Last year when the nation was celebrating the 40th birth anniversary of His Majesty The King there was little inkling of the tumultuous year ahead.
However, COVID-19 made its first appearance in March 2020 with the first COVID-19 case and since then His Majesty has led Bhutan’s fight against the virus from the front.
The result today is that after around a year despite COVID-19 ravaging the world, Bhutan is one of the very few success stories.
A success story that the world is increasingly taking note of. His Majesty The King has played the pivotal and all important role in making Bhutan an international success story.
Bhutan has been known as the land of GNH but GNH at times became a little bit difficult to define and at times even grasp. There were debates on the level of happiness of Bhutan and socio-economic issues were pointed out to show the long way Bhutan has to reach happiness, unlike more developed counterparts.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic will help better define what GNH is and what Bhutan truly is.
COVID-19 was perhaps a better and more exacting test of human societies and countries than most other metrics.
The pandemic showed that what truly matters for a country is not just resources, wealth, power and size which were all swept away by the relentless pandemic.
It instead showed that what really matters in stopping it in its track is social cohesion, social capital, unity, the ability to act for the greater good and sacrifice led by good leadership.
These are the things which we and others do not measure and is even taken for granted in normal times.
The virus very clearly showed the true mettle and strength of Bhutan being in its unity and good leadership -which is like the tip of the spear.
The pandemic has also shown that given the inherent qualities of Bhutan and its leadership, the nation and its people can not only surmount any challenge but also come out stronger and wiser for it.
In many ways a key strength of Bhutan and its efforts during the pandemic lay in taking care of the weakest links and the most vulnerable.
This is where His Majesty’s Kidus have played such a major role in ensuring that the weak and vulnerable are protected.
A testimony to His Majesty’s leadership in the last one year can be seen in how it inspired ordinary people to come forward as volunteers, to donate resources and to bear the lockdowns with a smile and cooperate with the health protocols.
Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. —Publilius Syrus