Lyonpo Om Pradhan
Bhutan in 2015 is celebrating the 60th birth anniversary of the fourth King of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck. Having known and served His Majesty practically all my life, His Majesty would have been the last one to agree for the nation to hold such celebrations in his honour. HM would most probably have said: “Don’t waste time and money! Go instead and take up projects in the villages to better the lives of our people.” However, democratic Bhutanese officialdom had to go along with the strong sentiments emanating from the people not to let this occasion slide by without a memorable national celebration. It is a reflection of the great love, respect and gratitude that the royal family, the royal government, the religious establishments, and above all, how the people feel about their Drukgyal Zhipa. In fact, we hear that this occasion is being marked in several Buddhist establishments across India and Nepal as well.
Throughout His Majesty’s rule from 1972 to 2006, and during the last few years of retirement, His Majesty has lived in an exemplary but simple fashion. His accommodations consist of wooden cottages rather than palatial buildings. Most of his ministers and officials are understood to live in better and luxurious houses. His Majesty’s main preoccupation has been to lead and guide the nation towards removing poverty at the grassroots level by improving the livelihood of the people through socioeconomic development based on his now world-famous philosophy of Gross National Happiness. As a result, Bhutanese today enjoy one of the highest, and rising, per capita incomes in South Asia. Poverty levels have been brought down well below 10%. All other indicators also show that the country could easily be out of the category of the Least Developed Countries of the world. Presently, peace and prosperity are the hallmarks of developing Bhutan.
His Majesty has personally led the country’s defence forces to protect the nation’s sovereignty and integrity putting his own life in great danger. While promoting freedom of religions, HM safeguarded the age-old traditions of the Drukpa Kagyupa and took steps to prevent any degeneration taking place in the monk body. I remember HM saying that, generally speaking, a religious person was usually a better human being than someone without religious beliefs.
From what I have witnessed of the life and times of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck – his compassion, his forgiving nature, his kindness, his personal beliefs, total dedication to his people and country, his championing of the Bhutanese way of life – I consider him without doubt to be the true incarnation of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the founder of Bhutan, the Drukpa state.
My family and I take this opportunity to thank His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo for all the kindness and generosity showered upon us, his fortunate subjects.
We offer our prayers to the Triple Gem for His Majesty to enjoy many many years of good life, great health and happiness.