Over the years, Bhutan has cultivated a unique approach to development with its national philosophy anchored on the principal of Gross National Happiness(GNH) which was promulgated as the country’s philosophy of economic and social development by our forth king in 1972. It refers to a set of social and economic interventions that evaluate societal changes in terms of the collective happiness of people and lead to the adoption of policies aimed at that objective. Premised on the belief that all human beings aspire happiness in one way or another, the concept promotes collective happiness of the society as the ultimate goal of development.
According to GNH, true development of human society takes place when material and spiritual advancement complements on reinforces each other. In other words, it states that the means must always be considered in terms of the end and, therefore, every step in material development and change must be measured and evaluated to ensure that it will lead to happiness, not just more development. The philosophy therefore, attempts to harmonize economic progress with the spiritual and emotional well-being of the people. Bhutan believes that the holistic development of the individual and society can achieved only through a sustainable balance between the economic, social, emotional, spiritual and cultural needs of the people. Development initiatives based on GNH values are therefore not restricted to the present population of any given society; it includes future generations and other societies, indeed all sentiment beings. The GNH emphasizes that the country’s current pursuit of development should not cause misery to future generations, other societies, other sentiments being, as understood in Buddhist concept.
GNH has been Bhutan’s overarching development philosophy that has guided the country’s development policies and programmes. Guided by this policy, the country has made rapid development in short period of time. Achievements have come very minimal impact on its culture and environment. The government of Bhutan implemented these policies through strict adherence to the four pillars of GNH, which are;
1: Equitable and Sustainable Social Economic Development.
2: Preservation and promotion of Culture.
3: Conservation of environment.
4: Good Governance.