GNH vs GPH

Really growing happiness

Yeshey Dorji, a prolific blogger (and an excellent photographer), weighed in on minister Khaw Boon Wan’s controversial comments by concurring with the view that since we want to emulate Singapore, for us Singapore could well be the Shangri-la.

But regardless of where Shangri-la may lie, Au Yeshey admits to finding GNH confusing, and raises the alarming prospect that GNH may actually undermine personal happiness. This is what he writes:

“GNH, GNH. GNH – Oh God, it is so confusing. This GNH has me totally baffled. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that the principles of GNH are the antithesis to GPH – Gross Personal Happiness.

“At one point soon, we must all calmly sit down and debate on the issue: Can GNH contribute to GPH; if not, what is the point? Can GNH be achieved without usurping GPH? Is GNH more important than GPH?”

Au Yeshey Dorji is not alone. GNH has indeed become complicated. This simple, straightforward idea, which has quietly guided our country’s development till now, seems to have suddenly become an animated metaphysical commentary on how to make the whole world a happier place.

So let’s go back to the basics, and relearn GNH.

This is how His Majesty the King explains GNH:

“Today, GNH has come to mean so many things to so many people but to me it signifies simply – Development with Values.”

This is how Simpleshow describes it.

And this is how Mieko Nishimizu sees it:

“A philosophy that sets the mandate of government as removing obstacles of public nature to enable individual citizen’s pursuit of happiness.”

But what about Au Yeshey’s important question: “Can GNH contribute to GPH?”

Dr Nishimizu would answer “Yes!” In fact, just last week, she delivered a lecture at RIM telling us how Ina Foods, a  business company in rural Japan, has embraced GNH principles to make their employees happier, and how, in the process, the company itself has become more sustainable and very profitable.

Happy people, making money, in a sustainable way – perhaps Shangri-la is in Ina!

Family ties

People's gift

“Throughout my reign I will never rule you as a King. I will protect you as a parent, care for you as a brother and serve you as a son …” so pledged His Majesty the King during the coronation two and a half years ago.

His Majesty the King has kept his promise.

His Majesty has traveled the length and breadth of our country and personally granted land kidu to tens of thousands of farmers. He has walked – sometimes for days on end, in the sun, rain and in the snow – to meet our remotest villagers, and has cooked for them, slept in their houses, and granted kidu to the destitute, the needy and the infirm.

He has visited almost every school, from community schools to colleges, to talk with, to play – at times even barefoot – and to guide our students.

And when disaster has struck – earthquakes in our East, floods throughout the country, fire in many places – His Majesty the King has rushed to be with His people; to console them and to support them; and to help them rebuild their homes and their lives.

His Majesty has kept his promise – He has protected us as only a parent can; cared for us as a true brother; and served us as a devoted son. He is the People’s King.

The People’s King has already touched the lives of thousands upon tens of thousands of ordinary Bhutanese. And yesterday, when he announced that, “it is now time for me to marry” His Majesty touched the hearts of an entire nation.

The joyous announcement did not come as a Royal Command. Instead, His Majesty informed the nation personally, without formality and without any attempt to hide his complete sincerity, much like a son informing his parents and his siblings.

Our future queen is Ashi Jetsun Pema. And the royal wedding will take place this October.

The entire nation, like one big family, is already celebrating.

Happy Birthday

Earlier today, 14 lucky students got to wish His Majesty the King Happy Birthday! I’m very happy for them.

I’m also proud of them. For those 14 children, all toppers in the 2008 national examinations, gave our monarch a valuable gift – the promise “that their young little hands grow to become strong and worthy of carrying our nation to greater heights.”

On the happy occasion of His Majesty’s 29th Birth Anniversary, I join those successful students, and the entire nation, in wishing our beloved king Happy Birthday! And in offering prayers for His Majesty’s long life.

May peace, prosperity and happiness flourish in Drukyul under the glorious reign of the Fifth Druk Gyalpo.