Response to Sonam Gyamtsho’s article on GNH

I read with great bemusement, Sonam Gyamtsho’s, response ‘GNH Is a Better Development Paradigm’ to my article in Kuensel.

I am worried that Gyamtsho’s comments belie the arrogance and hubris which seem to pervade so much of the dialogue about GNH in Bhutan.  For example, Gyamtsho writes, “Bhutan’s development philosophy of ‘Gross National Happiness’ has received overwhelming global attention.”  To be certain GNH has received some publicity for example the UN statement and Brazil summit. However, I just Googled GNH in the news and the most recent article I could find was from the Jakarta Post on bans in Bhutan and Bhutan’s development process.  The next 3 articles are all from Bhutanese sources and finally there is an article on August 9th about GNH. This is “overwhelming global attention?”

Later he goes on to write, “While many scholars; economists and politicians around the world have received the concept quite favorably.”  The concept of GNH isn’t even present in any of the introductory Economics books except as a sidebar or a foot note. True a few leftist socialist Economists have supported GNH but to use the word many and as for politicians I wouldn’t exactly say that global leaders are lining up to sing the praises of GNH.

To me the most alarming statement is when he writes, “Being a poor country but our people have enough to feed, have proper shelter and clothes to wear. We are happy and content with what we have and we also make sure that our environment is protected and our tradition and culture are preserved. That is the whole essence of GNH in brief.”

It is painfully obvious from just the stories in the newspaper that there are real issues of nutrition impacting children, Sonam has no concept of proper shelter or sanitary living conditions or the unsafe conditions confronting many of your countries children, protecting your environment – has Sonam seen the level of trash and bio waste accumulating in alleys, along the streets and in the precious streams of your land, I have could attach over 100 photos taken just in Paro, Phuntsholing and Gedu which show a country trending more toward the filth and unsanitary conditions of Bangkok, Manila, Kolkata than Singapore, Finland or Sweden.

As for being happy and content, the papers show proportionally Bhutanese social ills are far higher than and growing at a more rapid than many GNP countries. Does Sonam not see the massive wave of social problems that are looming on the horizon with your out of work and tragically underemployed youth?

Finally, he writes, “We are not talking about happiness as a momentary pleasure; on the contrary, we are looking at something deeper and meaningful in life.” I think this gets to my point that not everyone agrees in Bhutan what happiness means.  I see a lot of consumerism among the youth and growing pressures to have more. If GNH is working so well and if everyone is so happy how come my students have so much lust for all the consumer products they are now seeing on the web and TV and how come so many of them want to leave Bhutan?  I think Mr. Gyamtsho is a very gifted writer, but what he wrote was fiction. That ultimately is my concern, I think a relative group of academic and economic elite are trying to jam a philosophy down the throats of the citizens by telling them how superior the philosophy is, how good the philosophy is and how those of us who follow a different philosophy are so miserable and nothing could be further from the truth.

The writer was a lecturer at the Gaeddu College and is now teaching at the Krannert School of Management in the USA.


By Dr. David L Luechauer

Check Also

The rock of Takti as a living monument of cultural and spiritual narratives

The large rock, located a few kilometers from the Chhukha bridge on the way to …


  1. So what does Dr Nobody wants to say?

  2. Consider this metaphor: the concept of GNH as propounded by 4K is an ocean, and what David Luechauer has done is that he has scooped a drop from the ocean and he misunderstood even that single drop. GNH is a development philosophy environed for Bhutan. It is the ideal the country trying to approximate. We may not achieve it but we know we are on the right path. Bhutan never claimed to be GNH state or happy kingdom. Bhutan is only a pilgrim after happiness. It is like any other developing countries with its own share of problems. Shangrila image of Bhutan is painted by people like David Luechauer, not Bhutanese. I only wish David Luechauer could have critiqued, not criticised GNH. Unlike so many insightful critiques written by western academics, there is nothing new in David’s points. He has just expressed frustrations of a poor-ethnocentric-neoliberal-xenophobic-western-ultranationalistic-blond who failed to realise his GNH over the clouds of Gaeddu.

