The historic new year gift- Gyalsung – our constitutional duty

One of the most exciting and memorable moments of the 112th National Day was the announcement of institution of Gyalsung (National Service). While His Majesty formally confirmed time frame and criteria to participate in Gyalsung but this sacred duty to Tsa-Wa-Sum has been long been envisioned by none other than our Great Fourth, His Majesty Drugyel Zhipa decades back and has been incorporated within our Constitution.

Predominantly, most democratic constitutions around the world incorporate only fundamental rights or natural rights because, democracies in these countries are culminated as a result of rebellion or revolution by citizens against the tyranny, dictatorship, authoritarian or through bloodshed and war where citizens have lost all their rights. However, Bhutan’s constitution culminated as a result of blessings from the throne when the nation is in most peaceful state and our monarchs enjoy the highest respects, trust and confidence from the subjects. Thus, Bhutan’s constitution incorporated not only fundamental rights but also fundamental duties under Article 7 and 8 of the constitution.  Article 8 (1) requires that, a “Bhutanese citizen shall preserve, protect and defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity, security and unity of Bhutan and render national service when called upon to do so by Parliament”.  This is one of the first and foremost important fundamental duties of every Bhutanese citizen.

The primary objectives of Gyalsung are well integrated within our Constitution. First, we the Bhutanese people have pledged in preamble our Constitution to “Strengthen the sovereignty of Bhutan the blessings of liberty, to ensure justice and tranquility and to ensure the unity, happiness and well-being of the people of Bhutan”. Further, Articles 4 and 5 has incorporated the values and duties including conservation and protection of national heritage-the principles of values of peace, non-violence, compassion and tolerance, preserve and promote our age old culture and traditions, prevent ecological degradation and promote balanced sustainable development”. The Gyalsung program will help instill these values within our future youth, which are paramount importance to nurture a good citizen of the country.

His Majesty also reminded the importance of unity.  Such wise wisdom from the throne will help our youth to promote and uphold the fundamental right to “equality” provided under Article 7(15) and make both state and parents encourage our youth “material interest resulting from scientific, literary or artistic production which he or she is the author or creator” provided under Article 7(13).  After the three month military training, the remaining nine months will empower our youth create numerous “lawful tradition, profession or vocation” based on their passion, interest and ability and become a very productive citizens which are the most essential being geo-politically situated between world’s most populous countries but also most politically and economically powerful.

Constitution has also enshrined many other national values and democratic principles. Gyalsung is one of the most appropriate platforms to translate these national values, individual rights and duties into practice in promoting and building a healthy, unique democratic culture and political system through peace, compassion and unity.  The institution of Gyalsung is not just His Majesty’s wise vision but also a sacred constitutional duty. Thus, Gyalsung program will play a vital role in shaping our youth, ultimately help promote good governance and guide Bhutan to the path of Gross National Happiness.

Sonam Tshering Lawyer, Thimphu

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

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