GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS

Do you know which country in the world has the happiest people?

It was and is Bhutan—a small, Buddhist kingdom lying on the eastern edge of the Himalayas. Known for its sacred monasteries and dramatic landscapes of steep mountains and lush valleys, it is also a landlocked country tucked between the giant nations of India and China.

Given this emphasis on people rather than profit, it won't surprise you to learn the crime rate in Bhutan is extremely low. It's highly unlikely you will encounter any crime while you are traveling in Bhutan. Incidents of petty crime are rarely reported and violent crime is very uncommon.

Its government can provide free health care and education to locals, thanks to considerable investments in the country like that of India in its hydro-power resource.

People from this modest Asian nation can enjoy the benefits of having a clean and green environment. Because its constitution mandates a more than 60 percent forest cover, Bhutan has become the world’s first and only carbon-negative country, meaning it produces three times more oxygen than it consumes.

Saving environment is not a part of law or rule, Bhutanese simply believe that conservation of the environment is the way of life. Also, conservation of the environment is one of the pillars of their happiness index. Apart from mathematics and science, children are taught environment protection and basic agriculture techniques. In Bhutan, it is believed that teaching kids to be good people is as important as getting good grades. The ‘clean and green’ image of Bhutan adds to its splendid beauty. Bhutan has one of the stable ecosystems in the world and has virtually no environmental damage due to its long isolation. The restrictions on tourism and their protection of natural resources have let Bhutan preserve the beautiful landscape and physical country as well as their cultural identity.

But what makes Bhutan truly exceptional is how people live out its development philosophy of Gross National Happiness (a locally-coined term that puts a premium on sustainability to achieve economic growth and lasting satisfaction). Bhutan’s former Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay once said: “We ought to be happy because the conditions of happiness are available in Bhutan.”

Bhutan has found the perfect balance. In recent years, internet, cable television, cell phones, as well as many other modern technologies and ideas have become a part of Bhutan, but their desire to preserve of cultural values, as well as the desire to protect the environment has remained high. Bhutan’s economy and culture are growing and changing. Bhutan’s unique strategy has presented a solution to globalization. They are able to adapt to globalization, to strengthen their economy, while still preserving thousand year old traditions and culture. Bhutan is the only Buddhist Kingdom still in the world, and one where cell phones and cable television are present.

For you what it takes to be happy?


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