Young Pioneer Tours

Gross National Happiness in Bhutan

by Andy Khong

Achieving GNH requires a multifaceted approach that focuses on meeting the needs of citizens in all aspects of life, including physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. This can be achieved through policies and programs that prioritize social welfare, environmental conservation, and cultural preservation, as well as good governance that ensures equity, justice, and the protection of human rights.

Some of the strategies that can be used to achieve GNH include investing in education and healthcare, promoting sustainable economic development, protecting natural resources, and fostering a strong sense of community and social connection. It also involves promoting individual well-being through initiatives such as mindfulness training, mental health programs, and stress reduction techniques.

Gross National Happiness (GNH), and Gross National Product (GNP) are two different measures of a country’s progress and development. The main differences between them are as follows:

  1. Focus: GNP focuses on economic growth and measures the total value of goods and services produced by a country’s citizens, including those produced abroad. In contrast, GNH focuses on the overall well-being and happiness of citizens, including their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
  2. Indicators: GNP measures economic indicators such as GDP, industrial output, and exports, while GNH includes a broader range of indicators such as health, education, environmental conservation, cultural preservation, and good governance.
  3. Approach: GNP takes a materialistic approach and emphasizes economic growth as the key driver of development, while GNH takes a holistic approach and emphasizes social welfare, cultural preservation, environmental conservation, and good governance as important aspects of development.
  4. Measurement: GNP is measured using economic indicators such as monetary value, while GNH is measured using surveys, interviews, and other methods that assess people’s subjective well-being and happiness.

In summary, GNH is a holistic approach to measuring progress that prioritizes the overall well-being and happiness of citizens over economic growth. Achieving GNH requires a multifaceted approach that focuses on meeting the needs of citizens in all aspects of life, including physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, while preserving cultural values, protecting the environment, and ensuring good governance.

Where Bhutan is located.

Bhutan is often referred to as the only carbon negative country in the world. This means that the country absorbs more carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere than it emits

Bhutan is able to achieve carbon neutrality and even carbon negativity due to its strong commitment to environmental conservation and sustainability. The country has a constitution that mandates that at least 60% of its land be covered in forests, and it has implemented strict policies to protect its natural resources, such as limiting the number of tourists and prohibiting export logging.

In addition to its policies to protect its forests, Bhutan has also invested in renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric power, which provides almost all of its electricity needs. These efforts have led to a reduction in the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, making it one of the few countries in the world to achieve carbon neutrality, and in some cases, carbon negativity. It is important to note that carbon negativity is a complex and evolving concept that can be difficult to measure accurately, and some experts have questioned the accuracy of Bhutan’s claims. However, there is no doubt that Bhutan has made significant strides towards environmental conservation and sustainability, and its efforts are recognized and admired around the world.

Polygamy (men marrying several wives), and polyandry (women marrying several husbands) are practiced in Bhutan, although such practices are dying out. The Bhutanese constitution guarantees equal rights for men and women, and prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender; hence equality in having several marriage partners – what is good for the goose, is also good for the gander. The previous King (4th King), Jigme Singye Wangchuck, married four women (all sisters) together in a private wedding ceremony (in 1979); being a prophesized marriage. The marriage was formalized and consecrated publicly in 1988, but no foreign dignitaries were invited to the marriage.

Former King of Bhutan with his four wives (all sisters) whom he married on the same day!

There is a minimum daily tariff that foreign visitors are required to pay in order to visit Bhutan. The minimum daily tariff is set by the Bhutanese government and is currently set at US$250 per person per day during the high season (March, April, May, September, October, and November) and US$200 per person per day during the low season (December, January, February, June, July, and August). This daily tariff covers the cost of accommodation, meals, transportation, and an official guide. A portion of the daily tariff also goes towards supporting social welfare, and environmental projects in Bhutan. It is important to note that the minimum daily tariff is not just a fee for entering the country but a requirement for arranging a tour with a licensed Bhutanese tour operator. All visitors to Bhutan must book their travel through a licensed tour operator, who will arrange their itinerary, accommodations, and transportation. Therefore, the minimum daily tariff is essentially the cost of a Bhutanese tour package, and visitors are not able to travel independently in Bhutan. Exceptions to the minimum daily tariff may be granted for diplomatic visits, guests of the Bhutanese government, or if you are a National of India, Bangladesh, or Maldives.

Entry arch to Thimpu, capital of Bhutan – there are no traffic lights in the capital city.
Punakha Dzong, Punakha, Bhutan.

YPT is running tours to Bhutan

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