Gross National Happiness (GNH) is the development philosophy propounded by His Majesty the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in the early 1970s. The concept implies that sustainable development should take a holistic approach and emphasizes the importance of ensuring the overall happiness of the people without being sidetracked with the statistics of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The ultimate goal of GNH is happiness and to ensure a good quality life for the people through people centric development approach.
The concept GNH, rather than GDP, as a development objective and philosophy is a unique approach to national and global development. Four major thrust areas have been identified as the main pillars of GNH. These are: fair and sustainable socio-economic development; conservation and promotion of a vibrant culture; environmental protection; and good governance as the key to ensure the successful implementation of the other three pillars of GNH. The four pillars are further elaborated into nine domains: psychological well-being; living standard; health; culture; education; community vitality; good governance; and balanced time use and ecological integration. In accordance with these nine domains, Bhutan has developed 38 sub-indexes, 72 indicators and 151 variables that are used to define and analyze the happiness of the Bhutanese people.
Recognizing the philosophy of GNH as development with values, Bhutan has been making steady progress in every sector. Hydroelectric power, economically the most significant sector for Bhutan’s goal of self-sustaining development, has had an impressive growth. Education and health sectors have made tremendous strides and continue to be most crucial social components of the country’s development programme.