Remembering His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s Legacies On His 64th Birthday

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During His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s 34 year reign, he has implemented many landmark policies.

(Source: Facebook/His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck)

By Staff Reporter | Daily Bhutan

“In all his actions, His Majesty (the Fourth Druk Gyalpo) was a far-sighted visionary, a benefactor of his people, whose strategies for the country demonstrated impeccable clarity of thought and whose realisation of national objectives bespoke of unassailable determination and excellent statesmanship.

‘This is why we revere His Majesty as the ‘Father of the Nation.’

-His Majesty’s Address on 11 November 2015

In commemoration of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s 64th birthday on 11 November, Her Majesty the Queen Mother Tshering Pem Wangchuck offered butter lamps at the Memorial Chorten in Thimphu.

A day-long prayer ceremony was also organised for the long life, happiness and well-being of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo. Members of the Royal Family and other dignitaries were also present at the ceremony. 

The Letshog Lopen of the Zhung Dratshang, Sangay Dorji led the prayers, attended by the Economic Affairs Minister and members of parliament.

Photo: Facebook/Royal Family of Bhutan 

The day also marks the 4th National Day of Happiness in Bhutan – the Land of the Thunder Dragon and the event was organised by the Gross National Happiness Centre Bhutan.

In the district of Samtse, prayers and butter lamps were also offered at the ongoing Moenlam Chenmo for His Majesty’s good health and long life. The offering of butter lamps is considered the purest gift one could offer in Buddhism and Bhutanese spiritual practice.

Brief background of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo

Also known as His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth Druk Gyalpo was born in Dechencholing Palace in Thimphu on 11 November 1955 to His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck and Her Majesty Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck.

Source: Youtube/bhutanlhayul

His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo received both western and traditional education at various institutions. He started studying at Dechencholing Palace when he was six years old and went on to study at St. Joseph's School, Darjeeling in India. In 1964, he attended Heatherdown School in England where he completed his studies in 1969. 

He was the former king of Bhutan (Druk Gyalpo) from 1972 until his abdication to his eldest son, His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck in 2006.

Notable contributions during His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s reign

During His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s 34 year reign from 24 July 1972 – 9 December 2006, he implemented many landmark policies, one which of is the far-sighted policy of ‘high-value, low-volume tourism’, which has helped Bhutan to avoid the negative impact of mass tourism which has affected some of major tourists sites in the world.

Bhutan with its unique cultural resources and pristine natural environment has the potential to be a model destination for sustainable tourism. Since its inception in 1974, the country has been following a tourism policy based on 'High Value Low Impact'.

Source: Youtube/Bhutan Sustainable Tourism Society

His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo also advocated that it is the ‘distinct identity of our Bhutan’ and not the nation's ‘wealth, weapons and armed forces which are the vital instruments in securing the sovereignty of the nation.

Therefore, much emphasis has been placed on the preservation of Bhutan’s cultural heritage. During His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s reign, the ten traditional cultural sciences (rignas) received considerable priority as he cherished the importance of both the intangible and tangible aspects of Bhutanese culture.  

In addition, he foresaw the potentially adverse impact of increased economic activities on the fragility of Bhutan’s ecosystem. Therefore, he sought to enhance the protection of the Kingdom’s natural resources such as forests and biodiversity by raising the importance conserving the environment during policy discussions, which resulted in vast areas of the country being devoted to parks and sanctuaries.

Some of the major milestones achieved during his reign include the implementation of the following:

  • Jigme Dorji National Park, Khaling Wildlife Sanctuary and Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary declared in 1974
  • Environmental Studies started in schools, 1985
  • National Environment Commission established in 1990
  • Bhutan Trust Fund for Environment established in 1992
  • Environment Assessment Act, 2000
  • Bio-diversity Act of Bhutan, 2003

In recognition of his efforts, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and the people of Bhutan received the ‘Champions of the Earth’ Award from the United Nations Environment Programme in 2005.

Perhaps the most notable achievement during his reign is the coining of the concept of Gross National Happiness to measure the well-being of citizens rather than using Gross Domestic Product, which is widely adopted around the world to gauge economic growth.

In the wake of climate change and advocacy for sustainable development, Bhutan’s governance based on the principles of Gross National Happiness is not only gaining traction but also garnering attention from the international community.


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