  3. We are poor writers. We tend to write without conducting any substantive research. I do agree it is fiction. Not even that perhaps. We are disillusioned definitely.

  4. This paper is finding partners in other country to defame the country

  5. Your view about GNH is so narrow minded and gibberish..If you are not happy in a country like ours; then go to Netherland or happies country. You view on GNH is disturbing us…
    Worst article…..

  6. Vijay K Shrotryia

    I don’t think that Bhutan started advocating the cause of Happiness without really knowing what happiness is.  I don’t think it ever was an intention that Bhutan should be selling the idea of Happiness (or GNH) to the world.  I don’t think just because it is appreciated by the west it becomes better (or acceptable preposition) and just because it is not appreciated it become worst (or unacceptable).  The rate of crime and corruption is more prevalent in the so called developed as well as such nations which thrive on the premise of GDP.  I don’t think that Bhutan has targeted emphasising on GNH, just for international attention. I don’t think it has ever been a destination to be reached, it is the journey and as Clayton writes Journey is more important than the Destination.  So the fact of the matter is that Bhutan has to learn more from within than from far beyond and has to learn the art of enjoying the journey towards the cause of Happiness of all its citizens.

    VK Shrotryia  

    VK Shrotryia

    • Then why Bhutanese mothers are leaving behind their infant child to go to America or Australia in search of better life. Not just few lucky ones have escape from our happy land to become nannies and labourers in US or australia, but many bhutanese like-minded wants to escape too in order to earn might dollars. Why is that? The reason is simple. Economic statehood is the most important in this modern world. No matter how much you try to preach a GNH happiness philosophy, in the end it is the earning potential of individual which is the source of ultimate happiness.

      • Vijay K Shrotryia

        The basic thinking that it is Economic Statehood which is all that, that is important for life, suffers from a basic premise that at no level economic statehood is achieved and throughout one’s life one keeps running pillar to post for attaining that.  Easterlin Paradox is an excellent example of that.  Compromising with the values in order to get richer is another social malaise which happens with this mindset.  It is basically a matter of prioritising wellbeing over economic indicators.  The focus on well being shall in long run help a nation to sustain its development process as well as would make the institutions more responsive.  Otherwise what is there to learn from so called developed economies.

  7. Dr. David L Luechauer,

    You must have gone totally insane after having come to Bhutan because you did not know how to live in peaceful and happy society. The very fact that you are raising all those criticims on GNH indicates that you are morally corrupt, and therefore, you will never find happiness, no matter wherever you go. Sometimes, reading your articles gives me the impression that you are not even qualified to be in teaching.

  8. Not surprised at all that this anti Bhutanese paper, which is ironically named “the Bhutanese” has found a willing partner in Dr.Leuchaeur to paint a very poor picture of our country. Next time, we must not give this paper and the Dr any more of our valuable time by reading their nonsense.

    TL and this Dr deserve each other, both losers.

  9. Disgusted Dorji

    Mr. David,
    Having gone through your narratives, I would rather take it with a pinch of salt coming from you. Your neo conservatives’ ideas and trashing of somebody’s idea or philosophy is not new to us from your kind. You claim to be teaching the leader of fortune 500 companies, which is why they are more or less faltering at their own game, and I have a good reason to believe that you are indirectly cause of it. Rather than wasting your time telling how others should do things, why don’t you take it your own government how to come out of your trillion debts, because very soon the Chinese are going to come knocking your doors to extract their pounds of flesh. You think and talk tall of yourself; unfortunately you probably couldn’t find your own voice amongst some great ivy league UNI distinguished professors whom you choose to trash them as leftist in this very same paper. Comparatively you must be just a minnow in one of this never heard of branch of UNI as a substitute lecturer, hence your obsession – pleading to be heard. Take your ideas and your voice to where you belong. By the way do yourself a favour. Stop reading Aynd Rand because you are starting to sound like one.

  10. Here is another guy who came all the way for the US and went back with additional load of unhappiness. He comes from a country where priorities are misplaced and now can’t even see a single thing straight. Send this man to heaven and he will come back with complains. Sorry Doc, you don’t understand Bhutanese lives yet, you will never.

