VERMA etc. 6. Culture: Evaluates local traditions, festivals,

VERMA SOOCHI

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GNH – A measure
of Happiness.

Gross National
happiness?

 

INTRODUCTION

Every day we ask
others, how are you?But how are we doing as a society? How are our fellow
beings doing?Are we and others happy with our lives?Do we ever ponder about it?

To measure progress countries,
use GDP or Gross Domestic Product, which is considered as an indicator of the
economic health of any country. But does this transform into the betterment of
lives of its citizens? Though it is an indicator of health of the economy of the
country, it has its limitations to measure if the distribution of this economic
health has reached the masses or has remained in the hands of few.

Is there a need to rethink how we measure
economic activity of a country?Are there any other means to measure so that the
benefits of the economic health reach the masses of the country? Level of
happiness of any society tells us how it satisfies the major concerns of
everyday life.

Money or Happiness

What of these
two is more important for human beings?Money is essential in this age. But, can
it buy people happiness?This age-old question needs to be considered againand
with a new perspective.

“GNH is an endeavor to
greatly enhance the sophistication of human systems by emulating the infinitely
greater sophistication of nature,” says Dixon.Gross National Happiness
(GNH) is a global indicator which measures both economy and social
development, while protecting the environment and culture.

 

GNH is based on 4 pillars and 9
domains

GNH goes beyond
GDP. Gross Domestic Product is based solely on economic inputs and outputs and
fails to demonstrate the distribution of national averages amongst its
citizens.

 

Four Pillars

Economic
self-reliance
A
pristine Environment
Preservation
and promotion of Bhutan’s Culture
Good
governance in the form of a Democracy

 

 

 

Nine Domains

The four pillars of GNH are elaborated
into nine domains and form the basis of measuring happiness index.

 

1.     
Psychological well-being: Assesses
the degree of satisfaction and optimism in individual’s life. The indicators
analyze self-esteem, sense of competence, stress, spiritual activities, and the
prevalence of positive and negative emotions.

2.     
Health: Measure
the effectiveness of health policies, with criteria such as self-rated health,
disability, patterns of risk behavior, exercise, sleep, nutrition, etc.

3.     
Use of time: The use of time is one of
the most significant factors in quality of life, especially time for recreation
and socializing with family and friends. A balanced management of time is
evaluated, including time spent in traffic jams, at work, in educational
activities, etc.

4.     
Community vitality: Focuses on
relationships and interactions in communities. Examines the level of
confidence, the sense of belonging, the vitality of affectionate relationships,
safety at home and in the community, and the practice of giving and
volunteering.

5.     
Education: Takes into
account several factors such as participation in formal and informal education,
development of skills and capabilities, involvement in children’s education,
values in education, environmental education, etc.

6.     
Culture: Evaluates
local traditions, festivals, core values, participation in cultural events,
opportunities to develop artistic skills, and discrimination due to religion,
race or gender.

7.     
Environment: Measures
the perception of citizens about the quality of their water, air, soil, forest
cover, biodiversity, etc. The indicators include access to green areas, system
of waste management, etc.

8.     
Governance: Assesses
how the population views the government, the media, the judiciary, the
electoral system, and the police, in terms of responsibility, honesty and
transparency. It also measures the involvement of citizens in community
decisions and political processes.

9.     
Standard of living: Evaluates
individual’s and family income, financial security, the level of debt,
employment security, the quality of housing, etc.

 

Talking
about the major factors involved in measuring a country’s happiness, the main
problem of my research was to know, whether happiness is the base of
development or money is more important. My main focus was to find that in
countries like Japan where there is stable economic condition, are people
really happy and in countries like Bhutan with unstable economic condition,
what is the level of happiness among people the other important factor in my
research was to
understand what is more important for different countries.

 

 

 

So accordingly, these were my
main research questions.

What is more important happiness of citizens or
economic stability of the country? (GDP OR GNH)

2.  As
Japan is a country with stable economic condition, are people really happy with
their lives?

3.  For
other countries with not so strong economic conditions, what is the level of
their happiness?

 

 

LITERATURE
REVIEW

In 1972, King
Jigme Singye Wangchuck of Bhutan suggested the use of Gross National Happiness (GNH).
According to him, “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross
Domestic Product”. The concept implies that sustainable development should take
a holistic approach towards notions of progress and give equal importance to
non-economic aspects of wellbeing(1). A casual concept in 1972 was developed
further. Bhutan formally adopted GNH or Gross National Happiness and was first
mentioned in the Constitution of Bhutan which was enacted on 18 July 2008.It
became a formal economic indicator for Bhutan.

