Address by Hon’ble Lyonchhen at Inaugural Session of Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2015 in Gandhinagar on 11 January 2015

Vibrant Gujarat

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Shrimati Anandiben Patel, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen:

I have the honor to convey to you the greetings of His Majesty the King and the people of Bhutan.

When I met Prime Minister Modi during the SAARC summit in Kathmandu – that was just six weeks ago Sir – I informed him that Their Majesties the King and Queen of Bhutan had recently visited Varanasi and Bodhgaya on a pilgrimage. They had found their pilgrimage very satisfying. And spiritually fulfilling.

Is liya, maynay Modi-ji say khaha tha ki, may-bi dharmik yatra kay liya Varanasi aur Bodhgaya jaunga. Laykin hamara le-ay, dharmik yatra kay sath sath may, aik arthik yatra be bahoot zaroori hay. Aur maynay khaha tha ki, is yatra kay liya – mayrey arthik yatra kay liya – may Gujarat jana chaunga.

I will begin my spiritual pilgrimage later this week. I will visit Varanasi and Bodhgaya. But first I am on an economic pilgrimage. That’s why I am here, in Gujarat, the heartland of India’s economy, delighted to be taking part in the Vibrant Gujarat Summit.

Mujhe yaha Vibrant Gujarat par bulanay kay liya, mei Bharat ka Pradhan Mantri-ji ko hardik danyabad dena chata hun. Aur, sath sath mei, Gujarat ka Mukya Mantri-ji ko bhey bahoot bahoot shukriya keyna chata hun.

Vibrant Gujarat is a phenomenon. This summit is already the world’s leading platform for the exchange of ideas, innovation and knowledge. What is discussed here by business leaders, political leaders and thought leaders influences the politics and economies of entire countries, not just in South Asia, but across the world.

This is how I see it: when Gujarat vibrates, its vibrations spread quickly through India to the rest of the world, and that includes my country in the mighty Himalayas.

Allow me to introduce my country. Bhutan is a small country tucked away in the Himalayas, and sandwiched between the world’s two biggest countries, India and China.

Our economy is small. With a GDP of barely 1.7 billion dollars, I am acutely aware that many of the delegates in attendance here are worth more – are worth more individually – than the entire GDP of my country. In fact, some of you are worth many, many, many times more.

Our economy may be small, but we have used our limited resources wisely. Healthcare, for example, is completely free. And so is education – all children enjoy free education, not just free primary education, but free secondary education as well … and free college education.

Our economy may be small, but it is green, and it is sustainable. Our many fast flowing rivers are a source of renewable clean energy. Tourists who visit us experience the exclusivity of what we call highvalue, low-volume tourism. And as for agriculture, a good 95% of our farming is either still natural or fully organic.

Our economy may be small, but we’ve enjoyed some remarkable successes. I’ll give you three quick examples. One, we have achieved economic growth, but without destroying our pristine environment. As a result, 72% of our country is under forest cover, more than half the country is protected as national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, and we have pledged to remain carbon-neutral for all time to come. Two, we have achieved social progress, but without undermining our rich culture and heritage. We are the last surviving Mahayana Buddhist country, but truth be told, our traditions are not just surviving; they are thriving. And three, we have achieved democracy, but without fighting for it. Our people didn’t want democracy, so it was introduced in an unprecedented manner: gifted by the Throne, against the will of the people. Our democracy is only 7 years old, but it is already well institutionalized – it is vibrant and deeply entrenched.

All this, and more, has been possible only because of the extraordinary leadership of our Kings. Our enlightened Monarchs are the architects of Gross National Happiness, a unique development philosophy that strives to carefully balance material growth with inclusiveness, sustainability and good governance.

Our Fourth King has famously said that for Bhutan, Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product. Sakal rashtriya khooshi, sakal rashtriya utpad sey jyada zaroori hey… GNH is more important than GNP.

GNH attracts considerable attention at home and internationally. As such, scholars and philosophers, politicians and economists have offered to define GNH in countless ways. But His Majesty the King has repeatedly reminded us that Gross National Happiness simply means “development with values.”

Much of what we have achieved in Bhutan has been possible because of the friendship and support of India, our close friend and neighbor. I wish to thank Prime Minister Modi, his government, and people of India for their steadfast friendship and continued support.

I’ve given you this quick introduction of my country, because I want to invite you to visit Bhutan. I want to tempt you to visit my country to breath our fresh air, to see our clear skies, to taste our clean water, to meet our friendly people, to enjoy our rich culture, to experience Gross National Happiness. If you like what you see, if you like how you feel, if you can connect with us, then, and only then, I invite you to consider investing in my country.

Bhutan is open for business. We have a workforce that is welleducated; we have clean energy that is very cheap; we have economic policies that are business-friendly; we have peace and stability; and, most importantly, we have free access to India’s huge market.

Bhutan is open for business. But only for businesses that are clean, green and sustainable. For that reason we welcome investments in renewable energy and hydropower, organic farming and tourism, and education and information technology.

Bhutan is open for business. So if you are interested in doing business in Bhutan; if you are interested in doing Business with Values; if you are interested in doing business with Gross National Happiness; then I am interested in meeting you … here in Gujarat, or, better still, soon in Bhutan.

Thank you for your kind attention. Tashidelek!

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