Democracy is the government under the representative ruler, elected by people in a way that people has got right to vote for their own choice of candidate. U.S. President Lincoln, A. (1809-1865) defines, “Democracy is a government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
Before the era of Jigme Namgyel, our country had been somewhat in the form of democracy. The government was almost peoples since the country was fragmented. The powerful local king or a noble family decides rules and law for his community people. We could say that our country had been in the form of democracy not because the each individual people has got fundamental right and freedom of as we have right now but because the country was not unified under one leader. So, since the country not being centralized, the country is somehow in little sense been in the form of democracy. It was by the era of Jigme Namgyel, he started conquering the local powerful lords under him and unified the kingdom under one leader. The battle of Changlingmethang was fought in 1885, by then country is said to be centralized under a Desi, then followed by his son Ugyen Wangchuk as the first King of monarchy. It is almost a century and a year, our country had been in monarchy system since the year, 1907 to the year 2008. During the existence of monarchy system, the power had been in the hand of Kings. The country now enjoys the fundamental right and the freedom of speech.
The developments corresponds to the democratization since there are two types of democracy; the industrialized democracy and non-industrialized democracy. Our country enjoys the non- industrialized democracy since country is in the progress of taking its leaps and bounds of development. The first Druk Gyalpo, Ugyen Wangchuk was fully engaged in restoring peace and order in the newly unified Monarchy Kingdom. The second king, Jigme Wangchuk was engaged in the consolidation. Thus, their time was fully utilized investing all their energies in establishing stable kingdom ensuring the sovereignty and preparing for its reforms that would benefit the Bhutanese in generations to come. Almost four and half decades down the line since the establishment of a hereditary monarchy, when the third Druk Gyalpo succeeded to the throne he saw the time was appropriate for the institution of socio-economic and political reforms. Bhutan opened door of development and interaction with the international mostly by the reign of third Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. He sow the seed of democracy. Thus this essay will explore on how freedom of serfs, establishment of National Assembly and Royal Advisory matters in the process of democratization
The abolition of serfdoms that existed in Bhutan until 1959 is in direct correlation to the equalization of legal standing before the law for all living in Bhutan, with commoners and nobles transformed into modern self-disciplining subjects of the nation states (Kinga, 2009). So we should realize the value of democratic society. One must respect ones fundamental human right. His Majesty, the third Druk Gyalpo abolished the system of working under the powerful lord for the food, lodging and clothes. With his farsighted vision that every people must be treated equally with justice, he granted land kidu to assure that those people considered as of low cast or races make their living. He abolished the system of feudalism. His Majesty turned those into tenants and share croppers instead of indented labourers. This is the actual basic of human rights.
And also to pass the fair justice to without considering the races and cast of people the court of justice was founded. The court of justice protects the citizen from an arbitrary government. So, the establishment of a court of justice, the Thrimzhung Chenmo is another initial step the third king took to have strong and peaceful democracy in years to come. His majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk initiated the key process of democratic institution in 1953 by establishing the national assembly. “The function of National Assembly is to enact, amend or repeal laws, and approve national budget.” (Unknown, 2016). The national assembly comprises of 40 representatives of government, 10 monastic body representatives and 100 heads of wise villagers as the peoples representative. Those 150 heads get participated in the decision making.
He wanted such decisions to be shared to peoples of the country so that the outcomes were acceptable to everybody. As a result His Majesty opened the National Assembly.”(Ura, 2012, p.64). They held meeting twice a year I order to discuss the issues of the country and its people. The member has got the freedom of speech in the forum. The kings’ order and plans of development are also discussed with the representatives of the department and people in the forum. Thus, the National Assembly generated the national awareness. Before the establishment of National Assembly, the rules and developmental plans are all as per the opinion of the kings. People don’t have opportunity to take part in decision making. Where since National Assembly was started people take part in decision making and finally submitted to king for the final judgement. So the establishment of National Assembly is the first step taken by third king in the process of democratization since the power of the king was shared to the people of the nation.
After 12 years of the establishment of National Assembly, the beloved third Druk Gyalpo instituted the Royal Advisory Council which is today known as National Council, in the process of democratization. “An advisory board is as body that provides non-binding strategic advice to the management of a corporation, organization, or foundation. The informal nature of the advisory gives greater flexibility in the structure and management compared to the board of directors.” (Unknown, 2016) It consisted of 8 members; 5 representing people, two representing the monk body and one nominee of the king, who act as a kalyon (chairman). This body was not responsible to the National Assembly, it served as the coordinating link between the legislative and the executive. This council advise the king and his council of ministers on key issues of policy and ensures the implementation of the resolutions passed by the national assembly. It says that royal advisory council let the king to have second thought before action not in the form of order but as a suggestion in the discussion. The establishment of the National Assembly and the Royal Advisory Council ensured that the voice of the people was also reach to the king through their representatives. The establishment of royal advisory council is another step for the process of democratization because king shared his power with the representatives of the department and people rather than taking his own decision.
More than the above mentioned points to support that it is the third Druk Gyalpo who sow the seed of Democracy. “It was given in the kuensel of 30/6/1968 about the transformation of monarch into democracy and it was followed by the fourth Druk Gyalpo as a parliamentary democracy by the year 2008.”(Phuntsho K., 2009). So, to make Bhutan the democratic Kingdom was the mission that third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk had strived for. Thus, democracy is indeed a gift to the people from the golden throne. It is also said in the Drukgyal Sumpai Togjoed that in the 30th session of National Assembly, the third Druk Gyalpo gave his people the right to put the vote of no confidence against him if he ever fails to hold the responsibility of king. This clearly shows how dedicated he is to the country and his people. No ordinary man, no leaders in the world would will do be abdicated from golden throne but he does. From here we can clearly make out that he is does not bother about his power rather peoples right and sovereignty of the kingdom.
The monarchy system started by 20th century under the leadership of Ugyen Wangchuk as the first monarch king. The 21st century begun under the leadership of the firth king, Jigme Khesar Namgay Wangchuck. He was enthroned sooner after the country was transformed into democracy from monarchy. He has come to the throne at the time of change of democratization in terms of polity and globalization in terms of economy. In this century, the nation enjoys the the fundamental right and freedom of speech. Democracy is considered to be the gift to the people by king from the golden throne. We the Bhutanese must be very grateful to our late father of modern Bhutan, for he is the one who planted the seed of democracy. It is because of him, we the generation of today get freedom of voice in decision making. People has got right in choosing their leader. The government is now in the hand of people. Thus, beloved third Druk Gyalpo was not only father of modernization but also father of democracy.
By Dorji Thinley
Dr. Ura, K. (2012). Leadership of the Wise King of Bhutan. Thimphu.
Kinga, S. (2009). Polity, Kingship and Democracy. Thimphu: Bhutan Times Limitted, Phandey Lam.
Phuntsho, K. (2013). The History of Bhutan. India: Randon House Publisher India.
Unknown. (2016, 03, 21). www.bmf.bt/about-bhutan/. Retrieved from google: http://www.bmf.bt/about-bhutan
Unknown. (2016, 03 22). www.en.m.wikipedia.org/ …/. Retrieved from google: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/…/