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Gross National Happiness (GNH), Bhutan’s development philosophy, was propounded by the Fourth King of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck in the early 1970s. His Majesty pronounced that for Bhutan, GNH was more important than gross national product.

GNH is based on the premise that the ultimate aspiration all human beings is happiness and that happiness does not come from material riches alone. Happiness can be achieved when economic pursuit (understood as economic development) is complemented by socio-cultural and spiritual development in an environment free of corrupt practices.

GNH stands on four pillars of balanced and equitable socio-economic development, preservation and promotion of culture, conservation of the environment, and good governance. These pillars branch out into nine domains of GNH which include psychological wellbeing, community vitality, living standards, and time use, among others.

All public policies, programmes, and projects are evaluated through GNH policy screening tools that test whether a policy, programme or project is conducive to creating conditions for happiness. GNH policy screening test undertaken by the Gross National Happiness Commission ensures that all public policies conform to the principles of GNH.

GNH has become Bhutan’s most powerful state policy. His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck has described GNH thus: “Today GNH has come to mean so many things to so many people, but to me, it signifies simply – development with values.

Thus for my nation today GNH is the bridge between the fundamental values of kindness, equality and humanity and the necessary pursuit of economic growth. GNH acts as our National Conscience guiding us towards making wise decisions for a better future.”  The Constitution of Bhutan states that “The State shall strive to promote those circumstances that will enable the successful pursuit of Gross National Happiness.”

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