Gross National Happiness - A Real Alternative or a Romantic Wish? Impressions From the Fourth International Conference on Gross National Happiness in Bhutan

Fishman, Ram Mukul

Back in the 1970s, when discussion concerning economic development was monopolized by the concept of Gross National Product (GNP), King Jigme Singye Wangchuck of Bhutan developed the term Gross National Hapiness (GNH) as an alternative approach to development. Though the last 25 years of his reign saw Bhutan’s economy grow at an average annual rate of 7% while maintaining environmental quality and social capital, the recent stepping down of the king and the transition to democracy have left Bhutanese policy with an aspiration to uphold his GNH legacy, but without his intuitive guidance on its practical pursuit. In its absence, there is a need to base the concept of GNH on a concrete, objective basis. As an effort to place the discussion on a quantitative and rigorous social scientific basis, Bhutan is inviting scholars from around the world through its annual international conference on GNH. This field note offers a discussion reflecting upon the conference and the concept of GNH.

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Consilience: The Journal of Sustainable Development

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Earth Institute
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November 30, 2015