Monday, 2 May 2011

Day To Remember the Father of Modern Bhutan.

Bhutan is the land of mystic splendour, blessed with the eternal flow of peace and tranquility, which is mainly attributed to the blessings of almighty and local deities, the faith and respect bestowed by the people in their leaders, and the love & care showered on the fellow citizens with full dedication by the leaders. Since the inception of monarchy in 1907, Bhutan is blessed with compassionate and selfless men one after another, which we call them Druk Gyalpos’ (King of Bhutan) and one such personality was our third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.
His Majesty the Third King of Bhutan

Born to His Majesty the Second Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Wangchuck and Queen mother Azhi Phuentsho Choden on 2nd May 1928 in Truepang Palace at Trongsa, His majesty was the only child born to queen mother though he had three sisters and one brother from his step mother, Azhi Pema Dechen. Having learnt the Buddhist literature, Hindi, and English at his early ages, he started taking major responsibilities in the administrative system of Bhutan at the age of 15 with his first post as Trongsa Droenyer ( Secretary in-charge of Guest), and two years later, he became the Paro Penlop ( Governor of  Paro region). His majesty married Azhi Kelzang Choden, daughter of Gongzim Sonam Tobgyal Dorji in the year 1952, and in the same year on October 27, he ascended the Golden Throne as the Third King of Bhutan.

Monarch of clear vision and foresight, he worked tireless for the welfare of his people and kingdom. His major social reforms includes putting a ceiling to land holding at 30 acres, reduction of tax and revenue from the land, and abolishing completely from poor farmers with smaller holdings. Feudalism was completely abolished and serfs were removed thus making every citizen equal irrespective of creed, caste and colour.

Judicial reforms include the establishment of High Court and reorganization of the judicial system. Capital punishment was completely abolished thus retaining the Buddhist principles in administering the nation.

His major constitutional reforms were the establishment of Tshogdu, The National Assembly of Bhutan in the year 1953, where the elected members representing the common people can raise the voice on behalf of people at grass root level. Lodoe Tshogdu, the Royal Advisory Council was constituted in 1963, to assist the Kings day-to-day administration thus maintaining crystal-clear transparency in the system of governance. The Council of Ministers was created in 1968 and the concept of constitutional monarchy came into light as early as 1968 when his majesty declared to the National Assembly and empowered the people to remove the king or His successor with a majority vote of Two Third in the vote of no confidence.
Third King and Prime Minister Nehru (1954)


Under his dynamic leadership, Bhutan progressed towards the road to economic development, social & political stability and material development. Upon the invitation of the king, the Indian Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi visited Bhutan in 1958 thus putting an end to the age-old policy of isolation and this further strengthened the foundation of Indo-Bhutan Friendship. The two leaders discussed Bhutan’s specific problems and Nehru promised to assist Bhutan in her economic development. With enormous financial support from Indian Government, Bhutan kicked off her First Five-Year Plan (1961-1966) in 1961 and within a reign of 20 years under His Majesty’s leadership, Bhutan saw mammoth of developmental activities.  Some of the major achievements include the setting up of Seed Farm and Agricultural Research Stations, Extension Centres to boast the production of horticulture and agriculture crops in agricultural sector and establishment of Breeding Farm for various animals in various parts of the country and setting up of animal product plants in the field of Livestock and Animal Husbandry.   In Health sector, Public Health Department and Chief Medical Officer were set up in Thimphu, the number of dispensaries and hospitals were increased (40 in total, 6 hospitals and 34 dispensaries), and health workers were trained. Hydel projects were constructed to light major towns of Thimphu ( Capital city of Bhutan) and Paro thus opening the foresight of sustainable use of natural resources. National Bank of Bhutan was established in 1968 to control its currency and foreign exchange. Bhutan was connected with India by motor roads giving away the mule tracts. 1770 Kms of road was constructed in the First 5 Year Plan itself.

Spectacular progress was made in the field of education. The number of schools rose from 59 in 1961 to 102 in 1972 including 15 junior high schools, 5 high and 2 public schools. The total enrolment increased from 3000 to 9000. One Teachers’ Training Institute was established in Samtse and many more Bhutanese scholars were sent to India to get specialization. Therefore, 2nd May is also observed as National Teachers Day, to pay tribute to the teachers, in memory of relentless efforts made by his majesty in introducing modern education in Bhutan.

In 1959, the People’s Republic of China occupied Tibet, which was a threat to the sovereignty of Bhutan and this has encouraged His majesty to look ahead for the safety of his people and nation. Soon Bhutan became the member of Colombo Plan in 1962 and Universal Postal Union in 1969. In 1970, Bhutan attended the UNO General assembly as an Observer and in 21st September 1971, Bhutan was unanimously admitted to the United Nations. His majesty completely gave up the policy of isolation thus allowing people to accept modern concepts of democracy and social equality by entering into the new era of participation in international affairs.

King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck was not in sound health since his early twenties, when he got a heart attack, which is why he made frequent visit to foreign countries for treatment. To the utter dismay of the entire nation, his majesty succumbed to premature demise at the age of 44 on 21st July 1972, in Nairobi, Kenya, while he was receiving a medical treatment, thousands of miles away from his beloved children and royal family, his faithful subordinates and his nation, leaving an irreparable loss in the soil of DrukYul (Land of Thunder Dragon). Yet the people of Bhutan are very lucky to have the only crown prince Jigme Singye Wangchuck to succeed the Golden Throne.

Being a monarch of clear vision and foresight, who steered the country away from the policy of isolation, brought about religious and social consolidation and set country towards the path of economic development, and for tiresome endeavour for his people and nation  despite his ill health, His Majesty the Third Druk Gyalpo, Late Jigme Dorji Wangchuck is still remembered as the Architect of Bhutan or simply the  Father of Modern Bhutan.

Commemorating the 73rd Birth Anniversary of Third King of Bhutan.

Image source: google images

Reference: 
  1. Hasrat. Bikrama Jit., Druk Gyalpo Gyalse Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1952- 1972)- Third Hereditary King of Bhutan.
  2. Jigme Dorji Wangchuck - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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