OPHI to host two distinguished lectures on Bhutan

21 December, 2018

The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative will host two Distinguished Public Lectures on Bhutan in January, by the Former Prime Minister of Bhutan, His Excellency Dasho Tshering Tobgay, and the President of the Center for Bhutan Studies & Gross National Happiness, Dasho Karma Ura.

The lectures will take place on 9 January in the Sheldonian Theatre.

Dasho Tshering Tobgay will speak on 'Does Bhutan Matter? Stories from a Young Democracy'.

As Prime Minister, Dasho Tshering Tobgay sought to advance gross national happiness concretely, by 'improving Bhutan with small promises'. This advance entailed a multi-pronged strategy which was evidently successful: poverty in all its forms was halved, Bhutan looks to graduate from low income and least developed country status in the coming year, peace was maintained, and pioneering environmental policies implemented. Yet challenges loom – cultural, relational, geo-political, and economic. Dasho Tshering Tobgay will reflect on how apt the emerging democratic structures are for the coming challenges.

Dasho Karma Ura will give a lecture on 'Development with Integrity: Bhutan’s development and its Gross National Happiness Index', chaired by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Professor Louise Richardson. Discussants include Martine Durand (Chief Statistician, OECD) and James Foster (Professor of Economics and International Affairs at George Washington University.

Bhutan’s concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH), articulated by His Majesty the Fourth king in the 1970s, was initially internalized by public servants. As modernity entered, GNH was articulated more precisely, tracked over space and time, and used to shape policy. Pioneering measures of multidimensional well-being track the nine-domains of GNH and their complex and intricate interactions, and policy and programming tools connect GNH to planning processes. At a time when both GDP and Western ‘happiness’ measures are insufficient, when the search for policy-relevant multidimensional measures of human progress and well-being is underway, and integrated policies are commended, these observations from an architect of a different design may prove unusually relevant. 

This event is part of a larger conference taking place in Oxford during 8-10 January 2019. The International Society of Bhutan Studies (ISBS) launch conference is taking place at Magdalen College, seeking to develop the study of Bhutanese culture, life and nature in all aspects and encourage, inspire and motivate interest in lesser known aspects and promote and strengthen the areas of existing concentration. ISBS exists primarily to encourage academic exchange, among both Bhutanese and foreign scholars, and secondarily to contribute to the happiness of future generations.

Sign up for the lectures: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/two-distinguished-lectures-on-bhutan-the-land-of-the-thunder-dragon-and-gross-national-happiness-tickets-52930572768

Visit the conference website to register: https://www.isbsbhutan.org/isbs-launch-conference/