I am surprised how fast time has slipped away. Within no time, we have spent the twelve precious months of our life since the day we celebrated the New Year last year and due to God’s grace and the blessings of those who had wished us around this time last year, we could successfully make it to 2016. I hope God will continue to bless us like this throughout this year and beyond. Today as we welcome the year 2016, I think it’s time to look back and reflect on some of the best moments we have had in 2015. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on the mistakes we have committed over the past one year and take forward the lessons we have learned from those mistakes.
The year 2015 had really been remarkable in the history of Bhutan. Although the outside world continued to writhe with pain over the ongoing bloody conflict between Israel and Palestine to bloodsheds in the Middle East, the European migrant crises and earthquake tragedy in Nepal and many other natural disasters elsewhere on the globe, Bhutan had a number of very pleasant historic moments to cherish. I believe this is all because of the true blessings of Lord Buddha and our guardian deities as well as the unwavering love and guidance from our wise leaders. Despite numerous socio-economic and political shortcomings, we have managed to open some new pages in our history over the past twelve months. These achievements shall make us proud as Bhutanese forever.
1. Bhutan has been known by the world as one of the greenest nations on Earth with more than 72 percent of its land under forest coverage and the conservation of natural resources has been one of the biggest priorities of the Royal Government of Bhutan and our visionary kings. The protection and conservation of our natural environment is even guaranteed by the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan and this makes us very fortunate because the future generations of our country would continue to get to breathe the same fresh air we have been breathing for ages and drink the same fresh water we have been drinking for ages. So in line with our efforts to make Bhutan green forever, 100 volunteers created a new page in our history on 2nd June 2015. Coinciding with the Coronation Day of our Fourth Druk Gyalpo, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, Bhutan entered the World Guinness Record for planting the highest number of trees in an hour. It was truly a historic moment for a small nation like Bhutan. The volunteers planted 49,672 saplings in one hour and beat the previous record of 40,885 saplings set by India in 2012. For a country that attaches so much importance to the conservation and promotion of pristine environment and sustainable natural resources, this has been a great achievement. I heard that the saplings are being well taken care of and once they grow up to become trees, we will have one of the greenest areas in Thimphu that can supply fresh air and fresh water for hundreds of years.
2. One of the most significant and auspicious moments we have witnessed in 2015 is the celebration of the 60th birth anniversary of our beloved Dragon King, the Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the man who has given Bhutan a new face and strength. It was a great opportunity for us to be able to join the auspicious celebration and offer our gratitude for the absolute peace and prosperity he had blest us with during his 34 years of golden reign. The entire nation came together on 11th November 2015 to show the world that we love our king as much as he loves us, if not more, and we joined our hands and hearts to pay our tribute to His Majesty for his good health and long life. May he continue to live in peace and harmony. You may click the above link to read more about the event.
3. In sports particularly in football, the name of our country has echoed around the globe especially among soccer fans after winning the chance to participate in the qualifying rounds of 2018 FIFA World Cup. Although we lost in the 2nd round, at least Bhutan made its way far into the world and we became more visible. For the first time in our history, Bhutan began to appear in several international media like BBC, AFP and CNN, each praising our achievements. I was truly happy to see the name of our country often mentioned in the foreign news channels and websites. I don’t care how badly we have lost the game, but I am sure we have become more popular in the world than what we were just before we played our first match against Sri Lanka in March 2015.
Likewise, many good things have happened during the past twelve months that have contributed to the overall development of our country. Under the wise leadership and guidance of our leaders and with the true blessings of our beloved king, Bhutan has been making absolutely right movements in the midst of socio-economic and political confusions elsewhere in the world. Despite a few challenges, we have had a very fruitful year. I hope 2016 would also bring us same blessings.
At the personal level, I am really amazed to know how much my friends and relatives care about me. I was pleasantly surprised to receive New Year wishes from so many people both on social media as well as through SMS and calls. It has been a very exciting and lovely experience. To welcome the New Year 2016, I had a small dinner gathering at my brother-in-law’s house last night and although we were small in number, we had a very lovely night. It was the moment for us to offer gratitude to 2015 for all the blessings we have got and to call for similar blessings during 2016 as well. To those friends and family-members whom I could not wish in person, I would like to heartily wish you a very happy New Year 2016. May you all be blest with absolute peace and happiness. May God be always with you!