|Who is it?||Former King of Bhutan|
|Birth Day||November 11, 1955|
|Birth Place||Dechencholing Palace, Thimphu, Bhutan, Bhutanese|
|Age||65 YEARS OLD|
|Reign||24 July 1972 – 9 December 2006|
|Coronation||2 June 1974|
|Predecessor||Jigme Dorji Wangchuck|
|Successor||Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck|
|Spouse||Dorji Wangmo Tshering Pem Tshering Yangdon Sangay Choden|
|Issue||Chimi Yangzom Wangchuck Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck Sonam Dechen Wangchuck Dechen Yangzom Wangchuck Kesang Choden Wangchuck Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck Khamsum Singye Wangchuck Jigme Dorji Wangchuck Euphelma Choden Wangchuck Ugyen Jigme Wangchuck|
|Father||Jigme Dorji Wangchuck|
1. HM Dorji Wangmo (10 June 1955 , second daughter of Dasho Yab Ugen Dorji and Yum Thuiji Zam)
2. HM Tshering Pem (29 December 1957 , third daughter)
3. HM Tshering Yangdon (21 June 1959 , fourth daughter)
Wangchuck received western and traditional learning in various institutions. He began studying at Dechencholing Palace, when he was six years old, in 1961. Soon afterwards, he went to study at St. Joseph's School, Darjeeling, in India. In 1964, he attended Heatherdown School in England where he completed his studies in 1969. The next phase of his formal education took place at Namselling Palace in 1969. Finally, he attended Ugyen Wangchuck Academy at Satsham Choten in Paro, which was established in 1970, along with a class of selected students from all over Bhutan.
4. HM Sangay Choden (11 May 1963 , fifth daughter)
There is a lack of systematic quantitative information about the social and economic situation of Bhutan for the 1970s. The baselines for historical comparison available today were first collected in 1985 – the year when time series data was collected. Some information that date back to 1974 indicate the low base of infrastructure that existed at that time. There were 11 ill-equipped hospitals, manned mostly by foreign doctors, and 45 basic health units in 1974, the year Jigme Singye's coronation was held.
Zo rigpa was enhanced by Wangchuck when he opened the Kawajangsa Institution of Zorig (now known as National Institute for Zorig Chusum) in 1971. At first, this institute concentrated on traditional fine arts. A similar institution was opened in 1997 in Tashi Yangtse. The Folk Heritage Museum started by Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck in Kawajangsa, Thimphu in 2001, drew attention to the heritage of lay people’s sustainable products and their lifestyle. Likewise, in 2001, the first Textile Museum opened by Her Majesty Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck drew attention to the weaving skills of Bhutan. Skilled artisans – Painters, statue-makers, carpenters and masons proliferated in Wangchuck’s reign not only because of these new institutions, but also by receiving on the job training in many new temples and dzongs constructed in the country.
There probably were only about 2,000 monks in the state supported monasteries in 1972 when his reign started. By 2006, the number of monks subsisting on state allowances had increased to little over 6,000. In parallel to the increase in the number of monks and nuns, the monastic infrastructure that included tutors, lamas, temples, gomdeys (meditation centres), and shedras (Buddhist colleges), increased in Wangchuck’s reign. Many new official dratshangs in district headquarters, which hitherto did not have any monastic body, were opened such as Tsirang, Gaylegphug, Tashi Yangtse, Samtse, Pema Gatshel, Chukha, Bumthang and Zhemgang. Numerous affiliate monasteries to each dzongkhag rabdey were also opened throughout the country.
The king introduced an unconventional tourism policy of "high-value, low-volume". Soon after the Coronation, in October 1974, the first group of 20 tourists entered the country through Phuntsholing, as there was no air Service then. By 2006, the number of tourists, flown in by Druk Air and who paid royalty, reached 17,344.
At the end of the 4th FYP (1976-1981), Wangchuck extensively reviewed the successes and challenges of the previous four years of development, which also included the physical inspection of the field projects. Wangchuck envisioned different planning system for the 5th FYP (1981–86) emphasizing decentralization. New dzongdags were appointed in all the 18 districts, with responsibilities of managing public finances and co-ordinating district development plans, in their capacities as chairmen of DYTs. Dzongdags were delegated broad powers to make decisions at the local level in conjunction with gups and chimis. Wangchuck’s strengthening of the governmental sectors went hand in hand with strengthening local bodies like Dzongkhag Yargye Tshogchung (DYT) that Wangchuck founded in 1981, and the Gewog Yargye Tshogchung (GYT) he founded in 1991. He increasingly devolved authority on them.
In southern Bhutan, the focus was on growing citrus fruits. For Example, in 1977, the King encouraged the people of Dagana to start cardamom and orange plantations. Both of these cash crops are now major sources of rural income as 3,400 tonnes of cardamom, 55,558 tonnes of oranges and 7,400 tonnes of apples were produced in 2006 due to the initiatives taken first in 1970s.
Encouraged by the achievements in the Trashigang and Tsirang Intensive Valley Projects, similar valley projects were replicated in Mongar and the newly created Shumar (Pemagatshel) districts. These projects were also sites of experimental and participatory decision making. It led to the formation of Dzongkhag Yargay Tshogchungs (DYTs), which brought the chimis, gups and officials to prepare plans together. By 1981, Trashigang and Tsirang had fully functional DYTs.
