Liberty and Happiness in Bhutan

Bhutan Event Poster
© FNF South Asia

Happiness is a gateway to liberty. Bhutan is famous for the statement of His Majesty, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, that, for his people, he would rather have gross national happiness than gross national product. Far from being merely words or cliché, this feeling, entity, or political concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) is palpable in Bhutan and maximizing Gross National Happiness has become a 'central development concept' of the government. The concept of GNH has often been explained by its four pillars; good governance, sustainable socio-economic development, cultural preservation, and environmental conservation.

The panellists will deliberate on how Bhutan measures Gross National Happiness, its uniqueness and its limitations - especially against the background of the pandemic in order to understand what other countries could learn from the Himalayan Kingdom.

Event Details

Date: 2nd June, 2021

Event link: - Download Zoom at

Event Schedule

1800 hrs (CEST)/2130 hrs (IST)/2200 hrs (BTT)  Welcome Remarks by Dr. Carsten Klein

1805 hrs (CEST)/2135 hrs (IST)/2205 hrs (BTT)  Cultural Event

1810 hrs (CEST)/2140 hrs (IST)/2210 hrs (BTT)  Keynote Address by Mrs. Bettina Stark-Watzinger, MdB

1820 hrs (CEST)/2150 hrs (IST)/2220 hrs (BTT)  Panel Introduction and Remarks by Mr. Gopilal Acharya

1830 hrs (CEST)/2200 hrs (IST)/2230 hrs (BTT) Panel Discussion

1915 hrs (CEST)/2245 hrs (IST)/2315 hrs (BTT) Question & Answer Session

1945 hrs (CEST)/2300 hrs (IST)/2345 hrs (BTT) Concluding Remarks by Mrs. Bettina Stark-Watzinger, MdB


Gopilal Acharya

Gopilal Acharya is an independent consultant and freelance journalist. He was educated in Bhutan and Sweden. He is an award-winning writer-journalist with a career spanning 20 years in media and communication industry. He has worked in Bhutan, Nepal, Singapore, and India. He worked as Chief Editor of Bhutan’s first English language private newspaper, Bhutan Times, and later founded a weekly newspaper, The Journalist.

Resource persons

Dasho Paljor J. Dorji (Dasho Benji), Deputy Minister and Special Advisor, National Environment Commission, Thimphu. Often referred to as Bhutan's "Godfather of Conservation", he established Bhutan's first non-governmental organization, the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature in 1987 to conserve the country's black-necked crane population and to preserve the country's biodiversity in general.  Dorji has served in the government of Bhutan as early as 1969. He served as an advisor to the former king of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck..  As a diplomat, Paljor Dorji served as Ambassador to the United Nations and European capitals from 1991 to 1994.

Dr. Passang Dorji is a student of International Politics and specializes in China and India’s relations with smaller states in their immediate neighborhood, especially Bhutan and Nepal. He believes that life is the greatest teacher and asking questions a key to understanding things that shape one’s life and living. Passang holds a Ph.D in Asian and International Studies, Master of Management, Postgraduate Diploma in Climate Journalism, and Bachelor’s in Economics. He was a journalist before venturing into academia and politics.

At present, he is a member of Parliament and also the Chairman of the Human Rights and Foreign Relations Committee of the National Assembly of Bhutan.

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri is a senior columnist with the Hindustan Times and distinguished fellow of the Ananta Aspen Centre. He served four years on the Prime Minister’s National Security Advisory Board from 2011-15 and is an advisor to the Rhodium Group, New York; BowerGroupAsia, Washington DC and Mitsubishi India.

As a member of the Aspen Strategy Group of India he is a member of track two strategic dialogues between India and the US, Japan, Israel and South Korea. He is also part of two climate and energy dialogues with the US and the UK. He was a delegate for a track two India-Bhutan Dialogue between 2015-2019 and regularly lectures to the diplomats and military officers graduating from Bhutan's Royal Institute of Governance and Strategic Studies.  He has visited over 50 countries and is a graduate of Cornell University, US.


Bettina Stark-Watzinger is a German politician ( FDP ) and, since 2017 Member of the German Bundestag . Stark-Watzinger has been a member of the board of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom since September 2018.

From 2015 to 2019 she was the general secretary of the FDP Hessen and has been elected as new state chair of the FDP Hessen. She has been a member of the FDP federal executive committee since 2017. At the end of January 2020, she was elected parliamentary director of the FDP parliamentary group.

Dr. Carsten Klein, Head Regional Office South Asia. Before joining the Regional Office in New Delhi in 2019, Dr Carsten Klein’s professional career has always had an international dimension. He started working with the German Armed Forces joining the foreign and security policy section of the parliamentary group of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) in the Bundestag, the German parliament in Berlin, followed by him managing the FDP parliamentary groups in two state assemblies. He was also managing the department responsible for the international business of the Federal Employment Agency, the Central Placement Office for Foreigners and Specialists (ZAV).