His Majesty The King is revered as The “People’s King”. He is a “Big brother figure” to our young children and youth.
His Majesty ascended the Golden Throne at a time of historic change, a different era. Within a span of ten years, His Majesty with extraordinary intelligence and vision led the country successfully through two elections, strengthening the purpose and relevance of democracy in the fast changing times. The message to the political leaders in the new democratic setting was clear. At the time of conferring “Dakyen” to the cabinet ministers in July 2013 after the second election, His Majesty said that “Dakyen” is not power nor authority; it is responsibility, a duty to the country and the people. He reminded the political leaders that we need a democracy that unites people and does not divide them, brings harmony and peace in the society, not conflict and instability. Such are indeed shortfalls of many democracies that we see in the region and in the world.
The world deliberated extensively to frame global goals, which is called the Sustainable Development Goals. If one closely analyses these goals, many resonate to what Bhutan already adopted as our development principles. Inclusiveness, sustainability, of equality and equity and pursuance of green growth,all of which are part of the Gross National Happiness (GNH) concept, promulgated by our beloved Fourth Druk Gyalpo way back in the 1980s. It is a concept which not only includes these principles, but much more, making development holistic in terms of external physical environment needs as well as to ensuring internal human well being.His Majesty says it’s “development with values”.
His Majesty has shown us the way andexemplified with actions on many of these timeless values of development. Among many,His Majesty’s wisdom and vision in promoting women in the development process has been exemplary and far-reaching. To fill gender gaps and to bridge gender inequality in the Parliament, His Majesty nominated two eminent women candidates out of the five eminent nominee of the Druk Gyalpo as per the Constitution.They are the only female representatives in the House of Review, as the second Parliamentary election in 2013 failed to place any female candidate to the 20-seat National Council.
Many of our women will not forget the day when His Majesty awarded a symbolic “Goentak”, to women, an equivalent to a sword awarded to men of ranks. What was even more touching was to learn that His Majesty Himself was the architect of the “Goentak”,crafted with great care, detail and meaning to suit its significance and purpose. Men of rank wore a sword from time immemorial, and it was an accepted norm and culture. Now women too are wearing the “Goentak” with great pride but with a deep sense of humbleness and dedication to serve the Tsa-wa-sum. It is history made and culture created which demonstrates equality of women in spirit and in action.
Similarly, Girls winter camps, held annually in the east is yet another personal initiative of His Majesty to empower girls, especially those who are vulnerable. I have had the personal experiences of meeting and talking to the girls. It was amazing how the girls go back after the training, a different person altogether; confident, open (shedding their shyness), knowledgeable, and rekindled with hope to make a better life. These are just few examples of His Majesty’snoble initiatives to include all section of society to partake and benefit from development.
His Majesty has always believed that the state of youth today, is indicative of the country’s future. He connects, inspires and touches young hearts. In a speech to the graduates of Sherubtse College, His Majesty said “We will not go wrong if we invest in human resources and intelligent institutions”. The Royal Institute of Governance and Strategic Studies, the Royal Academy and Desuup training programme are some of His Majesty’s noble initiatives, to prepare youth and young officers to be the leaders of their own. Every individual who participated in these training programme have a different yet a common story to share and that is that it was transformative. Many experienced learning, different from usual trainings. They are able to think “out of the box”, become a better human being, more open and ready in offering helping hands in times of needs.
I cannot help but to relate an extraordinary experience. It was at the time when His Majesty made a visit to a village in Thrimshing Gewog under Trashigang Dzongkhag. His Majesty visited a humble home. It was a one room home, but containing all the basic necessities of living – a fire place for cooking, pots and pans on the shelves, and bundles of blankets and clothes in one corner.His Majesty met the old couples there, listening to their stories, talking to them. So blessed was the house and the couples, a rare opportunity and a moment of great blessing. As we came out of the house, His Majesty immediately turned His attention from the humble home to space engineering and technology. His Majesty shared His thought and commanded that government explore the possibility of launching our own satellite. His Majesty said that it will not only meet the country’s needs of telecommunication services, but we can also earn income through leasing the services to big markets in the neighbouring countries. We spend a large sum annually in getting the telecommunication services from other countries. Sure enough, His Majesty’s noble thoughtsparked the government to send three students to undergo space engineering and technology in Japan. Once back, we will be making a first big step, working towardsthe launch of our own satellite.This can change the face of development.
His Majesty as we have seen is, ahead of the fast changing times. He inspires our youths to work harder. He says”Good is not good enough”. Just in a span of ten years, His Majesty has fulfilled the vision His Father, the Fourth Druk Gyalpo had, for the country and for the people of Bhutan. His Majesty steered the country and prepared His people to face modern day challenges of democracy, globalization, information technology, disaster and competitive world, at the same time securing our precious environment and unique tradition.
His Majesty The King will remain our guiding star, a symbol of identity and unity. We will have continued peace, prosperity and happiness under the leadership of our beloved King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. We, the Bhutanese are truly blessed. On the auspices of ten years of peaceful reign, I pray for the long life of His Majesty The King, The Fourth DrukGyalpo and The Gyalsey.
By Lyonpo Dorji Choden
The writer is the Minister for Ministry of Work and Human Settlement.