Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Quest for Happiness is Official

Last Tuesday was a day to savor. A visibly emotional Prime Minister went on National Television and said he felt emotional that a small, LDC nation had been put on the world center stage. But with recognition comes responsibility and the
Prime Minister was as quick to point out the challenges now facing Bhutan in light of the resounding and unanimous support given to GNH by the global community. The Prime Minister said Bhutan will continue to provide leadership in the development of the concept, implementation, and promotion and translate happiness in terms of public policy among the members of the UN family. The date, July 20, 2011, should be etched in every Bhutanese citizen’s memory, for this was the day of a journey that began more than three decades ago when a young monarch ascended the Dragon Throne under tragic circumstances, and revolutionized the way his kingdom and his subjects would live.

His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, amongst many other jewels, gave this nation a path to development that has enriched the lives of his subjects and made the world take notice of what is a totally wholesome path to development, progress, modernization and the need to balance that with that primordial human need and want: to be happy.

In His Majesty the King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, we have a monarch who has furthered his father’s vision by giving a concrete shape and structure, together with his own hands at the helm of things, steering this country towards what is a noble goal with altruistic sketches and keeping in mind the fundamental bigger picture – the pursuit of happiness and the means to that end.

In Lyonchhen Jigmi y Thinley, the Bhutanese people have a Prime Minister who has tirelessly worked global forums and various media-mediums to push forward a developmental philosophy that is perhaps the ultimate need of the times, in light of what is unfolding around the world. As we speak, there is an Arab Spring awakening in the Middle east and in North Africa. Common people are standing up for what is essentially their right to life, liberty, dignity, freedom and the pursuit of happiness.

In the meantime, the Fourth South Asian association for Regional Cooperation Interior Ministers’ Conference began last Saturday to discuss, among other pertinent issues in the region, security and terrorism. The UN Resolution to adopt “Happiness” as the Millennium Development Goals and the SAARC meet couldn’t be more different, yet the issue being discussed is in direct proportion to the absence of happiness, or more practically, peace.

Bhutan’s Permanent Representative to the united Nations Lhatu Wangchuk told the BBC the next step was to help UN members better understand the concept. He admitted that there was skepticism when Bhutan started lobbying for the resolution ten months ago. But ultimately it won 66 cosponsors.
A BBC report says many at the UN were skeptical at first, but the resolution ended up winning 66 cosponsors.

Lhatu Wangchuk said Bhutan wanted to bring happiness to the UN consciousness, because GDP is an inadequate measure of the quality of life. Now member states have been invited to draw up their own measures of happiness and add them to the UN’s development agenda. When the Bhutanese Permanent Representative to the UN was asked if he thought UN diplomats were happy people, in a typical display of perhaps what the idea was all about, Lhatu Wangchuk said many were overworked, and needed to sleep more and spend more time with their families.

Meanwhile, the Gross National Happiness Commission, a brainchild of His Majesty the King, goes about brainstorming and implementing what otherwise could easily be construed as a philosophical and a metaphorical state with no actual bearing to the grassroots. The Center for Bhutan Studies has been scientifically going about the concept to transform them into quantifiable realities in terms of policies that can be implemented and worked out. In other words, the eyes of the world are firmly focused on Bhutan, and the country must perform with full awareness and mindfulness, for this could be the next catalyst for a better world.

The Prime Minister summed it up when he said, “Our endeavor will have to be to prove and convince that it is, in fact, relevant to every human and for every country.”

*For The Spirited Traveler

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