Jigmi Yoser Thinley, the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Bhutan, spent a day in Bhopal prior to his visit to Sanchi where he would attend the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Buddhist University. A graduate from St Stephens College, Delhi and the Pennsylvania State University, USA, the Bhutan government works to base its policies on Gross National Happiness rather than purely economic considerations. The Prime Minister spoke to HT exclusively:
Please elaborate on the concept of Gross National Happiness your government works its policies upon?
The present development models are about continuous growth, unmindful that resources are finite. It is a cause for worry that the environment is being destabilized and eco system services are being undermined. Alarm bells are ringing about great disasters to come because of the wrong way we live. The increasing frequency of natural disasters and social and health problems like the very disturbing trend of mental diseases is fast growing. This is a failure of the present economic system and signs are that all is not well.
Gross National Happiness (GNH), as a development paradigm, is based on the premise that the purpose of development should be to enhance true human well-being and happiness. Development should be holistic and sustainable. There is a growing dissatisfaction with the GDP model and more interest globally in the GNH model. The UN has declared March 20 as a day of happiness.
I see GNH in practise here. I was also happy to note that the CM and the governor have immense depth and dwelt on the issue in great detail.
How can ties between Bhutan and MP specifically be strengthened in the field of education?
There are seven students from Bhutan studying architecture and civil engineering at MANIT. We want to enhance the possibilities of more students from Bhutan competing for access to good colleges in MP.
In what way can Bhutan contribute to the upcoming Buddhist University at Sanchi?
During my meeting with the chief minister, we discussed how Bhutan could partner in the development of the upcoming University. Bhutan would collaborate in designing the curriculum and would also collaborate to broad base the appeal of the University with other countries and Universities. Students from Bhutan would be at the University to do research work and Bhutan would establish a centre near the University.
Cultural exchanges between Bhutan and MP specifically would increase. We would also seek a sharing of experiences between Bhutan and India, also MP on democracy-with India being the world's largest democracy and Bhutan a relatively new one.
Power, especially hydel power, is a sector Bhutan and MP can work together in. Is some experience sharing possible in the sector, given that both Bhutan and MP have similar stories-that of large unrealised potential in power generation?
Bhutan has a potential of developing 32,000 MW of hydel power of which only 1400 MW has been realised till now. Under the bilateral framework between India and Bhutan, funding and technical know how is being provided from Government of India and the surplus green energy would be supplied to India from Bhutan. There are 10 mega projects in the design and implementation stage in Bhutan and we plan to generate 10,000 MW of clean energy by 2020. The experience sharing would have to be worked out with the Government of India under the bilateral framework.