In response to Dr David’s critique of GNH – Part 1

Dr Saamdu Chettri

Director of the GNH Centre Bumthang, Dr Saamdu Chettri in a two part opinion responds to the series of critical views expressed by Dr David L. Luechauer on GNH.

I am a late comer to the discussions on the subject. My thoughts are based on all three critiques of Dr David Luechauer. I would like to thank him for his mindful conversation with The Bhutanese. I wish to however, clarify a few things that has already brought some doubts in the minds of many readers who have little knowledge about GNH and doubtful /sceptical if it was a workable philosophy and many (87% of the participants according Mrs Luechauer) have supported this article with the flow of the critique’s thoughts.

At the onset, I must make is clear that this is not retaliation, (by no means it makes me happy if people thought so – as very well said by Dr David in his last critique, “It is not about the Kings”) but just a discussion to broaden the horizon of discussions thus far so that we also see the same perspective from other side of the coin.

Let me start with Dr David’s statement in the second part of his first answer where he mentioned having given leadership training to 50 financial officers from large companies, many of whom did not know where Bhutan was. And he concludes that answer stating that an average person on the street only knew about the King and Queen (definitely Bhutan). This meant these great financial leaders are not average persons. I think if Mr. Luechauer had asked them, how many countries were there in the world and how many of them are members of UN? I doubt if anyone would have known the answer. I am sure the financial officers, who after the training they received from Mr. Luechauer, would best address how to make profit, handle cash flows, manage fixed and variable costs, marginal cost, cost of production, investments, banking, insurance, advertisement, and so on – which are part and parcel of a national measure in GDP or GNP.  America is big therefore a world by itself, so it is understandable when Dr David says these financial leaders do not use GDP or GNP to measure their business or the volumes of commerce. Nevertheless, the World Bank, IMF, UN and many other bodies do measure each country with one of these tools, which GNH is arguing, for various reasons, as a wrong one.

Before, I say why these are wrong measures, let me ask Dr David Luechauer  as the teacher of the financial leaders, whether he also included and taught these companies’ officers to consider equanimity for employees and customers, produce in consideration with the environment (infinite and finite resources – sustainable and not sustainable), consider stress level to the society, nature, customers, employees, regard waste management, consider material value and equality from customer point of view?  I am quite sure he did, otherwise companies with only profit motives are inhuman because they consume the common heritage produced by the earth for all of us for the benefit of a few million who can afford. Any production needs raw material and we all know where it comes from, the earth.

The measures GDP or GNP was formed 50 years ago in America and it has been rigorously used by World Financial Institutions and Global Organisation for measuring the growth of a county’s economy (financial component is just a small part of it). The GNH argues that these measures (GDP and GNP) do not measure and rather considers valueless, to name a few,   standard of living, distribution of income, natural capital, human capital, voluntary works, household works like raising children, cooking food, cleaning etc., socialising, nature walk, meditation, gardening, black-marketing, real saving, security, etc. What it measures is destruction, for example, we cut all our forest and sell the GDP grows, the more green houses gas we emit by burning fossil fuel to run our cars, factories, machines, the more GDP grows; more crime, pollution, war, and sickness we have, the more GDP grows, simply because money is spent on prisons, politics, weapons, medicines, and pollution clean-up and re-building costs. Therefore, many things that make GDP or GNP grow; indicating an expanding economy, actually signify a decline in wellbeing of all sentient beings.

Dr David picks up the word ‘happiness,’ this is what everyone discovers first when we say GNH. Happiness has a profound meaning, it is not the fleeting one based on moments of pleasures. It is much more. In the words of the Prime Minister, Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley, “We know that true abiding happiness cannot exist while others suffer, and comes only from serving others, living in harmony with nature and realising our innate wisdom and the true and brilliant nature of our own minds”.

Mr. Luechauer has tagged GNH as a socialist model connected to environment. He does not realise, as an American, how much money is spent on social causes, not all Americans are rich to have their own houses, insurance, medical expenses, old age care, etc, and it is in the billions. Research by academics has shown that if every person in the world had to live an American life, the present population in the world would require four planets or earths. I am not sure which kind of growth and living standard is Mr. Luechauer suggesting us to achieve and live with?

