spouting judgement. That’s so unacademic.

  15. I like the article. This guy knows so much in just a year & has the guts to tell the truth. Kudos to Dr David. GNH is now a Cliche & does not mean anything to the ordinary Bhutanese in rural areas. 

    Dr. David, keep writing on the subject.

  16. Here is yet another thought provoking interview. I may or may not agree to everything that Dr David says but YES we need to shift – a major paradigm shift from GNH to basic infrastructures like access good medical care, schools , roads and a change in our attitudes towards blue collar jobs. What we need is a strong vibrant democracy that supports the needs of the common man.
    i quote Gandhi:
    “Seven Deadly Sins

    Wealth without work
    Pleasure without conscience
    Science without humanity
    Knowledge without character
    Politics without principle
    Commerce without morality
    Worship without sacrifice.”
    ― Mahatma Gandhi
    what worries me most about GNH is line 2,4 and 5.
    I like the Dr’s open views….
    “When we are debating an issue, loyalty means giving me your honest opinion, whether you think I’ll like it or not. Disagreement, at this state, stimulates me. But once a decision is made, the debate ends. From that point on, loyalty means executing the decision as if it were your own.”
    — General Colin Powell
    good luck people in the pursuit of GNH – as for me I think I have found my own peace…:)

  17. Hi David: You follow up with the Gyelposhing land scandal. It will be interesting as well as thought provoking. Our only hope is that Justice has to be prevailed as some of the high ranking officials (Ministers) and influential family are involved in it. This is GNH to make their life comfortable at the expense of others.

  18. WoW! that’s a very rational scrutiny on GNH, perhaps for us to ponder upon or more importantly for our politician and leaders to get real and get into business. The business of building Bhutan, the business of building pillars (lets build thousand) to sustain Bhutanese economy and the business of putting words into action.
    Kudos to Dr. David and I second your thoughts. But what really bewilders and saddens me is the fact that few of our mates and the major chunk of parliamentarians still lament on thoughtful views and comments. I equally get surprise by the fact that you haven’t been for long in Bhutan but despite that you could sense  wrong in the dynamics of our ruling government and the very philosophy we are so proud of. We want change and we want happiness for sure.
    We can only change when we embrace reality and start mending our flaws. This interview for me is an admonition, lets wake up and work on to improve by taking wholeheartedly these constructive criticism. Friends, Dr. David wont benefit from our heightened public amenities nor will he avail our improved civic facilities, it really is for us.
    Well done is better than well said.  ~Benjamin Franklin

  19. Bhutan did not create GNH for the world. The world came to Bhutan out of curiosity as to know how the people were happy when they had nothing.
    GNH was there in the eighties and ninties.
    Comparitively Bhutan will still have nothing in the many many years. So GNH basically teaches you to be happy with what you have.
    GNH is just contentment.
    GNH cannot have pillars or walls.
    GNH is taming of the mind to be happy with what you have got.
    It can never agree with anything to do with materials.
    In fact it cannot agree even with its four pillars.
    Good hospitals, pitch roads, clean toilets in actual truth naked truth has
    nothing to do with GNH.
    If there is true GNH people would still be happy to walk for days on foot to meet their relatives.
    pillars are created by scholars trying to understand gnh.they dont understand that they cant built pillar for something they do not understand well.
    gnh is only asking people to follow the middle path . it is about sharing , not being greedy, not comparing and always wishing well for everything and everyone .
    GNH is in the mind of each ,
    It is not outside anyone,

  20. As for me, GNH should be practiced in ones own personal life, and in the family. It should be demonstrated by every individual in their daily life. It need not be preached or indoctrinated.
    Earning money is not against GNH. To have wealth is not against GNH. To build economy is not against GNH. But, if you don’t know how to use this wealth or share with people who are in dire need, then it is not GNH. To fall in love with wealth is against GNH. Because once you fall in love with wealth, it will breed greed and evilness. Such people will start eying the wealth and properties of other people. They apply crooked means to amass wealth. They will even snatch from the hand of poor people. This is not GNH. But sadly, this is what it’s happing in our country.
    To have business in the country should not be against GNH, because, it’s a pride for county, and source of income and livelihood for the citizens. But today, as I hear more and more slogan of GNH, I have start wondering what really GNH is! It doesn’t really conform to the notion of my GNH. Sometime, I equate our GNH and GNH screening Tools with Mamta Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal. Both GNH Screening Test and Mamata Banerjee have one common thing- both of them one way or other try to oppose industrial development in their country. In Bhutan, even as we talk about GNH and GNH Screening Test, we see crimes scaling up every day. In West Bengal, as Mamta Benerjee opposes any Industrial Developments and FDI in her state, crimes in West Bengal is going up more than in any other states in India.

