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Bhutan’s King Weds


The tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan hit the news October 13 as it’s King, Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, took his commoner bride’s hand in marriage.

Five years after the 31-year-old bachelor became king, and his nation grew impatient, a traditional ceremony was held with just royal family and government officials present. The rest watched via television according to Today at MSNBC.

The mountainous country is interesting for it’s belief in a Gross National Happiness (GNH) system rather than a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) system like all other countries. The GNH was a system established by current King Wangchuck’s father as he believed economic growth and happiness were not connected. According to an article in TIME in 2005, the GNH has four pillars:

  • Economic self-reliance;
  • A pristine environment;
  • The preservation and promotion of Bhutan’s culture;
  • And good governance in the form of a democracy.

This GNH system is similar to the Life Supportive Index (LSI) of American Indians. John Mohawk, in the book Thinking in Indian, A John Mohawk Reader is quoted discussing what the LSI is. He refers to it as a means to calculate actions based on centuries and generations and to think about the cost of burning coal for power in terms of resource depletion.

Both systems put a strong emphasis on their environments as well as cultures and always thinking about the two before doing any projects. A belief in monetary value at the cost of environmental destruction or cultural depletion is not what they are about.