His Majesty the third Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck expressed his view on the goals of development as making “the people prosperous and happy.” With this strong view in mind, the importance of “prosperity and happiness,” was highlighted in the King’s address on the occasion of Bhutan’s admission to the United Nations in 1971. This vision was further elaborated by the fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck who declared in the first years of his reign that “our country’s policy is to consolidate our sovereignty to achieve economic self-reliance, prosperity and happiness for our country and people.”
While the emphasis is placed on both, prosperity and happiness, the latter is considered of more significance. The fourth Druk Gyalpo emphasized that for Bhutan “Gross National Happiness,” is more important than “Gross National Product.” Thus, Gross National Happiness is now being fleshed out by a wide range of professionals, scholars and agencies across the world.
Concerned about the problems afflicting countries that focused only on economic growth, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck decided to make the nation’s priority not it’s Gross Domestic Product but Gross National Happiness. For this he suggested that the progress of the nation be measured by “Gross National Happiness.” He said that the rich are not always happy while the happy generally considered themselves rich. While conventional development models stressed on economic growth as the ultimate objective, the concept of Gross National Happiness claims to be based on the premise that true development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other.
The four main pillars of Gross National Happiness are:
1. Equitable and socio-economic development,
2. Preservation and promotion of cultural and spiritual heritage,
3. Conservation of environment and,
4. Good governance.
Gross National Happiness as a development paradigm has now made possible for Bhutan to take its developmental policies into the remote corners and include the far flung villagers into the development aspects by meeting their needs and accentuating the need to protect and preserve our rich environment and forest cover. The success of Gross National Happiness can be found in many areas besides developmental aspects.
Further, the concept of Gross National Happiness has greatly enabled her in the pursuit of development, at the same time promoting happiness as the core philosophy of life. For the government, it has facilitated the drive towards self sufficiency and self reliance, the ultimate reduction in the gap between the rich and the poor and ensuring good governance and empowerment of her people.