Mon, Jun 11, 2012 - Page 15 News List

Bhutan pays the price of trying to buy happiness

A traffic warden directing traffic in the Bhutanese capital city of Thimphu on Oct. 4, 2010.

Photo: AFP

They say you cannot buy happiness — and it is something Bhutan is finding out the hard way.

The tiny, mostly Buddhist Himalayan kingdom won a world voice for adopting a happiness index to measure its economy. But its prime minister says it promptly forgot its own lesson, and let a sudden rush of prosperity go to its head.

“Wealth creates increased desire,” said Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley. “There are families with four or five cars. There are luxury vehicles being imported that can hardly drive on our roads and are made for far better roads than we have here.”

A country that was closed to foreigners until 1974, and only recently opened up to the forces of globalization, lacked the tools to cope with newly found economic growth and the wealth it brought.

The government has cut expenditure and is considering raising taxes on imported vehicles. Youth unemployment is over nine percent and people are drifting away from the countryside, and traditional values, to the towns.

Worst of all, Bhutan’s most recent Gross National Happiness (GNH) index, in 2010, found only 41 percent qualified as “happy.”










1. pay the price

v. phr.

付出代價 (fu4 chu1 dai4 jia4)

例: I didn’t read the contract fully before I signed it, so now I’m paying the price.


2. find out (something) the hard way

v. phr.

透過艱難困苦才學到教訓 (tou4 guo4 jian1 nan2 kun4 ku3 cai2 xue2 dao4 jiao4 xun4)

例: I found out the hard way that it’s difficult to work and go to school at the same time.


3. go to someone’s head

v. phr.

沖昏了頭;驕傲自滿 (chong1 hun1 le5 tou2; jiao1 ao4 zi4 man3)

例: Don’t let all this praise go to your head.


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