The pursuit of happiness in developing nations

This week I read about Brazil wanting to amend its constitution to make happiness a right for its citizens. Having worked its way up to achieve a GDP of over $2 trillion, Brazil is now working towards having happiness on the nation’s to-do. However, it is currently struck with threatening issues such as health, education, poverty & an alarming crime rate. To ensure happiness of citizens means to work around these issues, deliver world class education & wipe out crime on their streets. In-house resources¬† and independence in science & technology that is already existant,¬† accompanied by a loyal travail from the government can pretty much add up to the happiness they seek.

Whenever a discussion around happiness comes up, Bhutan is what comes to my mind first. Ever since I’ve been there, I haven’t been able to neglect its focus on ‘Gross National Happiness‘ that they made part of the national propaganda in the ’70s. And the rest on GNH here is purely my opinion, based on what I heard & understood from locals. The government, backed by the monarchy, is extremely responsible when it comes to delivering quality education, health care services & dealing with crime. Almost everything they need is transported from India and we are in a way responsible for their defense. Despite of the transport costs involved in every commodity, the government subsidizes everything from fuel to cars. Perhaps, that’s the reason why everyone from commoners to monks have SUVs. Bhutan is extremely beautiful and rich in culture. Tourism is already¬† a top 5 contributor to its $2 billion economy, but there is mountainous untapped potential that can make it the no.1 contributor and become as large as Thailand’s tourism industry. But they want just enough to be happy! And how do they control that? Simple, they only allow two flights into the country daily (2 x A319s = ~300pax) with seats reserved for Bhutanese traveling back home from India, Thailand, Bangladesh & Nepal.

Let’s stop the discussion here for simplicity & introspect. Is this kind of control acceptable to people in an democratic country with an open economy? How will oligarchs survive? Won’t it cause distribution of wealth? Forget about control; our government can’t control population, or even prices of onions for that matter. Governments can be bought out using lobbyists. The wealth gap is turning our society into a social bomb. I’m sure things are not much different in Brazil. Can we (developing nations) then attempt to guarantee happiness of our people? I don’t want to sound like a naysayer, but seems pretty impractical. Will we commit to happiness leaving greed aside? Aren’t we happier keeping ourselves busy in the rat race? Your thoughts please.