While the developing world is torn by crises and wars, the vast majority of earthlings are struggling to survive in a world that has derailed complete from normality, somewhere, up on the mountain slopes reaching the sky, live the happy subjects of Dragon-King, from Thunder- Dragon Kingdom. No, it is not the beginning of a story…
The Bhutan Kingdom is one of the most mysterious places on Earth. It is a small kingdom located between India and China, on the southern slope of the great Himalayan Massive.
Depending on the altitude, Bhutan has several climatic areas – from mountain to subtropical. Bhutanese call their kingdom Druk Youl or Druk Cenden (land of the dragon that rules the thunder).
For many millennia in a row, the country has been perfectly isolated from the outside world by the Himalayan mountains, which allowed the preservation of an authentic, unique and fascinating culture. The official Bhutan religion is tantric Buddhism.
Ministry of Happiness and Gross National Happiness
The Bhutan Government considered absurd to base the assessment of the population’s welfare on irrelevant indicators such as GDP (gross domestic product). So they invented another indicator – Gross National Happiness. It was legislated by Article 9 of the Bhutan Constitution, which states the following:
“The main purpose of the Government’s activity is for every citizen of this country to achieve happiness”! The whole national development strategy is based, if you can believe this, on the Gross National Happiness! So a new ministry was founded – The Ministry of Happiness.
The Ministry of Happiness has organized several international conferences, where leading specialists from the West were invited (including several Nobel economics laureates) in order to develop efficient strategies and methods to evaluate the indicator of The National Happiness, a result of the country’s economic situation and the population’s well-being. One of the key terms in this formula is … the smile frequency!
The concept of Gross National Happiness has often been explained by its 4 pillars: sustainable socio-economic development, good governance, environmental conservation, and cultural preservation.
Lately, the 4 pillars have been further classified into 9 domains, which are: health, psychological well-being, time use, education, cultural diversity and resilience, community vitality, good governance, ecological diversity and resilience, and living standards.
”Are you happy?”
The question “Are you happy?” is addressed to all citizens during the official population census. During the last census in 2015, 8.4% of Bhutans replied “deeply happy”, 35% “extensively happy”, 47.9% “narrowly happy” and only 8.8% “unhappy”.
What other “strangeness” exists in the Thunder-Dragon Kingdom?
Traditions are well enshrined.
Bhutan protects its millenary traditions inherited from their ancestors. For this reason, the country restricted tourism and mountain climbing. Until recently, in order to get a visa, a person had to be personally invited by a member of the royal family. Visiting outside the capital is possible only in organized groups and only with an official guide.
Television was founded only in 1999, thus being the only country on Earth that didn’t have a TV station at that time.
The first newspaper was founded in 2012.
Bhutan has only one psychiatrist.
There is no hunger or crime and practically no corruption.
Animal killing is prohibited. Most people from Bhutan are vegetarians. For those who eat meat, it is imported from India.
Bhutan citizens are required by law to have a national costume.
Law as a profession is forbidden in Bhutan. A special royal decree states: “People who are able to turn black into white and white into black are not allowed in the courtroom!”
Bhutan’s King is the youngest monarch in the world (he was born in 1980) and is highly loved and respected among subjects, and outside the kingdom. After his marriage to a beautiful daughter of an aviator (the main criterion was love, not the noble blood), the national happiness index has increased.
His Highness is very concerned about the health of his people – Bhutan is the first country in the world where smoking was banned everywhere.
There is little activity in the heavy industry field, since the Government takes great care of the environment within the kingdom. More than half of its territory is declared National Park, where hunting is prohibited, as well as deforestation.
The importation of fertilizers is forbidden. Everything growing in Bhutan is organic.
You may wonder what is the country’s welfare based on? 80% of the population practices organic farming and textile production, most of which manufactured. Exports of rice and organic fruits, and electricity produced by the country’s hydropower successfully sustain the economy.
People live in large homes, with 2-3 levels, scattered through ravines and on slopes. The peaks are home for over 200 monasteries, built by the Tibetan King himself in the seventh century. The towns are small. The largest is the capital Thimphu, with 40 thousand inhabitants.
The few Westerners who visited the Dragon Kingdom were amazed of how everything around inspires harmony and peace: a merciful peasant that bandages with care the wing of a wounded raven, the only traffic police of the capital, who gets bored on the job, dog owners that groom their pets every morning with gratitude, because they protected them from evil spirits during the night, monks’ chanting and friendly faces of people on the streets.
This is the Thunder Dragon Kingdom built under the clouds, where happiness is at home. Sounds like a paradise, or … a science fiction movie … doesn’t it?
Here is a documentary trailer about Bhutan.