Quake: Just as the last panelist, Bhutan Media Foundation’s director, Dawa Penjor, was speaking on Gross National Happiness (GNH) and media, the tremor that occurred around 1pm in Bhutan ended the discussion and sent some 25 participants rushing outside the Phuntsho Pelri hotel in Thimphu.

Some 25 entrepreneurs and representatives from civil service organisations from around the world were discussing the concept of GNH and its application in the wellbeing of individuals yesterday.  The GNH Centre organised the discussion.

One of the panelists, the director of the Royal Thimphu College, Thakur S Powdyel, said that in Bhutan the concept of GNH was crucial.  He said that to be happy was the most fundamental desire of all individuals and that every nation had to have a north star to guide them to development and success. “GNH is our north star,” he said.

Thakur S Powdyel said that education played a key role in acquiring happiness and also in implementing the concept of GNH.  He said that today’s education system was more market oriented where people studied to get a job. “Education ought to have a larger role than that; life is more than just a market,” he said.

Secretary of Ati Foundation, Lama Ngodup Dorji, said happiness was a state of mind and, in a country where the guiding philosophy itself was based on happiness the idea of having a slaughterhouse was irrelevant. “To take a life just because you can isn’t just brutal but also religiously forbidden.”

Executive director of Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy, Pek Dorji, who was also on the panel, said that although GHN today was mostly a “textbook” concept for most youth in the country, the idea had been there for ages. “In simple terms, we just need to figure out the wrong from the right,” she said.

Dawa Penjor, who was speaking on the role of media in respect to the GNH concept, said that media would not always bring out the positives in everything. “In doing so, will this contradict with the GNH philosophy is the question?” he said.

By Younten Tshedup