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In the year of the Horse

Looking back at the year just gone by, we remember the early morning Kanglung skies clearing for the sunrays to warm the thousands of people gathered for the 107th National Day celebrations.
Not because the celebrations happened recently, but it was a momentous occasion, where the entire Royal Family joined the people of Trashigang in the celebrations. It was a moment that the people of Sharchog Khorlo Tsipgyed awaited for years. Many were seeing His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo in a long time, after he announced his abdication in nearby Trashiyangtse on a similar day in 2005.
Their Majesties mingled with the people during the longest ever National Day celebrations, and awarded prizes to raffle winners.
The day will also be remembered for years to come, as His Majesty, in his address to the nation, reminded Bhutanese of an important mandate. His Majesty drew the attention of the people to corruption, calling it the highest probable risk to development. Ignoring corruption, His Majesty warned, was a greater threat than corruption itself.
What farmers call an inspiration, His Majesty awarded medals to farmers, recognising them for their contribution towards making the country food self sufficient.
In May, His Majesty the King, addressing the opening session of Parliament, reminded parliamentarians of their important responsibilities. His Majesty said they were the embodiment of the Bhutanese people’s trust and faith, a privileged few to be conferred symbolic scarves from the golden throne before they took office.
His Majesty said his only aspiration and expectation of them, in all their endeavours while in office, was for them to bear in mind the best interest of the nation and its people, the tsa-wa-sum, not just within their stipulated tenure, but much beyond.
Bhutan will not forget the Year of the Horse for two important events – the state visits the President and the Prime Minister of India made in 2014. Despite much speculation which country the newly elected prime minister, Narendra Modi, would visit, the prime minister chose Bhutan as his first foreign country, symbolising the great friendship the two neighbours enjoy.
The prime minister, on a two-day historic visit, addressed the parliament. The prime minister said that Bhutan was a “natural choice” for him, because of “the unique and special relation, forged by ties of geography, history and culture” that made him choose Bhutan.”
His Majesty The King hosted a luncheon at the Grand Kuenra of Tashichhodzong in honour of the Indian Prime Minister.  His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Their Majesties the Gyalyums, Their Royal Highnesses the Princesses and Princes also graced the luncheon.
In November, President Pranab Mukherjee visited Bhutan, where, in a special, unprecedented gesture and break from protocol, His Majesty the King received the Indian President at Paro airport. Bhutan saw the two top Indian leaders visit the country in less than six months.
The president identified education as one of the many areas as a vision for future cooperation.  The government of India handed over a cheque of Nu 1.3B on November 8, of which the biggest chunk, is for the school reform programme.
The year will also be remembered for the salary revision, although for the wrong reasons. The civil servants received a salary raise and housing allowance, but it was overshadowed by the revision for the member of the parliament.
It was the most discussed issue, both inside parliament and in the public domain, with government and parliamentarians getting a public bashing. The revision went through.
For the first time, the year also witnessed the government surrender three of the secretaries to the Royal Civil Service Commission. The surrendering and then letting the secretaries go on “authorised leave” dominated gossip and discussions, both online and off. Investigations are still underway on what they violated.
The foreign minister was also in the limelight for the wrong reasons. Lyonpo Rinzin Dorji is accused of corrupt practices and is on “authorised leave” attending court in Haa.
Towards the end of the Horse year, lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay stole the show at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, attended by international leaders and topnotch businessmen.

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