His Majesty’s Ad­dress to the Nation, 109th Na­tional Day, 17 De­cem­ber 2016

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Each year, we come to­gether to cel­e­brate the 17th of De­cem­ber as our Na­tional Day– an oc­ca­sion of great sig­nif­i­cance and im­por­tance. The com­mem­o­ra­tion of this day serves to re­mind us of the pro­found sac­ri­fices of our fore­fa­thers, who worked tire­lessly for the well­be­ing of our coun­try and peo­ple; it al­lows us to ex­press our grat­i­tude to those who came be­fore us for hand­ing over a strong, sovereign nation to the fu­ture gen­er­a­tions; and it is a day on which our gen­er­a­tion reaf­firms our pledge to shoul­der our im­por­tant re­spon­si­bil­ity to serve the nation to the best of our abil­i­ties.

We are ex­tremely for­tu­nate to be blessed to­day by the pres­ence of the fa­ther of our nation and the King of Prophecy, our beloved Druk­gyal Zhipa His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck.

On this aus­pi­cious oc­ca­sion, I ex­tend my heart­felt Tashi Delek to all the peo­ple of Bhutan in the twenty dzongkhags and 205 gewogs, who are fol­low­ing the cel­e­bra­tions on tele­vi­sion, and also to all the Bhutanese across the world, whose hard work we ap­pre­ci­ate deeply. On this day, the peo­ple of Bhutan have you in our thoughts, and we wish you Tashi Delek on the oc­ca­sion of our Na­tional Day.

Trongsa is a blessed site, hav­ing been the seat of Yongzin Ngagi Wangchuk. Ch­ogyel Min­jur Tempa es­tab­lished the Trongsa Chokor Rab­tentse Dzong as the most im­por­tant seat to watch over the eight spokes of the east­ern wheel that com­prise our east­ern dis­tricts. From the time of the first Trongsa Pen­lop, Min­jur Tempa, an un­bro­ken suc­ces­sion of Trongsa Pen­lops have served the coun­try, to the day I be­came the 24th Trongsa Pen­lop. It was here that I re­ceived the sacred dhar as Trongsa Pen­lop in the year of the wooden mon­key, twelve years ago.

From that mo­ment on­wards, due to the an­cient bene­dic­tion en­dowed by this sacred place, all my en­deav­ours in the ser­vice of the peo­ple and coun­try have been favourable.

Twelve years later, in the year of the fire mon­key, the birth year of Guru Rin­poche, I have be­come a fa­ther.

It gives me great hap­pi­ness that on this aus­pi­cious year, the peo­ple of Trongsa, as well as the peo­ple of Bumthang and Zhem­gang, are present here to cel­e­brate this won­der­ful oc­ca­sion along with me, my Fa­ther and my Son.

We are liv­ing in ex­tra­or­di­nary times. Cures are be­ing found ev­ery day for what­ever dis­eases blight mankind. Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions have made it pos­si­ble for peo­ple across vast oceans to con­nect, and even speak face to face. With the ad­vent of the in­ter­net, knowl­edge and in­for­ma­tion are at our fin­ger­tips, and with ad­vances in trans­porta­tion and easy ac­cess to air travel, no place is in­ac­ces­si­ble any­more.

It is awe-in­spir­ing to ob­serve that there have been far greater ad­vances within our life­time than in the last thou­sand years, in the fields of sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and trans­port, modern medicine, health­care, and pro­duc­tion.

And yet, since the world pop­u­la­tion has mul­ti­plied many times over, the world that we live in to­day is filled with un­cer­tainty.

In the time of the his­tor­i­cal Bud­dha, the pop­u­la­tion of the world was around a 100 mil­lion. In the 8th Cen­tury, the time of the Sec­ond Bud­dha Ugyen Guru Rin­poche, the world pop­u­la­tion had grown to around 300 mil­lion. In 1955, the year that His Majesty Druk­gyal Zhipa was born, the world pop­u­la­tion was 2.7 bil­lion. To­day, there are al­most 7.5 bil­lion peo­ple in the world.

This ex­cep­tional rise in pop­u­la­tion has cre­ated greater threats and dif­fi­cul­ties for the world. Coun­tries are grap­pling with war, ter­ror­ism, and eco­nomic dif­fi­cul­ties lead­ing to debt, in­come dis­par­ity, poverty, and con­flict and the great­est threat of all- the pol­lu­tion of our nat­u­ral re­sources.

How­ever, due to the bless­ings of Ken­chosum, the con­sci­en­tious­ness and prayers of our for­bears, the united ef­forts of our peo­ple, and the pro­tec­tion of our guardian deities, Bhutan has re­mained in the past year, free from ad­ver­sity, calamity, or con­flict. Our peo­ple have en­joyed a deep sense of se­cu­rity, sta­bil­ity, and peace.

