As the nation ushers in the new year, we reflect on year gone by and prepare for the year ahead.

It was a year of change. It was a year of continuity. The country marked a decade of transition to democratic governance and witnessed empowered and matured electorate make their choice. The people gave the mandate to govern the country to a new party, Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa, and continued with the old opposition, Druk Phuensum Tshogpa.

The year marked 50 years of Bhutan–India relations, a significant milestone for the two countries that share more than just physical borders. And the new year brings hopes and concerns as Bhutan prepares to graduate from the status of least developed country.

Bhutan has special reasons to look forward to in the new year. If the year gone by was about the responsibility of the people, the year ahead is about the responsibility of the elected. Politicians have to provide  leadership to steer the nation forward and reconcile political differences. On national day, His Majesty encouraged the people to work hard and reminded the civil servants to support the government’s endeavours aimed at the welfare of the people and country. The bureaucracy represents continuity and the politicians, change. Governance brings them together to serve the people.

The task ahead will not be without challenges. The year ended on a cheerful note for many students and parents after the government removed the cut-off point for class ten students. But questions remain about its sustainability, funding and relevance. The implementation of the 12th Plan needs human resources at the local government level and their deployment poses another challenge. These problems are not new to Bhutan. What we now need is new solutions to address old problems.

From youth unemployment to water shortage to pothole-ridden roads, the problems our people are facing are still basic. The basic needs of the people must be met for the country to focus on national goals.

We have the inspiration in His Majesty, the leadership in our elected leaders, and the mandate from the people to develop with values. It is an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come as a nation and prepare for the journey ahead.

As we welcome the earth pig year, we look forward to heeding to the call of taking responsibilities.