A New Beginning : 1st January, 2009

2009 is upon us.
Hopefully things will pick up earlier than expected. All this talk of recessions and depressions and GDP is pretty demoralizing. Maybe we should all just move to Bhutan.

Let me explain.
One way to not worry about GDP growth (or the lack thereof) is deceptively simple. Stop measuring the GDP. In 1972, Bhutan decided to chuck the concept of GDP and instead proposed an alternate measure of national well being – the GNH or Gross National Happiness.

The King of Bhutan was concerned about the problems afflicting other developing countries that focused only on economic growth and decided to make the GNH his nation’s priority. Bhutan, the king felt, needed to ensure that prosperity was shared across society and that it was balanced against preserving cultural traditions, protecting the environment and maintaining a responsive government. It is a concept grounded in Buddhist doctrine, and even a decade ago it might have been dismissed by most economists and international policy experts as naïve idealism.

From the NYT article that explores this idea –

“Around the world, a growing number of economists, social scientists, corporate leaders and bureaucrats are trying to develop measurements that take into account not just the flow of money but also access to health care, free time with family, conservation of natural resources and other non-economic factors.

The goal, according to many involved in this effort, is in part to return to a richer definition of the word happiness, more like what the signers of the Declaration of Independence had in mind when they included “the pursuit of happiness” as an inalienable right equal to liberty and life itself.”

Additional Reference: The Bhutan Govt’s official page on GNH.

Should we always equate happiness with money? Well, it helps if one doesn’t, given that we are jolly well in the midst of a recession. And relocating to Bhutan is not really a feasible option 😉

Have a great 2009 everyone!!

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