As Bhutan celebrated the 109th National Day in Trongsa today, it was once again time for all of us to collectively reflect on what the country has done for us and what we can do for the country. The entire nation felt blest as we witnessed the three generations of monarchs: the past, present and the future kings gracing the historic occasion today with their presence. I unfortunately missed His Majesty the King’s live address to the nation on television, but I remained conscious enough not to miss the re-telecast of the address in the evening. As an ordinary Bhutanese citizen, I got deeply touched by His Majesty the King’s concerns for the country and its people. I even became emotional when His Majesty shared his noble dreams for Bhutan. Among so many important issues His Majesty highlighted in his address, here are two key messages that touched me the most.
The Kidu land left barren
It was really sad to know that despite His Majesty the King’s constant efforts to help his subjects achieve food self-sufficiency by granting land Kidu to the landless, most of such lands are still left uncultivated. I can’t imagine how disheartening it would be for His Majesty the King to know this because he has believed that granting land Kidu would expand the opportunities for people in the rural communities to carry out agricultural activities so that they can achieve food self-sufficiency. But when such lands are left fallow with all the youth migrated to urban centers in quest for better livelihood, it is becoming a concern of national importance. I think it sends out a very strong message to us especially the youth of Bhutan who have all the potentials to contribute to our economy as farmers. His Majesty’s words have even made me wish if I had enough land in the village so that I could make my wife and children cultivate it. But sadly I couldn’t inherit anything from my parents because they were landless. However, I shall keep His Majesty’s advice in mind when I get land in the future.
Lack of innovation in business
What His Majesty said about the lack of innovation and motivation among Bhutanese entrepreneurs makes a lot of sense. As His Majesty has said, we have ample opportunities and scope in Bhutan to enhance our own production. The simple examples of oranges and potatoes being sold to India as cheaper rates and buying the products like juice and potato-chips at higher prices really got to the core of my heart. Yes, this is exactly what we have been doing every year while we have the potentials within our own country to produce such goods. Selling the raw materials to other countries at cheaper price and buying the byproducts from them at higher price really makes us feel stupid. Like His Majesty the King, I also feel there are many goods we can produce at home without having to depend on other countries. This is a strong call for aspiring Bhutanese entrepreneurs to be more innovative and creative and explore business opportunities for home-made products. This would not only ensure our economic independence but it would also expand our own market at home. If we look at our economic situation today, it looks as though half of our stomach lies with India. If any economic crisis happens in India, we would be equally hit hard as we have already experienced a couple of times over the recent years. So as His Majesty the King has highlighted, we should definitely gain economic independence and food self-sufficiency easily if we all cultivate our lands properly and develop our own market with innovative Bhutanese products. This is the ultimate vision of His Majesty the King as I have understood from his address.
In addition, His Majesty also commended all the institutions on serving the King, Country and the People with utmost dedication and love so far and reminded us of our sacred roles and responsibilities as citizens of this great nation as we continue to proceed further into the future. Bhutan has survived several crises in its history all because of the extraordinary leadership we had in place and the special ties that we always share with our beloved kings. On special occasions like this, it is time for all of us to make a commitment that whatever we do, we shall always serve the King, Country and people with all our heart and ensure that Bhutan continues to be a safe and peaceful place for millions of generations to come. God bless the Land of Thunder Dragon and its people! Palden Drukpa Gyalo!