Walk the talk!


South Korea is home to 50 million people. They have the 13th largest economy in the world and are a member of the G-20. They are the world’s leading exporter of some of the best electronics (think of Samsung), home appliances (LG), cars (Hyundai Kia) and ships (Hyundai). They have hosted the Olympics, the World Cup and the Asian Games. They have the world’s best education system, enjoy one of the highest internet penetration rates, and boast a popular culture that has taken much of Asia by storm.

But in spite of all their successes, South Koreans are still grappling to identify themselves. And try as they might, they have not yet been able to brand their country successfully.

On the other hand, Bhutan, a small country tucked away in the Himalayas with barely 600,000 people and with one of the smallest economies in the world, possesses a powerful brand. Not may people know about Bhutan, but those who do know – almost every one of them – associate our country with GNH and happiness. GNH is a powerful brand, one that is the envy of some of the richest and most powerful nations.

The GNH brand was not created overnight. Instead it developed gradually – naturally and effortlessly – over several decades, during the period that our beloved monarchs worked tirelessly to improve the social and economic conditions of our people in an equitable, just and sustainable manner.

Today, however, that brand, GNH, is being undermined on two fronts. When we talk, we overuse GNH, and by overdoing it, we risk demeaning GNH to a hollow slogan, a trite cliché. But when we work, we ignore GNH, and by not practicing what we preach, we risk making our own people skeptical and cynical of GNH and its promises.

The GNH brand is a national asset. We must treasure it. We must nurture it. And we must celebrate it. But we must also remain faithful to it. For that, we, ourselves, must first understand what it really means, and then we, collectively, must work hard at putting it into effect.

Otherwise, we will diminish our brand image. And, as a small country, with barely 600,000 people and with one of the smallest economies in the world, we will find it exceedingly difficult to rebrand ourselves. And we will find it impossible to revive the GNH brand.


Facebook Comments:


  1. Hon’ble Lyonpo

    I truly agree with you. Can we work out a working model where the ordinary citizens of our country are involved in the process of understanding ‘Happiness’. Only upon understanding the concept of ‘Happiness’, can then our parliament rate itself on its premises of ‘working on truly achieving GNH’.

    Sincerely yours

  2. Branding Bhutan as GNH country is fine but we must also admit that the land of GNH is also grappling with problems of greed, corruption, unsustainable and inequitable economic development, unemployment, youth crime, poverty etc.

    Conceptually, GNH is flawless, and is utopian both in content and scope; But reality is so different that large section of society may never actualize it.


  3. Cant agree more with Thinlay and Hon’ble Lyonpo.

    Wish, the ruling government will do more to promote GNH than just talk about it.

    in pursuit of Happiness and more….

  4. absolutely !
    and we must nurture it as a national brand, realizing it has been conceived by our remarkable 4th druk gyalpo..
    and we must ensure the likes of pm jthinley do not hijack or use it for personal gain, as if it were him who came up with the concept (cf gnh centre)..

  5. Straight drive says

    I think we owe much to our beloved 4th king and current prime minister for this noble concept. now it is up to us to take it forwards. we need to putin our share of hard work too.

  6. Focusing on branding at this point is like wearing a golden gho while your body is wrecked by tumours.

    Rid the tumours inside before spending your energies on looking good.

  7. We have branded our country as a GNH country. for that we are truely proud of that.

    In other sense…we need to have good concept and practice of GNH in our country before exporting to the outside. Having created GNH commission does not mean everything is in line with GNH.
    Sadly now a days GNH is privatised for the wealthy, high ranking and powerful handful people of this kingdom. when the common people are made to run up and down just for the signature of some officials for the census registration of newly born child of ordinary bhutanese parents. how can we bondly say GNH is praticed in the land of GNH.

    I feel brading GNH country demands more domestically rather than going for Brazil and US for GNH talk.once again i remind our policy makers to give more importance to the domestic needs than worrying about external things which is beyond our control.

  8. nagilabgey says

    By the same token, I wish people do not trivialise “Tsa-wa-Sum” and “Miwang Ngadag” by using these terms in every little argument. GNH, for me, is an ideology and one that is worht pursuing. No where did HM, Lyonchen or the government claim that we have already achieved universal GNH in Bhutan. For that to happen, all of us have to work hard and not expect GNH to fall in our laps through some divine intervention or OL’s magic wand.

  9. I think GNH should be pursued more as a way of life rather than as a “brand” to be marketed. If the former is in place, the latter should be easy task. We may be putting the cart before the horse here, and unnecessarily overdoing the use of GNH to sell.

  10. Straight drive wrote: “I think we owe much to our beloved 4th king and current prime minister for this noble concept. now it is up to us to take it forwards. we need to putin our share of hard work too.”

    Exactly the point here Straight drive! I consider this as a well meaning sum total submission from a genuine nation loving citizen representing the views of a larger section of the Bhutanese society. This message should serve as a stern reminder to those so called GNH critics in various quarters. I think there would never be another better Brand GNH Ambassador to the world community than our Hon’ble PM JYT. In him, I find the person with a complete human quality in full circle on whom our beloved K4’s gift to the human race through this GNH package may find a better turf to germinate faster than otherwise if in the hands of a lesser intellectually built person. I am happy to know that now slowly our people are coming closer to understanding this truth.

