It’s Not About The Kings

Dr David L Luechauer

While some may consider much of what I have written to be “critical” of Bhutan, rest assured that I have nothing but praise for the Bhutanese press / media.  You do your country, you do your people and you do your leaders a tremendous service.  I would rank the Bhutanese media establishment as a rising and shining star in the industry and suggest it to be a point of pride to which your young democracy could point to the rest of the world!

Second, I would like to the thank the 100’s of Bhutanese people and other’s around the world who have taken the time to write to me personally, post electronic responses to the editorials on your respective sites,  and to post both my work and their responses to numerous social media sites such as Facebook.  While not every reader agrees with my sentiments and observations as my wife currently says the average is about 87% in favor and 13% opposed. In general, the Bhutanese responses clearly demonstrate that it is still possible in civil societies for people to disagree without being disagreeable.  Moreover, those of you who support my work have clearly demonstrated to your leadership that is possible to speak truth to power which was the thesis of the editorial which started the avalanche of emails to my inbox.

In reflecting upon that which has been posted and published, I find that there is a couple of points which need to be clarified and upon.  The most important of which may be the following.

My family and I were afforded two occasions to not only meet but to converse with the Fourth King and His Majesty the King as well as Her Majesty, Jetsun Pema.  On each occasion, we were well aware that our family was experiencing a privilege and an enjoying a luxury that many Bhutanese citizens would never enjoy namely, the chance to actually interact and engage with their Kings and the Queen.

The memory of those encounters and exchanges will last a lifetime for they are two of the finest, most humble, most articulate, most intelligent and most service oriented men we have ever met.

Indeed, the Fourth King took time to learn about the cancer impacting my wife which was necessitating our early return and assisted in obtaining some medicine which we were not aware about and may prove most helpful in her recovery.

We are indebted to His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuk for his generosity and thoughtfulness.

Thus, to those who think my writings on GNH are opposed to either His Majesty or that those remarks in some way imply a lack of regard for the Bhutanese Royal family, nothing could be farther from the truth.

In fact, it has largely been my operating assumption that both the Fourth King and His Majesty have much better and more important things to do for themselves, their family and the people of Bhutan than to worry about the writings of a few academics, media pundits and others with the time and inclination to engage in public discourse about GNH.

My concern and focus has never and would never be at the Royal level.  My concern lies at the political level. If I am faulted for being inappropriately harsh on anyone in the power structure of Bhutan, one could infer that my writings are an indictment of the Prime Minister and the current ruling majority party.  I will accept that accusation with the simple reply, welcome to democracy and freedom of the press in action.

But, I will not stand for any accusation or respond to those who would subscribe to the erroneous belief that in some way I or my family does not hold The Fourth King, His Majesty the King as well as Her Majesty Jetsun Pema in the highest regard.

Indeed, the Luechauer family would argue that the Royal Family in Bhutan sets a standard far above that which is currently practiced by many other Royal Families and Clans around the world.

I would also like to make it abundantly clear that I have no philosophical issue with GNH.  My concern is, was and will be in the day-to-day implementation and political operationalization of the concept.  I am extremely worried about the grandiose, arrogant and self-serving way the concept has been branded, marketed and sold to the people of Bhutan and to the rest of the world.  I worry about the overt and covert means by which GNH is being socialized, indoctrinated and unquestioningly imposed upon the Bhutanese people without a fair and balanced portrayal of the limits, flaws, in congruencies, myths and negative consequences this approach may have on their wellbeing and advancement.

Moreover, I worry that the Bhutanese people are also being falsely led to believe that all in the west is bad, that many of in the west are rich but “unhappy”, and that somehow it is the pursuit or measure of GDP that is the cause of these problems.  Here is a newsflash, we aren’t all bad, we aren’t all unhappy and most of the word’s issues have more to do with human nature than the pursuit or measure of GDP.

I cringe whenever I read that GNH is a great, noble, or even new/novel model of economic development that was somehow discovered by the Bhutanese.  GNH is neither great nor noble it simply is GNH.  Any concept that needs an adjective in front of it such as great or noble to give it distinction or credibility is not a philosophy worth pursuing.  The enduring and great philosophies of the world democracy, justice, altruism, freedom, charity, capitalism, self-reliance, self-sufficiency do not need to be prefaced with adjectives.

I am also rather weary of the constant references to the notion that GNH was discovered in Bhutan.  GNH is not new and was not invented in Bhutan.  True, the actual term GNH was coined by the King but the actual notion of pursuing models of economic growth that are culturally, socially, environmentally, spiritually healthy and sustainable have been promulgated and advanced for millennia.  My limited understanding of Buddha’s teachings and Buddhist principles which predate those of Christ provide more thorough and compelling economic models than that which is being proclaimed by the new age GNH philosophers.  In offering GNH as a model, political leaders should not act as if they have discovered fire or invented the wheel.

I have merely attempted to caution the GNH politicos in Bhutan that the utmost in restraint should be exercised in advancing GNH as a philosophy for the world to follow when it is patently clear that even the most fundamental tenets and basic principles of the theory have yet to grasped and implemented in Bhutan.  I am arguing that Bhutan’s leaders should be spending much more time taking care of the people of Bhutan instead of trotting around the region or globe promoting GNH; I suspect the people of Bhutan feel the same.

Finally, I am fully aware that Bhutan currently is a third world country with an LDC designation.  I do not expect Bhutan to be perfect.  On the same hand, I am not the one promising Bhutan as either the destination of happiness or the last Shangri La as is currently proclaimed in much of the tourism marketing surrounding the country.

I would suggest that if political and other leaders want to “open the doors to Bhutan” they had better be much more realistic about the conditions those who enter will find when they arrive.  All is not well and all are not happy in Bhutan and it is preposterous for a segment of Bhutanese leadership to advertise and proclaim otherwise.  In fact, my experience living and working in the most progressive, educated and densely populated region of Bhutan is that the nation is trending more toward decay and the dysfunctions associated with modernization than it is toward the ideals, hope and promise of GNH.

