THE SE­CRETS BE­HIND THE SMILES OF BHUTANESE PEO­PLE

Business Bhutan - - Editorial - AMRITH SUBBA

Last Fri­day, I was walk­ing with two of my friends on the Doe­bum Lam high­way in Thim­phu when a news re­porter from In­dia stopped us and asked us why Bhutanese peo­ple are happy. The re­porter told us that his team was in Bhutan to un­der­stand our se­crets to hap­pi­ness. He ex­cit­edly talked to us how Bhutan has been known to the out­side world as the Land of Hap­pi­ness and that he was in­ter­ested to find out why. So in re­sponse to his question, this is the gist of what I told him: The first and fore­most rea­son why we the Bhutanese peo­ple are happy is be­cause we have learned how to walk the mid­dle-path be­tween spir­i­tual and ma­te­ri­al­is­tic life. As a Bud­dhist na­tion, we have been al­ways guided by the teach­ings of Lord Bud­dha who has taught us the value of liv­ing in the mo­ment and to be con­tent with what we have. We all know that hu­man de­sires are the root cause of suf­fer­ing and hence, we have learned to bal­ance our spir­i­tual needs against the ma­te­ri­al­is­tic world that we de­sire to be in. We have re­al­ized that noth­ing is per­ma­nent in this world and that re­al­iza­tion helps us to be self-con­tent at all times. When we are ba­si­cally con­tent with what we have or what we are, hap­pi­ness nat­u­rally evolves from the sat­is­fac­tion we en­joy at the mo­ment. The other fac­tor that con­trib­utes to our over­all well­be­ing and hap­pi­ness is that all our public poli­cies and de­vel­op­men­tal ac­tiv­i­ties are strictly guided by the phi­los­o­phy of Gross Na­tional Hap­pi­ness (GNH). Un­der the wise lead­er­ship and guid­ance of our beloved kings, the govern­ment has rec­og­nized the im­por­tance of mea­sur­ing peo­ple’s hap­pi­ness by the four main pil­lars of GNH namely: Pro­mo­tion and Preser­va­tion of Cul­ture, Con­ser­va­tion of En­vi­ron­ment, Eq­ui­table So­cio-eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment and Good Gov­er­nance. Us­ing this yard­stick, the govern­ment en­sures that any ma­jor project or de­vel­op­men­tal ac­tiv­ity it ini­ti­ates does not pose threats to the well­be­ing of the com­mu­nity, its cul­ture and en­vi­ron­ment and that the de­vel­op­men­tal ac­tiv­i­ties are evenly dis­trib­uted across the coun­try en­sur­ing that the na­tion’s limited re­sources are ef­fec­tively man­aged through good gov­er­nance. The govern­ment un­der­stands well that if we have rich cul­ture, pris­tine en­vi­ron­ment, bal­anced so­cio-eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and good gov­er­nance in place, what­ever ini­tia­tive we take can lead to hap­pi­ness at the na­tional level. So to me, Gross Na­tional Hap­pi­ness is a great de­vel­op­ment phi­los­o­phy that con­stantly guides our poli­cies and plans and leads us to ev­er­last­ing hap­pi­ness and well­be­ing. In the face of var­i­ous global crises fu­eled by global warm­ing, cul­tural degra­da­tion, cor­rup­tion and po­lit­i­cal con­flicts, Bhutan still has rich and unique cul­ture, pris­tine en­vi­ron­ment and ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive govern­ment in place to be proud of. With bless­ings from our beloved kings and our guardian deities, we still have enough rea­sons to smile today when half the world is in tears. Last but not the least, we feel re­ally for­tu­nate to be born in such a beau­ti­ful coun­try where we en­joy free ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion and health ser­vices re­gard­less of our eth­nic/re­li­gious back­grounds. If we can re­ally demon­strate our ca­pa­bil­i­ties, we get equal op­por­tu­ni­ties to par­tic­i­pate in all spheres of public life. For in­stance, although I am blind, I have so far got equal op­por­tu­ni­ties to par­tic­i­pate in the main­stream so­cio-eco­nomic and public life. So even to be born with a dis­abil­ity in Bhutan is re­ally a bless­ing. Our com­mu­ni­ties are founded on the ba­sic prin­ci­ples of Bud­dhism and the peo­ple are gen­er­ally em­pa­thetic and com­pas­sion­ate. So we don’t face ma­jor dis­crim­i­na­tions apart from the few chal­lenges we are work­ing with the govern­ment to ad­dress such as the lack of ad­e­quate ac­ces­si­ble public in­fra­struc­tures and fa­cil­i­ties for per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties. And one thing that makes us for­tu­nate is that our govern­ment is very sup­port­ive and lis­tens to our con­cerns. So Bhutan is truly the Land of Hap­pi­ness. May the Sun of Peace never set in this part of the world. God bless Drukyul as al­ways!

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