As tomorrow dawns across the nation, happiness and hope will permeate the citizenry to celebrate the national day. Numerous Bhutanese both within and beyond will rejoice in unity. Despite economic uncertainty lingering from the pandemic’s wrath, and mass migration of professionals crucial to health, education, justice and other pivotal sectors, this national day shall reunite us. Collectively we will renew our allegiance to the benevolent monarchs. For “whenever adversity plagues our nation, the regal healing handcrafts unity, having shepherded us through many troubled times.”

As Bhutan celebrates its 116th National Day, the occasion also signifies a historic milestone—the transition from being classified among the least developed nations to ascending the status of a developing nation. This shift brings forth substantial responsibilities for the nation, as Bhutan, while gaining a more favorable position in the international arena, willingly foregoes various opportunities, freebies, and aids traditionally provided to least developed countries.

This elevated status is undeniably a source of pride for the nation, underscoring its progress and global recognition. However, it also imposes a weighty responsibility on Bhutan, demanding robust leadership characterized by vision, inspiration, and a willingness to take calculated risks. The transition to a developing nation is not merely a symbolic achievement; it necessitates a concerted effort to navigate the challenges inherent in this new phase.

 Amidst the backdrop of political parties often being swayed by short-term visions, the enduring hope and faith of the nation lie with our great monarchs. Their visionary perspectives transcend beyond immediate goals, prioritizing the well-being of the people and laying the foundation for sustained development. As Bhutan charts its course toward becoming a developed nation, the leadership’s commitment to absolute people-centric visions and welfare remains paramount, ensuring a prosperous and harmonious future for us under our monarchs.

As rumors disperse, tomorrow heralds Gelephu City’s long-awaited official announcement. His Majesty’s personal guidance and vision catalyze this meticulously planned green city destined for success. Recalling extensive global travels seeking world-class architects, investors and spearheads to ignition this undertaking, His Majesty once affirmed dedicating the last two years spanning Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Asia towards this noble pursuit. At this radical juncture, an unprecedented transformation beckons our unified support as citizens. If other nations like South Korea, the UAE and Singapore could morph from third-world to first-world status in a mere generation, surely Bhutan possesses similar potential. With hard work rivalling such models, our homeland can arise as one of the world’s wealthiest, more quickly. Let us pledge ourselves to this national change.

However, past Royal addresses experiences indicate more reactive, ad-hoc state responses, forgotten by the next National Day.  This time, we must galvanize around the consistent excitement of a long-term vision, not reactionary whims which fail to grasp profundity. Rule-bound, democratic processes aligned to His Majesty’s farsighted visions and aspirations must crystallize implementation strategies contemplated thoroughly to match the magnitude of visionary national addresses. 

As we approach this historic National Day and eagerly await another vital Royal address, let us rededicate ourselves to our beloved kings. United as one people, we shall confront all challenges shoulder-to-shoulder while sharing in the sweet fruits of success. By preserving our treasured traditions, culture, nature, integrity, good governance and the rule of law, Bhutan shall transition from one of the world’s poorest to its richest nations, emerging as a model for all countries. Happy National Day.

Sonam Tshering

Lawyer, Thimphu

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are author’s own.