  11. JYT has been invited and talked on GNH in Hawaii, Japan, Korea, Italy, Thailand, the UN etc and this guy Dr. D. L. says not global because he googled and didnt get any result. His googling skills say it all.

    Weren’t the UK and France also introducing gnh surveys in 2010/2011. How did he miss all that? Seriously he must start brushing up on his googling skills. I wonder how he researches when he cant even get info thats on the web.

    • UK and France never initiated any GNH survey. They did well being survey which is totally different from GNH. survey. Well being survey is customary practice in many developed nations.

      • Sonam

        UK did have a happiness survey. And France commissioned Stiglitz and Amartya Sen to analyze new ways of measuring economic growth including use of happiness and well-being in the measurements of economic progress,

        check out this site

        and google happiness survey in UK and france

        Sonam says wellbeing is totally different from happiness!!! What can I say to that except read about the survey in the UK which uses these terms interchangeably. Tsk tsk, you really must learn to google better.

        • Perhaps you have to google more and read more to understand when these developed countries have started undertaking such studies. They did it long time back not because of gnh. I can assure you that. Have you ever read sustainability, agenda 21 and the resolutions thereafter. I doubt. So get out of your gnh cocoon and read beyond what has been just preached by our leaders. There is entirely a different and better economic model existing tht can be achieved practically.

          • Sonam seem to be splitting hairs between wellbeing and happiness. what an ignorant arrogant person you are

  12. I would have accepted his criticism had it been little bit from intellectual perspective. It is totally based upon his belief and the logic behind is so stupid that such type of logic is found in abundant everywhere.

    How can we call it as critique?
    A detailed analysis and assessment of something, esp. a literary, philosophical, or political theory.
    Evaluate (a theory or practice) in a detailed and analytical way: “the authors critique the methods used in research”.

    So it is not even worth calling it. It is based upon his own narrow thinking. If i say there is no gravity and start criticizing Newton. It isn’t worth a word.

  13. samden drup matsug

    No wonder why USA is in big trouble because people like Dr,. David is advising the government what to do, how to go about, when to enforce. I don’t envy any more who claimed to be the most highly learned and published so many books (junks). These people will rather cripple the country because of wrong advise. 

  14. ProudBhutanese

    Mr. David! No offense but your knowledge about gnh philosophy i must say its zero.. You cannot randomly pick up one or two topics and give a comprehensive writeup against gnh. Thats totally absurd and couldnt care less. I guess you need to do painstaking research on gnh before u start thinking to share your ‘earnest’ view again.

  15. Goodwill Embassador

    Dear TL and David, please be advised that Bhutan doesn’t count GNH at the individual level. Moreover, we have never claimed that we have achieved it. It is only a guiding philosophy that has been conceptualized to dictate socio-economic developments so that we do not compromise with issues relating to environment, culture, governance and equitable sustainable growth. It doesn’t mean that being a GNH country, everybody should be equally happy. No matter what crises face us, we are content with what we have and who we aWe love our environment, appreciate our culture and we have good governance in place blessed by the wisdom of hereditary monarchs. Have u not been aware of those countries who are now crippled by the shortage of their natural resources, cultural degradation and political instability? The United States doesn’t even have a dinstinct culture that can be claimed to be theirs own. u will never see it happen in Bhutan until and unless TL becomes the PM and David comes as the US Embassador to Bhutan. What else are you looking for? TB has published this article because I know they must be happy with what has been written. If you continue to partner with such foreign blockheads to defame your own country, you better go to hell. I am starting to realize that it’s worth discarding this paper because I have been at least buying one a week.

  16. David must have mistaken the GNH for a utopian concept. For Bhutanese, GNH in essence means love, respect, cooperation, unity, genorosity, gratitude, responsibility, freedom, rich culture, harmony, etc in the human society. It’s about people enjoying to the fullest withat what they have rather craving for what they do not have. He must not criticise the whole nation’s glory based on his short experience at Gedu.

