It would indeed be a vain exercise and nigh impossible to express the profound impact His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo has imprinted in not only navigating the country over an enlightened and benign reign of more than four decades of selfless service and the intimate rapport which He cultivated and nourished with the common citizenry – one of deep reverence, inspiration and gratitude.
He was the very incarnation of a Dharma King and a fortunate and grateful populace has enjoyed the fruits of His tireless labor. Thus it is befitting, on this occasion that we attempt to pay a humble tribute to the glory that is His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and find renewed motivation in that.
Under his compassionate kingship, the country made unprecedented progress and development without ever surrendering the importance of the Bhutanese heritage. Rather His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo reinforced the traditional and cultural bonds to a towering milestone that has now revolutionized the way modern development is seen, conceived, implemented and measured.
Among His many legacies is the groundbreaking introduction of Gross National Happiness – both as a philosophy and as a practical tool of development that is at once holistic, revolutionary and applicable on a national and personal level. The fact that today GNH finds welcome platforms and podiums around the world is testimony to that vision. That it is not only gaining grounds as a developmental philosophy but is also seriously being considered as a workable alternative approach to the prevalent practice of enrichment at all costs by an increasing number of governments around the world.
That was one of His many precious gifts to the country and to the world at large. Another watershed moment came when He initiated work on the Draft Constitution. At the time, His Majesty said “Bhutan must move with the times to ensure that the nation not only overcomes all internal and external threats, but continues to prosper in an atmosphere of peace and stability.”
The Draft Constitution was a labor of love worked out without exhaustion and in consultation with the people of Bhutan, to reassure and to safeguard their rights and that of the nation. The Draft Constitution toured the length and breadth of the kingdom with His Majesty himself paving the way in patiently explaining the magnitude and significance of the document, allaying fears and dispelling doubts of a people that trusted Him explicitly but were not quite willing to let go of the parental hand which He so readily extended for decades. But as with all things He did for the benefit of the people and the nation, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, on July 18, 2008, gave us a Constitution like no other with the heartfelt message that the Constitution must go beyond mere words and become the golden pillar which will support and enable the political system to safeguard the sovereignty of the country and the rights of the people.
And then He gifted us democracy – against the will of the people, for the benefit of the people and as a right of the people. His panoramic vision, compassionate persona and fearless action has brought us to where we are today – as a sovereign nation steeped in tradition following a development philosophy that has no parallel. In the end, He made us realize our identity as a people and as a nation and the paramount importance of maintaining both. Today, it is our great fortune that His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck now steers the nation just like His Father did.
If we followed suit in Their Majesties awakened examples, we would perhaps earn the right and the pride to call them our Druk Gyalpos and be worthy enough to pay our respects and demonstrate our gratitude, as responsible subjects of this blessed realm of the Dharma Kings.