~ India’s GDP in last 2000 years

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~ Gross National Happiness (GNH) or GDP : Which is better ?


Gross National Happiness (GNH) phrase is first used by a Bhutanese King Jigme Singye Wangchuk in 1972  and since then Bhutan has gave up Gross Domestic Product (GDP) culture. Now Bhutan has become an inspiration to the world with GNP practices where they have invested in principles of spiritual, physical, social health and environment by adopting sustainability.  Results have started showing as citizen’s  life expectancy is doubled in last 20 years and 100% kids are now going to primary schools. Read more here . See official Bhutan Government information on wellbeing & happiness and concepts in GNH  here.

Watch this small clip to understand GNH concept (created by MortenSondergaard.com)


Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is defined as – Total value of goods and services produced over a specific time period. It indicates the “health of country’s economy” . GDP per capita is not an indication of personal income. GDP per capita = Gross Domestic Income (GDI).  There could be no better definition of GDP than by Paul Hawken ‘ At present, we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it GDP’. In context of current economic crisis he further said ‘You can print money to bail out a bank, but you can’t print life out a planet’. Even some expert argue that technically GDP concept is an empty concept!

See some of the observations on GDP and why GDP will probably be a failed culture in long run:

  • Borrowing/loan culture, which many times go beyond person’s or nations’ capacity
  • Frequent economic recession
  • Greed and Selfishness (Materialistic attitude) on rise
  • Earn money by any means (a dangerous trend)
  • Focus on self rather than Community, lack of togetherness in societies, reserve attitude/loneliness
  • All this also affects family life/relationships which may lead to high divorce rates (social issues)
  • High Suicides rates even though GDP is higher in Developed (rich) countries e.g Japan 30000 per year .  Also see suicides rates of different countries
  • GDP Vs Quality of Life , still is not sure?

Gross National Happiness

In short,

High GDP ≠ High Happiness!!

Some economist believe happiness is the ultimate economic indicator rather than GDP  . See also the Economics of happiness .

So, what would be a suitable option for mankind in long run? Can we make a new system combining advantages of both GNH and GDP ? Time to think, discuss, debate and decide!

Related Clips and TED video:

Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness

Gross National Happiness versus GDP – Hon. PM

TED Talk on Gross National Happiness

Session on Gross National Happiness

Gross National Happiness in Bhutan

Gross National Happiness & Tourism

Related interesting reads:

Image credit: “en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bhutan_Gross_National_Happiness.jpg”

Sources: YouTube, TED Talk, Wikipedia, google search and all hyperlinks mentioned in the post.