Message on Happiness Day

Today is a big day for Bhutan … and the world.

Today, people all over the world will come together to observe the first International Day of Happiness. My family and I join the people of Bhutan in celebrating the first ever global happiness day.

I thank the prime minister and the government for their hard work and perseverance in advocating Gross National Happiness at home and abroad. I congratulate them for for successfully promoting happiness in the international agenda, and for pushing the United Nations to adopt the resolution on happiness. Their efforts have led to the adoption of the International Day of Happiness.

Today is a good time to think about our priorities – to ask ourselves what is important and what we aspire to do with our lives. It is also a good time to take a deliberate break from regular work; to spend time with family, friends and loved ones; to be true to oneself, free of material ambitions and insatiable desires.

Today is also a good time to reflect on Gross National Happiness and how it was born. It is a time, a proud time for all Bhutanese, to remember that His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, gave the world a new idea, a new calling. So today is a time to offer thanks to the Fourth Druk Gyalpo for gifting GNH to Bhutan and to the whole world. On this happy day, I urge all Bhutanese to offer prayers for our beloved Kings.

Tashi delek!



History has not witnessed a king, who, at the peak of his glorious reign, renounced the throne to bequeath a functioning democracy to his people. In this, and all others, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, who has dedicated his body, speech and mind in the service of his people, is beyond compare.

To him, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, The Great Fourth, architect of Bhutan’s peace, prosperity and happiness, role model and hero, embodiment of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, I offer this humble tribute to cherish and celebrate his precious legacy:


Portrait of a Leader

Ahead of her time

Mieko Nishimizu sat in silence, absorbing every word on her laptop screen.

It was the 16th of December 2006.  The sun had not yet risen over her home in the British Virgin Islands. And she’d just received the Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s last Kasho – a simple announcement abdicating the Golden Throne and handing over the responsibilities of Druk Gyalpo to our new King, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

As tears welled up in her eyes, she reminded herself that she had anticipated this announcement, not in 2008 as most of us expected, but much earlier, on the National Day of 2006. And that she had been prepared.

She had been prepared, because she had been captivated by the quality of His Majesty’s leadership ever since she first visited Bhutan in October 1997. And she had long determined that His Majesty, being the great leader that he was, would “… know when to leave, and to act on that knowledge when the time is right – and to do so for nothing other than a higher purpose, bigger than life.”

During the year that followed the last Kasho, Dr Nishimizu – a former vice president of the World Bank, and self-styled “leadership mentor” – poured over that and the other royal decrees issued in the course of His Majesty’s 34 years of reign. The result was Portrait of a Leader – Through the Looking-Glass of His Majesty’s Decrees, a tribute to and a celebration of an extraordinary leader.

In Portrait of a Leader, Dr Nishimizu reproduces 51 of His Majesty’s decrees in the original Dzongkha versions and their English translations. And, because of their historical significance, she includes three Kuensel articles. But the book is more than just a compilation of the royal decrees and newspaper clippings. Instead, she draws on her personal experiences and powerful insights into the rare world of successful leadership to organize and present the decrees according to what she calls eight dimensions of leadership.

Dr Nishimizu introduces each of her eight leadership dimensions – foresight, humility, head-and-heart conviction, good management, emotional intelligence, sensing the closure, empowering the people, and the perfect departure – with a crisp account of the importance of that leadership dimension. She then illustrates how the royal decrees clearly signal that His Majesty was “truly ahead of the times” on every one of the eight dimensions of leadership.

On “head-and-heart conviction”, for example, she writes that the royal decrees confirm that His Majesty’s “body, speech and mind” are perfectly aligned, and that “The focus on the sovereignty and the people of Bhutan – along with an unvarying aspiration for their happiness – is evident throughout.”

On “true power” she details His Majesty’s “focus on devolution of power to the people” including the decentralization of authority to local governments, devolution of executive powers to an elected cabinet, establishment of constitutional bodies, drafting of the Constitution and the introduction of parliamentary democracy.

And on “humility”, she refers to His Majesty as the complete “servant-leader.”

Dr Nishimizu’s carefully crafted portrait of His Majesty as a leader ahead of the times is ultimately a gift to the people of Bhutan. She concludes her preface with a solemn wish “that the people of Bhutan and of nations beyond, both of today and of morrow, would look to His Majesty as their role model so that they too can exercise their own leadership.”

