The Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative (SJI) humbly believes that it is a GNH laboratory. Its Executive Director in presenting the SJI’s programs at the conference, stated, “Why is it so difficult/challenging to do the right thing, to do something that is commonsensical? Talking GNH is one thing and acting GNH is another thing altogether”. GNH will not work if there is no GNH consciousness, she added. According to her, consciousness came from conviction (in body, speech and mind), which in turn instilled a sense of care leading to being concerned and ultimately conduct (behavioural change). The conference was an occasion to reflect on how GNH values manifested at the individual, family, organizational, community and ultimately at the national levels.
Anecdotes related to education disconnecting youth from their families, farm, traditional values, etc., (rural) mindset regarding eating kharang (maize grain) and daily diet consisting of over 70% of imported food (some people’s perception) were shared to highlight larger issues of deep concern.
Some of the achievements attributable to the SJI were the establishment of the Centre for Appropriate Technology at the Jigme Namgyel Engineering College, Dewathang, Samdrup Jongkhar District being generally chemical fertilizer and pesticides free and reducing over 600 kg of plastic bags in Dewathang bazaar with support from the shopkeepers.
The SJI collaborated with multiple partners from within and outside the country. Its experience illustrated the potential for grassroots bodies to create tangible impact on the lives of people, especially in close partnership with the Government; partnership that is underpinned by mutual trust and confidence. One of the biggest challenges for SJI and similar bodies was inadequate resources. Constant flow of modest fund was critical. “There is so much that can be done with little funds”, said the Executive Director.
The SJI’s ultimate aim was not to exist but for people to internalize its spirit and take charge.
Zero waste crafts made by Dewathang Women’s Crafts Group were displayed and sold at the conference. The SJI connected with many individuals and groups participating at the conference.
His Majesty visited the SJI’s advocacy materials and crafts stall, a great honour indeed. A purse made of wrappers and SJI brochure was offered to the King.
As the country celebrates the 60th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the 4th King, the SJI has chosen Menchari village to build a GNH-inspired village.