Bhutanese wait for the Royal Address that comes only on events of national importance. In His Majesty’s addresses they see the wisdom, guidance and inspiration always shared with profound clarity and often leaving the people inspired and comforted.

Yesterday, in an unexpected departure from the traditional Royal address from the Golden Throne, and to the surprise of those watching and listening, His Majesty talked to a woman,  Karma Dechen, a waitress at a Café in Thimphu directly. At the end of the opening of the Parliament session, many are talking about Karma Dechen.

Who is Karma Dechen? Why is she so important?  Why is her story relevant?

In talking to Karma Dechen, His Majesty was clear in sharing, with the people of Bhutan, the challenges, the opportunities and above all the responsibilities we should shoulder to lift the people from the predicament many are in. Karma Dechen’s story is the story of many young Bhutanese in today’s Bhutan – who came to urban Bhutan chasing opportunities.

If many thought His Majesty was assuring the mother of a four-year-old boy easy help, we are wrong.  In her story we see the realities –  the problems and the challenges that we have created for ourselves. Whether it is creating meaningful employment, relevant education, affordable housing – it is a living problem today.

The message was clear and simple. It was pointing out the painful realities of Bhutan today and the hope and expectations that we can change or come out of it. Karma Dechen represents thousands of Bhutanese in search for better opportunities and struggling to make ends meet. Her four-year old son is the future generation.

The assurance for a better life is the promise that we have to fulfill through hard work, shouldering responsibilities sincerely and being accountable to our failures. A resounding message was that we must confront reality and admit our failures or mistakes without being embarrassed. It would be a disaster to repeat the mistakes.

Assuring Karma Dechen of future prospects comes from the expectations of the transformations and reforms happening in the country. There are already results being felt. It too comes from the urgency to change for better. And it comes from the assurance that the change is not one time and we will continue transforming to make Bhutan and Bhutanese better.

Karma Dechen cried when she met His Majesty. She will cry with joy when her life improves not through direct Kidu, but through hard work, availing the opportunities created by the environment and when the country has transformed to help any Bhutanese through merit, not red tape, when she explores the opportunities through transparency and not stifled by bureaucracy.

The confidence in assuring Karma Dechen, her husband and their son a better life is drawn from our collective strength. The “we” in committing to work harder, with urgency without wasting time is us, the policy makers, the implementers and the rest of us.

In recent years, we have seen the tone of the Royal addresses change. Last December it was about instilling grit (ngar) in us. This time, the message was conveyed through talking to a woman – a character that we can easily relate to.

Like a former Chimi (former member of parliament) discussing the Sungshey (Royal address) after the opening session said, if Bhutanese cannot comprehend the message of His Majesty The King’s Sungshey today, it is a lost opportunity.