Saturday, March 6, 2010

A BRIDGE across GNH

While waiting for my wife at the vegetable market, I was listening to BBS in my car. One of the news that day was about the introduction of EVM machine in electing the school office bearers of Daga Secondary School. I really liked the idea and appreciated the move. I hope all schools in Bhutan make use of such facilities. This will infuse democratic sense in our younger generations. What irritated me, however, was the interview to the BBS by one of the teachers about the reason for introduction of EVM machine in school. He said that the first reason for introducing EVM machine was because of Gross National Happiness. If I were the interviewer, I would have asked what Gross National Happiness actually meant for him. I am sure he would have ploughed his nose through all theories just to defend that he knows what GNH means.
Many people today in Bhutan want to talk of Gross National Happiness. It has become fashionable for even rowdy taxi drivers to use it to their passengers. In fact, it has become a mockery of such a wise concept.
As a leader with vision, the fourth King created a panorama of what Bhutan should look like. He expressed his own vision of perfect Bhutan but our leaders have used it to mean many things. It is for engineers and architects to show us what the bridge or house would look like but it is the work of the site engineers or supervisors to translate it into pillars, posts, slabs, roof, etc.
Everyone wants to talk of Gross National Happiness but there is no clear cut definition of what constitute a Gross National Happiness. So, even drunk ones want to drink in the name of Gross National Happiness. Now, its imposed on children. The confusion is passed on. God save the children. Before we pass on such insanity to children, maybe we should know how to define what Gross National Happiness is all about. People in GNH Commission probably should be the first people to know what Gross National Happiness is all about. Similarly, all the teachers should know what GNH means before they inject into the children’s brain or else they are playing with the children’s dreams and future. I am skeptic about our teachers, especially those who hardly read any books. The only book most teachers read are the textbooks that the school provide. Of course, the teachers know the textbooks by pages because they would have used that same text for ages and ages.
Someone rightly said that if we don’t know where we are going, any road would take us there. If we don’t know what constitute GNH, any definition would fit the concept. Everyone in Bhutan today, who shits and farts, talk of GNH. It may be good idea to teach Gross National Happiness to children but for God’s sake, please give children shoes for shoes and not slippers for shoes. It may be wise to equip and train teachers and make them follow it well so that the children emulate them than asking teachers to inject an idea which he or she holds in confusion. It would be a tragedy if my son comes home and talks of GNH without understanding what he is taught.
Shouldn't there be something like Balanced Scorecard system to provide road maps, visions, strategies, education, measurement and rewards to make GNH a working principle and not just a mantra which many people don't understand? The vision is already there but sadly the people showing roads don't know themselves where we are all headed.

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