Besides these human development indicators, material prosperity rose remarkably. The distance between Bhutan and the outside world shortened because of motor road and air services. Druk Air began to fly between Paro and Kolkata in 1983. Wangchuck visited Delhi in 1978 and during that visit he discussed the possibility of having air links with India to promote its trade and commerce. The discussion was fruitful and led to a Donier FLIGHT between Paro and Kolkata in 1983. By 2006, air services connected Bhutan to Kathmandu, Delhi, Kolkota, Bangkok, and Dhaka.
During his reign, Wangchuck received many high level foreign visitors to Bhutan including various Prime Ministers of India; PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat in 1985; Prince Naruhito of Japan in 1987; Princess Galyani Vadhana of Thailand; the King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya of Nepal, and President Muhammad Ershad of Bangladesh in 1988; UN Secretary General, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar in 1989; SAARC Chairman, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of Maldives, and Prince Vajiralongkorn in 1991; SAARC Chairman President Ranasinghe Premadasa of Sri Lanka in 1992; SAARC Chairperson, Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia of Bangladesh, and King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden in 1994; Indian Foreign Minister, I.K. Gujral in 1996; Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Tim Fischer and the Prince and Princess Akishino of Japan visited Bhutan in 1997; Prince Charles of Wales and former Prime Minister of Japan, Toshiki Kaifu and SAARC Chairman, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of Maldives came to Bhutan in 1998.
A Kasho (royal decree) issued by King Jigme Singye in 1986 directed the Planning Commission to ensure that "the basis for the evaluation of the achievements of the Sixth Plan is to see whether the people enjoy happiness and comfort". The social and economic indicators point towards sub-ordinate goals, not ultimate goals which was to be measured from a holistic, GNH point of view. Happiness and contentment became the ultimate yardstick of progress.
One of the landmark developments, soon after his coronation, was the signing of the ambitious Chukha Hydropower Project in March 1974. Construction began in 1983 and the President of India, Ramaswamy Venkataraman and King Jigme Singye inaugurated the Chukha Hydropower Project on 21 October 1988, nearly 13 years after the first discussion on it took place, in 1974. Chukha improved the revenue situation and the financial capacity of the country. In the industrial sphere, an early landmark project planned soon after his coronation was the development of a complete master plan for the construction of the Penden Cement Factory. The actual construction started in 1979 and the company was in production by 1983. The Penden Cement Authority produced about half a million tonnes of cement every day, for instance in 2008. Manufacturing and mining spread, mostly in the southern towns.
Bhutanese participation in international organisations at various levels increased. Personally, Wangchuck attended the non-aligned and SAARC summits until 1997, travelling to Colombo in 1976 for 8th Non-Aligned Summit; Havana in 1979 for 6th Non-Aligned Summit; New Delhi in 1983 for 5th SAARC Summit and 1995 for 8th SAARC Summit; Harare in 1986 for 8th Non-Aligned Summit; Kathmandu in 1987 for 3rd SAARC Summit; Islamabad in 1988 for 4th SAARC Summit; Belgrade in 1989 for 9th Non-Aligned Summit; Malé in 1990 for 5th SAARC Summit, and Dhaka in 1993 for 7th SAARC Summit.
By 2006, there were 13 shedras located in Tango, Dodeydrag, Khothokha, Sanga Choekhor, Gontey, Tshangkha, Tharpaling, Nimalung, Talo Nalanda, Sewla, Ngatsang, Drametse, and Bartsham with a total enrolment of some 700 monks. There were over 24 drubdeys or meditation places, stretching from Singye dzong in the east to Tagchu goenpa in Haa, enlisting 300 officially supported people who meditate on a long term basis in 2006. These numbers were rolled as new meditation to succeed old ones upon their completion. There were over 45 monastic lobdras, where teachers received official stipends and where gomchens (young lay priests) studied. By 2006, there were also 10 nunneries, started on an organized basis, located in Jashar goenpa in Pema Gatshel in the east to Kila Goenpa in Paro in the west.
Bhutan’s relationship with India was largely formalised with the 1949 Treaty of friendship. During his visit in July 2006, Wangchuck proposed to India to review and rewrite the 57-year-old treaty, to update it to present context. On 10th February 2007, the new ‘Treaty of Friendship’ was signed between Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and the Indian External Minister, Mr Pranab Mukerjee (born 1935).
As an Example of Wangchuck's support to classical Bhutanese culture he had Tango Shedra built. Tango Shedra became the apex of education according to classical system of cultural sciences, Rignas. Academic monks complete their long studies with bachelor's and master's degrees in Tango. In 2008, 163 candidates – with 14 master's degrees and 149 bachelor's degrees –from Tango Shedra and Sangngag Chokhor Shedra in Paro held their graduation ceremonies at Tango.
In Wangchuck’s reign, diplomatic links were developed with many other nations such as Bangladesh in 1973; Kuwait in 1983; Nepal in 1983; The Maldives in 1984; Denmark in 1985; Norway in 1985; Sweden in 1985; Switzerland in 1985; Netherlands in 1985; Japan in 1986; Finland in 1986; South Korea in 1987; Sri Lanka in 1987; Austria in 1989; Thailand in 1991; Bahrain in 1992; Singapore in 2002; Australia in 2002 and Canada in 2003. Wangchuck cultivated bonds of friendship with other countries and strengthened Bhutan-international relationships and Diversified its sources of development assistance.