Thursday, 20 December 2007
On this historic day, when the nation is gathered as one, I offer, on behalf of the People and King, our love and gratitude to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, whose 34 years of service have brought about a strong, prosperous nation on the cusp of an even brighter future as a democracy.With our heartfelt gratitude, I also offer our pledge to fulfill His Majesty’s vision for a nation founded on the philosophy of Gross National Happiness and the principles and ideals of Democracy.
My people, on this most auspicious day we are gathered together to celebrate, not the 100th anniversary of the enthronement of Gongsar Ugen Wangchuck, but 100 years of success and accomplishment, as a united people and nation.
From the time of Jigme Namgyel, to Gongsar Ugen Wangchuck, King Jigme Wangchuck, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck and then our King of destiny, our parent and guardian Jigme Singye Wangchuck – our Kings have worked selflessly in the interests of the people and nation. Our forefathers and parents, the People of Bhutan, offered their faith and loyalty and, in unity with the Kings, served the nation with great dedication.
It is through such profound efforts that Bhutan’s achievements have surpassed the limitations of our size and natural endowments. Our unique hopes and aspirations, reflected in our respect for the environment, our culture and traditions and the philosophy of GNH, culminating in the efforts of the King to build a strong democracy, are historic, not only for our small landlocked nation, but the world. We have much to be proud of.
Today, in the womb of a strong and peaceful monarchy, we have begun to nurture the hopes of a vibrant democracy. It is this endeavour that we must henceforth uphold as our greatest priority – the success of democracy. For in the success of democracy lies the consolidation of our nation’s achievements and the future happiness and well being of Bhutan.
To the Youth:
When I speak of the future, I am speaking of you, our youth. I have always believed that a nation’s future is mirrored in the quality of her youth and that it is the government’s sacred duty to provide a good education and a conducive environment for you to become strong, capable leaders for the future.
Young citizens of Bhutan, I want you to remember that Bhutan’s success or failure will ultimately depend on the strength of your commitment – your willingness to embrace challenges and hard work. Unlike other countries, with our small population, it is not enough that a few of you excel - every single one of you must strive to be the best. This is the only way you can secure the future of our nation – through excellence.
To the Civil Service:
In any nation, and especially in our history as a developing country, it is the government who must bear the larger responsibility for ensuring socio-economic growth and progress. In the 34 years of my father’s reign, you, the civil servants, have served the King and nation most ably. In the year since I assumed the sacred duties of King, it is your faith and support that has ensured the success of the work we have done.
I am grateful and proud of those who served in government in the past and you who do so today.
With the political transition in 2008, to your already important responsibilities will be added the profound duty of supporting the growth of a vibrant democracy. In this and in ensuring the success of our development activities and the achievement of the goals of Gross National Happiness, you will bear the largest responsibility.
All I can say to you is that in a small nation, society - whether it is the general public or the private sector - will always follow the bureaucracy’s example. Therefore, you must set higher goals and work harder than others. Your principles and actions must be a model of service to the people and country.
To those participating in politics:
As our nation approaches its future as a democracy, I am heartened by the commitment shown by those of you, who left stable careers and jobs, in order to participate in a most important and historic undertaking. You are the people who will take Democracy’s first steps in our history. Therefore, you must, above all, hold the unity and peace of the nation as your utmost priority as you serve the people. It is your duty to set a clear, principled and noble path for politics and democracy in the future.
You are all experienced, well-qualified and committed citizens, and I have full confidence in your ability to bring about a successful beginning to a new era. As you answer the call of the nation and begin your service to the people, you will always have my complete support and understanding.
To the People:
My dear people, the duty of a King is to safeguard, secure and strengthen the nation so that one day we will together, with pride and happiness, bequeath a special nation to our children.
For our generation, the sacred gift of democracy from His Majesty the Fourth King will be our shared and primary endeavour. If we do not succeed and our nation and people suffer, it will mean that I have failed in my duty as King. For, it is my duty to ensure the peace, prosperity and happiness of the nation – a duty that I value above even my own life. And, if such a time were to come, when the King has failed to secure the success of democracy and the ills of a failed democracy distress our people, I will not find it in my heart to remain King.
Yet, I must remind you that even from my early youth, I worked with complete dedication and never failed in my service to the King and People. As King, I will not fail in my duty to the Nation. You and I, the people of Bhutan will not fail in our efforts to build a stronger Bhutan.
My prayer on this special day is that the Dratshang and religious community; the armed forces and civil service; the business community and aspiring politicians and the people of the 20 dzongkhags will all unite as one family. That we will work as “One Nation, One Vision” towards achieving the goals of Gross National Happiness and building a vibrant democracy; so that the sun of peace and prosperity will continue to shine on our Nation – the Land of Buddha’s Teachings, blessed by the Guru Padmasambhava and our Guardian Deities and founded on the Vision and Legacy of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
Monday, 17 December 2007
Saturday, 15 December 2007
The First and Second King of Bhutan
A new era in the Bhutanese history began on the 17th December 1907, when Trongsa Penlop (the Governor of Trongsa) Ugyen Wangchuck was elected as the first hereditary king of Bhutan. It was a decision taken unanimously by the clergy, officials, and people acting on their desire for political stability and internal peace in the country. Thus, King Ugyen Wangchuck laid the foundation for the emergence of modern Bhutan, uniting it under a central authority.
