Buddhist kingdom pushes notion of Gross National Happiness

Recalculating Happiness in a Himalayan Kingdom

In the tiny Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, high in the Himalayan mountains, [u]nder a new Constitution adopted last year, government programs — from agriculture to transportation to foreign trade — must be judged not by the economic benefits they may offer but by the happiness they produce.

The notion of gross national happiness was the inspiration of the former king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in the 1970s as an alternative to the gross national product.

Now, the Bhutanese are refining the country’s guiding philosophy into what they see as a new political science, and it has ripened into government policy just when the world may need it, said Kinley Dorji, secretary of information and communications.
[…]

The Bhutanese have started with an experiment within an experiment, accepting the resignation of the popular king as an absolute monarch and holding the country’s first democratic election a year ago.

The change is part of attaining gross national happiness, Mr. Dorji said. “They resonate well, democracy and G.N.H. Both place responsibility on the individual. Happiness is an individual pursuit and democracy is the empowerment of the individual.”
[…]

“Once Bhutan said, ‘O.K., here we are with G.N.H.,’ the developed world and the World Bank and the I.M.F. and so on asked, ‘How do you measure it?’ ” Mr. Dorji said, characterizing the reactions of the world’s big economic players. So the Bhutanese produced an intricate model of well-being that features the four pillars, the nine domains and the 72 indicators of happiness.
[…]

Mathematical formulas have even been devised to reduce happiness to its tiniest component parts. The G.N.H. index for psychological well-being, for example, includes the following: “One sum of squared distances from cutoffs for four psychological well-being indicators. Here, instead of average the sum of squared distances from cutoffs is calculated because the weights add up to 1 in each dimension.”
[…]

– Source / Full Story: Recalculating Happiness in a Himalayan Kingdom , Seth Mydans, New York Times, May 7, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog
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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday May 7, 2009.
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