  17. While most of my fellow Bhutanese have taken offense to Dr. Davids interview and response, and some have even gone as far as to call The Bhutanese and Tenzing Lamsang in particular anti national (We have to stop this kind of bullshit). I for one believe that we can only learn and improve from criticism. Therefore let us thank TL for having the courage of his convection to print this article and also thank him for showing us the main stream perspective of the world at large (We must admit that our GNH philosophy is the exception and not the rule in the world). 

    Further it must be said that Dr David has indeed rightly pointed out that our GNH philosophy is being promoted by the powerful political class and in many cases shoved down our throats. Case in point the impractical use of GNH to filter/evaluate our policies. And inside the govt circles it has been admitted that this does not work and many good policies are being delayed because of it, and we as a nation we are hurting, but it does not effect the powerful, well connected people who are the champions of the great GNH philosophy as they always get their way (front or back door options) and therefore this filter continues to be used.

    We Bhutanese need to learn the difference between ‘hand downs and hand up’. People who give us a measly few million dollar (the amount is small for a nation) i.e Denmark, UN, SNV, etc and praise us when we are making a mistake are indeed not friends but vicious evil people  (this is what I mean by hand downs). While people like Dr David who on the face seem to be critical and state things we would not like to hear but when they are stating the fact we must learn to accept them and reevaluate our views and make the necessary corrections  (this is indeed an hand up).

    It is also a fact that while we hear a lot about GNH in Bhutan especially from the powers that be most of us see GNH benefit only the people who have made it to the top government and political post and hold powerful seats in the government. The contradictions for example, we are told that we should be happy with what we have yet the VIPs want, NEED bigger houses i.e. happy valley, Big car Land Cruisers and Prado for the PM and cabinet ministers, Bigger and BIGGER salaries for our MPs etc the list goes on. Its time to call a spade a spade let us wake up.  

    All in all we should thank The Bhutanese for bringing this important debate to the national stage and Dr David for igniting the fire. Unfortunately it had to be chilip who had the guts to speak out against our GREAT FATHER LYONCHEN JIGME Y THINLEY, the man who sells GNH wholesale instead of retail (we would have got better value for the idea, but who cares when he has set himself up for his after PM talk circuit job). And so GNH goes on in our beautiful dream…………….

  18. Say it “GNH” or “preservation”. It is more important that Bhutanese themselves grow out to be a responsible citizen of the world, infact, much wiser considering the advantage we have by living in th southern slope of the Himalayas. Our educated lots have not yet learn to listen, so are our bureaucrats. GNH in my opinion is a very subjective terms and does not correspond objectively to anything unless we start to research, write books and come up with fictional terms as already being done. Look, yesterday only as I was coming up from Lobesa to Thimphu, I witness interesting manmade land slides, loss of properties, time and resources. Expert advices and technical studies are being shelved or perhaps dumped in the corridors while analyzing that solution to such simple problems exist. Praising Pedestrian day will not contribute to environment or health unless each citizen becomes critical of the impact and benefit of any action. Rupees problem cannot be resolved by shutting down the shutters or economic activities; innovative ideas do not find conducive environment to become real, it is my experience that we have hardly any individual in this country who takes the responsibility to solve problem, take decisions and make visible progress. Otherwise, why we should get sand from India? Why import timber while we have 70% forest coverage and rotting trunks just 500m away from any town? Our roads, water management, lack of innovative infrastructures, children dancing Hip hop in Gho and Kira?
    To me, we have a lot to earn and look in the immediate perimeter than outside world, this starts with learning to listen and accept criticism positively. A educated scholar may not criticize a philosophy because he has nothing to benefit from it. Politicians and bureaucrats does the same for a wide range of benefits, sometimes such fictional subjective matters will engage the common people to look left ignoring the right.

    • Bro,

      If you don’t like the life here, free education, free medical care, no 10 hours power outages etc, than you better move to Nepal or Bangladesh, I am telling you, you won’t even survive a day there.

      • good,

        so u like the life here,, selective good medical care, so much MW of hydro power yet a domestic user pays hundreds, why dont u give ur real pic and name? You will be liked / praised / loved/ appreciated. Dont just remain ‘good’

        • Like I said, if you don’t like it here, ship your ass out of this country, no one is forcing you to stay here. Otherwise don’t complain.

