The Great Depression (1929-1933) that reduced the country’s economy to the coast, has been shrunk to a mere pivotal point on all the world’s economic ills since then. However, a bad day has prompted many economists around the world to discover and develop new algorithms to keep an eye on the national economy. Just as the lotus flourished in the mud, the fear of the Great Depression provided one of the most widely accepted reforms that paved the way for the economic learning paradigm – Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
This economic indicator has been used around the world and although it has been a good test of economic performance, it has never used the real value of a global economy. GDP has features and measures only one thing – money. Although this indicator contributes to the growth and decline of jobs, fluctuations in products and sales of goods, etc., a private motivation for reassurance, money. It is now possible to keep the country’s economic life in order and the information it displays may be useful to some, but not to all. For some, money and economic activity may be the key to judging or evaluating a country’s performance; for others, the economy is just one of many constraints. In short, there are more important things than financial matters, such as happiness.
Bhutan’s Innovative stance on Public Prosperity
A small hidden, concealed and covert tribe, located high in the Himalayan mountains between India and China, formerly known as The Kingdom of Bhutan, is known for its well-guarded, humble and grounded lifestyle. The nation is not much for the global trade but is well aware of the outside world at the same time. Bhutanese leaders have worked hard to keep their traditions and customs alive in this fast-paced, money-driven modern society. They have built a wall around the world that does not allow them to enter and disrupt their blanket of peaceful Buddhist life. Instead of being a victim of worldly trends and unnecessary fashions, Bhutanese keep their traditions and love the way they live.
Bhutan, before joining the world economy, set out their index to be based on man and not money. Instead of embracing an impressive paradigm that thinks and directs developed countries, Bhutan chose to participate in the global economy by measuring and evaluating how the features of its financial resources affect the vision of its citizens. The world considers the same factors – production, hiring, retail sales, etc., but their Gross National Happiness (GNH) system drives a paradigm shift. The Nation’s priority is more profitable and sustainable happiness than financial resources. All of Bhutan’s policies have never been more competitive and financially sound but the allocation of funds to strengthen the four pillars – economic independence, preservation and promotion of Bhutan culture, good governance and a clean environment, sets a remarkable example.
The vision of the Bhutan dictatorship, which is more focused on civility and development than on creating a glowing atmosphere of foreign investment, is applauded. The use of GNH as a leading economic indicator, automatically puts unresolved Public Policies in line.
GDP vs GNH
The debate between these two is subjective and therefore endless. However, it is important to understand that GDP or money generally has a varied structure which comes with invariable curtailments and inevitable greed. Therefore, to pursue money and contentment at the same time is simply an oblivion state. GNH or Happiness has a very cohesive effect. Happiness can only bring happiness. If factory workers are happy, their work will be more focused on success and not on par with a tied job. Bhutan, no matter how complex the challenges are, has extensive revenue for the nation’s education, health care and infrastructure.
Therefore, the choice of GDP rather than GNH or vice versa depends on human thinking. The source of happiness can be different and analogous but public prosperity must factor an individual’s happiness which by-and-large signifies a person’s will to live.
Final Word on Bhutan’s Approach
Bhutan did not make it into the list of the world’s happiest countries in 2021 due to a technicality. However, the report curating authorities did not hesitate to acknowledge and pay tribute to Bhutan for its commendable job in combining health and happiness with economic growth. The country, during a grim period as that of COVID-19, made explicit use of the principles of Gross National Happiness in mobilising the whole population and consequently, did not account a single death in 2020 despite having strong international trade links.
This itself signifies the fact that maybe it is time to let Health and Happiness take the higher pedestal and give more or equal consideration against the economic viability of the country for holistic public prosperity.