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