I sincerely wish the political and educational leaders of Bhutan would look at the signs and signals and realize that severe storms are looming on the horizon which threatens the social, political, environmental, and economic wellbeing of the people.  Indeed, the very existence of this Royal Kingdom could be in jeopardy. It would be a tragedy of unspeakable proportions if the unchecked and unquestioned pursuit and promulgation of GNH came at the price of losing an independent Bhutan.

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  1. Concise, correct and commendable…

  2. speaking in line with reality unlike most of the bureaucrats and politicians do. 
    either the IQ of most of the bucreaucrats and politicians be raised to some rational level or need a major change in bureaucrats and politicians by more intelligent  ones for bhutan to take forward in better direction. 
    i personally feels deeply sad for those people in power not using better part of thier brain to take country forward. we have a wonderful king and a good natural environment country. but  those ruling are substandard as expected of their role and position. sad but true

    • Dear thinker, you blame others, could you please mention one action geared towards what you are blaming for? Share one thing that you are doing or did for the country that is commendable by the people of Bhutan or your family or friends. That will show who you are. It is easy to blame others but hard to blame yourself. Stop blaming others but blame yourself and change…..when you change the world will change.

  3. Careful Observer

    I find this sums it all up nicely — welcome to democracy, where we can only blame our elected government, and therefore, ourselves. I have never seen anyone do more disservice to the wonderful concept of GNH than the current PM. The government as a whole is not bad at all and many ministers are quite commendable. PM, however: STOP SELLING US OUT!! Who told you to go advertising around the world?? Focus on US instead.

  4. I Couldn’t read your earlier articles, but here, I couldn’t agree more………….I think there is a substance in what you have written…Bravo to Dr. David……and we need some more people like Dr David…..As a Bhutanese, I commend his write up and I welcome his opinions and thoughts….

  5. You hit the bulls eye Dr David L Luechauer. It is about remaining grounded and living in reality and striving for being better yet contented each day. This is why the Fourth Druk Gyalpo kept this principle close to his heart yet never imposed it on to any one else. I am a Bhutanese and I am against establishing stalls for selling GNH in the streets of New York, London and Rio de Janeiro. 

  6. Perfect Piece! i indeed had time to go through all of your previous articles and i would say i agree 100% with you Dr. It is totally right that our drainage systems need constant revamping, public facilities be better furnished and basic infrastructures be in place. 

    I am totally with you in this !! ! GNH however i feel is a facade my politicians use !!!

  7. I hope this is the last thin we have to hear from you. I also hope you have better things to do than to criticise our nation.

  8. I was following David’s articles with great interest as he voiced most of the concerns I had as a Bhutanese but it was disappointing to read this last piece and see the true colour of David … He is after all not a sober objective analyst as I thought he was but just another populist commentator with a weakness to base his generic judgement on personal relations and  self-serving aggrandizement. How could he so easily and neatly segregate the royal family from advocates of GNH? The critique of one is the critique of the other. The gist of his anecdotes of royal audience is this: he is NOT critiquing someone who was nice to HIM. Where is ‘speaking power to the truth’ with which he started his series?

    For various reasons, Bhutanese critics, including this paper, usually only go as far as the PM and maintain a safety net just in case there are consequences. David definitely spreads his safety net firm and wide.

    • Phoja, what do you mean to say? I am in complete agreement with Dr. David as majority of we Bhutanese are. Our Kings have never advertised GNH. It is something close to their heart, a value that reflects in their conducts rather than talking about them in some fancy conferences. We admire GNH as a principle but we certainly have problems when cheap mouthed politicians go about selling GNH in the streets of Developed countries for their own benefits. Please don’t generalize.

    • Phoja, you do you think David should criticise our Royal Family? Our Kings never sold GNH as our present government is doing. All that David wants to convey to us is that Bhutan has lots to do economically. It still needs to focus on basic infrastructural and social needs. We need to concentrate there rather than preaching GHN. Use your rational power Phoja.

      • Why promote GNH when we don’t even have it here in Bhutan! Our fourth king truly practised GNH in soul and spirit, but he never imposed our ideas onto other nations. Why? Because His Majesty might have realised that Bhutan has long way to go in terms of infrastructural development in the country.

    • I am in complete agreement with you, how can someone separate our kings from GNH. The PM is only promoting GNH because it is what our K4 believes in.

  9. I think Phoja is wrong. Most Bhutanese people have high regard for the two kings. That is what exactly Dr. David felt too in his personal life. He just cannot be critical of something that is untrue like the Phoja has written. After all why he has to because Bhutan is not his country. Thanks to Dr. David for he has invested lot of his precious time to remind us of the true reality of our country. Look at other GNH consultants. They were mostly hypocrites who were paid exorbitant consultancy fees to collude exactly with how the government wants GNH to be. On the other hand Dr. David has written facts about our country that we should focus GNH within our country than prematurely selling to others. i strongly believe in that. I am happy that GNH has been implemented in Bhutan because it does have a great potential if it can be realized truly. However, there is no need for us to sell to others because we haven’t even achieved a fraction of social and economic development of what other non-GNH countries have achieved.

    • Exactly what I feel. That GNH is a great concept and a beautiful aim and we should all strive for that. But we should work on it in our country. Not go outside and tell others to follow. If other nations admire our goal, let them. It is to be admired for we are the first nation to actually adopt the concept as a national goal but no need to sell it as some politicians do. Lets just try to strive for GNH ourselves and see where we reach. 

  10. Dr. Davids articles on GNH are quite revealing, and I always held similar position as his. I also believe that the PM hijacked this concept and went global to earn name and fame rather than his genuine belief in the philosophy. It was noble, relevant and good for Bhutan as long as it was the guiding principle of our development philosophy, as enunciated by the K4. As a Buddhist country that sprung from its medieval existence just a few decades ago, it was one way of approaching development, as the country leaped into the 20th century armed with few resources and  a load of challenges. In short, it was exclusively for home consumption and not meant for export.
    The GNH concept as such ,was not home brewed and K4 never made such claims. If the concept was age old and  Jeffersons had a dig at it in the constitution of the United States did not matter so much to us as it came naturally to a noble. visionary and benign King, whose itentions it was to better the lives of the people and safe guard the culture and sovereignity of the country we all love and cherish,

    • Do you really believe that the PM hijacked the concept of GNH and went global to earn fame, I think it is a fallacy to believe so. I on the other hand think that whatever the PM is doing to promote GNH has the express approval of our monarchs, HMK4 and HMK5. If promoting GNH has brought harm to the country, then all you guys against the PM have a valid point, otherwise, stop mocking the vision of our own kings.

