Bhutan's Government: Gross National Happiness, Yes; Sense Of Humor, Not So Much

from the consistency,-please dept

Aside from its spectacular location up in the Himalayas, the Kingdom of Bhutan is probably best known for eschewing measurements of Gross Domestic Product in favor of Gross National Happiness:

Since 1971, the country has rejected GDP as the only way to measure progress. In its place, it has championed a new approach to development, which measures prosperity through formal principles of gross national happiness (GNH) and the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its citizens and natural environment.

Unfortunately, as Global Voices reports, it seems that humor is not included in the GNH:

Rousing suspicions that Bhutan’s government does not appreciate the humor of political satire blog Bhutanomics, the website was blocked on January 12, 2013 from a major internet service provider with no explanation or warning.

In less than one year of existence since launching in March 2012, the group blog has created ripples in Bhutan’s political sphere with a series of satirical report cards for politicians and government officials, and as a popular open platform for anonymous government criticism and political analysis.

Blocks happen all the time, and for various reasons. Here’s why the current one is worrying:

Suspicions of censorship are heightened because Bhutanomics is only inaccessible on Druknet, the main ISP operated by state-owned Bhutan Telecom. It is still accessible through private ISPs like Tashi Cell and Samden.

Political humor is a tricky thing to pull off at the best of times, but it’s especially difficult in a nation like Bhutan trying to preserve its ancient traditions while encouraging its people to embrace modernity in the form of online activity. Let’s hope good sense prevails, and the happiness that humor can spread is added once more to the nation’s store of Gross National Happiness.

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Comments on “Bhutan's Government: Gross National Happiness, Yes; Sense Of Humor, Not So Much”

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Jeroen Hellingman (profile) says:

Gross National Happiness in Bhutan….? Considering the treatment of various minorities, particularly the ethnic Nepalese in this country, I wouldn’t take the “GNH” index of the worlds largest open-air museum that serious. I was glad this country wasn’t mentioned in the previous installment, as it makes a complete mockery of the concept, but I smiled to early.

Anonymous Coward says:

Its very easy to maximize your gross national happiness in an aggressive, violent racist society.. Let one side kill the other and the rating will go through the roof!
Now lets just fuel aggression and violence with violent video games, then stir racist/nationalist feelings in your society. Let loose, and you’ll live in the happiest country in the world (for about one election cycle).

Drukpa says:

It’s sad to see how people starts judging and talking shits about Bhutan and the happenings there without even understanding or trying to understand the truth.
Bhutanomics was given a prior warning before shutting it down.
One can’t expect Bhutan to be perfect overnight but i am proud to say it’s moving towards achievement of ultimate happiness of all. I can see many people here has got a wrong understanding of GNH. Please go and read on GNH before posting and defaming my country.

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