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Indigenous People of Bhutan


Understanding Gross National Happiness (GNH) Gross national happiness (GNH) is a term with roots in the Himalayan country of Bhutan. The kingdom’s first legal code, written at the time of unification in 1729, stated that “if the Government cannot create happiness for its people, there is no purpose for the government." King Jigme Singye Wangchuck told the Financial Times in a 1972 interview that “gross national happiness is more important than gross national product.” It is not clear how seriously King Jigme had thought through this new metric, but Bhutanese scholars have since picked up the idea and run with it. The GNH has evolved into a somewhat scientific measure of the once-isolated kingdom's economic and moral development.
In 1998, the government of Bhutan established the Center for Bhutan Studies and Gross National Happiness (CBSGNH) to conduct research on the topic.

The institute’s mandate was to develop a GNH index and indicators that the government could build into its public policy decisions. Bhutan could then share this framework with the outside world, with which the isolated Himalayan country was increasingly in contact. To that end, the GNH Center in Bumthang developed what it calls the four pillars of GNH. These are good governance, sustainable development, preservation and promotion of culture and environmental conservation. The 2008 constitution dictates that lawmakers must take each into account when considering new legislation. These pillars provide the foundation for the happiness which is manifest in the nine domains of GNH: psychological wellbeing, standard of living, good governance, health, community vitality, cultural diversity, time use and ecological resilience.

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Compiled by: Glenn Welker

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