Who is the President of Bhutan

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Bhutan was the first country to develop a new measure for measuring growth and prosperity, which is intended to replace the global GDP or GNP with all its borders. Why this new measuring instrument?

It is becoming increasingly clear that the development model guided by quantitative growth has failed. This insight is no longer limited to a few niches in society or a few countries, but has to prevail worldwide because the survival of humanity depends on it. The many crises in the global economy in recent years clearly show that we must make sustainability the new basic criterion for our political action.

You recently wrote: "Material well-being is only one part of our happiness that does not say anything about whether someone lives in harmony with the environment and in harmony with others." What is the impact of your concept of gross social happiness on politics in the Kingdom of Bhutan?

In the development of our country we are guided by the four cornerstones of gross social happiness: protection of the environment, preservation of our cultural values, economic and social development that includes all, and good government. 1 This is expressed, for example, in the high priority given to spending on social policy, which in the last three five-year plans comprised more than 30 percent of the state budget. Health and education are largely free for the citizens of Bhutan. The forests are under protection and cover over 70 percent of the country's area. For politics, the application of gross social happiness means that our government must measure every political decision against this standard. The common good of all Bhutanese citizens is crucial, not just for the generations alive today, but also for future generations.

Jigmi Yoser Thinley (born 1952 in Bumthang) is the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Bhutan. He was previously foreign minister. Minister of the Interior and Culture. Thinley attended St. Stephen's College, New Delhi University, and earned a Masters in Public Administration from Pennsylvania State University. He also chairs Bhutan's National Environmental Protection Commission and the Wangchuk Ugyen Institute for Environmental Protection (UWICE). He is President of the Maha Bodhi Society of India and has received various international awards such as the "HR Strategic and Iconic Leader Award" at the World HRD Congress 2010 in Mumbai. As part of the SAARC summit in Thimphu at the end of April 2010, Thinley from Sri Lanka took over the chairmanship of the SAARC. Photo: www.cabinet.gov.bt

How can you measure happiness?

We regularly ask our citizens about their happiness and have determined nine areas of life about which a person should express their satisfaction:
1) Income and job security
2) apartment
3) education
4) State of the environment
5) Cultural diversity and participation in culture
6) Liveliness of the community
7) Availability and setting currently
8) Mental and Psychological Wellbeing
9) The good government
These nine areas are in turn divided into 72 sub-areas. When we conduct research into happiness in Bhutan, we ask questions about these 72 areas. This set of indicators is not yet complete, but we are developing it further. All public programs and larger projects are examined for their effects on these areas. If they cannot be reconciled, they have to be discussed again and revised in Parliament. In the last study in Bhutan we finally asked the question: "Are you happy?" 52 percent answered: "Yes, I am happy", 45 percent said: "I am very happy", while 3 percent said that they were "not so happy".

Can this multidimensional concept of prosperity be transferred to other societies?

Sure, these areas are common to all people and communities. The inclusion of the cultural community and psychological condition is also very important. If we include karma as a component of prosperity, this in turn is poorly transferable to Western societies. You then have to adapt these 72 areas to the respective cultural context. However, it must be emphasized that not all persons need to achieve maximum happiness in all of these 72 areas. An acceptable level is enough. Our measure of prosperity differs from the classic concept of maximizing utility in Western social sciences in this respect too.

Are these 9 dimensions aggregated to form a prosperity index from them and to enable country comparisons in the near future?

No. This information cannot be summed up in a single number as a wealth index. The complexity of this measurement cannot be reduced to a single number, even if this is often required in the media society.

Your country held democratic elections for the first time in 2008 and adopted a new constitution. It is solemnly declared in Art. 5: "Every citizen has the duty to preserve Bhutan's rich biodiversity and to avoid any form of ecological damage." How do you do this?

