March 12th, 2016
Image Courtesy: Jetsun Pema| sbs
Nestled at the eastern end of the Himalayas, the small and unassuming country of Bhutan has a unique way to celebrate happiness. Earlier this month the citizens of the tiny kingdom of Bhutan celebrated the birth of their newborn prince by planting 108,000 trees. Each tree carries a special significance as it is engraved with Buddhist symbols praying for the future of heir to the throne.
Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay along with three of his ministers and the leader of Opposition were among the 100,000 volunteers who planted the trees across the country on March 6, about a month after King Khesar and Queen Jetsun announced the birth of their first child on February 5.
The plantation of trees is regarded as a sign of good omen since in Buddhism, a tree is the provider and nourisher of all life forms. Trees serve all the purpose and prove out to be a blessing in symbolizing longevity, health, beauty and even compassion. The plantation of the trees have high spiritual significance and is regarded as holy ever since Buddha attained enlightenment under a banyan tree.
The number of trees planted was exactly 108,000, as “108” is a sacred number in Buddhism, denoting the cleansing of 108 defilements that impede beings from attaining enlightenment.
Bhutan, a sparsely populated nation with a population of mere 7,50,000 located in the mountainous terrains of Himalayas landlocked between the populated China and India have remained in isolation for 4000 years is now gradually emerging as one of the foremost models of sustainable livelihoods and ecological ethics in the world.
In order to achieve sustainable development, the nation has implemented some exceptional policies that will encourage the whole world to follow its foot steps.
Here are some of the facts about Bhutan that will leave the entire nation awestruck:
- Bhutan measures prosperity by gauging its citizen’s happiness levels. The Gross National Happiness (GNH) is a praiseworthy approach to development which measures the spiritual, physical, cultural, social and environmental health of its citizens and natural environment.
- The tiny Himalayan region keeps emboldening environmental conservation as its main political agenda including in constitution a requirement of a minimum of 60% of its land under forests at all times. Presently it’s at 72%, with more than half the nation covered by a network of national parks, nature reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries. Even at this modern age, Bhutan remains one of the few remaining biodiversity in the world.
- It became the first country to commit to being carbon neutral in perpetuity in 2009, it was actually already carbon negative: Its forests absorb three times more CO2 than the whole country emits.
- The entire country generates 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide each year but forests sequester more than 6 million tons.
- The monarch of Bhutan voluntarily imposed democracy in the country without the people agitating or asking. It is one of the rare sights that we see in today’s world. The first democratic elections took place in 2008.
- The basic amenities in Bhutan like the education and health is free. All citizens are given guaranteed school education and the ones who are interested in higher education are given free college education. In this tiny country, healthcare is not charged. The people of Bhutan enjoys free Medical consultation along with medicines and treatments.
- The Bhutanese people are fighting tooth and nail to remain carbon neutral. Rural farmers get free electricity so that they won’t have to use firewood to cook food. The nation is investing in sustainable transport and subsidizing the purchase of Electric Vehicles and LED’s. It hopes to become a world leader in EVs and has suspended import duties on two EV car models.
- The country is actually planting new trees through a program called Green Bhutan and has plans to go paperless saving hundreds of trees from being cut down in order to meet the stationary requirements.
- Thimpu is the only capital city in the world with no McDonald’s outlet. It serves as a benchmark against everything else that is happening in this difficult world.
- Bhutan maintains peaceful relations with the outside world with no problems confronting the UN, no peacekeepers needed.
As the people planted trees on March 6 in celebration, the Ministry of Tourism used the occasion to inaugurate a “Happiness Garden” in the national capital of Thimphu. In an another event of tree plantation, last June a team of 100 volunteers in Bhutan set a new Guinness record by planting 49,672 trees in just one hour in mountainous terrain.
The Logical Indian lauds Bhutan’s way of celebrating the birth of the new prince. What this small country of less than a million has done towards the environment is commendable. The way Bhutan is measuring the prosperity is teaching the world a remarkable lesson that happiness, not wealth is the correct measure to judge the quality of life. Whether it be Bhutan’s carbon neutral initiative or the enhancement of renewable sources of energy, it is leading the baton in the fight against climatic changes. India should draw inspiration from its neighbor and soon implement concrete commitments towards environmental conservation otherwise it will soon be too late.
Submitted By – Pulkit Benada