What can India Learn from Bhutan

By Fr Victor Ferrao
18 June 2014 12:09 IST

The first international visit of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bhutan can be a great blessing if our development driven leader becomes a willing student. The tiny nation has a big lesson to teach a development hungry nation. Bhutan measures growth and development by gauzing its citizens happiness level and not merely by calculating the gross domestic  product (GDP) as we blindly do in our country.  It is said that since 1971, Bhutan has rejected radically western and entirely stained with the colonial past the GDP model of assessing progress and in its place it has championed the indigenous and authentically oriental model of measuring development that envisions prosperity through the principle of Gross National Happiness (GNH) which is inclusive of the spiritual, physical, social and the environmental health of its citizens as well as the natural  environment. In a world driven by the engine of economic growth as the model of growth and development, a tiny nation has drawn great interest as the nations of the world are bracing to face the perils of climate change  and financial collapse  directly resulting  from the capitalist and materialist models of growth and development.

Will our Prime Minister care to learn about the holistic and integral approach to development? Having put human dignity and environmental protection and sustainability at the center of   political agenda, Bhutan has emerged as the happiest nation among several countries that simply boast of economic wellbeing while being plagued by decreasing life expectancy, malnutrition of children and women, lack of adequate educational as well as health infrastructure and ever increasing polluting emissions. That is why a Prime minister who is a development mascot cannot be inattentive to the lessons that Bhutan has to teach India. If Prime Minister Modi is sincere about his mantra  ‘B for B’ (Bharat for Bhutan and Bhutan for Bharat) , he is definitely challenged to import the Bhutan model of prosperity that has the power to actualize his promise of ‘achche din’.  We cannot promote the welfare of our people by a development that is un-inclusive, unleveled and detrimental to the happiness of our people. Mere promotion of investment and corporatization of our country will not bring it on the path of holistic development. The Corporates that prey on the resources of our people like water, land and minerals etc, only promote hierarchical and lopsided model of development. Hence, true model of development is the one that endeavors to make life livable for all and livable life certainly promotes collective as well as individual happiness of a society.      

Bhutan’s gross national happiness index that bases itself upon equitable social development, cultural preservation, conservation of the environment and promotion of good governance has lots to teach us in India. Although good governance has been the mantra of our Prime Minister, there is lot to be done at the front of  social development that embeds the poison of casteism and religious intolerance. We need sincere measures to check the impact of the monolithic cultural monism like Hindutva  that appears to be suicidal to the cultural plurality of our nation. Moreover, the capitalist driven development has always been against the poor and the environment, it will be a huge  challenge to the new Government how to promote inclusive good of the, poor, the  rich and the aspirational middle class. That is why  I feel  the vision of development of our country  envisioned by the new Government will certainly be enriched by the Bhutanese model. Hence, the first visit of a Prime Minister who has taken development of all as his main mission cannot  miss the all important and unique  GNH ( gross national happiness) model of Bhutan.

The Bhutan visit of our Prime minister is a worthy reminder for every one of us to focus on living a fulfilled, contented and happy life. Perhaps it is both noble and worthy to make the pursuit of happiness in its integral sense a national movement in  our  country. Development that only brings economic wellbeing is double edged sword. It cannot produce a happy nation but will only drive us to put all our energies into competitive growth that can only lead to a stressed, tired, dissatisfied and even a depressed nation.  Hence, it is for every one especially the government to promote the conditions that will bring about a livable life that will in its turn translate into happiness for all. A happy nation is  indeed a progressive nation and unhappy nation despite of its high economic growth cannot promote wellbeing of all. Our Prime Minister has already presented a vision of igniting all Indians towards an unwavering commitment to national growth. True growth will occur only when every Indian regardless of his caste and creed lives a happy and contended life. Will the Prime Minister Modi take our country to happy and contented life or will he take us on the path of aping of the West. Will the development as promoted by the present regime lead us to aspire to live a life with white mind in our brown bodies? Do we have the courage to de-colonize our colonial, imperial and western Model of development? Can the   nationalist in Prime Minister Modi do it ? 

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

Blogger's Profile

Fr Victor Ferrao

Fr. Victor Ferrao is a Dean of Philosophy and teaches at Rachol Seminary in Salcete taluka of Goa. He has done his Phd in Philosophy of Science. He writes often on socio-political scenario.

Drop a comment

Enter The Code Displayed hereRefresh Image

Previous Comments

Apparently you are church guy. You admonish Hindus but don't care to say a word about organized religions such as yourself that instructs its people every step of the way even on mundane things like whom to vote for and not let those minds develop and think for themselves with a free mind that could allow them to enjoy the happiness that you extol in your Bhutan happiness recipe. Is it OK for you to have your church interfere in each and every day to day activity of its followers? Even the Pope is against it.

- Ramakant, Goa | 18 th June 2014 20:21


Related Blogs