Our constitution forms the basis for Bhutan's transition to a fully democratic system of government. The rights and responsibilities of all citizens of our country are laid down in it, as are the principles of the political system of our country. Incidentally, the drafting of our constitution was an open process that involved the whole of society. A commission with representatives from all areas of our society first made a proposal. This has been published on the Kingdom's website, and any citizen in the country and abroad could register and propose amendments. In addition, printed versions of the draft constitution in Dzongkha and English have been distributed to every corner of our country. The king or the then crown prince held town meetings in each district to gather opinions and comments. After this broad consultation process, our constitution was finally adopted in July 2008.

Its two large neighbors, India and China, are growing at unbelievable rates, while other Asian countries are also growing far above the GDP growth of European and North American countries. How can this growth be reconciled with combating climate change?

It is absolutely clear that any economic growth that involves the depletion of natural resources is unsustainable. Therefore the problem is not how to reconcile the high growth of the Asian "tiger states" with the fight against climate change. There is no choice here. Rather, the question arises as to how these countries and all other economies can shape growth in an environmentally sustainable manner. This corresponds to the UN resolution of the last General Assembly in 2009 under the motto "Powering Green Growth, Protecting the Planet". That is the real challenge that we have to face and in this regard we have to explore all possible avenues. We must commit to using more environmentally friendly technology. The industrialized countries must help the developing countries to adapt their economies to these guidelines and to avoid the negative effects of economic growth.

What rights to information do the citizens of Bhutan have?

When it comes to information, Bhutan is still a developing country. We cannot be satisfied with what we currently have. But according to the constitution, the free media are the 4th state authority in our system. They enjoy independence, the state must not interfere. However, you also have a great responsibility to provide correct information. The number of media in Bhutan is constantly increasing: there are 6 daily newspapers, several radio stations, unfortunately only one TV station so far. Access to the internet is free and uncensored. There are no media controls in Bhutan.

Bhutan is alleged to have displaced over 100,000 of its ethnic Nepali citizens. What is the idea of ​​happiness for the refugees? What is Bhutan's policy towards refugees, both former citizens and so-called illegals?

Bhutan has always taken in refugees. For example, we have taken in countless Tibetans who have refugee status but enjoy all the rights of the country. Bhutan has also taken in refugees from Nepal, environmental refugees, economic refugees and political refugees. We have integrated these different types of refugees with us, so that today over 20 percent of the population are Nepali who enjoy all civil rights. In the past few decades, Nepal has not protected its environment in such a way that many people have had to migrate due to poverty and increasingly poor environmental conditions. Many of these refugees came to Bhutan because it is a safe place, a country with many opportunities that has attracted illegal immigrants. Bhutan and Nepal are trying to find a joint solution to this problem. Eight western countries have agreed to take in these stateless refugees.

Bhutan recently hosted the SAARC Summit for the first time. What are the results of this meeting?

Although we are a founding member of SAARC we have hosted such a summit for the first time. At these summits, the aim is always to create a good climate for discussion between the leading representatives of the eight nations of South Asia. This spirit of cooperation was reflected in the final declaration, the "Thimpu Silver Jubilee Declaration" entitled "For a Happy and Green South Asia". 2 This reaffirms the will to cooperate in the region. The focus of the summit was climate change. All member states have agreed to formulate a common position for the 16th post-Kyoto conference in Mexico at the end of November. This is of paramount importance because it is the SAARC has succeeded in finding a unified position in the fight against climate change and in pursuing a common line in the negotiations. We want to create a joint road map for better cooperation within South Asia in this area. To this end, we signed a convention on cooperation in environmental policy in Thimphu.

What else did the SAARC summit achieve?

We have signed another regional agreement on the free movement of services, namely this "Trade in Service"which complements our agreements on the free movement of goods. In addition, the conditions have been created for the SAARC development fund 3 can actually start his activity. The fund will finance both international and sub-government development projects. Finally, we have set another milestone, namely next August the South Asian University opened in New Delhi and developed as a top training location for all of South Asia.


[1] In the original: "good governance"

[2] Originally: "Towards a green and happy South Asia"

[3] Originally: SDF, SAARC Development Fund