I have been King for 10 years. In this pe­riod, all our en­deav­ours have been fruitful, and our ef­forts free of ob­sta­cles. This is due to His Majesty Druk­gyal Zhipa’s sac­ri­fices, hard work, en­light­ened poli­cies, and the firm foun­da­tion which is a legacy for us to carry for­ward.

It is also due to the ex­cep­tional fidelity that ex­ists be­tween our peo­ple, the gov­ern­ment, and King. We may be a very small coun­try with a small pop­u­la­tion, but our peo­ple have al­ways been strong, in­tel­li­gent and ca­pa­ble. But since that alone does not suf­fice in this day and age, we have also worked in co­he­sion and with a sense of sol­i­dar­ity to achieve our success.

There is a still great deal left for us to do in the times to come. When I con­sider the fu­ture, I am filled with en­thu­si­asm, be­cause the fu­ture that I see is filled with op­por­tu­ni­ties.

My fa­ther and I share the as­pi­ra­tion to firmly es­tab­lish democ­racy in our coun­try. It is an en­deav­our that will re­quire the continued ex­er­tions of all fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. Democ­racy is the col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity of our peo­ple, the vi­tal force from which our coun­try will draw its strength, and the foun­da­tion of peace and hap­pi­ness for our peo­ple.

It has been 8 years since we es­tab­lished democ­racy in Bhutan, and so far, we have pro­gressed steadily. Still, there are many ar­eas in which we can ac­com­plish even more. By shoul­der­ing our re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and work­ing to­gether dili­gently, in our life­time and within the span of my reign, we can build a democ­racy that is ex­em­plary. We have the op­por­tu­nity to hand over an even stronger and more suc­cess­ful coun­try to our chil­dren.

The process of de­cen­tral­iza­tion be­gan in Bhutan in the time of His late Majesty Druk­gyal Sumpa. Sixty years hence, de­cen­tral­iza­tion con­tin­ues to be an im­por­tant na­tional ob­jec­tive. Many na­tions are hin­dered in their progress even though they have all the mark­ers of democ­racy, be­cause they have fal­tered when it comes to de­cen­tral­iza­tion.

We are un­like oth­ers in this re­gard. We can do what oth­ers can­not, and we can do it bet­ter than every­one else.

Dur­ing the Coronation in 1974, His Majesty Druk­gyal Zhipa said to the peo­ple: “a lit­tle effort on your part will be much more ef­fec­tive than a great deal of effort on the part of the gov­ern­ment.”

If we con­tinue our ef­forts in the process of de­cen­tral­iza­tion with His Majesty’s lu­cid Command in mind, we may en­vi­sion bound­less pos­si­bil­i­ties for a suc­cess­ful out­come.

Fi­nally, our coun­try is fore­most among the world when it comes to the beauty of our nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment and the di­ver­sity of our flora and fauna. This is a re­sult of gen­er­a­tions of en­light­ened poli­cies in con­ser­va­tion.

How­ever, with chang­ing times, in­creas­ing pop­u­la­tion and bur­geon­ing ur­ban set­tle­ments, we are faced with new chal­lenges.

Dur­ing the re­cent clean­ing cam­paign, over 300 tons of waste was col­lected from Thim­phu alone. I am told that Thim­phu pro­duces around 61 tons of waste ev­ery day.

We have suc­ceeded phe­nom­e­nally in the con­ser­va­tion of our nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, and our ef­forts and achieve­ments have gar­nered in­ter­na­tional ap­pre­ci­a­tion and recog­ni­tion. If we are as suc­cess­ful in main­tain­ing the places where we live, it will be a truly com­mend­able achieve­ment.

It is our col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure that where we live re­main clean, safe, well or­ga­nized, and beau­ti­ful, for all times to come.

As King, I feel priv­i­leged to carry out the noble work of Land Kidu. I un­der­took this re­spon­si­bil­ity as sacred, hav­ing re­ceived it from my Fa­ther, who has him­self car­ried out this noble duty for many years.

Bhutan’s dif­fi­cult ter­rain means that only 7 per­cent or 664,000 acres of our to­tal land is us­able. We must en­sure that this small amount of land is put to the best use for the benefit of our peo­ple.

Many of our peo­ple con­tinue to de­pend di­rectly on land for their liveli­hood. In ad­di­tion, land is tra­di­tion­ally con­sid­ered a pre­cious in­her­i­tance to be be­stowed to our chil­dren. The ob­jec­tive of the Land Kidu is to place the muchtrea­sured land upon the hands of our peo­ple, and en­able them to use it to bet­ter their lives and se­cure the fu­ture of their chil­dren.

It is a con­cern that in a rapidly grow­ing econ­omy, in­equal­ity may

bring great di­vides in our so­ci­ety be­tween the rich and the poor. An­other ob­jec­tive of the Land Kidu has been to em­power and up­lift peo­ple, and al­low them to pros­per.

With these ob­jec­tives in mind, my Fa­ther and I have handed over 295,860 acres of land to our peo­ple till date.

