It was quite a day on Tuesday when the nation paused to celebrate the 112th National Day. Besides the grand celebrations at the host dzongkhag, the National Day was celebrated in all the other dzongkhags and even abroad where there is a sizeable Bhutanese community.
A highlight of the National Day, as always, is the traditional Royal address. Every year, Bhutanese at home and abroad wait for His Majesty’s National Day address for guidance, inspiration, and wisdom.
A day after the National Day, what many remembered was the surprise His Majesty shared about Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen expecting their second royal child. The news was received with excitement and appreciation with people offering prayer and good wishes to Their Majesties. A few others are talking about the Gyalsung programme, mainly for the want of details of the nine-month-long service.
Besides the announcement, His Majesty, in his address, highlighted some key national concerns, which every Bhutanese should reflect on. The message was simple and clear when His Majesty stressed on the need of a 21st century economic roadmap, of us not making the most of our smallness and the concerns related to the youth, largest group in our demographic structure.
There is no interpretation needed, the concerns are now our responsibilities. His Majesty spoke of the rapidly changing world around us and the need to recalibrate ourselves so that we are not left behind.
The priorities are set every National Day when His Majesty shares his concerns with the people. His Majesty made it profoundly clear where the focus should be in coping up with the changing world. New developments like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Big Data, Blockchain or Quantum Computers were something new to the thousands of spectators, but we have made small strides with the royal vision clear on the importance of technology.
His Majesty had called on the government, legislators, the private sector and experts in various fields to work collectively and chart out an economic roadmap. The noble wisdom comes at a time when we are confused in our priorities. What is our economic vision? Could we look beyond hydropower that is fast becoming unreliable? What is the role of the private sector? The questions are many.
The economic prosperity we are enjoying today is the fruits of the noble vision laid out by the successive monarchs. What have we to show today despite polices and plans that are even threatening to undo the good old polices? It is said that we have the right conditions with peace and stability ensured. We have not been able to take advantage of it. In the meantime, even the normal yardstick for measuring growth is slowing down. Those in the private sector are feeling the heat.
His Majesty often reminds us of our smallness and its advantages. The wisdom that His Majesty conveyed was that we had not been able to draw on the strength of being small and close. In essence, we are talking about being ineffective even if we are small and easier to manage.
Close to His Majesty’s heart is our youth, the future of the nation. The Gyalsung programme His Majesty announced is a masterstroke in preparing our youth to be capable future citizenry.
It has become a cliché to say the command of a King is heavier than the mountain. Today, His Majesty has laid the priorities. It is on the people to roll up their sleeves and start working towards the vision.