      • EXACTLY. GNH is not bad, the problem is NOT GNH, the problem is the people. The problem are the politicians who sell it . For a country like ours, I think what HMK4 came up with has benefited and will benefit all of us for generations to come if we don’t manage to destroy it somewhere along the way.

  11. Dr. Luechauer, if you thought that most educated Bhutanese believed whatever your lots write, you are wrong. You write one thing in one article and a different thing in the other. Or were you warned or recommended by some of your media friends in Bhutan to come up with a clarification? Just as you want our leaders to reveal everything of GNH including its limitations and flaws, will you be able to reveal your interactions with the Bhutanese who are against  this idea and who seemingly let out all their frustrations unto you? 

    What do you mean by losing independent Bhutan as a price of promulgating GNH?

  12. I have been following Mr. Luechauer posts and comments for a while now. At the initial stage, felt that was a call for a reality check. As a Bhutanese and a commoner, accepted and agreed to most of his opinions in practical level. But as he added week after week on this paper. It was very uneasy reading for me. I did not feel healthy of his intentions. This is a personal and an individuals view, so is Mr. Luechauers. I am refering him as Mr. because thats my view, he is first a Mr. then who knows what.
    Its nice to know that he has done his own bit of research and so did I. I googled David L Luechauer, there was nothing substantial. I could only come across one paper work co-authoried on Management on Marketing, where he talkes little about leadership. And also googled on Google Scholar, all his works there were related to academics, where he talks about “practice what we teach” all those kind of stuffs. Now little do i wonder where all these were coming from. Sometimes, I feel he needed a practical scenario to apply his only theory. We may have fitted nicely in his arms, And now that he mentions about giving lectures to leaders and staffs of million Doller companies ( which i doubt, hope its okie to Doubt). A management Guru with no reference of his talks on the internet and a Guru with no website of his own, it might be bit difficult to digest. However, I still buy it.
    My battery charger is not here, so i need to end..

    to be contd…

  13. You will have to excuse me for my spelling and grammar.. “Phool ko Aankha ma, Phool he Sansara, Kaanda ko Aankha ma, Kaanda rai Sansar ra………..”

  14. PurdueBhutanStudent

    SHORT BIO ON Dr. David from Purdue University:

    Luechauer, DavidVISITING ASSISTANT Professor of Management
    BSBA Finance Ohio Northern UniversityMA Communication Miami UniversityPhD Psychology / Organizational Behavior University of CincinnatiProfessional Bio:Dr. David L. Luechauer obtained his BSBA in Finance & Communication from Ohio Northern University, his MA in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication from Miami University and his Ph.D. in Psychology and Organizational Behavior from the University of Cincinnati.  He has been a tenured professor at Butler University and Jacksonville University.  Dr. Luechauer was the Associate Dean at Loyola University New Orleans. He has taught internationally in numerous MBA and EMBA programs most notably the Helsinki School of Economics. Dr. Luecahuer lived with his family in the Himalayan Mountains while he served as a Professor of Leadership and Human Development / Potential at The Royal University of Bhutan – Gaeddu College of Business Studies in Gedu, Bhutan. He is an internationally published author on leadership, self-development, and educational practices.  He is an international award winning college professor, speaker and a consultant to executives and organizations around the world. 

  15. Lets take our responsibility to ensure that things are getting better in our society. Its good that he has reminded us of our error and mistakes before its too late, its right time to start again and correct our mistakes. His argument is better and has come in free than consultancy hired by our govt., first step of a journey starts from our mind…

    • Agreed 100%. Lets stop arguing whether what he wrote is right or not or whether our PM or any other govt. official is doing well. 
      We all know whats going wrong with our society, especially our youth. Lets start taking real action to correct  and do something ourselves however small it is instead of just talk, talk, talk, blame, blame and blame.

  16. I think the main crux of this series of articles and responses is like arguing about religion or politics, and maybe to some like arguing about evolution and climate change as well. No one is going to change anyone’s mind about what has already been decided in one’s mind.

    Here we have a business school professor making the critique about a new philosophy that critiques capitalism.

    However, the message as elaborated in this article was to be expected. It was clear quite a few years ago that this bandwagon was being set up for a fall by its proponents unless there was something concrete to deliver. But that is the easy issue to pick an argument about.

    I don’t think that the pursuit of the almighty dollar (bottom line, profit, growth in GDP) is all peachy either… a new thinking really is required. I think the list of great philosophies in the professors list needs to expand beyond just having capitalism as the only worthy economic model… but then again.. maybe that is going to be another philosophical discussion… as I said, its not going anywhere.

  17. Dr. David is open, i find. His series of writings about us reflects that he cares about  bhutan and for bhutanese. If i had the power, Dr David L Luechauer, would be honoured with  bhutanese citizenship as he rightly deserves.

    • if you really analyse, he cares our country with poison in his heart. Pembu, how could you get carried away with his irony language.Do we really see any harm in our PM selling GNH outside the country and in a way, did u find our basic needs are compromise with PM selling GNH.I think, Dr,David has some problem with our leader and talking in the tone of TL.I dont see any substance in Dr.David writing.He talks as if GNH is going selling our independent which is baseless.Dr.David, every country has a problem and GNH doesn’t compromise our GNP.I am just hoping, one day Dr.David will come for looking GNH instead of GNP.His present knowledge about GNH is like any layman’s talk

  18. Who said Royals don’t advocates GNH. Listen to their speeches. Listen to His Majesty’s speech in international visits. To criticize the mouth (PM) without criticizing brain( royal family) nothing short of being selective in targeting. The constructive criticisms will be accepted by His Majesty as GNH is still in evolving phase.

