Bhutanese getting more sleep, lifting happiness index

Updated 03 November 2015
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Bhutanese getting more sleep, lifting happiness index

NEW DELHI, India: People in Bhutan are happier now than they were five years ago according to a survey of social wellbeing released by the tiny Himalayan kingdom that, among other things, measures whether they are getting enough sleep.
Mostly Buddhist Bhutan, wedged between China and India, launched the Gross National Happiness (GNH) index in 2010 to include indicators ignored by conventional GDP — the monetary value of all goods and services produced in a country.
These range from quality-of-life indicators like leisure time and forest cover to whether people experience negative emotions like anger and envy.
Addressing a conference on GNH in the capital Thimphu on Tuesday, Prime Minister Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay said the index inched up to 0.756 this year from 0.743 in 2010, but that he did not know yet what was a good growth rate.
The constitutional monarchy’s goal is for every citizen to be “extensively or deeply happy,” compared with the current figure of 43.4 percent.
“We saw some modest gains in areas such as living standards, health and time use,” Tobgay said, according to a copy of his speech, adding that 7 percent more Bhutanese got enough sleep in 2015 than in 2010.
“But in other areas such as community vitality and psychological wellbeing indicators, we actually seem to lose ground.”
The gross national income of Bhutan — which until the 1960s was an isolated rural society with no currency, telephones, schools, hospitals or public services — has been consistently higher than that of South Asia as a whole, according to World Bank data from 2006 to 2014.
But Rajesh Kharat, who teaches South Asian studies at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University and advises the government of Bhutan, says GNH’s benefits have been confined to towns where communication is better.
“GNH has become internationally popular but yet to reach a single person in the villages,” Kharat said.
“The main thing is education. Most of the people in rural areas have not really understood whether Bhutan is a monarchy or a democracy.”
Tobgay too said he was troubled that the improvement in the GNH was strongest in towns instead of “our fields and valleys and hamlets high up in the mist,” a worrying sign for the landlocked country. More than half its 349,000 labor force still works in agriculture.
“We must find ways of energizing GNH in rural areas, so young people build their careers and families in our beautiful villages as mature modern men and women, and don’t only yearn for the city lights,” he said.


Alaska man discovers 50-year-old message in bottle from Russian Navy

Updated 19 August 2019
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Alaska man discovers 50-year-old message in bottle from Russian Navy

  • Then Russian Navy Capt. Anatolii Prokofievich Botsanenko wrote the letter when he was a 36-year-old aboard the Sulak
ANCHORAGE, Alaska: A man discovered a 50-year-old letter in a bottle from the Russian Navy on the shores of western Alaska.
Tyler Ivanoff found the handwritten Russian letter early this month while gathering firewood near Shishmaref about 600 miles (966 kilometers) northwest of Anchorage, television station KTUU reported.
“I was just looking for firewood when I found the bottle,” Tyler Ivanoff said. “When I found the bottle, I had to use a screwdriver to get the message out.”
Ivanoff shared his discovery on Facebook where Russian speakers translated the message to be a greeting from a Cold War Russian sailor dated June 20, 1969. The message included an address and a request for a response from the person who finds it.
Reporters from the state-owned Russian media network, Russia-1, tracked down the original writer, Capt. Anatolii Prokofievich Botsanenko, KTUU reported.
He was skeptical he wrote the note until he saw his signature on the bottom.
“There — exactly!” he exclaimed.
The message was sent while the then 36-year-old was aboard the Sulak, Botsanenko said. Botsanenko shed tears when the Russian television reporter told him the Sulak was sold for scrap in the 1990s.
Botsanenko also showed the reporter some souvenirs from his time on the ship, including the autograph of the wife of a famous Russian spy and Japanese liquor bottles, the latter kept over his wife’s protests.
Ivanoff’s discovery of the bottle was first reported by Nome radio station KNOM.