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Vocabulary

Gross National Happiness

It is a widely held myth that material prosperity makes people happy. In fact, a key factor that dictates happiness is social relationships. People who rate themselves as happy tend to have regular and supportive engagement with family and friends. They also feel their work is valuable and relevant. Likewise, their personal situation is important: whether they are satisfied with themselves, their progress toward their personal goals, and their religious or spiritual life.

Med Yones, president of the International Institute of Management, developed a seven-category scale that measures a nation's mental and emotional health. Taken together, the categories can be seen as an overall indication of a country's happiness:

1. Economic satisfaction: income, debt, savings
2. Environmental satisfaction: pollution, noise, traffic
3. Physical health: severe illnesses, access to clinics and drugstores
4. Mental health: positive outlook, self-esteem
5. Workplace satisfaction: unemployment, job satisfaction, motivation, workplace complaints
6. Social satisfaction (including family and relationship satisfaction): domestic disputes, divorce rates, social discrimination, crime rates
7. Political satisfaction: quality of local democracy, individual freedom, foreign conflicts

One country, Bhutan, has tried to balance the economic and social aspects of happiness in a unique way. Instead of pursuing success
solely in terms of economic criteria, such as the Gross National Product (an economic measure), Bhutan has established what's known as Gross National Happiness (GNH) as its central national ambition. The idea is to foster both material and spiritual development so that they both grow hand-in-hand. Bhutan is committed to building an economy that preserves its culture, which is founded on Buddhist spiritual values. GNH is realized through four principles: sustainable development of the economy (that is, economic growth that can be continued), preservation of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and effective government.

Bhutan's decision to make its citizens' happiness a priority seems to have had positive results. Even though it ranks quite low in personal income (124th in the world), it ranks much higher in happiness ratings. A 2005 survey revealed that nearly all Bhutanese reported being either very happy (45 percent) or happy (52 percent), while only 3 percent reported being unhappy. In 2006, Business Week magazine ranked Bhutan as the 8th happiest country in the world, and the happiest in Asia. This is far better than many countries with vastly greater wealth, such as the United States (2Jrd), the United Kingdom (41st), France (62nd), and Japan (90th).

Furthermore, this happiness appears not to have come at the expense of the environment. The Happy Planet Index, a combined measure of human well-being and the environmental cost of supporting that well-being, ranked Bhutan 17th out of 143 countries. This shows that supporting its happiness does not require spoiling its natural resources.

So how has Bhutan has been able to pursue its unusual GNH? Because it is a small, rural country in the Himalayan Mountains, it is able to sustain traditions at the same time it is developing. For example, people entering hospitals with no acute health problems can choose between Western or traditional medicine. However, modern technology, such as TV, video shops, and the Internet, is now becoming more common in the country. This creates challenges for a GNH approach, which has found success by prioritizing national identity and culture. On the one hand, such technological exposure might let in outside values and vices. For example, it might raise expectations for material goods from outside Bhutan that are not readily available. On the other hand, the Internet and e-mail would undoubtedly offer better communication in a country where mountainous terrain makes travel difficult.

It will be interesting to see how Bhutan tackles the problems of integrating with the wider world while also pursuing its unique "happiness" approach to government. It is certainly a social experiment that we all hope will flourish as an example of an alternative vision of what is important in life.


KeyWords
prosperity
the state of being successful and having a lot of money:
A country's future prosperity depends, to an extent, upon the quality of education of its people.

dictate
to influence something or make it necessary:
[+ that] I wanted to take a year off, but my financial situation dictated that I got a job.

engagement 
an arrangement to meet someone or do something at a particular time:
a dinner engagement

relevant
connected with what is happening or being discussed:
Education should be relevant to the child's needs.
For further information, please refer to the relevant leaflet.
NOTE: The opposite is irrelevant.

pollution
damage caused to water, air, etc. by harmful substances or waste:
air/water pollution

clinic
a building, often part of a hospital, to which people can go for medical care or advice:
Bring your baby to the clinic and we'll take a look at her.
Antenatal clinics provide care for pregnant women.