    Here is this Dr. who never wants to criticize the brain because public opinion is against him as we love our king dearly and we would do anything to defend our majesties. Yes, even at cost of our life, we won’t let some people stained names of king and queen.
    Having said that it doesn’t mean that self-proclaimed objective critics like this doctor should give up his objectivity to suit populist sentiments. Otherwise he is not fit to be critic and should give up writing on GNH.
    After all, this doctor has only vision of GNH he thinks it needs to be while nothing practical thing he has done. Mistakes are not made in theory but in testing fields. GNH right now is testing field and this doctor is giving us his idea of utopian ideology.

  19. If I was not afraid of something, but I do not what,  then I would have written exactly the same way you have done. Without doubt, GNH is good and we all know that, but it should not be pushed down our throats to digest it further.

    I am of the belief that if a State gives its citizens all the means and materials to be happy, the work is done on happiness.  For example, when a State enjoys a sadistic satisfaction by depriving citizenship to a small number of its residents or people born in the country, it speaks of the hypocrisy we live in.  This simply does not qualify Bhutan to talk about or promote happiness. As simple as that.

    • i strongly second u, RealityCheck. 
      Happiness is so strongly (perhaps no other material /criteria)  linked with the basic thing like citizenship  but many have been deprived of it.   HYPOCRISY, really.

  20. Dr David’s criticism shows that there is freedom of expression in his country.

  21. “God plays dice with the universe” Albert Einstein

  22. i just wonder why we are giving so much importance to Dr. David’s comments on GNH…It is his personal opinion like any other people’s opinion…i ve my opinion, my son has his opinion…so, let it be his personal opinion….It is one man’s opinion who is dead against the concept of GNH for whatever reasons he has…..Likewise, there were many scholars, researcher, leaders who are supportive of this idea and concept..So, don’t make hue and cry over one individual’s opinion!!!….We should neither get excited by positive comments nor get annoyed by negative comments. Ultimately, it is individual and Bhutan who should keep in mind while framing plans and policies which will enable us to attain certain degree of GNH in future….  

  23. Childish article by Dr David. Lots of defensive statements and unnecessary arguments. I wonder why so many people give so much importance to his articles, easily brain washed. He has nothing to do than to write about Bhutan. He is more concern about comments he receives on his articles than GNH itself. God knows when he will stop writing.   Dr David, please stop thinking what our Politicians do is not worth.  Don’t be too judgemental and underestimate Bhutanese Kings and Government.  I did not see any substance in your article. It is more of your autobiography.  So chidish. 

  24. While noble laurettes and many learned people who have visited Bhutan and have had first hand experience have nothing bad to say about the country and its development approach of GNH, Mr David’s negative, cynical and selfish comments about Bhutan and GNH does not warrant any second thought about our country. Its basically a case of foriegners trying to defame the country

    • Mr.Kencho that is the problem we Bhutanese have.You yourself have  exactly mentioned above in your comment.We Bhutanese are used to hearing all the good stuffs about ourselves and our country.Even though we know our basic infrastructure is not  there which Dr.David also mentioned.
      We don’t want to hear any negative comments about  country because we are used to false praises by those noble laureates and consultants just to please our leaders.And I think now we should be in a position to differentiate between false praises and genuine  and constructive criticism and Dr.David’s comment is genuine and constructive criticism.Or Mr.Kencho you want to hear all guddy guddy stuff about Bhutan and ourselves and live in fool’s paradise or be a pond’s frog.Choice is yours…

      • GNH MAN what do you mean good infrastrastrure? how do u define? Bhutan is a developing country, yet bhutan has motorable roads connecting all the Gewog Centers. Bhutan has all the 205 gewogs have telephone connectivity. over 90 percent of people have access to safe drinking water. We have access to free basic education and free health care at all levels. Improving quality of this services will take time ofcourse.
        If Mr David was really concerned about Bhutan’s welfare, why did he not raise this before he left Bhutan. Isn’t it not a ploy by this paper to use David’s mother tounge to belittle all the efforts we all have jointly put in for the development of this great nation, and defame the government. Our kings are aware of our shortcomings. Our leaders are aware of our shortcomings and, more importantly genuine Bhutanese are aware of our shortcomings. It will take time for us to develop economically as we have to work against all the odds of economic development. However, I guarantee we will not go down the road that many so called developed countries have trodden with respect to social harmony, respect to parents, Basic human values and many other soft and intangible yet invaluable social values which these chilips have and some of our neighbouring countries lost forever

        • Kencho, whatever you wrote, they were at the tip of my tongue. I absolutely agree. We are all aware of our short comings, our leaders are too. And Bhutan will develop, our cities will develop but we will not become just another metropolitan city in the world.  

  25. Man, your articles are linguistically manipulated to sound good. The don’t make any sense. I am neither a big fan of reading blogs like these nor am i duly fascinated by the idea of GNH. However, your words confuse me. 

    Folks, this is not a critique of Bhutan’s GNH story. It is in fact a critique of the people of Bhutan (mostly, students/faculty of GCBS and few other dumb blokes this guy met outside of his college premises)

    Place me in any one of the American colleges probably one with the not-so-good graduation rates and then, using the best of my linguistic abilities, I shall also come up with four different articles stating how dumb, biased and stupid Americans are. I may also use some random american development philosophy as a promotional scapegoat by using them to title my articles. 

    • Very good observation. I thought about it myself but could not put it in words like you did. He even talks about his son’s opinion in one of the articles. How can you generalise things based on your son’s opinion or experience. GCBS and your experiences there fo not give you any authority on GNH.

  26. Mr. Luechauer has his own personal issues at home, with which he seems frustrated. I think he needs to overcome that first then look outward. The classic example of “One Finger Pointing Outward, Three Finger Pointing Inward”. First free your self from all your distress, then try preaching others. Just like his articles and research papers.

    And we fools follow anything a white guy says. When you’re trained and educated in a white mans country, does that necessarily mean, all white’s Right???

  27. what Mr white man ( Dr. David) says I don’t see anything wrong in his statements, are based on day to day life and he has not criticised Bhutan. its constructive evaluation that we should take it positively.

  28. Who does not want to consider their country special and unique. And this holds true for Bhutan and the Bhutanese also. However, we tend to stretch it a little beyond the bounds of reality. The first step in solving a problem is to understand the problem itself, clinically. We Bhutanese need to do a lot of introspection about ourselves and understand who we really are, before we condemn those who comment on us. It takes maturity and insight for people to acknowledge and accept the good, the bad and the ugly as a package and move forward with wisdom and courage.
    It is in this context that we appreciate the comments of Dr.David. We take that which is worth our while, and learn from it, and throw out the ones we consider rubbish.

