His Majesty The King granted an audience to RIGSS participants. ( Photo Courtesy: His Majesty’s Facebook page)

A higher calling called RIGSS

The Royal Institute for Governance and Strategic Studies (RIGSS) has trained more than 800 participants from various establishments over the last five years, and it is reassuring that the numbers will only swell hereafter.

My enrollment with RIGSS has been a dream come true in every sense of the word. I used to look out of the car while traveling to Phuntsholing at the beautiful RIGSS building structure. Moreover, I knew of the highly acclaimed courses offered by the reputed premier leadership institute. RIGSS, therefore, was on my bucket list, no matter how far-fetched a dream it seemed.

But never did I in my wildest dream anticipate for such an opportunity and that too – so early in my life! I was humbled and emotionally moved when I received a letter of invitation from the RIGSS to undergo the third Foundational Leadership Program (FLP). It felt like some divine intervention.

After initial questions and doubts on my own capabilities, I was more than eager to pursue the path of excellence. After all, RIGSS was born out of His Majesty The King’s vision and trust in all of us. That was all the blessings I needed.

Now, as an alumnus of the institute, upon deeper self reflection and introspection, I feel nurtured and empowered as an individual. I am ready to take on my role as a worthy citizen and contribute my service with grace, knowledge, and humility.

The sessions at RIGSS are delivered by highly professional and competent intellectuals from both within the country and outside. The learning sessions are well-designed to cater to one’s personal and professional growth. Discourses on sensitive issues concerning the security and sovereignty of our country are carried out without any filter.

I have come to realize over the course of time, that the sessions delve deeper into the history and the current state of the country so that the future leaders have a better understanding of the issues affecting us, a small nation, and that we do not take our sovereignty for granted at any cost.

The sessions on Bhutan’s political history and the role of the Monarchs in shaping the Bhutanese state hit deep chords of patriotism and gratitude to our leaders of the past and present.

RIGSS, therefore, has without a doubt, empowered me and my fellow mates with a broader perspective to look at our national concerns from a brand new lens, and also re-defined our principal role as the citizens of this country. We’ve come to realize, better now than ever, that as a small nation between two rising superpowers of the world, we have so much at stake and there is no room for ignorance, complacency, and stagnancy no matter what.

As part of the program, the participants are also required to undergo a week-long Grass Roots Immersion Program (GRIP) in some of the remote villages in the country. The participants of the third batch of FLP were taken to Dungna and Metakha gewog under Chhukha to help us in understanding the challenges faced by our villages, which also served as an opportunity to immerse ourselves in such situations, and experience the authentic village life.

My experience in the two gewogs has been an eye-opener in many ways. Although notable developmental activities have been carried out, there still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of having inclusive socio-economic plans and policies in place. Moreover, the intrinsically pervasive ‘Kidu Culture’ in our Bhutanese society is also very apparent among the villagers,  whereby irrespective of rich or poor, they expect every trivial issue to be taken care by the government. Only if some of us realize that it takes two flints to make a fire, and alone we can do so little but together we can do so much, we can progress at a commendable pace.

As an effort to bring the community together, the institute also hosted dinners in both the gewogs where the Director of the Institute, Zimpon Wom Chewang Rinzin, interacted and re-emphasized His Majesty’s vision and talked about GNH with the locals. As the night went on a strong sense of community vitality was ignited amongst all of us, dancing in circles to the tunes of traditional Bhutanese songs, laughing and rejoicing, eating and drinking under the bright moonlight, and feeling blessed to be the subjects of a wise leadership. That defined Gross National Happiness for me, without any complication.

We were extremely fortunate to have received an audience with His Majesty The King, who had traveled long to meet and share His Majesty’s concerns with us.  His Majesty emphasized on the need for Bhutan and its people to stay relevant, environmentally stable, to be competitive in this day and age and the need for an effective and efficient education system. His Majesty also shared his concerns on the demographic shift, the city sprawls, limited arable land, and reminded that it is crucial for us to not forget our Bhutanese roots.

His Majesty reiterated that we cannot afford to be slow and we have to race forward as a nation. We have so much to reflect, decipher the Royal concerns and be mindful of where we are headed. His Majesty has placed much trust and hope in the younger generation of Bhutanese. As the future of Bhutan, we felt alive and ready to be onboard of His Majesty’s vision in taking our nation forward to better horizons.

Another assertion made by His Majesty, that greatly calmed me as an individual was when His Majesty said that everything should be a process whereby, we have to constantly keep moving in the right direction despite the challenges, and that it is the journey that is important and not necessarily having to always strive for perfection. His Majesty spoke about his subjects with so much of faith and trust, and His Majesty believe that we are wiser, capable and distinct in our own Bhutanese way.

I can confidently say that the future of Bhutan looks bright because of an unparalleled think tank like RIGSS, born from the foresight of our visionary leadership. The institute, in years to come, will always remain as a premier leadership center par excellence that can take great pride in its contribution to nation building.

We were also amazed by the excellent management and great leadership at the institute for catering to our academic and personal needs very meticulously and professionally. The Director has been a source of inspiration to all of us during our training, and we will always hold him in admiration for his knowledge, humility and utmost loyalty and dedication to the King, Country, and People.

The magnitude of my immense appreciation to the institute for the generous and considerate scholarship is emotionally overwhelming, driven with a strong sense as an indebted citizen to strive for more in life to be true to the King, Country, and People.

I would like to thank RIGSS along with the 29 other participants of the third batch of Foundational Leadership Program for the knowledge of a lifetime. And at the same time, we must not forget to thank our respective organization for considering our leave of absence for a month, which signifies the importance attached to such a course.

The institute shall always remain synonymous to our dreams and we’ll strive to be the best as we learn, relearn and unlearn in our journey hereon.

By Sonam Yangdon

The writer is the Chief Reporter of The Bhutanese and the winner of the prestigious Most Promising Young Journalist of the year Journalism award 2018.

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