  21. Can anyone provide Dr. David’s mail-id?

  22. Good observations. we can certainly boast of the origins of ‘GNH’ but definitely not preach the world!

  23. I think GNH is becoming the most misused acronym in Bhutan. GNH is attached to so many activities and appearances. For instance, drinking-GNH, Sleeping unusually-GNH, you put on some weight-that is a sign of GNH…. and so on. Some may even think that to be happy we don’t need any better infrastructural facilities. If self contentment and peace of mind is what GNH is all about, better use Buddhism in place of GNH. GNH has socio-economic, political and spiritual dimensions. If one of these dimensions is retarded, then GNH is out of question to achieve. GNH is a big end and the means we adopt to meet this end is not perfect. So some criticisms regarding these means must be taken cordially and reflected upon. 

  24. at the end of day….i forsee Dr. david will be made difficult to live in bhutan ….thats how GNH has florish….here, i think David does not know.

  25. What Dr. David is saying is the truth. He is really speaking up for majority of Bhutanese Population, who shares the same feeling, but are not able to speak up or they simply don’t care to do that. People know its useless to hit your head against the wall. They know nothing is gonna change, when the very champions of GNH are busy accumulating limitless wealth for themselves at the expense of the people. The common men on the street is fed up of this hypocratic shit called GNH constantly fed to them by the elites. If I add some more experiences :

    1) Public service delivery is very poor in Bhutan. One cannot get anything done unless you know some one in any office. If you are a poor and illiterate farmer from a village, they have to run from door to door for a very long time before they get anything
    2) people have to wait for about half a day to see a doctor only to be sent back without any checkup. Next time they go when the situation has worsened and the doctors say its too late for treatment. Only the elites get timely medical treatment
    3) Living standard is places like Thimphu has gone up very high in recent years. Many salaried people are struggling to make ends meet with 50-60 % of their salary going for house rent
    4) If you go to a bank, you have to be prepared to spend about half of your day waiting for your token number to come. All these while, people who came later than you will be served because they know the people at the counter
    5) Traffic rules are optional especially at roundabouts and on express ways. I think we Bhutanese are very arrogant and inconsiderate to others.

  26. Truthful observation. A country that can not provide basic necessity like safe drinking water and people who can not even build decent toilet, has no moral right to preach how other nation should develops. Put our house in order then think about other possibilities. This is what i wish our elected leaders should do.

  27. The series that you have written about GNH is truly amazing. If our policy makers keep their egos back in their bedrooms and think deeply on what are being said by Dr. David, perhaps we would have already some good soul searching of where we have failed.
    We have failed in the quality of our infrastructure, to say the least.  The so called ‘engineers’, but bluntly only a group of Deothang diploma holders who were never taught words such as ‘integrity’ and ‘professionalism’ are at the heart of and the root cause of the devastating quality of infrastructures we have today. And these pests continue to plunder our country. There is so much work to be done, or should I say, undone in our country. Forget about anything, we do not even have a good public toilet in the capital city.  What a paradox for a country that talks about GNH above anything.

    It is often said, “The quality of a Nations is only so much good as its Toilets”.   

    That measures everything in us today.

  28. I appreciate Dr. Luechauer’s constructive criticism on GNH. I too admire Maslow’s need theory of motivation which states that before we achieve higher needs, we have to fulfill the basic needs. Bhutan’s GNH model is flawed because it wants to jump to the higher needs without fulfilling the basic needs. Did our government create conditions to achieve happiness? The answer is NO.