 

GDP is linear in
approach to measure the economic health of a nation whereas GNH is
multidimentional and compehensive. It includes one’s wellbeing, clean
environment, satisfying jobs and good health. Adoption of GNH seems to be
better method than GDP to measure well being of its people. In 2011, the UN
unanimously adopted a General Assembly resolution, introduced by Bhutan with
support from 68 member states, calling for a “holistic approach to development”
aimed at promoting sustainable happiness and wellbeing. This was followed in
April 2012 by a UN High-Level Meeting on “Happiness and Wellbeing: Defining a
New Economic Paradigm” designed to bring world leaders, experts and civil
society and spiritual leaders together to develop a new economic paradigm based
on sustainability and wellbeing. This builds on the Government of Bhutan’s
pioneering work to develop the GNH Index (1)

 

In his book
Technology Vs. Humanity, Gerd Leonhard writes, “I argue that we must place
human happiness and wellbeing at the heart of the decision making and
governance processes that will shape future investments in scientific and
technological research, development, and commercialization because, in the end,
technology is not what we seek, but how we seek.Even at Davos meet on January
23 in 2016, economists said that GDP is a poor measure of progress. Three
leading economists and academics at Davos agree: GDP is a poor way of assessing
the health of our economies and we urgently need to find a new measure.
Speakers are IMF head Christine Lagarde, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph
Stiglitz, and MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson and they  stressed that as the world changes, so too
should the way we measure progress.The concept of GDP was developed in 1930.
The man behind the concept, Simon Kuznets, warned it was not a suitable measure
of a country’s economic development. The concept of GNH has been debated around
the world for many years. It has received overwhelming support and
encouragement from all over the world.In January 2008, the French President
Nicolas Sarkozy announced his dedication in measuring national happiness. He
created the Commission on the ‘Measurement
of Economic Performance and Social Progress’

Many countries
have begun increasing the amount resources need to measure national happiness.

 

Many progressive politicians also
advocate measuring the gross national happiness of their countries. A number of
researchers are working on the concept of GNH. “World Map of Happiness” has
been drawn up by researchers at the University of Leicester, UK, in 2006.
Psychologist Adrian White and his team evaluated data from more than 100
surveys by institutions such as the World Health Organization WHO and UNESCO.”Adrian
White said: “The concept of happiness, or satisfaction with life, is currently
a major area of research in economics and psychology, most closely associated
with new developments in positive psychology. It has also become a feature in
the current political discourse in the UK.Critic of the concept say that happiness
is hard to measure. Many people have different ideas of what happiness is. Hard
to measure accurately. It is qualitative and subjective

 

METHODS

1.Participants

There were 68 respondents belonging
to different age groups. Age group of respondents was from 18 to 60. Out of 68
respondents there were 33 females and 35 males. I interviewed students,
part-time workers, office goers, shopkeepers, business men and unemployed.

2. My main
research instrument was interview and my mobile phone. I prepared an interview
for the respondents consisting of question about their daily life style and how
satisfied are they with their current situation. I used my mobile phone to
record their answers so that I don’t miss any point in their answer that affect
my research criteria.

3.So I started
my research with thinking of basic amenities required by individuals to live a
decent life and other luxuries. Then I framed some questions supporting this
statement and included close ended questions. The next step was to do a pretest
and see if I can get the desirable answers for my research and for my pretest I
interviewed 3 people of different nationalities and backgrounds. After being
satisfied with the answers from pretest and being able to answer the questions
I did my main interview and had 68 respondents. After interviewing these people
and gathered all the data. I found out few major and minor findings. I observed
the answers and found out similarities and differences among them. The most
important information was that the people from same countries sometimes had
different answers as compared to people from different countries.

4.Data
analysis -For analyzing the data, I observed the answers for each question and
watched out for similarities in them. I found out few major and minor findings.
I observed the answers and found out similarities and differences among them.
The most important information was that the people from same countries
sometimes had different answers as compared to people from different countries.

