Gross National Happiness – Bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan is placing environmental concerns and spiritual well being over rampant Capitalism. 

The king recently banned plastic bags in the Kingdom, and banished all private logging companies. This may be the first nation on Earth to ban plastic bags. The policy of banning all private logging resulted in net forest growth where it was losing forest cover in previous years. 

1999 – Buddhism is the dominant religion in this country, and they practice not harming any living thing. This is part of the National Gross Happiness measurement. Tradition is encouraged by giving free education to craftsmen and artists, which are then sold to the tourists coming into the country. 
The economics of the country as based on water power and limited tourism. Tourists are charged $250 per day to limit the number coming in.
The country sells water power generated electricity to India finance the country. Since the country is governed by a king, there are no political arguments. Since the king is primarily interested in the happiness of his subjects, there is no need to discuss whether it is better to go left or right in politics. Little money is wasted on this subject, or on elections for a President, since the king is there for life.  
The Parliment has recently passed a law saying that they can get rid of the king, but there is no effort to do that, since they are happy with their king. Buddhists believe that life is illusion and TV is an illusion about an illusion.  
2005 – “In a world where despots cling to power by any means, Bhutan’s much loved King is voluntarily relinquishing control. It’s part of a plan to engage with the wider world. This tiny mountain kingdom is one of the least undisturbed places on earth. 
Here, emphasis is placed on ‘Gross National Happiness’, and schools teach children to live in harmony. “We are an independent kingdom with a very strong policy that preserves our environment,” explains author Tshewang Dhendup. 
The king is widely revered across the country. “He’s a very humble man,” explains one friend. He has “no Swiss bank accounts, no Lear jets. He lives in a log cabin.” His subjects are still coming to terms with his decision to share power. In recent years, Bhutan has started reaching beyond the mountains. But nothing is allowed to endanger its unique culture.” Source; ABC Australia

As in the USA, happiness is a goal and a vision. But contrary to the USA, in Bhutan they focus on not just the material needs, but also the spiritual needs, the environment needs, and infrastructure needs, while learning from the ‘mistakes’ of other countries. They look at happiness in a holistic way, not just purely from a Gross Domestic Product point of view.
They place a high value on their wilderness. 70% of the country is covered by forest. Over 50% of their national income results from selling electricity from water power to India. 
The people are all housed, fed, clothed, educated, and provided with basic healthcare. This is more and better than even large civilized countries can say about themselves. 
The Bhutan National Parliment exists, and has about 100 members representing the people. There are no political parties, a prime minister, and a group of ministers that are drafting a Constitution. In the future, the people will vote on ministers, but up to 2005, ministers were appointed, not elected. This system seemed to work, because the focus is on the needs of the people, not on the needs of corporations or the military. 
Less than 10% of the country is arable, and all food is grown by hand with very little help from machines. Over 90% of children go to school, and they all wear the national dress. The central part of the children’s education focuses on harmony, peace, and how to get along with others (without violence). 
70% of the citizens have no electricity. TV is only on from 7PM to 11PM. Loyalty, spirituality, community, traditions, thrift as well as harmony are the primary focus, instead of competition, monetary gain, and getting ‘more’ than others. They look ahead to seven future generations when making a decision. Looking at ONLY short term profits is considered as a form of mental illness in this country. 
Even though most of the people in this country only make 2 to 5 dollars a day, they are mostly happy, according to official surveys. 
This may tend to confirm the theory that money cannot buy happiness. Bhutan may also confirm that there is more than one road to the goal of happiness, and that the road does not even need to be paved, or even well traveled.
On the other hand, can Shangri La, Paradise on Earth, Utopia really exist on Earth? Some would say that Bhutan is Utopia, but not everyone agrees.  There seems to be some trouble in Paradise……
Watch the following video to hear about the complaints about some former Bhutanese citizens, expelled by force from the country. 

For more information about this country click on
Gross National Happiness – Bhutan; via A Green Road Blog

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