GNH (Gross National Happiness) Seminar 14 March, 2010 – The first ever
seminar between Bhutan and India on GNH concluded on March 12, with
participants from both sides acknowledging the need for more discussion
and study for the development philosophy to be successfully implemented.
Dasho Karma Ura, the president for the centre for Bhutan studies (CBS),
said that the “rich dialogue” had “enriched” the understanding of GNH
for both Bhutanese and Indian participants. The seminar saw, what a CBS
press release described as, “influential minds in India” talking to
Bhutanese counterparts on various topics related to GNH. The Indian
delegation included young politicians, sociologists, environmentalists,
conservationists, and health activists.
“GNH offers potential that needs to be unlocked,” said Peter DeSouza,
director for the institute of advanced studies in India. He added that
GNH is relevant today, as it offered a framework within which the ideas
contained offered a counter discourse to the western development model.
“GNH shows how Bhutan thinks ahead of time, it’s an evolved state of
thinking, a brilliant concept,” said Koustubh Sharma (PhD), a regional
field biologist with snow leopard trust, the largest organisation
concerned with the conservation of the endangered snow leopard. He said
that India is now suffering the consequences of a fast paced development
policy based on the western model.
Koustubh Sharma said the dialogue on GNH showed that it did not exist to
hide Bhutan’s underdevelopment as skeptics might observe. But he added
that some aspects have to be addressed, such as ensuring minor details,
such as the needs of specific groups of people are not undermined, when
using only one value to express the people’s happiness and development.
“A pivotal issue is whether GNH offers an alternative framework for
evaluation of policy or a state imposed prescription,” said Akhil Sibal,
a lawyer. “I’m definitely convinced that GNH is really a more of a
useful prism through which to look at policy rather than a dogma to be
imposed.” He added, “It’s an ideal worth working towards, to apply not
only within Bhutan but abroad.”
“Ideas and ideologies keep evolving so it’s never sufficient, but for
now, yes,” said Latika Dikshit, a social development consultant on
whether the seminar had provided a thorough understanding of GNH. On
whether GNH is too Utopian, she said, “All dreams start off Utopian,
it’s the path that leads to it that has to be realistic.” Latika Dikshit
said she hoped she would be invited again for another dialogue on GNH.
Comments were also made that perhaps GNH needed to be modernised to
include younger generations.
Dasho Karma Ura said Bhutan could certainly do with more discourses on
GNH and that the dialogue would be continued in India in August this
year. He also added that more discussion on GNH is needed among
Bhutanese, particularly one that includes all three branches of the
government and private sector.
The seminar was jointly organised by CBS and Malvika Singh, the owner
and publisher of Seminar magazine in India.
By Gyalsten K Dorji