People are content unless they watch advertisements that condition their minds creating greed and excessive desire. Dr David does realise the simplicity of Bhutanese lives (and feels sorry for us) and that of our Kings living in small spaces. His account does show frustration under Gaeddu College of Business Studies, one reason he refers to is the working colleagues, who according to him, put little efforts and the other unspoken one is that nobody probably gave importance to unscripted experts. If Bhutan allowed unscripted experts to come in, there will be less Bhutanese and more unscripted foreigners in the country undermining our very existence in this case.

Dr. David also doubts that if Bhutan is not careful GNH could bring so much money that corruption could kill our country and further funds would overwhelm our land that we become no more sovereign. He must realise that Bhutan has very limited number of donors by choice and Bhutan has a strong and strict fund (donor or own) management system. Bhutan was given an award few years ago as the best country employing donor resources as Bhutan lives with its values. Mr Luechauer also argues that leaders must give more importance to democracy and less to GNH. Further he goes on to say in the first part itself that it is the job of the academician and not leaders to advocate/ research on such works as GNH and that Bhutan does not live up to its promises. Although Dr. David has profound ideas, he is confused and mixes too many things together because probably he has too many things to share. He talks of strengthening democracy and in next breathe asks the politicians to force people through process and programs to become self-reliant. He must take time on each of the potential topics and advice us, the beginner Bhutanese, on the principle of development and economic growth.

The first truth is that we are not recipients but donors, Bhutan produces Nu 760 billion worth of natural wealth each year; of which it uses just 47% and the rest is donated to the world. Rome was not built in a day nor was America. The US has a democracy of over 700 years (close to 1000 years) and we are less than five years old. Comparing many democracies around the world, we are already doing better.

The new democratic government promised five minimum programs (education for all, primary health services to all, drinking water to every house, lighting every house, road to every gewog, and telecommunication access for all) and it will be met more than 95% by the end of 2013. Why is Mr. Luechauer charging the government that it over promises and under delivers? I don’t understand. An economy cannot be built overnight. Our leaders are working towards it. Even America is not self-sufficient (may be self-reliant) and Dr David suggested that Bhutan becomes both a self-sufficient and self-reliant country. On the latter, I am confident Bhutan will become self-reliant in between 2020–25 based on the way many programs are taking us forward…..   to continue

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    When u r chamcha of pm what more can u expect?

  2. Who let this dog out? Corrupt of all corrupts, he had no words against why should a civil society organization be funded by government.
    So long as he remains the director of the organization GNH would be twisted and tilted in all ways to keep his head high, once he is chocked out of it we know what he would say.
    Another thing i see clearly is he is ardent supporyer of DPT, why does he need to bring the ussues at the forefront? 1. Safe drinking water- what makes it safe? What kind of chemical and biological assays were done to support his arguement of water being safe? Water supply to any village is direct, without any filtration, sedimentation tanks, leeches, worms and tadpoles come out of taphead each summer.
    2. Telecommunication – Mobile networks are clogged in towns and rarely working. The govt gave lavish ammount of money to the service providers but the quality of internet connection as he may be knowing is pathetic.
    3. Roads to every Gewogs- Made people poorer, where does the money come to farmers hands? The open gate of spending is vihicular travel even at the shortest distance. Farmers are hit hard, his government creates slogans for farmer’s welfare and reduces annual finance for agriculture.
    Why was there a need to approportion such a huge ammount to education when infrastructure were intact? Schools enrollment nearing hundred percent is not this government’s effort, rather it is a carry over of the monarchial hardship, just time elasped in their tenure and economy ruined.
    Lets take a glimpse at the GDP:debt ratio now, when and how shall we repay the huge loans, we are sure our sons will be enslaved by foreigners to absolve this debt and much of the nation’s minerals are going to be used to repay the loans.
    He never understood or is denying the threat to hydropower fall.
    A question to Dr: Dr sahib did you read what the critique was about? May not be, becasue dr. David never argued that GNH is harmful, rather he said Political people with policy formulating rights has got to do more than what they do now.
    Lets hear another part of your overt or covert hypnosis, you look like a hired gun, a person hired to hide the errors of DPT. There is no wrong with GNH, because GNH cant be valuated, so long as value of services and products remain attached to value of money: tell me how do we neglect GDP?
    Still if GDP was of no importance in GNHistic society, is it true to say all DPT people are clueless of GNH, else why would Prime Minister boast of Achieving that percent of growth based on GDP and not say ‘we grew this many percent by GNH’?

