Bhutan, also known as the last Shangri-La on earth, is a truly majestic, serene, beautiful country nestled between 2 giants China and India. I have been fortunate enough to go there multiple times albeit on work and hence, wasn’t able to completely soak in the exquisiteness of this place.
My article is based on my interactions with the locals and my observations about the country. It was indeed providential for me to run into some interesting people during my visits to Thimpu wherein I gained some profound insights into the lifestyle of people, their thought processes, government’s policies and in general people’s attitude towards life.
First and foremost, people are satisfied and contented with their lives in Bhutan. They prefer living a life which is closer to their roots, less materialistic yet more fulfilling rather than being part of senseless rat race in the name of development which will lead to a vicious circle of greed, disregard for environment & people etc.
It was so heartening to note that these decision makers are actually implementing the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) in its spirit. For them, the happiness of their countrymen and the natural bounty that has been bestowed on them is so critical for a sustainable future that they wouldn’t be swayed by the lure of lucre that comes with a lot of developmental pitches. As per law 60% of the land must always be under forest cover. This attitude has percolated to the general populace. No wonder Bhutan is the only carbon negative country in the world and continues to always remain one.
Where else would you have 108,000 trees planted in the honour of birth of Bhutan’s prince? At other places such an event would lead of extravagant celebrations.
Bhutanese people believe in imbibing good practices from across, contextualizing those for Bhutan and never stop learning. A lot of senior bureaucrats, top executives in Bhutan have impressive educational credentials, still a majority of them return to their homeland to meaningfully contribute towards the development of Bhutan. Though they are worried about the future generation and potential brain drain, they are constantly working hard towards evolving the educational infrastructure of the country.
One instance adequately summarizes why Bhutan remains one of the happiest nations in the world.
During one of the conversations with one of the youth, I asked him that despite having impressive degrees and means why did he leave a promising career overseas to come back to Bhutan. He replied, “While I was pursuing my engineering and MBA abroad I realized that there is so much competition to outperform others. This is especially true for you Indians. Indians in my batch always used to work so hard, vying for top grades, over enthusiastic participation in lectures etc. I realized that people have forgotten how to live and are only concerned about survival. I cannot live in a world like that. I am fine with earning 1/10th of what I could potentially earn elsewhere but I know here I am closer to my family, I can work to make things better for Bhutan howsoever small it may be. I feel contented.”
This sentiment was echoed by a lot many people there. It is a bit difficult to grasp the essence in the beginning considering it is such a simple country without all the razzmatazz of the big city life that a lot of us are used to, but gradually you realize that a blissful living is all about enjoying small pleasures of life.
Tashi Delek Bhutan for all your warmth and teaching the world that money can’t buy you happiness!
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" Travel made me rich and free. Magic and miracles are true , once you wander on the roads to places different and divine. Sharing you all those memories and stories , and wishing you all , that someday you guys travel far and wide too. I am not a great writer , so ignore my grammar and spellings, read it with feelings, and you might just be affected with the wanderlust "