Is there a Business Opportunity in Happiness?
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
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When a British Journalist for Financial Times questioned the King of Bhutan at Mumbai Airport on his country’s GDP in 1972, the King challenged the veracity of GDP as the indicator of a nation’s success. He coined the term ‘Gross National Happiness’ (GNH) almost two decades before the Bruntland Commission talked about ‘Sustainable Development’. Today, almost half a century later, King Wangchuk’s prophetic thoughts are poised to change the world, with Governments forming Ministries of Happiness – the latest being the Madhya Pradesh Government. Entrepreneurs with a social commitment are welcome in today’s world - the Kerala Government recently funded four young entrepreneurs to develop a Robot that made Sewage workers much happier.
GDP then and now
During the industrial revolution, GDP defined economic development. All education systems and models that developed during that period focused on creating factory workers. Later on, the idea of development shifted to the micro level – concentrating on individual wealth. Per Capita income, dealing with the distribution of wealth, became the measure of economic progress. In today’s world, GNH is recognized as the measure of a nation’s progress.
Opportunities in happiness
As an entrepreneur, you would naturally be curious about whether there a business opportunity in Happiness. Our answer is a definite Yes. Architecture and Product Design are poised to be hot areas where several new entrepreneurial opportunities will come up in the near future. Robots will quickly replace human beings in menial and socially looked-down-upon jobs such as garbage disposal, etc., thus boosting the GNH.
We argue that the opportunities in the Service industry are even bigger: Rubrics for happiness quotient for Corporates, Hospitals, Schools, etc., are in the process of being written. Opportunities for Data Analytics and Software will emerge from this process. Happiness Ministries around the globe (Emirates joining in recently), are in the process of logging into various customer data, with the view of improving customer satisfaction leading to Customer Happiness.
Defining the term
You may believe that a comfortable life with minimum fuss is happiness. Paradoxically, the highest taxed people are today the happiest! The Scandinavians are the highest taxpayers at 60% and have higher costs of living than the rest of Europe. However, they are ranked at the top of the GNH Index. The conviction that their tax money is being funneled back into the Nation’s growth, coupled with free Healthcare, Education and Public Transport, among other facilities, results in Happiness.
Education is arguably the most important pillar of GNH and it is witnessing a paradigm shift. Many countries have infused GNH principles and values to the school curriculum. This includes emphasis on deep, critical and creative thinking, ecological literacy, national values, contemplative learning, a holistic understanding of the world, genuine care for nature and for others, competency to deal effectively with the modern world, entrepreneurship, informed civic engagement, etc. Mindfulness is gaining currency from schools all the way to corporate desks, as it is seen to be a means of ‘being’ happy.
The world recognizes the importance of giving, to feel happy - happy hormones are produced in the brain during the act of giving. Educational institutes are working diligently, to bring in ‘Inclusive Education’, namely a fair chance for everybody to learn, irrespective of their learning abilities. Corporates too have inclusive policies in workplaces. In the future, we are likely to see more organisations striving for this Serotonin effect.
The world is on the verge of a sea change in education where the stakeholders are accountable for the happiness index of the learners. Edupreneurs watch out; you are in the business of giving happiness – perform or perish. It will prove to be an exciting phase where educationists, data scientists, medical professionals, technologists, etc., will be challenged to create an educational ecosystem of ‘Celebrating Knowledge’.