What is the Happiness Index?

What is the Happiness Index

Gross national happiness index (GNH) is mainly used as a reference for Happiness index. The name GNH was given by Bhutan’s King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck in the year 1972. The dragon king made this decision to represent his commitment to his people in; building a better economy that would value Bhutan’s core beliefs first, instead of the Gross Domestic Product’s material values as measured by the western nations. Many people around the world have been influenced by the GNH philosophy and have led to happiness movement. GNH became an indicator of social and economic condition of a country, due to the efforts made by several scholars around the world. A major decision was made in 2011 in the United Nations, where a resolution was passed with 65 over 309 votes to place Happiness as the measure of global progress and development.

The GNH framework can be differentiated in four different branches that include a balanced and sustainable development, cultural values preservation, environment preservation and just governance. The GNH policy is now fully integrated in the Bhutan’s Five Year Plan and any policy made in the country must pass the GNH ideology which is done by carefully scrutinizing it by GNH impact statement which is on the similar note with the Environmental Impact Assessment done by various countries before approving any major project to see if the project is not harmful for the environment.
Being a refined philosophy having core values, the road to implementing at as an indicator was not so easy one in Bhutan, as the country faced various challenges from both political and international scenarios. The major problem that people raised against the GNH was that it would keep the spiritual and cultural values first over the economy and thus they argued it could destabilize the economy. Stating the theory was an easy job, but giving its mathematical statement was a really tough thing to do. For the GNH philosophy to be accepted by international authorities it had to struggle for almost 30 long years as the economists and policy makers raised doubts about its working structure. Since 2005 few indicators were developed that were able to measure the happiness score of the people by using data such as infant mortality rates.

A famous Israeli newspaper in 2012, advocated the use of GHN philosophy as the Israel’s development index and abandoning the use of conventional GDP which according to them gave incomplete results. In the next year a well-known US congressman with the help of researchers recommended the congress to find alternative indicators for measuring development. According to the report, various types of well-being surveys could be done for various dimensions of people live and the dimension having the least number of votes could be effectively improved. He also reported that the use GNH can also be made along with various other criteria that associate with them. In the year 2012 South Korea adopted Happiness Index has done through GNH theories. After seeing the success of GNH theory many local governments like that of the Government of Goa, India and few states of US have launched similar programs to find the happiness index of people under the guidelines of GNH. The government of Singapore and Dubai has started their own separate programs under the guidance of GNH theory.

Apart from the GNH, another index was developed to measure happiness which goes by the name Happy Planet Index (HPI), HPI takes into account of the well-being and environmental effects as stated by the New Economics Foundation since 2008. The working of HPI is such that it gives better scores for countries that have less environment related problems. According to this theory, the GDP fails to provide the many important factors like humans happiness state, as for most people being happy is the prime concern than being rich. In the ranking released in 2012 for 151 countries, the countries that ranked lowest were Chad and Qatar. Even though the HPI works but it has gained a lot of criticism recently as people said that HPI doesn’t account for the human rights and political freedom. To sum it up, we can say that GNH has worked wonderfully, though people have criticized it but its refined forms give very promising numbers and as far as HPI is considered, it has to upgrade its working structure so as to stop itself from redundancy.

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