  29. More than 600 world leaders, economists and academics at the United Nations are reassessing the link between happiness and economic prosperity.

    While a nation’s progress is typically measured in financial terms — economists have begun to acknowledge that this does necessarily indicate the well-being of a country’s citizens.

    But, small nations like the Himalayan nation of Bhutan which bases its development on its “gross national happiness” and which is rated among the world’s happiest places may have the right formula.

  30. Some of the indicators of happiness from UN report; I liked the second point the most.

    “happiness is measured by how happy people are with their lives:

    Happier countries tend to be richer countries. But more important for happiness than income are social factors like the strength of social support, the absence of corruption and the degree of personal freedom.

    Over time as living standards have risen, happiness has increased in some countries, but not in others (like for example, the United States). On average, the world has become a little happier in the last 30 years (by 0.14 times the standard deviation of happiness around the world).

    Unemployment causes as much unhappiness as bereavement or separation. At work, job security and good relationships do more for job satisfaction than high pay and convenient hours.

    Behaving well makes people happier.

    Mental health is the biggest single factor affecting happiness in any country. Yet only a quarter of mentally ill people get treatment for their condition in advanced countries and fewer in poorer countries.

    Stable family life and enduring marriages are important for the happiness of parents and children.

    In advanced countries, women are happier than men, while the position in poorer countries is mixed.

    Happiness is lowest in middle age. ”

  31. GNH is an issue and it should be tabled for public discussion so that every one of us are at the same level of understanding as to be clear of what it is and what it means and how we are going to achieve it, and all of us know enough about it so as to be able to support it collectively at local and national levels. Let us not believe in GNH blindly and endorse its indoctrination even before it is tested scientifically and proven successful. Instead of making this issue a taboo, let us discuss about it openly and accept all kinds of observations including criticisms.

    Despite the four pillars and many domains, the concept of GNH still lacks a basic definition that could be understood easily by common citizens and applied uniformly across the board. A majority of common men, even without understanding any bit of it, are superficially supporting GNH simply because Govt is rigorously promoting it nationally or internationally for one or the other reasons. In my opinion, right this moment, GNH means almost nothing or a little to our common citizens. They say life will still go on with or without GNH. And certainly, people do not need to know the concept of happiness to be happy. But I strongly believe that the GNH policies, if enforced through good leadership at all levels, have huge potentials to bring about positive impact on the lives of people. Otherwise, GNH will just remain an illusion for most of us.

  32. Those who disagree with Dr. David. Well you are frog in the pound. you having lived in Bhutan all your life and not having seen other country feel Bhutan is the best and others as worse. You do not know the very basics of critics, and like to be subjected and ruled forever as we have been done since our history. 
    Thanks to David for his openness expressed,  as no Bhutanese has done this before coz we are afraid and do not have freedom. Those who are still think they are happy to be subjected I have only one thing to say “better be a man dissatisfied that a a pig or frog satisfied” with this idea of GNH. 

    • Radicalist, u seem to be the one who hasnt been out of the pond

    • hi radicalist
      Infact your frog in the pond.I did under grade as well as master in the western country.When comparing life there in west, Bhutan has every reason to call GNH Country.While u think grasses on the on the side is greener, but in reality, it is under your feet.But you fail to recognise due to your negative energy and you will never find it

    • Radicalist why don’t you get out of the pond and go, live in the pacific ocean.

    • Raicallist, I have been to most parts of the world, thanks to our govt. But everytime I landed at Paro Airport, the first thing I do is, kiss the ground. East or west, Bhutan is the best! We maynot have all they have in the west. But they also donot have what we have. And a a Bhutanese, if I weigh these two, what w have is definitely more valuable and heavier for me. What we have is like, a wooden toy giving immense happiness for a village child, more happiness than the one felt by children in the west from automated high end show room toys. This kind of happiness cannot be seen or felt by anyone who is not a Bhutanese, let alone have tha qualification to write about it. So let us forgive Dr. David.. for he knows not what he writes!!!

      • That is why reality bites coz it as it is a fact and happening infront of us. They will loot the nation and poor public will  climb to the trees and build the houses for Living.All most all the Dzongda  of every Dzongkhag except few are clandestinely involved in acquiring the land illegally and put under names of spouse and children.Congrats TL and may you continue to bring those corrupted under  media scanner so that the people know and consciously vote for the right party 2013.

    • Radicalist, Few free foreign trips make u no big mate. You sound like a cleaned drug addict, school dropped and now working as a parking fee collector sent on a worshop overseas…

      • You seem to licking ass of  Corrupted people and  Psycho man doing nothing like Street criminal.

      • You seem to licking ass of  Corrupted people and  Psycho man shouting like Street criminal and  Jackal.kala coala jit bi soap/Surf Excel/Hankok say dholay saphet hona wala nahin kabhi bi nahin samjay beta  

  33. The following are elements of GNH
    1. Living Standard
    2. Health
    3. Education
    4. Time Use
    5. Good Government
    6. Ecological Diversity and Resilience
    7. Psychological Well being
    8. Community Vitality
    9. Cultural Diversity and Resilience
    10. Religious Diversity and Resilience ( Can include this component too).
    11. economic self-reliance, environmental preservation, cultural promotion and good governance ( This 11th components is actual by pillars His Majesty 4th King of Bhutan and later many more elements are added

    • How are these elements different from what other countries are pursuing and unique only to Bhutan? How do we measure elements like time use, psychological welbeing, community vitality, cultural resilence, etc. Do we have any timeline by which we would achieve GNH and all of us would be happy?

  34. Dear Tenzing Lamsang,

    Enough of Dr Davids’s views. Let us have something new from you now. Why are we wasting time on arguments on the same topic. Leave it to the people to decide. Let us not promote a foreigner in our national paper unless he is your partner. Do not create rooms to forget your paper. So far, your work is being appreciated by many, so why not concentrate on your good works.

