Art of money making is not an art of living (GDP vs. GNH)

Tuesday, 8 September 2020 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Raveendra Kariyawasam 

The world faces a main huge crisis now, such as economic crisis, ecological crisis and the social crisis. The world has passed a lot of ecological crisis both natural and manmade. Why do people destroy nature?  

There is a main reason that could be found for environmental destructions in the world. The world thinking pattern focuses on increasing economic value and taking care of economic goods. That is the main focus of every State and many of people that live in the world.  

Since 500 years, knowledge produces to protect the economy and their patterns. William Petty introduced Gross Domestic product (GDP) to measure economic value as a need of the King of England in 1660.

GDP is the total monetary or market value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period. As a broad measure of overall domestic production, it functions as a comprehensive scorecard of a given country’s economic health.

After Bretton Woods Agreements in 1944, world concerns GDP is the best indicator to measure development in a country. If any country has a higher GDP rate that is concern as a developed country.  Other states are under development or poor countries. 

But GDP has many problems on its measurement. For example, if some people or community grow their foods and eat it themselves without buying any food in the market, due to that activity or other self-sustain activities, services cannot be measured by GDP.

GDP consider self-sustainable communities and states as poor. If any communities want to be developing according to GDP, the community has to give up self-sustainable activities and join the market economy.

Indicators determine policies. The almost universal use of GDP-based indicators to measure progress has helped justify policies around the world that are based on rapid material progress at the expenses of environmental preservation, cultures, and community cohesion.

Economic development could not sustain the natural world. That is the main debate that we have after COVID-19. With the lockdown, lots of people in Western countries start to talk about the value of human health and happiness. As Buddha said: “Aroghya Parama Labha Santushtti paraman Dhanan” which means ‘good health condition is our profit and happiness is our uncountable capital’.  

We knew that money couldn’t bring healthy life for the people and it could not bring real happiness for the society.  That’s why we are in trouble as a global village.  People create fear for every animal, plant. They destroy every water shades and jungle. They destroy natural mountains and create garbage Mountains. No one feel safe about the future.

That is the reason why we need an art for living “which can bring happiness, health and safety for the world, animals, trees and human beings”.

The Royal Government of Bhutan adopted the Gross National happiness (GNH) index in November 2008.  GNH has four pillars: the promotion of equitable and sustainable socioeconomic development, preservation and promotion of cultural values and conservation of the natural environment, and the establishment of good governance.

The GNH indicators have been designed to include nine core dimensions that are regarded as components of happiness and wellbeing in Bhutan, and are constructed of indicators which are robust and informative with respect to each of the dimensions. 

The nine dimensions were selected on normative grounds, and are equally weighted, because each dimension is considered to be relatively equal in terms of equal intrinsic importance as a component of gross national happiness. Within each dimension, several indicators were selected that seemed likely to remain informative across time, had high response rates, and were relatively uncorrelated. The nine dimensions are:

  • Psychological wellbeing
  • Time use
  • Community vitality
  • Culture
  • Health
  • Education
  • Environmental diversity
  • Living standard
  • Governance

In this perspective, happiness comprises having sufficient achievements in each of the nine dimensions.  Royal Government of Bhutan has 60% of natural forest cover out of total land area of the country. King promised not to destroy the forest cover of the country and protect its rich biodiversity for sustain not only the country but also the global village in this planet earth.

Not only Royal Bhutan, many indigenous communities try to protect their traditional way of living with mother earth. Because they know that real happiness, which can protect the animals, trees, rivers and ecosystems with the people. We need a holistic way of thinking and living to protect our society and natural world. Now we are late but not too late for an art of living.