How­ever, what I had hoped for with this un­der­tak­ing has not been fully re­al­ized. Over the years, there are in­creas­ing num­bers of Gung­tong (ab­sen­tee house­holds), and I find that large por­tions of land con­tinue to be left fal­low across the coun­try. The peo­ple, es­pe­cially the young, have been leav­ing their vil­lages for towns in greater num­bers. I am deeply con­cerned that they will en­counter un­em­ploy­ment and other dif­fi­cul­ties in ur­ban ar­eas, and be­gin to de­spair.

This should not be so, be­cause there are nu­mer­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties in Bhutan.

We spend Nu 8 bil­lion an­nu­ally to im­port food. To cite an ex­am­ple, we ex­port pota­toes and or­anges, and then im­port potato chips and or­ange juice.

From this, it is ev­i­dent that there are many op­por­tu­ni­ties for en­trepreneur­ship and com­mer­cial farm­ing in our coun­try. In ad­di­tion, our youth are ed­u­cated, ca­pa­ble, and en­thu­si­as­tic.

We must ask our­selves then, where we have gone wrong.

Our gov­ern­ment re­mains stead­fast in its ser­vice to the peo­ple. The scope of the suc­ces­sive five year plans have grown ex­po­nen­tially. The budget of the 11th FiveYear Plan, which is an un­prece­dented 213 bil­lion, is spread across var­i­ous sec­tors and across the coun­try.

For my part, I will con­tinue to in­crease land own­er­ship, in the same man­ner that I have in the past.

As I see it, to be­gin any new en­ter­prise, first and fore­most, one re­quires capital.

There is a great op­por­tu­nity here for the fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions and banks to make a posi- tive im­pact by im­prov­ing ac­cess to credit for our youth and ru­ral peo­ple.

We can gauge the ex­tent of the im­pact by con­sid­er­ing that to­day, in Bhutan, the to­tal loan stock that has been lent out is Nu. 85 bil­lion, but out of this, only 4.5 bil­lion, or about 2.5% has been uti­lized in the agri­cul­ture sec­tor. This must change.

I am pleased that the Royal Mon­e­tary Au­thor­ity, led by the Gov­er­nor, has taken an ini­tia­tive in this di­rec­tion by de­creas­ing the lend­ing rate of the banks.

Our fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions have a strong sense of cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, and place the wel­fare of the peo­ple above profit mak­ing. I am happy that in their turn, the fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions have whole­heart­edly sup­ported RMA’s ini­tia­tive to lower the lend­ing rates.

If our fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions are able to ex­tend un­stinted sup­port to young en­trepreneurs and farm­ers, and help in cre­at­ing nu­mer­ous op­por- tu­ni­ties for them, we will de­rive count­less ben­e­fits.

It will go a long way in strength­en­ing the sovereignty and se­cu­rity of our coun­try, and fur­ther­ing our so­cial pol­icy of equity and our na­tional ob­jec­tive of self-reliance.

If our youth, who are well ed­u­cated, are able to suc­ceed, it will benefit our coun­try as a whole.

I want to con­clude by ex­press­ing my grat­i­tude to the Zhung Drat­shang and the clergy, and es­pe­cially to His Ho­li­ness Trulku Jigme Choda, who has served as the 70th Je Khenpo for 20 years, for their ser­vices to the coun­try, and their sup­port to me dur­ing my reign.

I have great ad­mi­ra­tion for Je Trulku Jigme Choda, who con­tin­ues to work tire­lessly for the well­be­ing of the peo­ple and the coun­try. His Ho­li­ness presided over my own Coronation cer­e­monies, and I am deeply ap­pre­cia­tive of his bless­ings and af­fec­tion on the birth of my son. I take this op­por­tu­nity to of­fer prayers for his longevity and well­be­ing.

I also ex­press my ap­pre­ci­a­tion to our elected gov­ern­ment, mem­bers of par­lia­ment, and lo­cal lead­ers, who have worked to­gether in ser­vice of the nation.

Most of all, I deeply ap­pre­ci­ate the un­wa­ver­ing sup­port and loy­alty of the peo­ple, who have re­posed the great­est con­fi­dence and trust in me.

Fi­nally, I want to ex­press my heart­felt grat­i­tude to my Fa­ther. His Majesty Com­manded me to as­sume the du­ties of a King at a young age, and in do­ing so ex­pressed the great­est con­fi­dence in me. I con­tinue to be blessed by His Majesty’s guid­ance and sup­port.

I am deeply in­spired when I re­call that His Majesty Druk­gyal Zhipa’s ex­tra­or­di­nary reign be­gan at the age of 16. This is what gives me the de­ter­mi­na­tion ev­ery­day to place greater ef­forts in the ser­vice of my coun­try and peo­ple.

Once again, I wish the peo­ple of Bhutan, a heart­felt Tashi Delek on this very spe­cial oc­ca­sion.

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