Gross National Happiness

Gross National Happiness:

While at an economic conference in 1972, a western diplomat made Bhutan’s newly-crowned 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck an offer:  allow our timber experts to help you market your vast forests to India.  The 18-year-old King demurred. “I cannot sell our forests – they belong to our children.  We do not own them.”  The diplomat chided the young king about Bhutan’s extremely small gross domestic product. “I am more interested in my country’s gross domestic happiness,” replied the monarch.

In that wise offhand remark the King Jigme Singye Wangchuk announced to the world both his own priorities as a ruler and a Buddhist, and a new concept of governance.  Today Bhutan has a ministry dedicated to GNH, and the idea has echoed in halls of power across the globe, from local city councils to national capitals.