History of Bhutan
Druk Yul, the land of Thunder Dragon, a sovereign Himalayan
Kingdom located in the southern slopes of the Eastern Himalayas.
It borders China (Tibet) in the North and India in the East,
West and South. It has an area of approximately 46,500 square
kms and is divided into twenty Dzongkhags (Districts). Geographically,
it is divided into three regions East, West and South. It
is only surviving Shangri-la on the earth.
country has enormous water resources, minerals and herbs with
exotic flora and fauna for tourism attraction. Coming over
here, one may feel as if in paradise. The livelihood of most
of the people is based on agricultural and cottage industry.
recorded history of Bhutan prior to the 7th Century remains
obscure. Only after the visit by a famous Buddhist saint,
Guru Padmasambhava from India, that the history of Bhutan
as a nation came to be known. Nevertheless, its full consolidation
began only with the arrival of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal,
a Buddhist theocratic leader from Tibet in 1616 AD. He unified
all the small independent principalities and founded the Bhutan.
But the sovereignty of the region and its habitation dates
back to time immemorial. He consolidated its borders to what
was then known as Lho Mon Kha Sjhee. Shar Dungsum Kha or Deothang
in the east to nub Daling Kha or Pedong, Kalimpong in the
west and Jang Taksi kha, beyond Laya in the North to Lho Paksam
Kha or Buxa Doors in the south. He named the nation as Druk
Gyalkhab and hence al its citizens are known as Drukpas irrespective
of ethnic group.
of Governance during the time of the Shabdrung
having unified Bhutan by 1637 A.D, the Shabdrung Rinpoche
then established the Dual System of governance with the civil
administration headed by the Deb Raja on one side and the
clergy headed by the Je Khempo on other, while he himself
reigned supreme as the spiritual and temporal head of the
The first Je Khenpo was appointed in 1637 A.D, immediately
after the capital was established in Punakha. Though Shabdrung
himself administered as the Deb Raja until 1651 A.D, he appointed
another Deb Raja to assume this responsibility.
Lengye Zhungtshog (cabinet) comprising of the Zhung Doeyner,
the Zhung Kalyon, the Zhung Dyennsap, the 3 Penlops and 3
Dzongpons, headed by the Deb Raja was constituted as the highest
administrative body. While the Lhengye Zhungtshog selected
the Deb Raja amongst whomsoever, it considered capable, be
it amongst themselves, the administration, the clergy or even
the Shabdrung himself, the Deb Raja too exercised himself,
the Deb Raja too exercised his powers to select persons who
constitute the cabinet.
Dratsang Lhentshog, the highest body of the clergy was headed
by the Je Khenpo. The Dratsang Lhentshog comprised of the
4 principal Lopons( The Dorji Lopon, Yangpe Lopon, Tsenid
Lopon, Drabi Lopon), the Dratsang Omzey, the 3 Kudungs, and
12 others. The Dorji Lopon who would be selected on the basis
of merits and seniority from the clergy would become the Je
appointing the Deb Raja in 1651, the Shabdrung went into retreat
with instruction to the Deb raja that he was not to be disturbed.
He had actually passed away but this was discovered only 12
years later. After the first Shabdrung Rinpoche passed away,
his reincarnate could not be located and it was only 70 years
later in 1721 that the reincarnate of the Shabdrung was found.
His reincarnates were found and reinstated as the spiritual
the line, 54 Dev Rajas ruled the nation until 1906. The most
powerful among the Chieftains, Ugyen Wangchuck the Tongsa
Penlop, son of the 48th Deb Raja Jigme Namgyal usurped power
in 1907 to enable him to be declared as the first Hereditary
Monarch of the Kingdom.
is pertinent to mention here that with the establishment of
an absolute Monarchical System of Governance in 1907, a new
era of polity began in Bhutan.
The total population of Bhutan is approximately 6,50, 000
Dzongkha is the national language of Bhutan. But English is
predominantly used in offices and schools. Sharchoppa-kha
and Nepali is widely spoken in the country. Gho for men and
Kira for women is the national dress of Bhutan and mandatory
for all citizens at all times otherwise punishments are imposed.
Bhutan is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and a multi-lingual
society. While Kanying Zhung-Drel (Kargyupa and Nyingmapa
sect of Buddhism) is the state religion of Bhutan, majority
of the people inhabiting the southern part of the country
are believers of Hinduism.
SYSTEM OF GOVERNANCE
system of governance in Bhutan is absolute Hereditary Monarchy
as those that prevailed in mediaeval periods in other parts
of the world. It was established in 1907 under the Wangchuck
Dynasty and the present King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, is the
fourth hereditary monarch down the line. Bhutan acquired membership
of United Nations Organizations in 1971, sponsored by India
and supported by USA, UK, Belgium, France, Japan, Former USSR,
Italy, Burundi and Sierra Leone. Though Bhutan is a member
of the UN with a mandatory obligation to uphold the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, the Bhutanese people are among
the most suppressed people in the world today.
a) National Assembly
National Assembly of Bhutan is a rubber-stamp Assembly of
the King. He nominates 1/3 of the members of the said Assembly,
while others are chosen by the District Administration from
different Blocks. People are not allowed to cast their vote's
employing the fair and universally accepted "secret ballot"
system. Instead, one representative from each Thram / Household
is asked to gather in a public place and required to simply
raise his hand in favour of the candidate whose name has been
pre-determined by the government. So 'adult fanchise' has
no place in Bhutanese polity.
Appointment of Ministers
criteria that has been set for the appointment of ministers
in Bhutan is unique in that the ministerial candidates must
be working at the level of a high ranking bureaucrat holding
a red scarf (conferred by the King) at the time of nomination
by the king. Such nominated candidates have to seek 'Vote
of Confidence' from the National Assembly. The precedence
so far is that the Assembly has rejected no one so nominated
by the king.
c) Appointment of Prime Minister
1998, Royal Government of Bhutan formed the farcical democratic
government. Prime minister is nominated amongst the ministers
with highest share of votes, which they received from the
National Assembly members during "Vote of Confidence".
One now knows that Prime Minister-ship of Bhutan is by rotation
for one year. The Prime Minister, after completion of his
one-year tenure can be reverted to be Home Minister or Foreign
Minister. The Prime Minister is the de jure head of the Government
but in reality King is the de facto head of state and government.