  3. I guess Dr. Chettri is too pro-DPT and pro-Bhutanese, and we should know too much of anything is poisonous. But there is a reason for him to be pro because he has worked with present govt. and now heading GNH Center. It would be fair if Director of GNH Center could have been selected with open competition.

    Dr. Sambu or Sandu, has written:
    Dr David picks up the word ‘happiness,’ this is what everyone discovers first when we say GNH. Happiness has a profound meaning, it is not the fleeting one based on moments of pleasures. It is much more. 

    My point is, Bhutan is trying to give a new definition to the word “happiness”. If we keep on giving our own meaning to all the English words, a new dictionary called as Bhutanese English Dictionary is not far from being available in the market. GNH has made the word “happiness” more complex a word than other technically complex words such as Nano Technology, cosmos,  etc.
    In fact happiness is equivalent to pleasure and is related to emotion and feelings. No one would be happy if they don’t feel it emotionally. 

    Coming to the next point, Dr. Sambu writes:
    In the words of the Prime Minister, Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley, “We know that true abiding happiness cannot exist while others suffer, and comes only from serving others, living in harmony with nature and realising our innate wisdom and the true and brilliant nature of our own minds

    May be NA Speaker wanted to create happiness in Gyelpozing by grabbing land from poor people and distributing to rich and powerful people.  I sometimes think there should be death penalty for such corruption like in China. What is the use of such people who create their own happiness at the cost of common.

    to be continued…………………………….

  4. stop justifying, retorting, and trying to prove the views of others wrong. just offer your perspectives on gnh which may be different from rest of us, or david’s; but leave it at that, you don’t have to react to every sentence of david’s. This is not a court case.

    Your quote from above….“We know that true abiding happiness cannot exist while others suffer (just like JYT and his cronies Vs rest of us), and comes only from serving others (thats why JYT became our PM), living in harmony with nature (indeed our PM lives in a large hectre of private forest) and realising our innate wisdom and the true and brilliant nature of our own minds (PM is a great preacher and even a greater enlightened illusionist)”. Wow, thats happiness!

    • Just much as Dr.David enjoys the right to write against GNH, Dr.Saamdu can enjoy the same freedom to write against  him.  Mr.Jigs you cannot be bias in giving your statement.I could see Dr.Saamdu has written all the fact and truth about Dr.David’s bullshit writing with supporting reference. 

  5. ”The US has a democracy of over 700 years (close to 1000 years) and we are less than five years old….” er, WHAT? I don’t think so….think he’s confusing the US with the UK…. America was only discovered 600 years ago…

    ”Bhutan produces Nu 760 billion worth of natural wealth each year; of which it uses just 47% and the rest is donated to the world…”..Oh really? Who are the lucky countries we give all this money to exactly?

  6. Dr. before you say something about GNH and answer to Dr David L. Luechauer. Better learn more roles and responsibility of being a GNH centre Director and Behavior good manager

  7. It is ok to be pro DPT as long as Dr  saamdu is writing the truth.  So you all are jealous of him being pro DPT. It only shows that you all are anti-Government. 

  8. At first I thought that he had argued reasonably but then on second thought his arguments are no different than so called Dr. David. There is nothing we can learn from it. Both the parties are arguing with some motive. I ll never consider Dr. David’s article as scholars work and same goes to this article. Give GNH a break. If some one is speaking or analyzing GNH then do it without motives. GNH is good concept too good to associate with any political parties or some so called individual Dr. be it be David or Saamdu Chettri. And one more thing I expect better reasons on GNH from a director of GNH Center. Both of you are pathetically poor and self centered.

