A Social Geographic Perspective Krishna Das Department of Geography, Gauhati University
ENTIRE DISCUSSIONS ON GNHWhat is GNH? The assessment of Gross National Happiness or "GNH" was designed in an attempt to define an indicator that measures quality of life or social progress in more holistic and psychological terms than only the economic indicator of gross domestic product (GDP). Gross National Happiness (GNH) is an indicator developed in Bhutan in the Himalayas, based on the concept elaborated in 1972 by the then King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. Since then, the kingdom of Bhutan, with the support of UNDP (UN Development Program), began to put this concept into practice, and has attracted the attention of the rest of the world with its new formula to measure the progress of a community or nation.
GNH is based on the premise that the calculation of “wealth” shouldconsider other aspects besides economic development: thepreservation of the environment and the quality of life of the people.The goal of a society should be the integration of materialdevelopment with psychological, cultural, and spiritual aspects – all inharmony with the Earth.Happiness is a subjectively felt public good. Happiness is a publicgood, as all human beings value it. Happiness blossoms throughenhanced relationships, arising unbidden when relationships improve.In this sense, the whole of development is a progress inrelationships, not of individuals. GNH encourages individuals to seeall things as interdependent with all other things. In order to achievecollective happiness, the principle of interdependence needs to betaken on by everyone.The GNH index was developed by the Centre for Bhutan Studies, anon-aligned and non-profit research institution based inThimphu, Bhutan .
The Four Pillars of GNH•the promotion of equitable and sustainable socio-economicdevelopment•the preservation and promotion of cultural values•the conservation of the natural environment, and•the establishment of good governance.
The Nine Dimensions of GNH: 1. Psychological Well-being- Assesses the degree of satisfaction and optimism in individual life. The indicators analyze self- esteem, sense of competence, stress, spiritual activities, and the prevalence of positive and negative emotions. 2. Time Use- The use of time is one of the most significant factors in quality of life, especially time for recreation and socializing with family and friends. A balanced management of time is evaluated, including time spent in traffic jams, at work, in educational activities, etc. 3. Community Vitality- Focuses on relationships and interactions in communities. Examines the level of confidence, the sense of belonging, the vitality of affectionate relationships, safety at home and in the community, and the practice of giving and volunteering.
4. Culture- Evaluates local traditions, festivals, corevalues, participation in cultural events, opportunities to developartistic skills, and discrimination due to religion, race or gender.5. Health- Measures the effectiveness of health policies, withcriteria such as self-rated health, disability, patterns of riskbehaviour, exercise, sleep, nutrition, etc.6. Education- Takes into account several factors such asparticipation in formal and informal education, development ofskills and capabilities, involvement in children’s education, valueseducation, environmental education, etc.7. Environmental Diversity- Measures the perception of citizensabout the quality of their water, air, soil, forestcover, biodiversity, etc. The indicators include access to greenareas, system of waste management, etc.
8. Living Standard- Evaluates individual and familyincome, financial security, the level of debt, employmentsecurity, the quality of housing, etc.9. Governance- Assesses how the population views thegovernment, the media, the judiciary, the electoral system, and thepolice, in terms of responsibility, honesty and transparency. It alsomeasures involvement of citizens in community decisions andpolitical processes. The equation of Gross National Happiness Index is- “GNH = 1- Average squared distance from cutoff”
In 2009, the 5th International Conference on Gross NationalHappiness was held at Brazil, with more than 800 participants.
2009 Happy Planet IndexRank Country HPI 1 Costa Rica 76.1 2 Dominican Republic 71.8 3 Jamaica 70.1 4 Guatemala 68.4 5 Vietnam 66.5 6 Colombia 66.1 7 Cuba 65.7 8 El Salvador 61.5 9 Brazil 61.0 10 Honduras 61.0 11 Nicaragua 60.5 12 Egypt 60.3
13 Saudi Arabia 59.714 Philippines 59.015 Argentina 59.016 Indonesia 58.917 Bhutan 58.518 Panama 57.419 Laos 57.320 China 57.121 Morocco 56.822 Sri Lanka 56.523 Mexico 55.624 Pakistan 55.625 Ecuador 55.5
26 Jordan 54.627 Belize 54.528 Peru 54.429 Tunisia 54.330 Trinidad and Tobago 54.231 Bangladesh 54.132 Moldova 54.133 Malaysia 54.034 Tajikistan 53.535 India 53.036 Venezuela 52.537 Nepal 51.938 Syria 51.339 Burma 51.240 Algeria 51.2
Map showing the Global GNH patternsColour signifies Highest rank through to lowest rank; greyindicates Information not available .(2006)
“GNH attention in Assam”Assam plans to introduce new development indexIt will follow the Bhutanese concept of Gross NationalHappiness which reflects the true quality of life in amore holistic mannerGuwahati: Assam will introduce the concept of “GrossNational Happiness” (GNH) as a development index in theState.Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said that his government wouldtry to bring the concept of GNH and would take steps toensure that no people of the state starves or are deprived ofhealthcare and education in the days to come.The GNH as a concept of measuring prosperity is so farunique to the neighbouring Bhutan.
“In the last decade the government had succeeded in improvingthe growth rate of the States economy from 2.53 per cent in 2000-01 to 8 per cent in 2009-10. The new target has been set at 10 percent for the coming years. We want take forward this pace ofdevelopment and bring the concept of Gross National Happiness,”Gogoi said here, at the Independence Day celebrations.Bhutans Gross National Happiness is a policy decreed by formerKing Jigme Singye Wangchuck to try and reflect the true qualityof life in a more holistic manner.According to the Bhutanese happiness theory, a buoyant economymeans rising incomes and employment opportunities. However,GDP (gross domestic product) figures cannot measure the well-being of the countrys nationals, as it only accounts for goods andservices that pass through the formal markets.
The announcements comes few days after Gogoi visited Bhutanand addressed an international conference on “happiness andeconomic development” at Thimpu, the capital of neighbouringcountry.The seminar convened by Bhutan follows a proposal of thecountry adopted by 193 member-countries of UN to include"happiness" as the Ninth Millennium Development Goal (MDG)in New York last month.Gogoi said the state government was giving more emphasis onskill development and creating more employment opportunitiesin order to find out a permanent solution to unemployment.(news published in Times of India on April 29 & August 25)
The smiley face is a well-known symbol of happiness