National Day celebration in most countries is an occasion to showcase, beyond nationalism, its military superiority and economic strength. The military parade, and the display of sophisticated weapons, strategic missile forces, artillery and airplanes, sends an open message and communication to foreign and domestic adversaries. 

At the Changlimithang stadium tomorrow, during the 116th National Day, what will be at display is quite on the contrary. Our National Day is not to demonstrate our military strength and capacity, and or economic achievements and advancements. We do not have tanks, missiles or airplanes. What will be on display is the symbols of unity, identity,  loyalty all through our culture and tradition – tangible or intangible.  The strength that we derive from beyond the material possession of military hardware, or economic wealth.  

We show-off to the world our happily smiling children, women, and men, dressed in their best, joyously tapping and clapping to melodious songs and music that echo through the majestic mountains that cradle us.  The pride of Bhutanese, and the economic and social standing of Bhutan, is asserted by the wellbeing and progress of the people, the identity, and an intact environment.  We show off the bond between the King and the people. We show off how safe and secure we are, and we show off the trust in our leaders.  

However, it would be gravely erroneous to misconstrue the happy, easy-going, and hospitable nature of Bhutanese for weakness. As history bears witness, Bhutan has successfully secured and maintained sovereign independence, and territorial integrity, in spite of challenges in the international order established then by imperialism and its great game.

In the contemporary history spanning the past 116 years, led by our benevolent Monarchs, we continue to uphold and strengthen our security, sovereignty, and the right to self-determination, even as the international order, once again, become fraught with nations competing to secure the world’s limited resources, and market.

His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and His Majesty The King, through canny pragmatism, have navigated Bhutan in avoiding the implications of societies around us that have evolved from peaceful coexistence, to competitive coexistence, and more recently, to combative coexistence. 

His Majesty The King’s calm yet firm resolve in the face of crises has not only helped de-escalate tensions and volatile situations, but also provided leadership in restoring, and maintaining peace and security in the region. 

In that, the strategic location of Bhutan often puts it in sensitive situations. But instead of exploiting the situation for temporary gains, it stands for the wellbeing of all. 

It is also not by chance, therefore, that Bhutan is associated with happiness, or Gross National Happiness, challenging and tempting countries world over to prioritise the wellbeing and happiness of its citizens. 

We uphold international laws, and support the international community’s response to crises resulting from conflict, climate-change, and or pandemics.  

As the sun set on the 116 National Day celebration, however, our National Anthem reverberate ‘may the sun of peace and happiness shine on all people’.