    There are virtually no public toilets in Bhutan. People who urinate in public space were either fined or jailed. I know a case where a person who got off the bus upon arrival in Thimphu relieved near the bus station was jailed. I think Bhutan is the only country in the world that jailed its citizens for urinating in open space. Bhutan wants to increase numbers of tourists coming to Bhutan and there is not even one public toilet on our national highways. Yet Bhutan talks about sustainable tourism. How can we sustain when we do not have infrastructure? It is responsibility of the government to provide adequate public toilets. The government claims that the land owners in Gyelpozhing were compensated. Are they fairly compensated? When the government takes private land, people were paid at the rate fixed by the government, which is tiny fraction of the market value. When people suspect that the government may take their land, they try to sell their land because they can get much higher rate from other buyers. There are people who sold their land fearing that the government may take their land. Some of these people were not able to buy alternative assets and finished the money. If the government takes their land and compensates them fairly, they would not have sold their land. In my view these people are victims of GNH. If the government is genuinely concerned about GNH, it should play a fair game. Buy land from the people at the rate determined by the government. Then the legally constituted committee allots the land to the wealthy and powerful. This is the reality of GNH in Bhutan. What is a legally constituted committee? Who makes the rules? Bhutan is one of the most corrupted countries in the world. Our government that preaches GNH says that corruption is minimal in Bhutan. The Ministry of Health procured outdated and expired medicines and supplied to health facilities across the country. They are virtually supplying poison to our people. Yet the government would passionately preach GNH and deny rampant corruption exist in our country.

    In Bhutan we have same laws for all. But these laws are interpreted differently for those who preach GNH and those who are fed with GNH. The people who preach GNH and their relatives and friends are above the law. We have a judiciary that has become a government within a government. The judiciary sets its own rules and it is not accountable to anyone. In the case of Gyelpozhing land scandal, the OAG at least reported there were “administrative lapses”. If the Gyelpozhing case goes to the court, it is possible (judging from the past cases) that the court may rule there are no administrative lapses in the allotment procedure and dismiss the case. There are parliamentarians who want to amend The Judicial Service Act of Bhutan, 2007. In this Act, the judges at the higher Court have absolute power in appointment and promotion of the judges at the lower court. When the judges at the lower court are administratively controlled by the judges at the higher court there is inherent risk that the outcome of the case at the lower court could be influence by the judges at the higher court. In such a case even an appeal to higher court will be fruitless. Therefore, the Judicial Service Act of Bhutan, 2007 needs to be amended. But this would not be possible without the support of the DPT leadership who are passionately preaching GNH. The DPT leadership would prefer to maintain status quo as they are the beneficiaries of the corrupt system.

    The DPT leadership is more interested in attracting international attention rather than to solve the fundamental problems faced by the people. For instance, the draconian Tobacco Act passed by the DPT led government was to get international attention. This unpopular Act was amended because DPT knew that in democracy the government is punished in the ballot box. Bhutan’s carbon emission is negligible to have affect on global warming. Most Bhutanese in rural areas are not even aware of global warming. They are hard working people who are concerned about the well being of their family. There primary concerns are about the education of their children and finding job once they complete their college education. But the concern of our PM is his granddaughter may not see glacier on the Himalayas and to promote happiness around the world. The DPT leadership should know that the people who elected them to power are wary and skeptical of GNH. 2013 will be different, in fact very different, from 2008.

    Palden drukpa pal lo….!!!

  29. Like somebody said we do not need some Dr. David to tell us that we are a developing country and need to improve most of our basic amenities. It is sad that all his time here in Bhutan was a total waste (but his loss) and all now he is doing is bickering and looking for attention using GNH as his tool. Bhutan is using GNH as guiding principles for all its developmental goals so that at the end of the road we do not end up like most of the developed countries wherein its people are unhappy, vain, unappreciative and bitter (like David). I think Dr. David is just cannot accept that a small and developing asian country is capable of coming up with a noble idea like “GNH” and now the whole world is listening and I would rather discard his comments as insolent and jealous bickering! We will be where we want to be with what we have.

  30. No, I do not agree with Ann. Some points raised by David are valid and it does not mean that you need to hear only good points. We need to imporve ourselves and we should take the constructive criticism positively and try to improve upon it.

