(NaturalNews) Officials in the growing country of Bhutan in southern Asia have found that in the pursuit of economic development, people and society lose their culture, environment, and their social systems leading to significant problems. Bhutan has said, "That is not enough," to this way of life according to Dasho Kinley Dorji, Ministry of Information and Communication. In an interview in the documentary "Happy," Dorji states that "GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is not enough. Humanity needs a higher goal for development and that is Gross National Happiness (GNH). We believe that this contentment, this happiness, lies within the 'self' and there is no external source. A faster car, a bigger house, more fashionable clothes are not going to give you that contentment. They might give you fleeting pleasure, but not contentment....Gross National Happiness is important in that it makes us think about what we do; of ourselves as individuals, of society, of the world. To think rationally, think holistically, think spiritually."
Bhutan is an ancient culture secluded high in the Himalayas just south of Tibet. The current population is approximately 750,000 - about the size of San Francisco. With a history dating back 1,400 years, their origin can be traced to tribes from northern Burma and northeast India. This diverse background has created a very eclectic culture. The Bhutanese are a people with unique customs and deeply held beliefs. To keep their traditional culture alive, they wear traditional clothing that has been worn for centuries. Men wear a "gho," a long robe tied around the waist by a small belt called a "kera," and women wear a "kira," a ankle-length dress made from beautiful colors and finely woven fabrics. To protect their sacred traditions, Bhutan has tight restrictions on tourism. Only 64,000 tourists were allowed to visit the country in 2011 and the numbers in the future are not expected to increase. They consider it "safeguarding their treasures." Bhutan is the only country in the world to retain the Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism as its official religion. The Buddhist faith has played a key role in their culture, social and ethical foundation. It permeates every aspect of secular life. The Bhutanese diet is rich in meat and poultry, dairy, rice, and vegetables.
According to Dorji,"Gross National Happiness is the responsibility of the government to create an environment where citizens can pursue happiness." In terms of environment, the law says that 60 percent of Bhutan must always be forest. In terms of culture, their monasteries and schools are preserved and protected from development. Subsequently, the Bhutanese government has established rules of dress, language, and architecture to create this environment.
Bhutan has only recently pursued GNH and time will tell how successful they will be.
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