Grooming of the Father of Modern Bhutan
The third King in the line of succession of the Wangchuck dynasty, His Late Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck was born to King Jigme Wangchuck and Ashi Phuntsho Choden on 2 May 1928 at Thruepang palace in Trongsa. Most of his childhood days were spent in Trongsa during winter and Bumthang in summer. The grooming of the Prince to succeed to the throne began from an early age. In the court school at Wangduecholing, Bumthang along with a group of selected students he learnt Buddhist literature, English, and even Hindi among other subjects.
The First Druk Gyalpo was fully engaged in restoring peace and order in the newly carved out Kingdom. The Second King was involved with its consolidation. Thus their time was fully utilized investing all their energies in establishing a stable Kingdom, ensuring its sovereignty and preparing it for reforms that would benefit the Bhutanese. Almost four and half decades down the line since the establishment of a hereditary monarchy, when the third Druk Gyaplo succeeded to the throne he saw that the time was appropriate for the institution of socio-economic and political reforms.
Visit of Nehru and Indira Gandhi
The starting point of formalizing relations with Independent India came with the signing of the treaty of 1949. Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck continued to further strengthen this relationship between the two countries after his enthronement in 1952. Two years later in the summer of 1954, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck visited India where he was accorded a grand welcome. This visit was reciprocated by the visit of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1958. The delegation stayed in Ugyen Pelri Palace in Paro for a week.
Launching Five Year Plans
Despite the efforts of the successive Kings, till the 1950s Bhutan remained underdeveloped and a feudal society. The late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck was convinced that his primary role as king should be to bring to the country and its people the benefits of modernization and progess made outside without losing the identity of the country and its people. He beleived that progress could not be made in isolation and a concerted national effort had to be put into building the basic infrastructure to support modernization of the economy and the society.
Freedom of Serfs: A milestone in the social reform of Bhutan
Serfs worked for the nobilities as well as rich families. They were like properties of the families for whom they worked. The third Druk Gyalpo, even before becoming a member of the UNO saw this element in the society as going against human decency. Thus, the King issued a royal ordinance stating that the serfs should not be referred to by the belittling terms such as khue, zaden, pongyer, jaam, jou. A new term ‘nangzen’ was coined to refer to the serfs. It was a milder term than the traditional nomenclatures. This was the first move that would lead to the ultimate freedom of serfs.
Bhutan and the United Nations Organization
The Druk Gyalpo knew the significance of Bhutan becoming the member of the United Nations Organization if its independent status was to be recognized by the international community as well as receive support for its socio-economic development programmes. Bhutan applied for UNO membership and attended its General Assembly in 1970 as an observer. Bhutan was admitted as a member of UNO on 21 September 1971. On the occasion of Bhutan’s admission to the UNO, the country was represented by Prince Namgay Wanghuck,Lyonpo Sangay Penjor and and Lyonpo Dawa Tshering.