  19. The author of this article is absolutely right. We the Bhutanese are emotionally trying to hold onto the GNH thing which ironically doesn’t have any basement. The reality is that except few from urban places like Thimphu rest of our fellow citizens are GNH-less and still suffering from basic requirements like proper shelters, roads, hospitals, food, etc. So let us stop preaching GNH and think how we can stop corruption and better-ise the life of every single individual in this Nation. Then only we shall have the pride to call ourselves the citizens of GNH nation. 

    • If you want GNH to change our lives overnight, than that is not going to happen. As for life in rural Bhutan, come on, we cannot deny the fact that it has improved in leaps and bounds over the past few decades. If you really want to see suffering, just look across the border in to India and other South Asian countries, most of them will gladly exchange their lives for ours.

      So for heavens sake, please stop bashing GNH and the vision of HMK4, whatever your grouses.

      • I am a simple citizen of Bhutan and I am very fortunate to be Bhutanese. I don’t want to know what GNH means to foreigners. 

        I am happy that I take three meals a day, 

        I am happy that I support my children and parents from whatever I earn from my loving country,

         I am happy that I have clothes to wear and house to live,

         I am happy that I have great Kings, who are always there to look after the welfare of the people,

         I am happy that I am secured in my country. 

        And I am sure that every Bhutanese have three meals a day. Nobody died of starvation, cold, and without receiving support from the government. If someone says, that we do not have basic necessities in Bhutan, then he/she would be lying or trying to fool others. 

        It would be unfair to judge GNH just because few leave their children and go to USA. They do not go to USA because they are not happy; it is because they want to be happier.  They do not go to USA because they are poor; it is because they want to be richer. 

        Happiness does not mean that every individual should drive cars, own buildings and properties, or have bank balance.  No country, be it USA, would afford to provide every USA citizen to own cars, buildings, properties and bank balance to make them happy.

        “If you think you are a big gun, chances are that you would get fired one day” Don’t feel proud to be a big gun, the bullets are of the gun’s size as well.

  20. Dr. David is right. USA, Japan and other advanced countries like four little tigers did not grow through GNH. See how many corruptions are taking place in Bhutan from those vampires like politicians, royal families and so forth. It is a country of fascists. This country has no happiness. The greedy landlords who are all those category of people I have mentioned are the perpetrators of unhappiness in Bhutan. So, Bhutan should be banged and bashed heavily by India and China and teach lesson. We have not learnt lessons. We have all kinds of sycophantic people as top bureaucrats. We have layers like colours of scarf to differentiate and indoctrinate people to enslave each other. GNH is bullshit. People are fed slow poison that they don’t realise. They believe so much in idiotic leaders of Bhutan. But they themselves will reap the fruits of their ignorance.  But what the hell are advanced countries like USA and others doing? They should help this slaves of Bhutan come out of the grip of those callous and idiotic leaders of Bhutan. USA and other countries help other countries in their exercise of  human rights and good governance only if they have something to gain. 

  21. An anti-national is using Bhutanese name to defame Bhutan. You can write anything i.e. “Hate Speech” or “Offensive Speech”, we will stand as constant as the NORTHERN STAR. We will keep on patronizing/ selling the GNH values Specially to USA (American/Dr.David)

    • GNH contributor

      shameful to sell GNH values when most of the fellow citizens are bullied by the politician and bureaucrat by grapping lands in the east and west.government ignoring the voice of people and many young people in the private sector are loosing job due to unending crisis.So how can one say “bhutan is a GNH country” Dr. David and TL should keep on criticizing unless all things are put in right place by this govenrment.

  22. All I want to ask Dr. David L Luechauer is: what is the whole aim and purpose of development activities, economics, capitalism, socialism and GNP etc.? In my view, all these are methods designed to attain happiness as the end/final product. Whether it is achieved or not following the different methods prescribed is another question. Therefore, in essence, shouldn’t happiness be the objective of everything govts., institutions, and people do? If yes, isn’t Bhutan right in getting the end/final objective of the numerous activities human beings perform right? Using bad examples such as events and experiences resulting from a ‘different kind of practice’ to nullify an ‘idea’ that is different from the ‘practice and ideas’ that caused these examples is not only wrong but more than fiction… If you want to have a debate on happiness and GNH please do not hesitate. We can have it here, in this paper of your choosing, but don’t mistake the ills caused by capitalism or socialism for being caused by GNH.
    There is an old saying: ‘a crow feeds on shit. wipes its beaks on the clean, green grass and then calls it dirty’.