  9. I don’t know what Dr. David L. Luechauer has said bout our GNH but I think as Bhutanese we should support GNH. No! I am NOT saying we already achieved it but I’m saying compared to GDP or what not, GNH is a much better aim for a nation to have. Not saying our rulers are great and  and I’m not saying either that everything they are doing is wrong, some of it has been good, others non existent (the promises they made). But I’m just speaking only bout GNH. It’s something our K4 came up with and personally I find it a much better goal to try to achieve. Yes, corruptions are going on (sadly) but I really don’t get why people say ” this is GNH” when they see something wrong, that is not GNH, there will always be bad apples in a basket, we should always support GNH and try to do our best and not get corrupted ourselves. I have seem many a people talk big and do unethical stuffs themselves.  

  10. My question…….why we need exclusive GNH center when dpt has declared whole of Bhutan as GNH country?——please enlighten me.

    • Good one Mr Thinlay,,  when the whole nation is GNH why have a GNH center in Bumthang, near PM JYT’s plot? now I understand why Dr Samdu was so bent on praising PM left and right when the subject did not seem so fit. Also the  flock  of chilip chamchas too. Wonder what Mr Ron Coleman does to our country? In  New Delhi, this foreigner is allowed to use Royal  Bhutan Embassy Guest  House room. This was quite strange.

  11. Bhutan could have been different from others and GNH would have made more sense if we are different and truly practice non-GDP economics. Unfortunately, Bhutan is imitating what others are going through, and elites in Bhutan will, without any hesitation, embrace what others, especially US or Europe, have achieved.

    Our elites, who preach GNH, live in luxury home, use latest I-phone, I-Pad, drives SUVs, travel abroad even for minor medical ailments, exploit stone quarries, river beds, cut down trees to satisfy their GDP needs, wear latest designers cloths, shoes etc. Now the fact is that all these items are made from GDP economies–then why should we pretend that we abhor these and preach non-GDP economies. On the other hand, all economic activities in Bhutan is based on GDP model. For instance, We are worried when our trade balance is negative, when there is no fuel in fuel station, when our export items are non-competitive in the market, when our unemployed youth indulge in drugs and fights to release their frustration because there is no means to earn decent living; we hold pop idols in high esteem, we attend world bank, IMF meets etc. etc. In summary, without beating about the bush, whatever we do in Bhutan is influenced by GDP economics. Therefore, when we preach alternative development model, it is simply being wolf in sheep’s cloth. Sooner we realize this better we will be able to solve several socioeconomic ailments that are plaguing Bhutan.

    • Why dont the other groups (GNH ) realise this simple fact u have mentioned. Pity on them. Pretentions cannot hold for long.  Truth will sooner or later be exposed.

    • Dear all, GDP is within the circle of GNH. GDP cannot be separate entity of GNH. So there is nothing to get confused. Before we talk of GNH and criticize GNH, its worth studying of GNH in depth. Of course I too had similar perspectives before I had opportunity to do my Master Thesis in GNH Vs ICT. After learning all about, I am being convinced by this concept. Of course, I am sure none of environmentalists, psychologists, religious leaders including buddhist or budhhist simpathist would confront this idea. More so when almost all world leaders, World Banks, UN organizations embrace GNH, we also need to reflect on it, rather than taking always in negative perspectives..For information, I neither work in GNH centres nor in GNH Commission. I have nothing to do anything politics either. Thanks

  12. Sometime be realistic and accept the criticism. We Bhutanese always prove what we have done rite. And Dr. when you talk and prove about happiness, measure how much happiness your subordinate enjoy under your leadership

  13. Mani Kumar Thapa

    How did Samdrup Chettri suddenly become an expert on GHN? How did he get the job as Director of GNH Center? Was it based on merit, seniority or open competition? 

    Samdrup Chettri, by being a sycophant of the PM and a hard core supporter of DPT may  have got you the job but that doesn’t make you an expert on GNH so stop making a fool of yourself and stop insulting the intelligence of the Bhutanese people.

    • Same story all over again, sharchops don’t like other sharchops to do well, Parops hate it if their fellow Parops are doing better and over here a lhotshampa doing the exact same thing.  That’s why we will never move forward, because every time we take one step forward, someone will pull you back two steps.

