PIR Center Advisor Dr. Orlov discussed correlation of happiness and development in Bhutan


THIMPHU, MAY 24, 2018. PIR PRESS – “What is the Gross National Happiness? What is the correlation between population’s happiness and society’s development? What are the reasons for the deepening global inequality? How to find a balance between material and spiritual values for a beneficial development of society? These issues have been at the core of my conversation with the leadership of the Gross National Happiness Centre Bhutan,” – Dr. Vladimir Orlov, Head of the Center for Global Trends and International Organizations of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry, professor at MGIMO, PIR Center Founder & Special Advisor.

In Thimphu city, the capital of the Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan, Head of the Center for Global Trends and International Organizations of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Professor at MGIMO, PIR Center Founder & Special Advisor, Dr. Vladimir Orlov had a meeting with Director of Gross National Happiness Centre Bhutan Dr. Saamdu Chetri.

“The quality of development in Bhutan is measured not by GDP, but by GNP – Gross National Happiness. This is a concept coined by the Fourth King of Bhutan which was followed by the Fifth King. Above all, development is a beneficial development of values, not enrichment of pockets, – says Dr. Orlov after his trip to the country. – By the way, the Fourth King abdicated the throne shortly after turning fifty, in his prime and at the peak of popularity. And he turned the reins over to his son, having retired from the world for meditation and privacy.”

Dr. Saamdu and Dr. Orlov discussed global trends and processes, as well as the role of international organizations. Why are people in the USA getting unhappier, dissatisfied with life albeit it’s the richest country of the world? – Dr. Saamdu put the question. Here is the answer: because in the USA materialistic values eclipsed the spiritual ones long time ago. The same is the case in many other countries. But to ignore the materialistic values at all and invest only in spiritual development is not an option. Let your mind reach a precise balance between material and spiritual dimensions.

During the meeting at the Gross National Happiness Centre,  Dr. Saamdu raised issues like the increasing inequality, climate change, as well as wild nature’s suffering. According to Dr. Orlov: “We discussed in depth the interpretation of the sustainable development. I was particularly interested in perception from here, this remote yet spiritually powered up place in Himalayas. This direction of the conversation nudged us into the matters of ratio between necessity and avidity, good governance vs self-governance.” During the conversation the issue of fundamental human needs in the twenty-first century in the era of globalization, particularly in the area of communications, has been also touched upon. 

Special emphasis has been given tothe role of civil society in shaping environment for happiness, as well as selfless and beneficial development of society.

The director of the Gross National Happiness Centre informed about the role of Bhutan in announcement of Happiness Day on March 20 by the United Nations. He also described the role of Bhutan, whose population is about 700 thousand people, in the United Nations, bearing in mind traditionally independent and voluntarily self-isolated policy of the Kingdom. Vladimir Orlov and Saamdu Chetri discussed the correlation between the conception of Gross National Happiness and the United Nations Human Development Index.

The Gross National Happiness Centre is under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Kezang Choden Wangchuck. She is President of the Centre. The new Head Office is being constructed on the lands referred to the Centre into the possession from the royal family in the region of Jakar city in Bumthang District, in the valley located in the center of Bhutan which Vladimir Orlov visited too. The branches of the Centre are open or being formalized in Switzerland (Geneva), USA (California), Spain, Thailand and other countries.

Dr. Orlov shared his impressions in follow-up of his journey: “The Bhutanese are involved in happiness shaping process in three ways: politics – they manage and govern in a manner that makes the people feel care and live in happiness, research – to discover the source of happiness for an ordinary Bhutanese (there are categories of “unhappy,” “narrowly happy,” “extensively happy” and “deeply happy”), and practice – to create concrete conditions for happiness. My Bhutanese companions are not idealists. They were honest with me: “Happiness is an individual thing. It comes to you in a flash and then it’s gone. We do not create it. However, we create the conditions for happiness.” Having asked them if they have Ministry of Happiness, I got the answer: “Why, though? Each of our ministers is a minister of happiness. Most importantly, happiness and development and projected hand in hand into the lives of local communities, including very remote ones. I clearly registered that fact when I crossed the country from the Merak and Sakteng villages in Bhutan’s Wild East to Haa Valley in the Far West.”

At the end of the visit to the Gross National Happiness Centre, Dr. Orlov was shown a “Stone Garden.” Stones and rocks from dozens of countries which are partners of the Gross National Happiness Centre are presented here. And now a stone form Russia is presented in this “Stone Garden” in Thimphu as Vladimir Orlov presented as a gift an Arseno-pyrite stone from the Ulyanovsk region. “Although Russia doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Bhutan, we have a plenty of topics on global trends, as it turns out during the conversations in Thimphu and other towns of Bhutan,” – believes Dr. Orlov.

For questions to PIR Center Founder & Special Advisor Dr. Vladimir Orlov you can contact by +7 (499) 940 09 83 or send an e-mail to orlov@pircenter.org.