Bhutan: A Country With Gross National Happiness Instead Of GDP

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Bhutan: A Country With Gross National Happiness Instead Of GDP

Are you drowning in an ocean of sadness as a result of your mundane everyday routine? Wouldn’t it be so much better if you could visit a happy country for a break? Well, did you know that there is a country where happiness is tangible? Bhutan is a place where the prosperity and progress of the country are measured by the amount of happiness of the citizens. Instead of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), the Gross Happiness Index is what guides the policy-making and governance of the country. Bhutan is truly a happy country that fiercely protects its culture and environment as well. Besides a wonderful landscape to offer, Bhutan has happy faces everywhere and contagious good vibes to provide you with a refreshing experience.

What is Gross National Happiness (GNH)?

Bhutan: A Country With Gross National Happiness Instead Of GDP

Gross National Happiness is abbreviated as GNH. This is a philosophy responsible for guiding the people of Bhutan. An index used to measure the collective happiness and well-being of people is included in this formula. GNH is deemed as a goal for the government of Bhutan and was included in the Bhutanese Constitution on 18th July 2008.

The king of Bhutan, back in 1972 had said that Gross National Happiness is much more important to them instead of Gross National Product. GNH is thought of as a holistic approach towards life, far better than restricted towards merely measuring economic stature like GDP. This philosophy has also been promoted internationally by the Bhutanese officials.


Here are 9 reasons as to how Bhutan has been able to maintain its GNH index for so long and remains a peaceful haven till date.


Carbon Negative

Bhutan: A Country With Gross National Happiness Instead Of GDP

You read that! Yes, Bhutan is the only country in the world that is carbon negative. In this era of Global Warming and huge pollution, Bhutan has actually been able to become a carbon sink! It absorbs over a whopping 6 million tons of carbon yearly while the carbon production level is only 1.5 million tons here. 


When you think of Bhutan, you are bound to think of peace, virgin landscapes with its rich wildlife and hustling rivers. The government takes a major role in saving the environment here. It is mandated by the Constitution that over 60% of Bhutan’s land has to be under forest cover all the time and as a result, the current forest cover is approximately 72%. Bhutan not only talks about ecological preservation, they actually practice it and set an example.


Western Influence

Bhutan: A Country With Gross National Happiness Instead Of GDP

Would you believe that just 40 years ago, Bhutan didn’t take part in worldly affairs? It’s true, Bhutan has a minimum level of Western influence. There used to be less than 20 years and this country had never been colonized or even invaded. Hence, it remained free from western influence which has been taking over the world for a long time now. In fact, Bhutan didn’t even participate in WW2. 


This has continued to be their theme and largely attracts tourists. This place neither has McDonald’s, Starbucks, giant supermarkets, skyscrapers, any western architecture nor does it have any billboard advertising anything (western or local products). Bhutan’s lack of Western involvement has made it refreshing to visit. Aren’t you bored of the Western culture? You need to take a break and visit this place to get a taste of culture.


Dress Code

Bhutan: A Country With Gross National Happiness Instead Of GDP

In yet another attempt to preserve the Bhutanese culture, locals must wear the traditional dress, Gho for men and Kira for women, during working hours and when entering a temple or any holy place. This rule has been mandated by the government of Bhutan. Bhutan surely deserves a huge deal of respect for preserving their national outfit till now and keeping it in fashion. Isn’t it so much better to do your own thing rather than blindly aping the western civilization?


Tobacco Products are illegal here

Bhutan: A Country With Gross National Happiness Instead Of GDP

It is a punishable offense to smoke in the country or even bring in tobacco products here. The government has banned the production as well as sale of tobacco products and this is the only country in the world to do that. So, say goodbye to cigarettes if you do not wish to go to jail for 3 years when caught.

No traffic signals

Bhutan: A Country With Gross National Happiness Instead Of GDP

Bhutan is the least polluted country in the world and carbon emissions are negligible here. There is absolutely no traffic here, people do not keep honking their horns when on the road and follow the traffic rules as much as they can because roadside discipline is religiously followed here. Hence, there is no need for traffic light here. However, a traffic light was once installed in Thimpu, capital of Bhutan, but it was taken down after a period of just 24 hours as the locals preferred a traffic policeman instead of a traffic light. Take a break from your daily busy city life and go to Bhutan to see how unspoiled and peaceful it is.


Low Crime Rates

Bhutan: A Country With Gross National Happiness Instead Of GDP

Bhutan is a country where over 75% of the country practices Buddhism, which teaches people how to be kind and empathize towards each other, the environment and the animals. This way of life has resulted in a very low crime rate in the country. In this generation where criminal activities are reaching the very peak, it becomes fascinating to know that violent crimes hardly take place in Bhutan. Even petty crimes are uncommon here. In fact, homicide cases are less than 20-25 in a year.


Picturesque Views

Bhutan: A Country With Gross National Happiness Instead Of GDP

The hilly landscapes, the rich flora and fauna, lush green valleys, gurgling rivers coupled with beautiful slopes and peaks offer unique biodiversity to uphold. At Bhutan, natural beauty is at the very best and its conservation and preservation is the utmost duty of the people here. Experience the pure and pollution-free environment here at Bhutan. In fact, Bhutan was respected with the ‘earth award’ in March 2018 at the International Tourism Bourse in Berlin, Germany.


Spiritual Haven

Bhutan: A Country With Gross National Happiness Instead Of GDP

Buddhism calls for a simple lifestyle which ensures that people are honest and hardworking besides being spiritually inclined towards their religious root. It can be said that in Bhutan, Buddhism is not just a religion but also a way of life. People attain great contentment and peace via meditation sessions at the plenty of Buddhist monasteries found here. You will find the monks here are found playing various indoor board games, laughing playing with local kids or sharing stories, when not praying or meditating or doing chores. The cultural diversity is reflected in the varied colorful festivities of Bhutan. Different traditional dances and other forms of art are something unique to uphold. This further narrows down their distance from the local people. You too deserve a much-needed escape and discover some inner peace and happiness.


Phallus Worship

Bhutan: A Country With Gross National Happiness Instead Of GDP

In a time where sexual crimes are way too high to bear and every day a new rape case is reported, Bhutan remains a country that normalizes sexuality and in fact, worships the male genital. This is yet another example of how liberal and fascinating the Bhutanese culture is. Drukpa Kunley was an enlightened saint who triumphed over a demon at the temple Chimi Lhakhang with the ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom’ or in other words, his Penis. Ever since then, this man and his symbol of victory are worshipped and celebrated here.




Bratati Chakraborty
Last Updated : Jan 15,2021
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