  11. GNH should be kept as simple as possible and implement it…For last 30 years, it was never defined nor broken down to so many domains and indices but it was there at the heart of king while implementing development activities and results are there for anyone to see…..Now, we are trying to measure it, and for me, it is like going back to GDP and GNP system…it is not necessary to measure everything….with so many researches and debate, am just getting further confused!!!

  12. South Korean Phenomenon is attributed to a number factors, and one most important factor among them was the “Leadership” that was instilled by the hardships they have gone through under the colonial rule of Japan and number of invasions from other countries…worst among them being the division of their peninsula due to Geo-politics
    They have a leader who came all the way from rags to riches and he contributes most of his own money towards providing scholarships to bright students from disadvantaged family to secure good future leaders.
    Koreans put their nation’s security and welbeing before anything else because of their history.
    Good students are nurtured and prepared by the institutional set-ups for leadership roles for international representations…UN SG is one such case.
    Their media is so strong,
    and they focus more on export than import. Their annual Kimchi Export to Japan fetches them huge revenue. Can we export our good Red Chillies?

    On the other hand, Bhutanese here remain complacent because everything is being peacefully handed down. Some of our people are even willing to compromise nation’s asset and security for their personal benefit and our rags to riches stories are nil.

  13. The success of countries like south korea and Japan, as rightly said by Ugye, is due to following characteristics of korean and Japanese:

    1. They are hard working-works until they produce something
    2. They are innovative–they make products that are appealing and attractive to buyers
    3. They do not wait for government hand outs except during emergency like earthquake and tsunami.
    4. They have sad history of colonialism, wars and suffering; therefore they work extra hard so they do not face same hardships
    5. They invest in education of citizens so that everyone can read, write and do something
    6. They have strong primary industry and have so much wealth to innovate and compete successfully in secondary and tertiary industries
    7. They do not preach what others should do but introspect, corrects mistakes and do themselves
    8.0 They do not have talkative, philosophizing leaders and bureaucrats
    9.0 They have strong workforce of doers
    10. They invest in science and technology, but are mindful of importance of culture and religion; but they do not waste money on religious practices as we do
    11. They have high sense of saving thus avoiding money laundering activities

    My question is: do we Bhutanese have these characteristics??


  14. Kelpazangla says

    This is a diplomatic article challenging PM’s efforts of broadening GNH concept from Bhutan to global. PM has managed to make it a UN General Assembly resolution adopting GNH a holistic target for Mellinium Development Goals. Now that PM is gearing to make GNH a focused agenda of the Rio+20 Global Summit, OL and his team are simply jealous of PM’s capability.

  15. Kelpazangla wrote: “OL and his team are simply jealous of PM’s capability.”

    The more one’s ill conceived loathing makes its limitless ways into the public domain in numerous counts and shapes; it will only end up belittling your standing in the society in the eyes of the rational thinking people. Today under this jealous syndrome, things get twisted to great lengths in the bid to confusing the people and scoring brownie points in the process. This is called selfishness nuisance taking the better part of the Bhutanese society resulting into upsetting the nation’s larger growth aspect.

  16. I wish by way of an invention through the GNH model if Bhutan could find an antidote for this jealous menace from spreading its heinous toxics into the Bhutanese society. Bhutanese people per se are deeply religious minded no doubt! But, through the power of our Buddhist teachings – can it make a difference in changing the mindsets of the people into becoming a better human being- truly deep at heart. If so, this antidote jealous lesson needs to be transmitted as a priority in our society so that the GNH seed can take a quicker germination here in Bhutan.

  17. One_Korean_Speaking says

    Being a South Korean, I find it unfortunate that you believe Koreans have not been able to brand our country successfully. But I strongly say that though we may not have branded our country successfully as a tourist destination, we clearly and definitely have our identity. – because the name “Korea”, and identifying ourselves as “Koreans” shows the history that is undeniable, and make us proudly identify what we are.

    We were a nation since 4,300 years back. Since then our ancestors fought against Chinese empire. Being a country which is 50 times smaller than China, Koreans put their blood and tears to keep independent dynasty and identity. Along with other Asian nations we spread the name “Korea” to Roman empire importing and exporting through the silk road – providing worthiness of a culture that is worth sharing with one of the biggest empire of all time.

    GNH, I believe, was mentioned by the King in 1972, in a rather casual way. The Center for Bhutan Studies under the guidance of Karma Ura, made a detailed study of GNH and made it a seriuos concept. It is an epochal concept, no doubt – but it would difficult for everyone to respect the concept “GNH is the brand of Bhutan”, if there is no matching effort from within.

    After Korean War in 1950, the people said that Korea is merely a garbage dump. They said it would take at least 100 years for us to recover. My father’s generation did it in 20 years. You should think about what kind of hard work we put to protect our independence, how much blood we had to spill and how much tears and sweat we put on our ground.

    The concept GNH is merely a few decades old. It has unlimited possibility, but it wouldn’t become a true identity of Bhutan unless every Bhutanese is ready to put their hard work on it, and recognize it as one.

Leave a Reply