    • haha. Truly said. Foriegners gaining popularity in Bhutan

    • TL should rename his paper, anti-GNH, Anti-JYT, Anti-DPT.. Its not really Bhutanese. After reading it, it creates divisions among people and most of the time its against the Govt. There is no education, no promotion of ideas, generates ill interests and publishes without studying its impact (postive + negative)
      BTW I donot care about DPT or JYT, its the people that gets affacted by these. No offence intended, its purly a humble submission.

      • That is why reality bites coz it as it is a fact and happening infront of us underneath the cover. They will loot the nation and poor public will  climb to the trees and build the houses for Living.All most all the Dzongda  of every Dzongkhag except few are clandestinely involved in acquiring the land illegally and put under names of spouse and children.Congrats TL and may you continue to bring those corrupted under  media scanner so that the people know and consciously vote for the right party 2013.

  35. Mr. David,
    Thanks for the clarification but one thing that didn’t clear my doubt is in the first place what prompted you to write on GNH. You were well respected and well received even to the Royal and the Government.
    In Bhutan there is a proverb “you eat and shit on the plate”. I felt the same about you.

  36. At last David has shifted his position. His understanding of GNH has definitely increased after reading many comments from the readers.

  37. Zai wai, when cheelips write, every one secods it BUT when a country men writes, ego clash!

  38. In as much as I respect a difference of opinion, I am shocked by the constant diatribe David Luechahuer (DL) has been allowed to spew forth all over this paper, issue after issue. I have no qualms about a different view on GNH and how it is implemented – we are all entitled to our opinion. However, one should also realize that everyone might not agree with us. It is this incessant rant, often demeaning Bhutan and the Bhutanese, for whatever reason spoilt DL’s stay in Bhutan, that is getting to be a little too annoying.

    I am not writing this to be defensive – not at all. On the contrary, I agree that a degree of reality needs to be instilled in our GNH pundits that are espousing an almost utopian society for Bhutan, and that which should be replicated by others. Many things at home need to be put in order first – I couldn’t agree more. And, as Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche often says, ‘Why do we need to make such a big deal out of it? Let’s practice it at home first.’

    However, it is rather arrogant of DL to say that modern Bhutanese society is in fact moving towards decay. What about the US and other ‘developed’ countries then? What about the thousands of homeless people digging through trash cans every day, scrounging for a few morsels of food? Or the millions that cannot afford health insurance in the US? Just by looking at the crime rates of Chicago or Detroit alone, I will not assume that every part of the US is like that. Observing the extreme poverty of parts of Mississippi and Louisiana, I will not assume that whole states are like that. There are many parts of the US that are worse than some ‘third world countries.’ So, we are not qualified to call names here. It is rather preposterous of DL, based on his limited worldview and experience in a small part of Bhutan, to assume that he knows Bhutan well enough to make demeaning sweeping statements. Clearly, expectations were not met during his stay at GCBS, for whatever reasons, and his stay must have been awful. But, surely he must have had some good days and a few good memories to take with him, no? Why did he come here in the first place? Some people are just not adaptable and not meant for certain places. I feel sorry that he could not see Bhutan for what it had to offer many other people who go back with good memories, personal growth and an increase in their level of profundity after a truly unique visit.

    I also don’t like the fact that he is playing a very common ploy of kowtowing to the Kings and the Royal Family and then lambasting everything else they stood to develop. It is almost like, ‘I have said nice things about the kings (and therefore saved my ass). Now I can say anything about anybody else.’ Very cunning indeed. 

    People like DL are a waste of our time and resources resulting only in negativity. There are many others who genuinely want to help Bhutan as the country moves forward. For every criticism that DL presents he has no constructive suggestions other than ‘wake up!’ That is not teaching. And he calls himself a teacher who wanted to help Bhutan. Sheesh indeed! 

    A growing number of Bhutanese know the limitations of GNH as it is currently propounded. But we do not need another foreigner telling us what to do in a very condescending, belittling, manner. By the same token, we should ask him to fix the US economy, job and housing markets, income disparity, poverty and lack of access to affordable health care in many parts of his own country first before preaching us.

    • I am completely inline with you, Lam Dago. This guy comes from nowhere and fills the enviroment with so much negativity, And countrymen who follow him, should rethink the issue, its is about family (as Bhutanease), which we can workout collectively instead of going with someone who is frustrated of his life trying to help his sick wife writes some shi**y things going on his brain.
      More disgusting is when he spoils the complete garden and says, it not about the rose.

    • Thank u Lam Dago for putting in that bit so beautifully. Totally agree with u. I guess the guy was trying to make a name for himself by riding on the GNH wave in whatever way he could.Most foreigners who don’t have a significant CV try to build it in Bhutan.
      He had the audacity to try and remove any bit of credit that is being given to our Kings and country with regard to GNH.Either he does not understand what GNH is all about or he’s trying to create some sensation to get attention and make a name.  tsk tsk
      And anyway the fact that Bhutan is getting so much recognition speaks for itself.Of course now that Bhutan is duly recognized for GNH, we do need to put into practice carefully and wisely, and not be too rushed or shortsighted in the implementation.And since this is the phase we are in all this discussion has its advantages.For that at least thank u DL but as someone said in the comments don’t “shit in the plate u eat from”. Buddha bless u and all of us …seriously

    • Compare DL with Martha Ham, the Canadian volunteer teacher who breathed her last in Bhutan. A real teacher who loved to teach and who inspired everyone that crossed her path. Totally different ends of the spectrum. 

    • Kudos Lam Dago. The way DL wrote I thought it resembled Tenzin Lamsang’s. More than anybody in Bhutan I think TL seemed to have had greater influence on DL and thus all the negativity. 

    • Yes, you are 100% right. Mr David is playing dirty politics here.