  14. Dr. David i donot believe his argument. It is crap at the best.

  15. I would have expressed somewhat similar opinion If I was also the Director of GNH centre otherwise I would lose the charity appointment inherited from the PM for being his most trusted GNH manipulator.Good luck Dr for your further responses.

  16. Everyone here anti of GNH or supporter of GNH??? so …

  17. when our mind is stinted with negative thoughts, our hearts flow with hatreds. The end result is we find ourselves surrounded by enemies, our minds with never ending clingings, and ourselves in true virtual world.

  18. David’s hairs must be on their ends reading this reactions. He must be already gathering some facts to retaliate. Saamdu must hold his breath for a while for now to see what gibberish elucidations David can come out with. The debate must go on till David runs out of sensible justifications and realizes that his bad times at GCBS shouldn’t be the cause of impudence for GNH. Good luck!

  19. dr davids criticism was valid and straight to the point and on behalf of poor and innocent ones.there is so many corruption case, scam ,unemployment ,poverty etc….and he have just highlighted as an observer and here dr samdu being pro gnh and indeed pro DPT……

  20. here, people are not discussing about GNH but rather the fight is between pro DPT and those against DPT….People who doesn’t like DPT have started hating GNH and those who are with DPT are for the GNH…..My suggestion is, debate objectively and not in party line.

  21. yes, people always relate DPT with GNH.  Infact it is Bhutanese government not DPT government. 

  22. When the noble idea of GNH was conceived by His Majesty the Fourth King, it was neither designed for DPT nor for an individual. It was for the people and the country. Making Bhutan a GNH country is not one man show. We must all come together as one and make our fourth King’s vision come true. Do not wait for Dr David or Dr Samdrup to do for us. If Bhutan is not a GNH country then failure is with the Bhutanese and nobody else. Hence, stop pointing finger at each other and ask yourself what you have done to make Bhutan a GNH country. 

  23. Thank u Dr.Saamdu for the constructive response to the ealier critic on GNH. It’s a thought provoking article and very insightful in fact..
    Keep it Up!

  24. Mr David has seen the actual face/mask of GNH  and view very critical about it.

  25. I get the impression Dr. David is a neo-con Republican. Bhutan does not need neo-cons advising it. The advice would be bad, bad, bad.

  26. HaHaHa…. bunch of emotional freaks…. always reacting

  27. I would insist first explain GNH, not react to critiques. Then confront critiques.

  28. Who is this guy DrSaamdu Chhetri? Is he half ngalong and half lhosam? Never heard of such a name. Probably is a breed that sprouted from the 1990s southern troubles. 

    Just the fact that such an important center being headed by an political appointee says how short live the whole project is expected to last.

    Anyway from where does all the money for his global tours come? Probably his response here is just to justify his travels.

    What happens to this man  next April when the ruling government resigns? 

  29. ha ha
    funny is the game of policy misusing for big word gross national happynes
    true happy will achieve when you are desire less being like Davine man or drukpa kunley . after all all dr or pm or who ever is after money and name and history, so we have to be careful when word dharma is serving as commercial product, who is actually free from suffering. all above people are talking on lay man life, not about saint like drukpa kunley, so its just a policy that need to change by individual.
    not by use of self ego, that is not GNH.

  30. Guys, i’m going out for doctorate degree. Then I would have a good opportunity to be taken-in by the then ruling party to be their spokesperson or popularly known as “trouble shooter” in India.

  31. Ai Sam Nai Sam

    I oppose GNH In Bhutan..GNH prevails to high people who has no worries trying to take government’s money and land. That is what they are GNH and trying to show that Bhutan is GNH outside  world which is actually not a GNH counyry that we always talk about. Some people have GNH after their much effort earning by themselves like farmers, private and corpration.hand to mouth civil servant etc……some GNH+ GDP= – GNH 

  32. Ai Sam Nai Sam

    Please follow me..i have different strategy how to become A GNH PERSON
    1. Become high official people by Chamcha and you will be happy that you are promoted
    2. Do Corruption if you get chance like ministers and high official people
    Therefore, if you fulfill above package then you will be really a GNH person. 

  33. Ai Sam Nai Sam


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