  23. If criticism, defamation, harming national unity, insulting and publicly attacking and spreading false information on the elected govt. can improve economic situation of a country, there is nothing as easy as that! We should request Dr. David to bring his family and stay in Bhutan so that they can give critique view of everything in Bhutan.

  24. The "TRUE" Bhutanese

    Dear David, I won’t be surprised if you have 100 photos to show how bad Bhutan is. Because your special skill seems to be in capturing and glorifying the negatives (which is reflective of your self-esteem). I won’t be surprised if your students at Gaedu showed so much lust for consumer products. You would have taught them enough in a year on how to develop that lust. If what Mr. Gyamtsho wrote is fiction, what you wrote is even worse (considering that you claim to be an academician). Yours is simply a desktop compilation and presentation of the obvious, that doesn’t call for any expertise and of which many of us are already aware. If you claim that yours is constructive criticism, and if your intention was good, you would have also dwelled on some of the positive aspects of our society. As much as we need to be reminded of the “bads”, we also need to be reassured of the “goods”. Winners win not because they focus on their weaknesses, but because they build on their strengths. Because you don’t have the willingness or the guts to point out a single good thing about Bhutanese society associated with GNH, I dare say that you have some hidden personal or institutional agenda, and that your contributions, through your writings, to the cause of GNH is not well-intended. I am sad that we have such academicians like you, but I am happy that you no longer teach in Bhutan.

  25. The “TRUE” Bhutanese. Well said ! Am too very happy that Dr. David is gone for good, otherwise he would have molded our children in Gaeddu College as per his caprice.

  26. By his own admission Dr.Leuchaeur says that he gives business lectures/courses to many of the fortune 500 CEOs, so his livelihood is somehow tied to keeping these guys successful. GNH, on the hand, propagates the exact opposite, that we should not be too greedy. Many people in the West are also fed up of these big corporations who make tonnes of money doing very little and hence the occupy wall street movement and many other such movements around the world, all basically fighting against one thing, corporate greed.

    This should tell us why this sustained attack on GNH by him, after all, his success depends on belittling GNH and its values.

  27. Before GNH becomes fertile ground to breed and grow in this birth place,there are lot of issues needs to addressed and solved the problem and eradicate the disease of Corruption,Sectarian (sects),poverty and non uniform Development(Rich&Poor gap).Unless ,there are equality,equity,justice and rights applied to all the citizens,GNH will swing like pendulm and lottery.Few people will achieve and rest will start blinking and become restless.Many will doubt about the four pillars of GNH and definitely have critical view of it in these prevailing circumstances.Hello Bhutan,we are being watched by the world and do come out with clean and start doing the home work.Only then world will say hey this is the GNH otherwise it will become like mist and disappear .But i disagree some points raised by Mr David and hopefully we will take it positive sense like looking mIrror to clean some of the dusts lying underneath and surface.  

  28. Someone who does’t know abc of GNH like dr Dravid has a gut to comment….I wonder whether he is even a right person to teaching here who even doesn’t understand anything beyond GDP n GNP!

  29. No more discussion on this topic, the chapter is closed for LUNCH BREAK!

  30. WE cannot criticizer david’s criticism because he is right from a to z.Someone trying to attach him parsonally not being able to dispprove his criticisms……