The nation continued to enjoy peace and stability under the reign of the second king Jigme Wangchuck who succeeded him in 1926 and ruled the country till 1952.
After his ascension to the throne in 1952, the third king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck took the initiative of developing political consciousness among the Bhutanese people by giving them a greater say in running the country. This was most evident in the establishment if the National Assembly by the king in 1953, and later still, when his majesty voluntarily surrendered the right to veto bills in the Assembly. King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck also proposed a mechanism of no-confidence vote that could require the king to abdicate his throne if he was deemed unfit to rule the nation. This, however, was met with a great deal of objection and resistance in the Assembly. Upon yet another recommendation on this issue from the king in 1969, the Assembly reluctantly approved the resolution whereby the reigning monarch would have to abdicate if two-thirds of the Assembly supported a vote of no-confidence. This system was however, abolished by the Assembly during the spring session in 1973. Under the third king's reign, the Royal Advisory Council, the Council of Ministers and Cabinet, and a High Court were also established. Pertinently known as the father of modern Bhutan, king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck was responsible for bringing planned development into the country with the introduction of Five-Year Plans, shedding off centuries old isolation and opening Bhutan up to the rest of the world. In 1971, Bhutan joined the United Nations Organization.
King Jigme Singye Wangchuck ascended the throne in 1972. Like his father before him, the young king at the age of 17 wanted to open and modernize the country in a cautious manner and has always stressed on the need to foster a balanced society by promoting tradition, culture and the preservation of the environment. Considered a people's monarch in every sense, His Majesty has guided the nation towards the pursuit of economic self-reliance, cultural promotion, environmental preservation, regionally balanced development, good governance and decentralization.
Following the royal decree issued by the king in September 2001, the government of Bhutan inaugurated the drafting of a Constitution, which is widely seen as a historic move in the process of political evolution initiated by His Majesty. The process of decentralization was a personal initiative of the king with the introduction of Dzongkhag Yargye Tshogchungs (DYTs) in 1981, and Geog Yargye Tshogchungs (GYTs) in 1991. Emotions ran high among the Bhutanese people when His Majesty devolved all executive authority from the throne to the cabinet in 1998 introducing a system in which the National Assembly would elect a Council of Ministers by secret ballot, and direct the National Assembly to re-introduce the system of a vote of confidence in the King.
The fourth Druk Gyalpo, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, has handed over his responsibilities as the Monarch and head of state of Bhutan to the Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck who now assumes the full responsibilities of head of state as the fifth Druk Gyalpo. As the transition was formally announced on December 14, 2006, the 24th day of the 10th Bhutanese month. His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck was born on February 21, 1980. After completing early schooling in Bhutan, His Royal Highness completed high school and graduated from the Cushing Academy and the Wheaton College, USA. In 2000, His Majesty continued further ducation in Magdalen College, Oxford University. His Majesty completed the Foreign Service Programme and a M Phil programme in Politics at Oxford University.
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
A small mountainous kingdom located in the eastern Himalayas between the giants of China (Tibet) to the north and India to the east, south and west stretches from 150 km from north to south and 300 km from west to east, covering about 47,000 sq. km. With an estimated population of 658,000 in 2000, according to the Central Statistical Organization, the population density of Bhutan is among the lowest in Asia, and there still remain large tracts of unoccupied land.
Bhutan has many different ethnic groups, the Ngalops, the Sharchops and the Lhotsams. The Ngalops and the Sharchops are mainly Buddhists and are concentrated to the western and eastern Bhutan. The Lhotsams who are the Nepali-speakers and are comprised primarily of Hindus and animists are concentrated to the south of Bhutan. Bhutanese are friendly and hospitable people. About 85% of the population live in scattered rural villages, homesteads and farms. Settlements have generally occurred in relatively flat areas, where climatic conditions are moderate. Migration from rural to urban centers, and the subsequent emergence of urban characteristics such as multi-storied buildings, restaurants, streets, shops, hotels and hospitals only began in the early 1960s. Today about 15% of the population dwells in urban townships like Thimphu, the capital, and Phuentsholing, a border town with India that is Bhutan's commercial hub
The state religion is the tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism that originates from Tibet. The Bhutanese are very religious, and Buddhism significantly influences their values, shaping the vast majority of the country's institutions, arts, architecture and literature.Bhutan is still a monarchy, now with King Jigme Singye Wangchuk who is the fourth hereditary King. Bhutan has its own unique political and administrative system. Its approach to development efforts is guided by the concept of maximizing Gross National Happiness, propounded by King Jigme Singye Wangchuk. It forms the basis for identifying directions that are preferred above all others and has directed efforts to improve living standards, including spiritual well-being and preservation of cultural values and the physical environment. Gross National Happiness places the individual at the center of all development efforts and recognizes that individuals have material, spiritual and emotional needs.
Dzongkha and English (official languages) In addition Bumthangkha is spoken in the centre, Sharchopkha in the east, Nepali in the south; a total of 18 different languages are spoken.
The national sport of Bhutan is archery. Other traditional sports include degor - a kind of shot put, darts and wrestling. Today most international sports such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, tennis and table tennis are becoming popular.
Kuensel, published in Dzongkha, English and Nepalese is the only newspaper in the country. The editions are published on a weekly basis. The Bhutan Broadcasting Service is the government owned radio and television station which broadcasts news in English, Dzongkha and Nepalese.