  31. GNH the guiding principle of planning and application of our 4th King when he came to throne. But after 2008 election Prime Minister always use the term GNH but no application but became the public speech within the country n outside. Also to make some income out of GNH centre in Bumthang

  32. The GNH in a nutshell is as under: “The happiness scale takes into account the promotion of sustainable development and cultural values: conservation of natural environment and establishment of good governance” It seems most of us are confused on GNH concept. Our Pm emphasis that Bhutan’s development road map is based on those four pillars and nothing more. The world leaders have found some truth in the concept and the term ” HAPPINESS” was adopted as one of the millennium development goals by the UN and the world will be absorbing March 13 every year as WORLD HAPPINESS DAY. Please learn some facts, before making oneself a BIG THUG AND A BIG FOOL!

  33. The GNH in a nutshell is as under: “The happiness scale takes into account the promotion of sustainable development and cultural values: conservation of natural environment and establishment of good governance” It seems most of us are confused on GNH concept. Our Pm emphasis that Bhutan’s development road map is based on those four pillars and nothing more. The world leaders have found some truth in the concept and the term ” HAPPINESS” was adopted as one of the millennium development goals by the UN and the world will be observing March 13 every year as WORLD HAPPINESS DAY. Please learn some facts, before making oneself a BIG THUG AND A BIG FOOL!

  34. Dear Dr. David, Like you say, the Bhutanese don’t have the courage to tell what they want to say, you also seem to be living a life of denial. Don’t ever go around saying that USA demonstrates a concern for the well being of its own citizens as much or more than any nation I have ever visited. I am currently in the US and have been volunteering for the low income families. The things that I learned during this time is amazing. I have never in my wildest dreams thought that the US of capital A would have such problems, some of the problems that exists here are amazing, unheard of. One of the saddest things that I have come about is the way the Elderly is treated. You have to be amused, that this is a serious matter in the US and can you believe the lions share of the mistreatment and abuse in the US to the elderly comes from their immediate family members and then from caregivers (nurses, doctors). The reported cases of adult abuse runs in millions every year. 

    Dr. David, you will never understand GNH from a Bhutanese point of view as you have to actually be born a Bhutanese to understand it. Countries like Sweden, Norway, Singapore may have all its developmental infrastructure in place but they can have it call whatever they want on their development philosophy but it will never be GNH because, we neither look similar, nor have similar population size, culture, traditions, norms, nor do we think alike. Dr. you think like a capitalist American and therefore, you need to know that we don’t think like that way you do. That is the precise reason you will never understand the Bhutanese psyche nor the concept in depth. The comparison between the countries you mentioned and Bhutan is incomparable by leaps and bounds. What they have we may not have but surely what we have they do not have. 

    Like I have said, the west has had 100’s of years of developmental activities ahead of us and they still face the same challenges that we face. Bhutan started its developmental activities in 1960’s. Give us time and we will show you. Do you actually realize that the west has developed at the expense of the less developed countries and yet the west still tries its neo-colonism strategies through capitalist means. 

    Dr. David, we in Bhutan throughly appreciate persons such as yourself coming to Bhutan to assist in whatever capacity you come and we welcome them all. However, sometimes this aspect of the Bhutanese has been taken as weakness. As educated and an intellect as you are, I do hope that you will find the sensitivity in yourself to remind yourself that you are a guest and at the least try being nice. 

  35. I have mentioned time and again that he is in the Mitt the Empty Suit Romney and Lyin Ryans corner, the party that wants to make the 1% of rich Americans richer and the majority of the middle class and the poor Americans poorer. Now how can we expect such a guy to understand GNH,

  36. thinley wangchuk

    Be reminded that GNH is not something to do with all the wealth, it is to be happy with what someone is without enveying… so lets not listen to what Dr.David has to say, after all he seems to be a economics expert somewhere at Gedu college of Business studies…so these fanatics will keep on counting the value of a nation on value of dollars but not by morale.

  37. True GNH would be possible when everyone is content with one meal a day, and a piece of cloth to cover your body.
    Otherwise everything is just fake.

  38. hot issue 

  39. thinley wangchuk

    There is nothing like looking for or waithing for someone to provide all the comforts of the modern world. A happy person is happy where ever he is and the unhappy person would be unhappy even in the heavens. Lets not materilize happiness, after all its a state of mind. We can never be happy by counting on what we lack, but perhaps can be happy by being contented with what we are and what we have.

  40. Karma "Khang" Tenzin

    GNH as a developmental philosophy of Bhutan would sound good, if the 35% of her population did not have to worry about the source of thier next meal.

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