Forth King of Bhutan – Jigme Singye Wangchuck
By Travel Bhutan | June 22, 2012
The Forth King of Bhutan – Jigme Singye Wangchuck, was born in November 1955, to the third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, and Queen Kesang Choden Wangchuck, herself a descendant of the kinsman of the first King, Raja Ugyen Dorji, and Sikkimese Royalty from her mother’s side.
The fourth King of Bhutan – Jigme Singye Wangchuck reign was a remarkable one in Bhutan, more so than those of his illustrious predecessors.
The fourth Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King) was educated in Bhutan, India, and England. His father passed away while he was still very young, and King JIgme Singye Wangchuck became King at the tender age of 19. However, there was no doubt about his ability to lead the country, and Bhutan was ushered into the final step of modernity- democracy, under his guidance.
Travel Bhutan talks about the reign of the Forth King of Bhutan – Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Bhutan saw enormous progress in the long reign of the fourth King. In the beginning of his reign, Bhutan joined the United Nations, and for a final time, established firmly its status as an independent, sovereign nation.
Bhutan also joined many other regional cooperative bodies, and was one of the founding members of SAARC, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. Bhutan was one of the first countries to recognize Bangladesh an independent nation, and despite its small size, made itself heard in the United Nations.
Bhutan continued to strengthen its friendship with India, and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and King Jigme Singye Wangchuck developed a close friendship.
Meanwhile, development in the country accelerated like never before- extensive roads were built, connecting to the remote reaches of the country, and schools continued to be built, and an increasing number of students went to school.
His Majesty recognized the importance of an educated citizenry in safeguarding the country and developing it, and many students were sent to pursue higher education in other countries. Media made its appearance to cater to the increasingly educated society, and the first airline, Drukair, became operational in the country.
However, two important achievements of the Fourth King set him apart as perhaps the greatest monarch of Bhutan.
Under the fourth King, Bhutan began to steadily progress towards democratization. The National Assembly was attended by representatives from villages, and the central power was steadily decentralized. In 1998, under His Majesty’s command, new ministers were appointed and would serve as Prime Minister for a year on a rotation basis.
Finally, in 2006, His Majesty announced that the time had now come for the Kings to hand over the control of the government to the people, and work was begun for the first democratic government. The constitution was written in consultation with the people, and the election commission was set up. In 2008, according to the wishes of the fourth King, Bhutan saw its first parliamentary elections, and began a new system of governance.
The other major achievement of the fourth King was the philosophy of Gross National Happiness. In an early command to the district governors, His Majesty had said that they should weigh the success of every development activity they carry out in terms of how much happier the people are as a result of the activity. GNH was offered as an alternative measure of development to Gross National Product- true progress should be measured by how much happier the people were, rather than how much money the nation made- this was the essence of GNH.
This philosophy attracted international interest, and has now been included as the ninth millennium development goal of the United Nations.
King Jigme Singye Wangchuck stepped down in favour of his son in 2006.