  39. Karma, this is what is wrong with us Bhutanese. What do you mean by “eat and shit on the plate.” ??. Just because he lived in BHutan, he is obliged to say only good things about our country like other foreigners. Other expatriates  praise BHutan beyond belief because they want to save their fat salary jobs. Dr. David has nothing to lose, he has expressed his views as how he honestly felt. I know honesty is not respected in BHutan, it is all about bowing down and showing  false respect. I rather have an honest opinion.
    Who gives a shit about GNH anyways when you have a Dzongda bullying to grab your land to give it away to the powerful people, so they can turn around and sale their land for hundred times more than the compensation paid to you. Didn’t people know that happiness is crucial for the well being, why do we want to make fool of ourselves by advocating GNH as if nobody know the concept of happiness. We are thoroughly confused by this idea of GNH and now we are in the bandwagon with other stupid foreigners to confuse others. These so called International experts want to promote GNH only because they want to make money by selling the concept. They want to organize international conference, carry out research just to make money out of it. Everyone who are involved in GNH business are lazy asses, they should go get a life and work hard to make a living rather than hoping to make easy money by selling GNH.

    • Instead of karma, you need to clean your infected brain.

    • We don’t want to force anyone to like GNH, the PM or anything to do with GNH, the only thing we hope for, is for people to respect HMK4 as he was the one to give this new development philosophy to the world. If K4 had not advocated GNH, I am sure the PM would not go out of his way to promote GNH. And no one has to tell us that we Bhutanese are not the happiest lot on this earth, there are ample examples of disgruntled Bhutanese on this very forum itself, starting with the owner of this paper and his cohorts.

      But like they say, “to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive”.

    • Dema T, you sound like a David’s Bit*h.

    • GNH is sinkiiiiiing

  40. I like that fact that Dr Luechauer brings an alternative view of GNH that is not very publicly talked about. I think it is the sort of thing that will enhance our views of GNH and its profoundness. It is important but nevertheless the dominant view right now tends to be rather dogmatic. Most writings on GNH that I’m aware of has thus far been pretty much like a pack of stray dogs after some feeble victim (to use a Bhutanese expression). I am yet to read something different, constructive and critically rigorous. For GNH idea to grow to its full potential, I believe that would be very important. It is a great idea we cannot afford to degenerate through flattery.

    • I don’t think he has offered any alternative perspective to GNH, rather he does not believe in GNH at all, in fact I will go as far as to say that he abhors GNH. But that was expected of him as he believes in wall street and the Mitt Romney’s of this world.

  41. btw, Bhutan is now MDC, not LDC according to the UN HDI.

  42. Pema, Lingpa, Phuntsho etc

    Well you all think that because you all have garbage instigated in your brain from the very begining that Bhutan is Best. If so than the worlds most happy country are northern European such as Denmark, Norway, Finland etc. Everyone loves their own land but it does not mean it is the best. 
    Again You all may have studied in western countries, but what matters is no where you studied but what you studied and how much. Well I studied in South Asia and still studying in south Asia about South Asia.  Please send me the reply so that you all can read and reply fast. 

    • You seem to be doing your Master’s, BTW that is no big deal. Every Tom, Dick and Herry has that now. Again, when you said “What you studied and how much, matters”. I dont give a sh*t about that as long as you do something worthwhile at your work back at home. How good can you perform, when you are filled with so much negativity and government in other hand is feeding a snake. Damn! Be what so ever you scholarship is, they are still paying you.

      • Cheu ki Boo

        You seem to be a Bhutanese fundamentalist a pro-Bhutanese wh lacks the art of accepting criticism. First of all you should know progress comes when we accept defeat and go on to build better, smarter and stronger ideas. Criticism was the constrictive force of Britain from 16th and 17th century. Greatest thinkers like Bentham and JS Mill criticized British legal system and state, so we see now where Britain is in terms of civilization. Lord Buddha has said:
        “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” –
        I hope all those who are Anti David will understand now.

        • I am Quoting Buddha to make Buddhist understand although i am an Atheist.

          • yeah, therefore do not believe Dr. DL just because he is white and wrote aagainst JYT

        • What are u talking about. Concentrate on your studies, you SNAKE!

          • there is difference between study course and research course you ass hole. And its not every ones cup of tea to do research course. I guess I have kicked your ass now.

          • heee.. I can see what a loser in making.. I think u are the only one from you entire
            family undergoing some post graduate by research.

            CHEAP Monkey in the Zoo, That is YOU!

            Brr….. 😉

  43. please overlook the grammatical mistake, i had no time to read and correct. 

    • No wonder you are a radical hypocrite who has the courage to deceive yourself as being an atheist yet quote Lord Buddha. Don’t you think you are asking us to just blindly believe and accept Dr. David’s view? Don’t you think it contradicts what you are trying to preach others. Or is your diamond brain being obscured by dark clouds of atheism that you just blind believe whatever a foreigner writes?

       As far as I am concerned I have maintained that Dr. David’s first article gives a food for thought regards to developmental programs in the country. But his subsequent articles and responses were all cynical. It contained lot of hatred towards Bhutan, its people and the developmental philosophy. His brain has been totally washed and poisoned by few of our own people including this paper. One of his repetitive arguments is that GNH portrays the West as very bad. Did TL tell him that? I have never heard, read or being told that GNH declares the West as bad. 

      And Radicalist don’t you expect counter criticisms for criticisms made? 

      • Radicalist is an Ayn Rand groupie it seems.

      • I never said you to believe in this or that. By virtue of being a man (socially intelligent animal) why don’t u analyse yourself. Neither I am believing in all that Dr. David writes but trying to say he is right in certain things. Any way GNH is not a new thing, ancient philosophers had always thought of it in different ways. 

        PHUNTSHO may say GNH seems new to him, this is because you haven’t read about great scholars such as Jeremy Bentham, JS Mill, John Rauls etc,  My advice to you would be to read this all and think for your self what is new in GNH. 

        Still if you think GNH if a revolution then you do not know other side of the story. Little knowledge is dangerous, it creates prejudice. 

  44. Dr. David’s take on GNH may have conceptualized from his personal experiences and it may hardly be agreeable to any Bhutanese citizen…

  45. Hello Dr. T Lamsang,
       Thank you for covering GNH so nicely
    Best regards

    • Dr. T Lamsang is Aamir Khan wanna-be.. Personal issues making large. Masala-fying everything to sell his paper.

  46. How come we are practicising GNH when Khasadrapchu and Thimphu Schools are dancing lousy Bollywood and English songs and dance instead of promoting Tradition and modern Bhutanese Dance and songs.By the who is allowing these practice to continue and will educate the GNH properly to bring the main stream. MOE  to act in this regard.



