We are all familiar with GNP – Gross National Product, defined as “the market value of all the goods and services produced in one year by land, labour, capital and enterprise supplied by the citizens of a country”. In other words it means the total income earned in a country plus the income earned by the citizens of that country abroad minus the income earned by non-citizens of that country in the country.
If we leave out the usually small adjustments to be made for the second and the third components in the definition (the plus and the minus), it simply means the welfare or satisfaction that a people of a country derive from its resources.
Gross National Happiness
The precise technical definition of GNP is elegant and amenable for accurate calculation. But as we move from the technical definition to what it means in human terms – welfare that a people derivefrom the resources it is endowed with, there may be many a slip twixt the cup and the lip. As the people use the resources, they may get depleted; what about the future generations ?
Gross National Happiness Index 2013
The present-future trade off. As the resources are used to produce goods and services, the process may also generate certain negativities – environmental degradation, pollution, health hazards, social disruption, etc. The Cost-Benefit trade off.How is this welfare distributed among the people ? The resources belong to all; do all share equally in the welfare that is derived from these resources ?
These are the vital questions that GNP glosses over. Therefore a new metric :Gross National Happiness. The term was coined in early seventies by Bhutan’s fourth Dragon King, JigmeSingyeWangchuck, as a commitment to building an economy that would serve Bhutan’s unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values. The four principal criteria on which GNH is based are sustainable development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment and establishment of good governance. Subsequently many western experts have tried to refine and reinforce the metric, trying to give it the elegance and accuracy that GNP enjoys. But still it is only Bhutan that uses it in practice.