One needs to travel the length and breadth of Bhutan to understand why this country has chosen ‘Gross National Happiness’ as the yardstick for development as opposed to ‘Gross National Product’. It’s not only that the country is simply beautiful and some parts look like heaven on earth but its people embody the concept of happiness. In terms of tangible wealth, Bhutan is one of the poorest countries in Asia and that poverty can be visible but there’s no filth or dirt on the streets; the air is clean and crisp and there’re smiling faces all round. One can feel happiness and serenity in the air. Tucked between the two giant Asian neighbours – China in the north and India in its west, south and the east, the tiny Himalayan kingdom’s population stands at only seven hundred thousand. Except for the Himalayan foothills, the rest of the country is mostly covered with lush green subalpine conifer forests, shrubs and meadows with picturesque rivers, rivulets and mountain streams flowing through the valleys. Not only the pristine nature all around, Buddhism as the majority religion also helps shaping the mindset of the people who tend to be happy and content with whatever they have.

Photography and words by Nazes Afroz. Nazes has worked as a journalist for more than 33 years covering news, features and current affairs. He has been associated with various international agencies like UNICEF and broadcasters, including the BBC, Channel 4 and Inter Press Service. Nazes has been a keen photographer for almost three decades. He has been documenting communities and people through his photographs, which have appeared in various publications and websites. A major photography exhibition showing Nazes work is coming up in four cities in three countries in South Asia from March 2015.

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