Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Jigme Singye Wangchuck, འཇིགས་མེད་སེང་གེ་དབང་ཕྱུག་, (born 11 November 1955) is the former king of Bhutan (Druk Gyalpo) from 1972 until his abdication in favor of his eldest son, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, in 2006. During his reign, he advocated the use of a Gross National Happiness index to measure the well-being of citizens rather than the Gross Domestic Product.
- ...as far as you, my people, are concerned, you should not adopt the attitude that whatever is required to be done for your welfare will be done entirely by the government. On the contrary, a little effort on your part will be much more effective than a great deal of effort on the part of the government..."
- Address to the people of the Bhutan on the coronation day, 2 June 1974, quoted in The Talking Mountains (26 Oct 2015)
- ...children are our treasures. They hold the promise of the future and therefore, it is only right that they should be given every opportunity to develop their physical, mental and spiritual potential to the fullest extent in an environment free of want and free of fear..."
- Message during the international year of the child, 28 July 1979, quoted in The Talking Mountains (26 Oct 2015)
- Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product.
- Quoted in story of a king, a poor country, and a rich idea. Business Bhutan, Tashi Dorji (15 June 2012).
- We are convinced that we must aim for contentment and happiness. Whether we take five years or 10 to raise the per capita income and increase prosperity is not going to guarantee that happiness, which includes political stability, social harmony, and the Bhutanese culture and way of life.
- Quoted in The Modern Path to Enlightenment, by John Elliott of the Financial Times of London (2 May 1987,
Quotes about edit
- His Majesty ruled the country from 1972 to 2006 during which Bhutan saw an unprecedented peace, security, prosperity and happiness. His Majesty emerged as one of the greatest leaders in Asia; and for his leadership, he was named as one of the Time Magazine’s top 4 hundred ‘People Who Shape Our World’ in 2006. His Majesty was a humble and selfless leader for whom the welfare of the people always stood above his own.
- The king of the Himalayan state of Bhutan announced the end of a century of absolute royal rule yesterday with the publication of a draft constitution to establish a multiparty democracy. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck said that by the end of the year his 700,000 subjects would be given the right to elect two houses of parliament, whose members would be empowered to impeach the monarch by a two-thirds vote... The British-educated King Jigme, who succeeded at the age of 16 in 1972, said an absolute monarchy was an anachronism.
- Bhutan's king brings in party democracy, The Guardian (28 March 2005)
- Gross National Happiness, or GNH, evolved over centuries in Bhutan but was launched formally in 1972 as an economic alternative by then-King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. At the time, he was criticized for overseeing the stagnation of one of the world's smallest economies based mainly on agriculture and forestry. As a result, the former king shifted focus of development from productivity to human well-being in four areas: sustainable economic development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the environment, and good governance. Since then, government policy in Bhutan has been guided by GNH principles in a succession of five-year plans
- His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck inadvertently christened his philosophy in 1979 at Bombay airport when he was returning from the sixth Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in Havana. Giving a rare interview to group of Indian journalists, one reporter asked “We do not know anything about Bhutan. What is your Gross National Product?” His Majesty said “We do not believe in Gross National Product.” He added “because Gross National Happiness is more important.” The media reports that resulted from the interview did not really focus on a new development philosophy Bhutan was pursuing.
- His Majesty, as a young king, would engage in conversation with civil servants, policy makers, and the citizens very frequently... It was during these unrecorded and informal occasions, over campfires, during his travels throughout the country that His Majesty repeatedly alluded to the need for the government and the leaders to aspire to give to the people what they needed and desired most and that is happiness... At that time, it did not strike most of us as an extraordinarily wise and unique statement as it has now become. We all took it as something obvious and it wasn’t taken as an extraordinarily unique statement.
- Jigme Yoser Thinley quoted in The story of a king, a poor country and a rich idea, Tashi Dorji, Earth Journalism (15 June 2012)
- All Bhutanese know about the king’s passion for cycling, to which he has increasingly devoted his spare time since December 2006, when he relinquished the crown to his eldest son. In Thimphu, many tell tales of close encounters, or near-misses — the time they pulled over their car to chat with the bicycling monarch, the time they spotted him, or someone who looked quite like him, on an early-morning ride... The fourth king is the most beloved figure in modern Bhutanese history, with a biography that has the flavor of myth. He became Bhutan’s head of state in 1972 when he was just 16 years old.
- Bhutan: A Higher State of Being By Jody Rosen, The New York Times, (30 Oct. 2014)