Gross National Happiness

Madeline Drexler’s article “The Happiness Metric” (Fall 2014) on measuring Gross National Happiness in Bhutan, like most articles of its ilk, glossed over the plight of the Hindu (ethnic Nepali) refugees. Most Bhutanese articles do not mention them at all. Ms. Drexler dedicated exactly one paragraph to them. This is woefully inadequate.

As a practicing Buddhist and an English as a Second Language instructor who teaches Bhutanese refugees, I am really troubled to see articles like this, which leave out (or gloss over) the fact that Bhutan has recently been ethnically cleansed. Approximately one-eighth of the population of Bhutan is either in refugee camps in Nepal or spread out across the world, in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, or Europe, exiled from their home for more than two decades. That issue certainly deserves more than a paragraph of coverage.

Gross National Happiness is a catchy name and idea, but perhaps the government of Bhutan could start increasing the Gross National Happiness of the Bhutanese people by letting the refugees return and by compensating them for the loss of their property and two decades of their lives. I wish Buddhist publications would stop giving these articles a forum just because a country happens to have a Buddhist majority.

Joey B. King

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