antenatal (=US prenatal)
happening or existing before birth:
antenatal care/classes
the antenatal clinic

outlook
the likely future situation:
The outlook for the economy is bleak.
The outlook for today is cloudy and dry at first with showers later.

dispute
an argument or disagreement, especially an official one between, for example, workers and employers or two bordering countries:
a border dispute
The unions are in dispute with management over pay.

divorce
when a marriage is ended by an official or legal process:
The last I heard they were getting a divorce.
Divorce is on the increase.
Ellie wants a divorce.
What are the chances of a marriage ending in divorce?

discriminate
to treat a person or a particular group of people differently, especially in a worse way from the way in which you treat other people, because of their skin colour, religion, sex, etc:
She felt she had been discriminated against because of her age.

discrimination /dɪˌskrɪm.ɪˈneɪ.ʃən/
noun [U]
racial/sex discrimination
Until 1986 most companies would not even allow women to take the examinations, but such blatant discrimination is now disappearing.

pursue
If you pursue a plan, activity or situation, you try to do it or achieve it, usually over a long period of time:
He decided to pursue a career in television.
Michael Evans is leaving the company to pursue his own business interests.
She is ruthless in pursuing her goals.

ruthless
without thinking or caring about any pain caused to others; cruel:
a ruthless dictator
Some people believe that to succeed in this world you have to be ruthless.

gross 
total:
A person's gross income is the money they earn before tax is deducted from it.
She earns £30, 000 a year gross.

ambition
a strong desire for success, achievement, power or wealth:
She's got a lot of ambition.

foster
to encourage the development or growth of ideas or feelings:
I'm trying to foster an interest in classical music in my children.
They were discussing the best way to foster democracy and prosperity in the former communist countries.

preserve
to keep something as it is, especially in order to prevent it from being damaged or destroyed; to conserve:
to preserve the environment
We want to preserve the character of the town while improving the facilities.
The agreement preserved our right to limit trade in endangered species.

conserve
to keep and protect something from damage, change or waste:
To conserve electricity, we are cutting down on our central heating.
The nationalists are very keen to conserve their customs and language.
I'm not being lazy - I'm just conserving my energy/strength for later.

found
to bring something into existence:
We are planning a dinner to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the company.

priority
something that is very important and must be dealt with before other things:
The management did not seem to consider office safety to be a priority.
My first/top priority is to find somewhere to live.

vast
adjective
extremely big:
A vast audience watched the broadcast.
The amount of detail the book contains is vast.

planet
an extremely large round mass of rock and metal, such as Earth, or of gas, such as Jupiter, which moves in a circular path around the Sun or another star:
the planet Earth/Venus

spoil
to destroy or reduce the pleasure, interest or beauty of something:
He tried not to let the bad news spoil his evening.
The oil spill has spoilt the whole beautiful coastline.

rural
adjective
in, of or like the countryside:
The area is still very rural and undeveloped.
NOTE: The opposite is urban.

acute
an acute pain or illness is one that quickly becomes very severe:
acute abdominal pains
an acute attack of appendicitis

exposure
when someone experiences something or is affected by it because they are in a particular situation or place:
You should always limit your exposure to the sun.
Even a brief exposure to radiation is very dangerous.

vice
illegal and immoral activities, especially involving illegal sex, drugs, etc:
The chief of police said that he was committed to wiping out vice in the city.

terrain
an area of land, when considering its natural features:
The car handles particularly well on rough terrain.

tackle
to try to deal with something or someone:
There are many ways of tackling this problem.
I tackled him about his careless work and frequent absences.

flourish
to grow or develop successfully:
My tomatoes are flourishing this summer - it must be the warm weather.
Watercolour painting began to flourish in Britain around 1750.
VOCABULARY

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 Reference: Focus on Vocabulary
 Fov 01 – C01U03

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