Today, the 11th of November, is the Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s 55th birth anniversary. It is an auspicious occasion. And a fitting time to reflect on, and draw inspiration from, His Majesty’s golden reign … so that we too can exercise our own leadership.

Jobs for Bhutan


As Bhutan is a small country with a small population we must never allow ourselves to reach a situation where we are unable to provide employment to our people. Ensuring that this does not happen is an important responsibility of the government.

His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, 17 December, 2000, Trashigang

Noble king

Bhutan's kings-2A year ago, on 21 July, during the first sitting of the Parliament after the signing of the Constitution, I proposed a motion to nominate His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo for the Nobel Peace Prize. To recall the importance of that motion, I’m featuring a photograph of our beloved kings, taken during the signing of the Constitution, in the banner. And, I’m posting a rough translation of the statement I made in the Parliament last year.

On the 15th day of the 5th month of our calendar, His Majesty the King affixed his signature, in pure gold, to the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan. That historic moment, which took place in the Grand Assembly Hall of the Trashichho Dzong amid the sacred representations of the Lord Buddha, was witnessed by the monks of the Zhung Dratshang; His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo; Their Majesties the Queen Mothers, members of the Royal Family; ministers, members of the Parliament; officers of the security forces, civil servants; and the thousands of people who had congregated from many dzongkhags.

By this royal action, His Majesty the King gifted the Constitution, and, with it, the complete powers of governance, to the people of Bhutan.

In 1907, one hundred years ago, our forefathers had voluntarily given up all powers of the government to our first king, Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck. Since then, under the golden reigns of successive Wangchuck monarchs, the people of Bhutan have enjoyed unprecedented peace, prosperity and happiness.

Now, by introducing democracy, along with the Constitution, His Majesty the King has ensured that the sun of peace and happiness will never set on Bhutan and the Bhutanese people. This is a most precious gift. So, together with all our people, from all corners of our country, I respectfully submit my heartfelt gratitude and tashi delek to His Majesty the King, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

The Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan is without equal. No where else in the world, and at no time in history, has a constitution such as ours been constructed. Similarly, no other monarchy in the world, at no time in history, has given their powers to their people. The devolution of absolute powers from the Golden Throne to the people is, indeed, unique to Bhutan. In addition, in no other country has democracy been introduced in an environment of complete peace and stability, for in practically every other country, the transition to democracy has invariably been accompanied by war and strife.

All this has been made possible in Bhutan because of our visionary monarch, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, a true Dharma King. His Majesty has transmitted his noble thoughts and deeds, through the Constitution, to the Bhutanese people. Peace, prosperity and happiness will, therefore, continue to favour Bhutan and her people.

We must also allow other peoples, in other countries, throughout the world, to learn about and to benefit from the unparalleled wisdom and compassion of our beloved monarch. For this, it will be fitting to present His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Prime Minister should, therefore, on behalf of all the Bhutanese people and members of the Parliament, submit a proposal nominating His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo for the Nobel Peace Prize. I propose that the nomination, along with complete justifications, be sent to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, based in Norway, as soon as possible.

The construction of a constitution such as ours is, in itself, sufficient reason to be presented the award. But, in addition, His Majesty has, at the height of his popularity, devolved all powers of government, introduced democracy and abdicated from the throne . His Majesty has ensured peace, stability and the security for our country; developed the social wellbeing of our people; promoted our unique culture and heritage, and protected our pristine environment. This is why Bhutan, a small country, enjoys so much peace and happiness. And, this is why it is most appropriate to present His Majesty the Nobel Peace Prize.

But that is not all. His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, a King of Destiny, has given Bhutan and the world, Gross National Happiness. This timeless development philosophy is already gaining widespread acceptance and is guiding development in many parts of the world.

We, parliamentarians, recently celebrated the signing of the Constitution together. Similarly, I call upon all my fellow parliamentarians to collectively support this proposal to nominate our beloved monarch for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Social forestry day

rich mountains

rich mountains

Today, 2nd June, is social forestry day. It is also the day when, 35 years ago, we celebrated the coronation of His Majesty the King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. What’s the connection? It’s quite straightforward: Our Fourth Druk Gyalpo, despite heavy odds, made our country one of the world’s most famous hotspots for biodiversity.

So I asked my daughter to help me select a picture to celebrate social forestry day. She chose this photograph, of the mountains opposite the Gasa Dzong. My photo does not do the forests justice but, believe me, the mountains are heavily forested.