    • I think you must be having your relatives in JAPA

      • You seem to be happy that you don’t have a relatives in Jhapa. I appreciate your quality as a buddhist.

      • what makes u say that?
        Or are you a trulku?

        but any way – How does it matter if one has a relative there?

        Rustic ligpa !! better be informed that evicted One hundred thousand were from bhutan and are bound to have relatives left in bhutan.

    • Some fools believe whatever westerner says whether they r qualified to say it or not! Sort of blind faith in whitenan!

  48. Dear Dr. David, Thank you for the article. This is the first of the articles that I am reading and I believe that you have written more on GNH and I will definitely read them too. Just to give a brief reaction to your article. I think that the article is a very interesting one as well as a though provoking one. Why do I say this? I find it interesting that you bring a fresh flavor to the way you see GNH in Bhutan and I say though provoking as you seem to regard the King sin High Regard and yet criticize  the concept of GNH which for an average Bhutanese is closely associated with the Fourth King. I fully understand the doubts that you caston the present form of GNH and also its export from a third world country to a developed world. I am sure that you may have lived in Bhutan for a certain period of time to realize that Bhutan is not the same as most other countries in that we still have a living culture as opposed to most other countries where their culture is displayed in museums or have to travel to the British Museum to see what is theirs. Further you may also have noticed that although degenerating, we still have strong extended family system which I must say is long lost in the west. 
    What I am trying to say form the above is that you have said all that you have to say about the ills of GNH and its imperfections. However, I don’t recall at any point in your article providing us any other alternatives. Do you, in a sincere state of conscience. believe that you have a better solution. I say this because, it is very easy to criticize, however, a constructive criticism should also come with a better alternative. If that is not the case, I have serious doubts to the intention of such so called scholars. 

    Dr. David, please do contemplate on my thoughts and do give us some assurances that you do have good intentions (as you seems to repeatedly indicate in your article) and provide with us with alternatives which you may think is better than what we have and I am sure that the Bhutanese will with blind faith jump after you as you did with your article which has created such a hype and attracted so many to appreciate you.

  49. Realistically, 15% of Bhutanese people have achieved the state of GNH and rests r struggling only to get smell of it while some have not understood what it is all about.

  50. I see lot of substance in his articles which is otherwise not expected from a foreigner who has nothing to gain or lose. Indeed, he is a true friend of Bhutan. There is a old saying in Dzongkha “SHA TSAI KHA LEY TAM LEP METHEON” meaning that a person who cares for you will never praise you.

    I thank Dr. David for sharing his honest and frank opinion and look forward for more such constructive opinion in future. TASHI DELEK!

  51. I think we should take in such criticisms constructively and start working towards making our nation better instead of defending the existing flaws. Name a place in town where a foreigner can relieve himself without being anxious about an UTI infection… cheers…


    And perhaps that’s why our drainage systems and gullies are stained with Piss….

  52. Mr. David
    where are u? still living in Bhutan. i googled and went through your past works and it was not that good and worthy of reading it. but your article on GNH was much better. i see sea of change on quality and content of your works. if you stay long enough in Bhutan there is possibility of wining international awards for your works. Mr. David, after drinking fresh water of Bhutan, breathing clean air and had lived in pristine environment of Bhutan. i expected improvement in ur works.
    if you live in Bhutan for long enough, you might even find economic model much practical than GNH….. and u can ultimately become father of modern economy….
    Mr. David you have sucked blood of GNH and after reaching your motherland, dun put blood of GNH in new body….

  53. Bhutan needs to improve a lot before GNH become operational right from Good Governance to Choeday Lhentshog. There could be many more Like Mr David keenly observing,analyzing and judging the way of actual GNH practised in Bhutan.Better plug the hole before outsider points out the faults and live upto the expectation of  World.

  54. I agree Drangdan whatever you have pointed out the facts.Truth is bitter and one has to digest it .Mr. David knows underneath how things are running and actual mood of the people.

  55. Every one against Dr David, first earn ur title as Dr. Then come to this forum, .

  56. Western people including mr.David don’t want GNH to pervade and solve the problem of sicken world because it is germinated in one of the smallest nation of the world. they dun want GNH coz of their ego……they feel ashamed………..

  57. I commend the writer for his sincere, true and realistic happenings in Bhutan and GNH. For example, to teach meditation, a teacher himself has to attend the highest level of position in that field. Bhutanese leaders going round the world with little knowledge acquired from others (scholars) to preach GNH is very funny…hahahaha. I think to preach/teach others specially on GNH, the basic principles of it must be available here. 

  58. Bhutan was not in the hit list of America coz we have no oil reserves…otherwise we might be suffering in their greed. now, we have GNH and we are not spare from their ego and greed. they have notion of being first and unfortunately… in framing new economic model they were far behind us…..

  59. implementing GNH will be difficult than framing policies…. most of develop and developing countries ll be roadblock…. like blocking climate change issues( reducing greenhouse gas emission) in other countries.

  60. The "TRUE" Bhutanese

    Our leaders may be selling the idea of GNH but they will never sell the country. There may be flaws in implementation but GNH is a great concept. Bhutan may be a small poor country but we have enough capable people who can govern it. It may be best for you to tend to your sick wife and your college students. They need your time most, I think.

  61. It might be said that Dr. David is wrong but as we go thorough the lines some of the points he made are convincing . So for all of us it is time for us to stand and think where are we going wrong.
    GNH must believe in a classless society and every bodies interest is take care of . Respect each and every fellow citizens in all the little way we can and may the might glory of  Pelden  Drukpa shine.

  62. I agree with what Dr. David has observed and wrote about GNH.

    I think the Politicians and bureaucrats are preaching about it more than they implement or practice. I feel that all of us should practice and implement the values of GNH here before we talk about it to the rest of the world.

    Otherwise we would be hypocrites. And as there’s a Bhutanese saying ‘Even a mothers milk is a poison if its overdone (overfeed the baby)’.

    ‘You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.’ – C.G. Jung

  63. Wow, this article is fastidious, my sister is analyzing these kinds of things,
    so I am going to inform her.

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