Bringing GNH home

Happiness for some

Happiness for some

GNH is synonymous with Bhutan. So it’s important for us to participate in and contribute to the growing international knowledge base on GNH. Still, I was a little concerned when, recently, our prime minister personally led a 24-member delegation to a GNH conference in Brazil. After all, it had been barely 10 weeks since he had visited Japan to tell them about GNH.

Like some, I felt that the PM should have been in attendance when the nation’s highest legislative body was in session. Like others, I believed that he should have stayed behind to help victims of the recent calamities rebuild their lives. And, like a few others, I felt that while hitting the lecture circuit may be important, especially when GNH is in the spotlight, our head of government would find ample time and opportunity to do after he leaves office.

As it turns out, it was a good thing that our prime minister attended the Brazil conference! The visit, it appears, taught him one important lesson: that GNH is not exactly thriving in its birthplace. Yesterday, upon his arrival back home, he told the media that Bhutan was “falling behind” in the implementation of GNH. Today, he reported to the National Assembly that in parts of Brazil he saw GNH at work – individuals, NGOs, universities, private businesses, and local governments, we were told, had all made it their business to promote gross national happiness. And, he excitedly told lawmakers of immediate plans to operationalise GNH.

Very good. Our government now understands what the common man has long known: namely that, to increase happiness levels, we need is less talk and more action.

Talk about happiness, however convincing, will not make emerging problems like poverty, malnutrition, unemployment, income disparity, crime, corruption, drug abuse, domestic violence, child labour, and garbage go away. Only hard work will do so.

Otherwise, Bhutan and GNH may quickly become a contradiction in terms.

Photo credit: Kuensel

Chhimi visits PM’s visits

Chhimi Dorji gets upset every time our prime minister travels abroad. It’s not that he’s against the head of the government visiting other countries. What bothers him is the number of people who see off and receive our PM. This photograph in Kuensel prompted Chhimi to send me this article.

Missing in representation

The day before yesterday we debated an important issue: roads. Roads are important as they are the lifeline of our country, and the only proven way out of poverty.

We debated this important issue because the public wanted us, their representatives, to talk about the need to improve and streamline the technical designs of the nation’s roads.

Who raised the issue? The public of Pemagatshel. Specifically, the people of Nanong-Shumar, and Khar-Yurung constituencies in Pemagatshel.

So I thought it was odd that the MPs representing these two constituencies were both absent. They were not there to introduce the issue or to contribute to the debate.

And who were the two missing MPs? The prime minister and the health minister representing Nanong-Shumar and Khar-Yurung constituencies respectively.

Our PM’s report

Yesterday, during the opening day of the National Assembly’s second sitting, our PM submitted his report on the performance of the government.

His report did not touch on the government’s performance in the social sectors and on the economy. Too bad. It was a good opportunity to showcase the successes of the government in these areas. Unless, of course, there hasn’t been enough successes to speak about.

But, on the one hand, the new government has been in office for only eight months – it probably needs more time to prove that it is keeping the promises that it has made.

One the other hand, however, 8 months is enough time to talk about the ground work that the government has done to keep its promises.

And then there are some things that people really want to know. The pay revision, is one – it’s causing too many people too much grief. Effects of the global financial crisis is another – again causing grief. Then there’s inflation, unemployment and education, all causing grief.

And talking of education: what happens when a student delivers an incomplete report? He fails.