 

RESULTS

Major finding

84% of respondents thought GNH is more
important than GDP.

On interviewing people of different nationalities

Compared to Japanese citizens, people from other countries like
Australia, Nepal, Vietnam, Thailand,

Malaysia, Belgium, China and India were more satisfied with their lives.

In my questionnaire I asked how satisfied were my respondents in
different aspects of life.

For Japanese citizens, only 6%
were satisfied with their major occupation, 15% with their health, 35% with
their current financial security and 44% with their family and friends
relation.

While the answers from other
citizens were quite surprising.

Most of them were satisfied with these aspects of life.

•     
Health – Only 2
of the respondents had difficulty in their home country.

•     
Financial
security – All of them were satisfied with their earnings and savings.

•     
Major occupation
– All of them were happy in their chosen profession.

•     
Family – All of
them spent enough time with their families or relatives.

 

DISCUSSION

•     
Most of the respondents felt GDP is linear in
approach.

•     
It is only an indicator of health of economy of a
country.

•     
Economists can work out Per Capita Income based on
GDP.

•     
Cannot measure if the distribution of this economic
health has reached the masses or has remained in the hands of few.

•     
A purely mathematical calculation based on income
and population of that country.

GNH Advantages

•     
GNH is multidimensional and comprehensive.

•     
It includes one’s wellbeing, clean environment,
satisfying jobs and good health.

•     
GNH is a set of guiding principles to build a
sustainable and equitable society.

•     
It does not replace GDP. It only strives to make
life comfortable and happy for the people of a country.

GNH Disadvantages

•     
Hard to measure accurately.

•     
It is qualitative and subjective.

•     
Different people have different ideas of what
happiness is.

 

LIMITATIONS OF MY RESEARCH

Contacting Japanese people
Limited time
Limited access to demography
Respondents reservations

Conclusion

The outcome of
my research has proved that economic prosperity is not the sole criteria of
happiness.Concept of GNH does not challenge the supremacy of GDP as the sole
measure of progress of health of a country’s economy but itis a concept to
understand if the people of that country are reaping the benefits of the
resources and leading a happier and fulfilling life.In 2006, Adrian White, a
psychologist from the University of Leicester, published the World Map of
Happiness. In this report Bhutan ranked 8th, while USA was
23rd. Other large countries with low ranks included: China 82nd, India 125th, Russia 167th. 

Many countries
are making efforts to devise a new economic index that is based on GNH which
would measure well-being gauged by things like satisfaction with personal
relationships, employment, and meaning and purpose in life. Technology is used
only to achieve a data that helps to improve standards of living of citizens.

 

Germany, Italy
and France are also looking into the issue of GNH. One can predict that in
future GNH will become increasingly important as people continue to seek the
good, happy and fulfilling life.More countries adopting GNH or similar approach
proves that people living in economically rich countries are not the of
happiest living people in this world.

 

POLICY IMPLICATION

Many countries
are making efforts to devise a new economic index.

Germany, Italy and France are
also looking into the issue of GNH. One can predict that in future GNH will
become increasingly important as people continue to seek the good, happy and
fulfilling life.

 

 

References:

1.(OPHI)  Oxford Poverty &
Human Development Initiative. Retrieved from -:http://www.ophi.org.uk/policy/national-policy/gross-national-happiness-index/

2.Gerd Leonhard, Technology vs.
Humanity, 2016, Fast Future Publishing.

3.World Economic Forum -:https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/04/beyond-gdp-is-it-time-to-rethink-the-way-we-measure-growth/

4.Rajni Bakshi, “Gross
National Happiness”, Resurgence,
25 January 2005

5.Pennock, M; Ura, K. “Gross national happiness as a framework for
health impact assessment”. Environmental Impact Assessment
Review. 31: 61–65. doi: 10.1016/j.eiar.2010.04.003.

6.Dorji, Tashi (15 June 2012). “The story of a king, a
poor country, and a rich idea”. Business Bhutan. Retrieved 1
April2017.

7.Rajni
Bakshi, “Gross National Happiness”, Resurgence, 25 January 2005

Gross National Happiness

8.Gerd
Leonhard, Technology vs. Humanity,
2016, Fast Future Publishing.

2232 words
(excluding references)