Bhutan becomes Happiness Lab for Western economists

Ever since the landmark April 2012 United Nations session convened by Bhutan on "Happiness and Well-being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm" attracted 600 participants including presidents, heads of state, economists, Nobel laureates, scholars, NGOs and spiritual leaders to consider Gross National Happiness (GNH) as a holistic extension to Gross National Product (GNP) indicators, Western economists…

OECD Catches Up with Bhutan

The 34-member nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has taken a page from the book of the isolated Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan and issued a comprehensive set of guidelines for measuring subjective well-being. The 265-page document, designed to provide advice for statisticians and researchers on how to measure how individuals evaluate and experience their…

Cracks showing in Bhutan’s new order

Bhutan vaulted from feudal monarchy to parliamentary democracy in 2008 following a royal edict in 2006 by the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, or Dragon King, abdicating in favor of his eldest son and mandating elections in 2008. For a mountain people who revere their king and don national dress every day, this sudden devolution of power…

Bhutan Braces for Tourism

Bhutan is fast emerging as a popular destination in a world hungry for new and exotic locales, but the growth of the country’s tourism sector threatens to undermine the culture for which the kingdom is famous. Best known for measuring national development with its Gross National Happiness Index, Bhutan now wants the tourism sector to…

Measuring National Happiness

 Nearly three years ago Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the fourth King of Bhutan, inaugurated his Gross National Happiness Index instead of the more common gross domestic product to measure social, economic and political changes in his isolated Himalayan Shangri-la. Now the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development – the OECD – seems to have bought…

Another Fairy Tale Wedding … In Bhutan

There will be another royal wedding later this year to rival the colour and pageantry of Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton’s a marriage a few weeks ago. Bhutan’s 31 year-old King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck Friday told his country’s parliament that he would be getting married "later this year".   Like Kate, his wife-to…

Happiness and Bhutan

It is not clear just when Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the fourth King of Bhutan, came up with the idea of substituting a Gross National Happiness Index instead of the more common gross domestic product to measure social, economic and political changes in his isolated Himalayan Shangri-la. But substitute he did. The index was inaugurated and…

Bhutan Battles Tuberculosis

As with all South Asian nations, tuberculosis is a major threat in Bhutan, but the kingdom has a well-established network of health facilities that provides free care and covers 90 per cent of the population. Until relatively recently an isolated, poverty-stricken country, the kingdom is undergoing a remarkable transformation under the direction of Jigme Singye…

High-altitude flood warning

Glacial lakes in the Bhutan-Himalaya The upper Himalaya lakes in Nepal and Bhutan that were formed by retreating glaciers are getting bigger as global warming causes glaciers to recede, with possibly ruinous consequences, a development that Japanese scientists have been monitoring with concern. It is not a new phenomenon, but it is a growing and…