  31. Sonam Gyamtsho

    I equally read with bewilderment, Dr. David L Luechauer’s response to my article on GNH in which I critically reviewed his nasty comments on GNH concept published in Kuensel a couple of weeks ago. I do not wish to belittle myself and my country by responding repeatedly to an extreme viewpoint of an economic diehard but I do need to put few things into perspective for general readership. Sadly, I find his reasoning illogical and hardly based on facts. His narrow observations of few places and encounter with students of Gaedu College cannot be generalized to be true for the whole country.  
    I cannot help gauge Dr. David’s unawareness that ‘Happiness’ is going to be adopted by the UN General Assembly next year as an outcome of Brazil summit. The fact that the summit was backed by a number of Nobel Laureate economists and world leaders along with people from all walks of life is the testimony in itself that “GNH” as a development philosophy has received overwhelming global attention. Dr. David, simply by googling and not finding recent news on GNH cannot claim that “GNH” does not have worldwide support. Google is not only the source of information; there are scores of other mediums. 
    On the issue of poverty, yes, we are a poor country as I already mentioned in my earlier article. Therefore, Dr. David cannot compare Bhutan with Singapore or Scandinavian countries which are highly developed but without any guarantee for happiness.   

  32. i see hatred on every words in his article. constructive criticism should be take positively, but grossly misused criticism with personal agenda or hatred to dilute can’t be digested. he is trying to be in limelight, which he needed urgently to get employed and recognition in USA.
    Narrow/shallow David what u teach in Krannert School of Management? hope u are not teaching GNH…u vampire…

  33. David…
    i went through your past works and i find nothing worthy and coming to ur article on GNH….i agree you to some extend. Bhutan need to do more………and also do reality check. you proclaim yourself as Dr. David. (professor) but your words and harsh and avaricious intention does not qualify you as what you proudly proclaim….
    Dr. David, You don’t worry about Bhutan because Bhutan worries about world…….
    Dr. David, take care and worry of your country coz many countries are going to over take your country- economically and military, some will over take within 10 years and few in 15 years….

