Meghalaya in India’s northeast wants to replicate Bhutan’s model of Gross National Happiness as an index of the state’s well-being, says Chief Minister Mukul Sangma.
“We will follow Bhutan’s happiness theory and we need to focus on how to bring down the frustration level of people through new economic models and bring about happiness for the overall well-being of our people,” Sangma told IANS in an interview.
“The well-being of the people should be the focus area of our state’s planners,” Sangma said.
Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness is a policy framed by former monarch Jigme Singye Wangchuck in his reign to try to reflect the true quality of life in a more holistic manner.
Bhutan’s happiness policy seems to have reaped the desired results – 72 percent of the country is still forested, healthcare is free and a study conducted by the University of Leicester in Britain ranks Bhutan as the planet’s eighth happiest place, ahead of the US and Canada.
Gross domestic product (GDP) figures only account for goods and services that pass through the formal markets.
As of now, Sangma said, the economic growth of Meghalaya focuses upon asset creation in terms of infrastructure development.
“Merely developing roads and other infrastructure would not help unless these are cared for with a sense of belonging and ownership. Therefore, state infrastructure needs to be given a healing touch periodically with a sense of belonging,” Sangma said.
“Moreover, the emphasis must be on developing human resources and environment protection.”
He said focus must be shifted to the use of renewable from non-renewable resources. “To help protect the environment, the burden on non-renewable resource exploitation should cease,” Sangma said.
Concerned over the high unemployment in the state, the chief minister said, “One of the reasons for it is many youths are in fact unemployable due to poor skill and knowledge base.
“There is a huge deficit in skill and knowledge and therefore the problem of unemployability in the state has risen, and we (government) would give more emphasis on non-vocational training at the school and college level so that youths can be job providers instead of job seekers,” he said.
(Raymond Raplang Kharmujai can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)