His Majesty The King Addressed the Nation from Punakha Dzong on the 113th National Day

His Majesty envisions a developed Bhutan in our lifetime and presents a reality check for the civil service and the education system

His Majesty grants Kasho for reforming the Civil Service and Quality of Education

A traditional and popular Bhutanese saying is, ‘A King’s Command is heavier than the mountains and more precious than gold.’

A whole nation glued to their TV sets on 17th December will now better understand the full significance of the above saying as in a National Day Address like no other His Majesty boldly laid forth a new national vision of Bhutan becoming a developed country within our lifetime, and also the necessary reforms required in the fields of the civil service and education to help achieve that.

For a population increasingly getting used to the sweet talk, pampering and promises of politicians and political parties, His Majesty took a very different tack and presented a national reality check of where we stand as a nation and where we could be heading if there is no urgent course correction and reforms.

His Majesty highlighted that the biggest lesson of the COVID-19 is that Bhutan cannot afford to carry on with business as normal if we are to succeed and do well.

His Majesty said at a time of great challenges posed by COVID-19 it is also a time when we get a clear vision.

His Majesty said this is the time to look forward, and remain focused on our objectives for the future.

His Majesty said it is a time to recognize the many shortfalls that must not remain ignored and unaddressed and this is the time to strengthen the very foundations upon which our future will rest.

His Majesty said the world is changing so fast that even within 10 years the future will be unrecognizable and countries unable to understand this or those who do not prepare will fall behind.

His Majesty said that Bhutan stands the risk of being left behind and so the country cannot delay the work that needs to be done to strengthen the foundations and secure the future.

The Address pointed out that while we may carry on as usual and take comfort in our improvements compared to the past and hope that the future will also see such improvement, but then the main concern should be that we will remain a developing country in our lifetime.

His Majesty pointed out that a developing country faces many problems as the internal revenue is not enough for the nation’s expenditures and so Bhutan has to depend on foreign aid and loans. His Majesty said that such a future is fraught with uncertainty.

His Majesty said our aim should be to become a developed country in this lifetime. His Majesty mentioned that he would never have mentioned this if His Majesty had any doubt on our ability to achieve this goal.

His Majesty said we do not have a choice, as this is the only path ahead and there is no room for mistakes.

Civil Service

His Majesty said that firstly the civil service must be readied for the future we envision. Then, the quality of education being provided to children today has to be improved. His Majesty said we have to improve, and it must be done soon.

His Majesty said that only after strengthening these, will the way be eased to achieve our goals.

His Majesty said the Civil Service is the most important of our national institutions and yet its faces innumerable issues. Its structure today is not suited for the future responsibilities and path we aspire for and it is not aligned to the changes we can foresee ahead of us.

The failure of the Civil Service will cause great harm, just as its success will benefit the entire nation.

His Majesty said as a small country, we have to be very careful in whatever we do– as the smallest mistakes will have huge consequences. Unlike bigger countries, we cannot rely on a large population or great wealth. Our only assets are our own intelligence, ability, and ingenuity. 

His Majesty highlighted the need for the nation to be quick, nimble and flexible in adopting things that work for it, getting hold of opportunities and changing things that do not work for it.

His Majesty said it is time for the Civil Service to change and, at the seat of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, His Majesty is handing over a Royal Kasho for the reform of the Civil Service.

His Majesty said the Kasho is not for enhancing the benefits of civil servants but it is for the nation, its people, and our collective future.

His Majesty said if we continue to cater to every discontentment, avoid criticism to prevent resentment, and make excuses for non-achievement, we will not have made the key changes that are necessary at this hour and in that case, we cannot expect better outcomes.

His Majesty said we cannot afford to lose time as we move ahead on this important reform.

His Majesty said that as a small country, we need capable civil servants, who can carry out all their responsibilities well.

Keeping that in mind, the reform of the Civil Service should encompass a restructuring of the Civil Service Act, Rules and Regulations, and the responsibilities of the Civil Service. His Majesty said that as King, this is a matter of utmost importance to His Majesty.

His Majesty said the King has a period of Reign and governments have shorter terms but the Civil Service, provides continuity going into the future. His Majesty said the long-term aims of the country are carried on the shoulders of civil servants and it is their duty to protect and serve the country and people, safeguard against challenges, and achieve the national goals.

His Majesty said the Civil Service, and the people of Bhutan care deeply about the wellbeing and future of the country. His Majesty said he can count on their wholehearted support as we initiate this exceptionally important endeavor today.

Education

His Majesty said we need only to look to our youth to know our future. The preparation and work in building a strong future begins in classrooms and our schools.

His Majesty cautioned that the failure of the school system will impact us deeply, but the success of the schools will positively impact and benefit our youth, people, country, and the future.

His Majesty said that for years, we have measured progress in education by the number of schools, teachers, and students. However, the quality of education has declined. His Majesty said we cannot blame the children for this as it is we who have failed them.

His Majesty said we cannot ignore the mistakes of the past again and it is time to rectify our mistakes.

His Majesty said that keeping this in mind and for the sake of the people, our future, and for future generations of Bhutanese, His Majesty handed over the Royal Kasho for Reforming the Education System.

His Majesty said the The Kasho is to strengthen our schools, raise the quality of education, and ensure it is at the highest level.

His Majesty said there may be a sense of satisfaction in the belief that our schools have improved compared to the past and that our children have matched up to others.

However, other countries can produce the same professionals in much larger numbers.

His Majesty said to become a developed country and to grow stronger and become prosperous- the start must be made in the schools.

His Majesty said catching up is not enough but we have to be able to do what the rest cannot and excel and for a small country with a small population, every individual child must do well for us to succeed.

His Majesty quoting His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo said, the country’s future is the hands of the youth. His Majesty said we cannot let them down.

His Majesty said that Bhutanese are strong, able, smart and resilient and if we come together with the same aim then, we can succeed but if we are not committed, and we lack ambition and accountability, we will not make it.

Challenges of the Pandemic

His Majesty The King commended the people across the nation for having risen to the occasion and shouldered their responsibilities in an exemplary manner. His Majesty expressed appreciation for the selflessness and dedication shown by the volunteers and, in equal measure, the immense generosity of our people from all walks of life who came forward to offer whatever support they could. 

His Majesty also expressed concerns that despite our success so far, the threat of the pandemic remains imminent as ever. Warning against complacency, His Majesty Commanded that we collectively overcome the threat. Of special concern is the waning of public resilience and the unravelling of the foundations of our nation’s economy as a consequence of the pandemic.

His Majesty said that the duration and cost of recovery from such a situation would be immense, and that to avert such a situation, we need to extend robust support to our people and the private sector by providing them with necessary Kidu. The huge expenses we incur now should not dissuade us as they can be recouped later. 

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