It is my privilege to welcome this distinguished gathering to the hallowed Central Hall of the Parliament of India on the occasion of the Fourth Prof. Hiren Mukerjee Memorial Annual Parliamentary Lecture. I thank Respected Vice-President Shri Mohammad Hamid Ansari and Respected Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh for being with us today. We are indeed grateful to His Excellency Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley, the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bhutan, for accepting our request to deliver the Fourth Lecture in the series.
This Annual Parliamentary Lecture has been instituted in memory of the outstanding parliamentarian, late Prof. Hiren Mukerjee. During his career as a parliamentarian from the First Lok Sabha to the Fifth Lok Sabha, Prof. Mukerjee left a profound impact through his power of articulation, intellectual brilliance and erudition. His contribution to enlightened democratic discourse through parliamentary debates is emblematic of our vibrant parliamentary history.
For the Fourth Prof. Hiren Mukerjee Memorial Annual Parliamentary Lecture, we are extremely privileged to have His Excellency Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley amidst us who will speak on the theme – Gross National Happiness: A Holistic Paradigm for Sustainable Well-being.
His Excellency Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley joined the Royal Bhutan Civil Service in 1974 and went on to become the Administrator of the Eastern Zone. He has served as a Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Bhutan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. He has held the office of the Prime Minister twice and also headed various ministries before constitutional democracy was introduced in Bhutan in 2008. He is a much decorated leader, who has been awarded the title of Dasho, the Red Scarf and the Orange Scarf, the Druk Thuksey and the Druk Wangyal, for excellence in discharging his duties.
H.E. Thinley became the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Bhutan in 2008 with an overwhelming majority. He has played a vital role since then in consolidation of democracy and democratic values in Bhutan. His success in responding to democratic and developmental aspirations of the people and his utmost sensitivity to popular, grassroot-level issues is indeed exemplary and inspiring. We also deeply appreciate Prime Minister Thinley’s vital role over the years in strengthening friendship and cooperation between India and Bhutan.
The philosophy of Gross National Happiness was conceived in 1972 by His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the fourth king of Bhutan. It enshrines a unique model of holistic development based on the four key strategies or the four pillars: sustainable and equitable socio-economic development; conservation of environment; preservation and promotion of culture and promotion of good governance.
Gross National Happiness not only focuses on material advancement but also other key factors contributing to one’s physical and mental well-being. Happiness is the ultimate end desired by all humans and all socio-economic policies and development strategies are means to achieve that end. The need for this holistic approach to development is particularly critical at a time when the world is beset by various challenges – from climate change to economic crises – all exacerbated by the uncontrolled propensity to exploit natural resources for consumption and material greed. That is why the theme of Gross National Happiness has increasingly caught the imagination of intellectuals and policy makers the world over for its emphasis on human happiness as an index for progress. As a close friend, we particularly cherish Bhutan’s success in getting overwhelming endorsement by the international community in July this year of the concept of GNH when the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing “the pursuit of happiness” as “a fundamental human goal”.
His Excellency has been an eloquent advocate of the concept of Gross National Happiness since its inception and has persistently strived towards realizing this vision in his country and passionately championed its cause as a development philosophy in the world.
I, on behalf of the Parliament and on my own behalf, thank His Excellency Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley for accepting our invitation to deliver the fourth Prof. Hiren Mukerjee Memorial Annual Parliamentary Lecture. I am confident that His Excellency’s words of wisdom would provide valuable insights into the model of Gross National Happiness as a development approach and enrich our understanding of it.
I take great pride in welcoming this distinguished gathering once again to the Fourth Professor Hiren Mukerjee Memorial Annual Parliamentary Lecture.