Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Version of Gross National Happiness; A try at it

Let me remind all (whoever read this) that  I am not here to reiterate what our Prime Minister (then Home Minister in 2004) talked during my graduate orientation days, -of the four pillars and posts of GNH. I am certainly not here to also reiterate how I have answered questions on GNH during my civil service examinations back then. Therefore I am certainly not here to say whether GNH is a holistic development philosophy or an ideology in itself.

All I know is that, during his coronation in 1972, our beloved Fourth King spoke about the importance of Gross National Happiness as against Gross Domestic Product . If we remove "Gross" then all he spoke was about "National Happiness".  The happiness, -the ultimate human endeavor was his priority. His Majesty didn't care whether we have all the means to achieve it but he vehemently believed Happiness is possible even without positive balance of payments, without huge mineral deposits and virtually with no development infrastructures altogether. He reminded the, Nation that "Unity" and solidarity among our people would take a long way in achieving everything we plan. 

As much as GNH has garnered appreciation and acclamation, It has received equal criticisms too. And as much as there are people admiring it, there are that many  people making mockery out of it. Today there are leaders who are eager to advocate GNH while there are also critics who are skeptical and cynical  about its outcome. 

With so many humdrum of GNH in the air, I believe that this topic even has a profound  impact on my family too. For this matter, my family to me is like a nation where my wife, my 3 daughters and my granny are the subjects. I am the government in myself and so I make policies  and take decisions that  have lasting impact on my family, -the nation. In other words, my family is in itself a micro nation with its ultimate goal as 'happiness'

With what ever limited income I earn, I make sure that they are all well fed three times a day. Breakfast with bread and jam for my daughters and rice with suja and ezay for my wife and granny. There are times when they wanted to go out for lunch and dinner but I convince them that food we cook ourselves and eat at home home are actually tastier than those we get in the market. I also make sure that budget appropriated for a said period lasts enough till  the next appropriation period. 

Mine is but a very frugal family and I bother least about latest fashions and latest arrivals in the departmental stores. Wanting things in the name of fashion and wealth are something that is not included in my procurement manual. Having said that it doesn't mean that I don't buy for my family and wear myself. I do but enough to keep us all  warm and  tidy.  Perhaps that why my family doesn't need a shoe rag and a additional wardrobes.

Occasionally when there are guests coming to my place, I welcome them with utmost Bhutanese hospitality. I offer them a decent food that will satisfy their hunger. I also offer them local alcohol to mark our tradition and  in return if they offer doma, I wouldn't deny even though it messes my dust bin and sometimes my entire room with the spit. I may not have AC rooms with sophisticated restrooms but I offer them enough blankets and mattress keep them warm. 

During cold wintry days, I make sure that bukhari burns enough wood to keep us warm and that the limited wood stock lasts for the entire cold season. I am doing it more in the interest of my cost cutting rather than my concern over natural environment but I presume it has a double impact. In similar manner I only use enough and perhaps limited detergents to wash messy garments of my 3 growing kids to (again) reduce my cost, not out of my love and compassion for aquatic lives but  again .

Back in my office, I do what I am best at,-impose tax, detain goods, impose fines, confiscate goods and make people unhappy (most of the time) and do some blogging in between. Its a place where I meet old friends and make new foes. Its also a place  where I get called for favor or facilitation. Finally its a place from where I go back home, -happy, sad, frustrated, pissed off, satisfied, rewarded, disgraced, elated and contended.

Until it is next morning, GNH for me is all about about preparing dinner for my family, bathing my kids and doing loads of laundry and offering butter lamp in my Choesham.  Its about planning what to cook for my daughter's  pack lunch the next morning. Later, Its also about taking my kids to sleep with my stories -stories that would rather frighten them and keep them awake till midnight. When my TV addicted granny resigns a day to her bed, I too go to my bed with a voluminous book titled 'Gross National Happiness and Development' published by Center for Bhutan Studies, because even in my half sleep, I feel its worthy of learning what gross national happiness is as a Bhutanese man, So that in my dream, I can compare Gross National Happiness to Gross Family Happiness I know of.

Suja means traditional Bhutanese/Tibetan tea prepared out of butter and local tealeaves. It tastes more like soup
Ezay means minced chilli mixed with onion and tomato. sometimes ingredients like ginger and peeper are also added to increase the flavor
Doma is a bittlenut which Bhutanese people eat up along with lime and some kind of leaf (I dont know what that leaf is called in English). the spit looks very red and at times disgusting.
Bukhari is a metal oven in which wood is burnt to keep the room heated and warm
Choesham means a place of worship for Buddhist.


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  2. I would like to write about this and will link to your article. Do you know others who have written on this about family life?


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