Letters to a friend…

When Bhutan celebrated the 25th anniversary of His Majesty’s golden reign, friends of Bhutan from across the world, penned down their thoughts about Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The Journalist brings out extracts of these eternal words   

A Thoroughly Participatory Approach


It is rare to find a nation, today or in the history of our globe, whose people share a clear and dynamic vision rooted in their cultural heritage and common values. It is even rarer to encounter a nation which, by the strength of her conviction, initiates a new paradigm for the transformation of its society – sometimes called “development” – that challenges the world to reconsider established methods of measuring change. This unique nation is the Kingdom of Bhutan, and the ultimate source of its uniqueness rests singularly in the leadership of His Majesty.

I shall never forget October 27, 1997. On that day, I received the honour of an audience with HisMajesty. It was on that day that I began to think of “development” and the “development process” with an entirely different mindset. I ceased to think of Gross National Product, and other such concepts, as appropriate measures of development..I began to think of development as the transformation of a society, by the society, for the society. I began to think of the development process as a constant process of change, wherein people of a society choose to gain more control over their own destiny, enrich their lives by widening their horizons, reduce the afflictions caused by poverty, and improve the quality of life.

I understood a peaceful equilibrium of this perpetual process, when people of a society embrace the very fact that the only constancy in life is change. I can recall as vividly as if it were only a moment ago when this “thunder” struck me during the audience. Stepping out into the sundrenched courtyard of Tashichho Dzong afterwards, an ancient Chinese poem came floating across my mind:



With the best of leaders, when the work is done,

The project completed,

The people all say “We did it ourselves.”

(Tao Te Ching)

“The people of Bhutan are most fortunate to have Your Majesty as their Sovereign King.”

Ms Mieko Nishimizu, Then Vice President, South Asia Region, World Bank


A Majestic Step


During my visits to Bhutan, on several occasions, I had the privilege of having audiences with His Majesty the King. In long and very open discussions, His Majesty explained the dilemmas and opportunities that Bhutan faces. He introduced the concept of Gross National Happiness as far back as the early eighties. During these audiences, I really began to understand what his aspirations for his country and people were. His Majesty strongly appreciates the value of history and tradition, but does not cling to the past. He recognizes the merits of development and modernization, but does not idealize their possibilities and has a very keen eye for the dangers. Again, I feel very privileged to have shared his wisdom.

Mr Pieter Lammers, Director, Foundation Ecooperation, the Netherlands


A Star on the Asian Stage


I have followed the fortunes of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck since 1972. There are persons in

whose life a whole age is condensed. They appear at the troubled seams of cultures and epochs and make history. One of those persons is Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the young King of the Himalayan country of Bhutan. Quiet and unassuming, without beating the drum of propaganda, he has become a star on the Asian stage.

His successful performance during the summit of the Non-Aligned States in March 1983 in New

Delhi was not his political debut, but a breakthrough, which does not happen every day. What is valid for actors may also be valid for politicians, presidents and kings: intelligence and knowledge, ideas and opinion become more credible if they are presented by a personality who is good-looking and endowed with charisma. The young King has both and he additionally has several things not acquired by learning alone: self-confidence, natural dignity, calmness and persuasive power. If the people of the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, often called Shangri-La, the last paradise, have a message for us, then it is one of harmony of the material world with the spiritual world, a concept still believe by the people here in the mountains. The young King has made himself a spokesperson for this.

Gisela Bonn (I1996), Cologne, Germany (condensed and translated by Reinhard Wolf, Thimphu)


Preserving the Spirit Vital to The Nation


Throughout, His Majesty the King has provided wise and thoughtful leadership reinforced by his wholehearted commitment to the country, its people, its development and its welfare.

Those of us who look with friendship at Bhutan from more distant countries have watched with

admiration what the Kingdom has achieved. Managing relationships with its near neighbours so as to emerge from previous isolation without compromising integrity. Steady development going hand-in-hand with maintaining and nurturing traditional values, so that those very impressive students from Bhutan who come to our country combine a thirst for knowledge with confidence and pride in their own culture. Active development by His Majesty of a new style of political leadership in which participation is steadily broadened and planning development is becoming increasingly rooted in the needs and aspirations of ordinary citizens at the village level.

Lord Wilson of Tilliyorn, GCMG, House of Lords, then President, Bhutan Society of the United Kingdom


Sensitive Mind and Modern Outlook


In the contemporary world of changing political systems, it is not often that one comes across a personality like His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the King of Bhutan whose sensitive mind and modern outlook sustains the unity of the State and obtains the loyalty of his people.

I feel that the people of Bhutan are lucky to have His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck at the helm at a time of rapid change of nations and societies due to continuing strides of science, technology and multimedia. Bhutan is no longer Shangri-La. It is a. nation modernizing itself under the direct leadership of a man of vision who is not tempted by the glitter of borrowed modernism but has the wisdom to find a judicious balance between the traditional and the modern. Under His Majesty’s guidance, Bhutan has arrived from the edge of time to the mainstream of global change. There may be no country like Bhutan that so well combines change with stability, the new with the ancient. The credit goes to the King as well as the people of Bhutan. The people are gentle, honest and hard-working. Their King laces power with compassion and humility.


Mr I.K Gujral, Former Prime Minister of India

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