  34. I am proud of my country. And so are my thirty nine other classmates. We represent twenty different nationalities and we are learning globalization in a truly global environment. It is interesting to learn different cultures and share experiences. As many Bhutanese would do when they go outside I also share with them about our Gross National Happiness. Indeed, they are fascinated and want to know more about the concept. Realizing GNH in the wake of globalization is challenge but in order to make judicious use of globalization one will need GNH.
    World is battling with change today. And that change is globalization, an inevitable change. It is sweeping across borders, impacting all aspects of human lives, be it social, cultural, political, economical or environmental. With the rapid advancement in communication technologies the pace is even faster than expected.
    Globalization is so unequal. It helps produce integration but also marginalization. It helps produce development but also underdevelopment. It has brought new threats, including environmental hazards and terrorism. It helps promote democracy but also corruption. It helps bring peace but also conflicts. We do not have to look anywhere. It is happening right in our neighborhood. What do we do about this? How do we confront this change? The answer lies in our GNH.
    Like many Bhutanese I believe in GNH. But I also know that there are many who do not. How old is GNH? A decade, or two? It is really a short span of time to realise the benefits of GNH concept. If you look at the Danish Welfare State for instance, it took hundreds of years to build and rebuild. It dates back to early 1800s. I am referring to Denmark’s model because they were the happiest nation on earth in the first ever ‘world map of happiness’ published in November 2006. Bhutan was in eighth position, way ahead of many developed nations. So, economic growth could be a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition for happiness.
    Let’s look at the four pillars of GNH in the context of globalization.
    When globalization visited homes people embraced it so fast that they forgot to look back the trails left behind. Now human beings are paying the price for it. Global warming is real and happening. Globalization has brought one of gravest dangers to the mankind and the planet earth. Let’s talk about our own Himalayas. Studies show that glaciers in the Himalayan regions are retreating. It is predicted that temperature in the sub-continent would increase to 5.5 degree Celsius by 2100 from what is 3.5 degrees Celsius today. It is predicted that a 1 degree Celsius in temperature would cause alpine glaciers worldwide to shrink by as much as 40 percent.
    So, what is an answer to this? The answer lies in the first pillar of GNH, i.e. conservation of environment.
    We have been doing something that the world has failed or rather forgot to do; to live and coexist with the nature. Our vigorous programmes and policies to conserve our environment have raised the eyebrows of many countries and leaders in the world. Wow, where in the world do you get to inhale such kind of pure and clean air! That was a remark made by a tourist who visited Bhutan recently.
    Undoubtedly, we are the champions of environment conservation. Our draft Constitution guarantees, under the Article 5, that the government shall ensure a minimum of sixty percent of its total land be maintained under forest cover for all time. Which country would have such a law? None, I guess.
    Globalization and westernization are used interchangeably, mostly by the developing nations. And it is true that westernization has swept across borders. Traditional values and cultures have become thing of the past in most countries.
    Where do you see people wearing their national dress? In some countries it is worn only on special occasion. In most countries national dresses have faded away and have taken special place in Museums. Curious to know, I asked my friend from Belarus about his national costumes. “I am not sure. Maybe it is lying there in the Museum,” he tells me candidly. I once attended a gathering in Gho and stole all others’ attention. It took me all through the evening explaining about our national dress among others. A Bhutanese lady working as an air attendant in the Middle East says something like this: “I have never realized that we have such a unique, rich culture and tradition. I am dying to get back to my country.”
    We have our culture and tradition still intact and vibrant; be it religion, architecture, music, language, dress, food, and so on.
    So, we are still able to preserve our own unique culture and tradition even when globalizing forces around. And because of this we were able to remain as a sovereign nation and that too in a region where history is not so pleasant. Thanks to our generation of farsighted leaders and ancestors. That is the second pillar of GNH, preservation and promotion of culture.
    One of the biggest drawbacks of globalization is that it is so unequal. The so called ‘haves and have-nots’ are product of globalization. Economic globalization brings economic growth but it also brings underdevelopment. Two of the world’s largest growing economies are right in our neighborhood, but these two countries are also home to large number of poor. Despite growth miracle in China inequality has risen sharply. In 2005, top 10 percent earned 45 percent of the income, while the bottom 10 percent earned only 1.4 percent. In India, despite successful economic growth 35 percent of the population still lives below $ 1 a day, and as much as 80 percent live below $ 2 a day.
    What could be the solution to this? The answer is sustainable and equitable socio-economic development, the third pillar of GNH.
    It is true we lag behind in equitable development but we also must not forget that modernization began very late. And I personally feel that it is a blessing in disguise. We can learn from the mistakes made by other countries and choose a cautious approach towards balanced growth. In fact the second MDG Progress Report published in December 2005 says that Bhutan is well on track on achieving the MDGs by the target year of 2015. Of course Bhutan has a long way to go in this but at least plans, policies and priorities are made at least.
    Globalization brings freedom and democracy. But if misused it breeds corruption. In most countries leaders and politicians have used it for their personal gains, resulting into internal conflicts and corruption. In Bhutan we are blessed to have visionary leaders in our Monarchs. “The rise in corruption in Bhutan is a challenge we face. How big the challenge is will depend on how soon and how strongly we decide to oppose it. There is no room for corruption-it is as simple as that, not now and not in the future,” (His Majesty the King). There is will and commitment from the highest level, something to be appreciated of.
    In recent times, especially after the establishment of ACC, people have started to talk about corruption more openly. Judiciary is becoming more efficient and transparent, so too are other organizations. Our media are becoming bolder and so are the people. This is what I call ‘Good Governance’ and the fourth pillar of our GNH.
    In sum, these inevitable globalizing forces of globalization have come here to stay. But we have an instrument, in the form of GNH, to sift which is good and which is bad. Skeptics would argue on the basis of measurement of GNH. Well, happiness is abstract and cannot be quantified. But, it doesn’t mean that it is not there. At least the ways to maximize happiness is correct.
    Meanwhile, my Kenyan friend asks me, “How is the Gross National Happiness man?” “Well, good,” I replied. “How about yours,” I asked him. “I went to the Church this morning. Feeling good and satisfied,” was his answer. “That’s called spiritual happiness. Contentment is Happiness. And that is what we call Gross National Happiness,” I said as we made our way for another day’s lecture.

  35. Sonam Gyamtsho

    We must change the way we live.  If the living standard of people in the  US & West  is ten times more than average living standard  of developing countries, how can our planet sustain? Prompted by globalization, we are using resources without thinking of future generations. 

  36. Do Americans live 10 times longer than Bhutanese because their living standard is 10 times higher? 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *