Saturday, December 05, 2015

A Tribute to the Visionary Monarch of Kingdom of Gross National Happiness

After Terton Drukdra Dorji revealed the prophecy of Guru Rimpoche that foretold the Birth of His Majesty the 4th Druk Gyalpo, the day, the month, exactly 60 years ago, in the male wood sheep year, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck was born to His Majesty the late 3rd king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck and Her Majesty Azhi Kezang Choden Wangchuck at Dechencholing palace on 11 November 1955.
On this joyous occasion of the celebration of the 60th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the 4th Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck, I take an opportunity in joining the nation to extend my heartiest felicitations, gratitude, veneration and fervent prayers to the dynamic and visionary leader of our nation for his long, healthy and prosperous life.
Bhutan, for century had been served by our successive monarchs, strengthening the noble monarchy. The legacy of age old monarchy had marked the history of peaceful nation when the people of Bhutan unanimously enthroned Sir Ugyen Wangchuck as the 1st monarch of Bhutan on 17th December 1907, in the palace of great bliss. There was then a shift from Desi rule to Monarchy, where 1st king inherited a country which for over two centuries had been divided by constant internecine strife. Unity and peace were hence restored.
2nd king upheld the Bhutan’s sovereignty from the outside threat through the promotion of isolation. He safeguarded our kingdom from the virus of World Wars with his brain child of ‘Isolation principle’.
When the entire world walked through the path of developments, the 3rd king faced the greater challenge of up lifting the age old isolation and opening the door to the clutches of developments censored by the preservation profound culture and unique tradition.
Due to the untimely demise of his majesty the 3rd king at Nairobi, Kenya in July 23rd 1972, Bhutan was saddened and country grieved for the loss of “Father of modern Bhutan”. Addressing at the opening day of the 37th session of the national assembly on 10 September 1972, our young and farsighted 4th king said, “….just as we have been born will all have to die, it should be remembered that my father has only succumbed to the transient nature of worldly existence….” The Crown prince Jigme Singye Wangchuck who was then the Trongsa Penlop stood for the nation becoming the youngest king at the age of 17 years in 1972.
The 4th monarch inherited the modernizing Bhutan at a very young age demanding the greater responsibilities of good governance and farsighted developments. His majesty the 4th king is the only king that embodies the highest qualities of visionary and exemplary leadership in the entire world. He is truly the high-level political leader of our era.
Gross National Happiness, a development philosophy was coined by His Majesty the fourth king of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck in the 1970s. The concept implies that sustainable development should take a holistic approach towards notions of progress and give equal importance to non-economic aspects of wellbeing.
Since 1971, Bhutan championed a new approach to development, which measures prosperity through formal principles of Gross National Happiness and the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its citizens and natural environment apart from gross domestic product.
For the past three decades, this belief that wellbeing should take preference over material growth has remained a global oddity. When the entire world craved and argued that the key to happiness is obtained and enjoyed from material development, Bhutan adheres to a very different belief and advocates that amazing material wealth does not necessarily lead to happiness. Bhutan measure prosperity by gauging its citizens’ happiness levels, not the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Bhutan, a remote kingdom, a place of ancient monasteries, fluttering prayer flags and staggering natural beauty is determined in methodical pursuit of the most elusive concept- Gross National Happiness.
Bhutan, an abode of happiness had gone through a complete and remarkable phase of modernization embracing every trends of western culture, guided by its noble goal of gross national happiness, and rooted in the ethos of historical culture and unique traditions.
The GNH policy serves as a unifying vision for Bhutan’s five-year planning process and all the derived planning documents that guide the economic and development plans of the country.
The last 40 years saw profound changes in governance and development philosophies under the benevolent reign of fourth Druk Gyalpo. In 1981, his majesty devolved power by decentralizing administrative powers to local government introducing Dzongkhag Yargay Tshogchung and in 1991; the power got more devolved by establishing Gewog Yargay Tshogchung. By 1996, goongda woola was discontinued on the command of his majesty. In 1998 his majesty devolved full executive powers to the council of ministers. In November 2001, on the command of his majesty, 39-member constitution drafting committee was established to draft the constitution of Bhutan. In 2003, 15 December, his majesty led an armed operation against Indian militants camped in Bhutan jeopardizing his life for the security and sovereignty of nation. His majesty announced during national day celebration in 2005 at Trashiyangtse that he will step down from the throne in 2008. Not many people could embrace the words when his majesty announced that he’ll step down and the power shall be returned to the people who for 100 years trusted the monarchs with loyalty and served with dedication.
Of all, signing the constitution on July 18, 2008, his majesty returned the power to his people after 107 years of monarchy marking Bhutan’s transition to constitutional democratic monarchy. Thousands were left in tears unable to embrace the reality when in 2008, century old monarchy transformed to constitutional democratic monarchy. Bhutan accepted the unfathomable truth and with tears in their eyes, doubts in their mind, Bhutanese people regarded the transition as a gift from the golden throne and a legacy of his majesty the 4th king.

Bhutan had undergone complete and remarkable phase of transition where the democratic constitutional monarchy flourished, guided by its noble goal of gross national happiness, rooted in the unique culture and tradition that, in many ways, became a role model of the entire world.

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