The Eternal Light called Kidu

A summation of the Druk Gyalpo's Relif Kidu granted by His Majesty during the pandemic so far
In one of the most unforgettable and treasured Royal Addresses to the Nation, on April 10, 2020, His Majesty the King informed the people about the COVID 19 pandemic and the problems associated. “Many of our people working in the tourism and hospitality sector, including small restaurants, entertainment centers, truck drivers, taxi drivers, etc., have suffered loss of jobs and income, and are finding it difficult even to pay house rents. It is of utmost importance to extend immediate relief to the vulnerable people before the situation deteriorates. Therefore, the Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu (DGKR) will be granted to support the people, provide relief, and enable them to withstand their ordeals through this period,” His Majesty said. 
It came as a big respite for the people, and showcased the immense love and concern of His Majesty for the people. Four days later, the DGKR was launched. And as of February, 2022, 54,783 people have been provided income support Kidu, amounting to Nu. 4,163.33 million. The figure includes only that provided as income support Kidu and does not include expenses incurred for Kidu initiatives like the construction of temporary shelter along the Amochu in Phuentsholing, to bring in Bhutanese who were living across the border in Jaigoan, India and others. 
The granting of Nu 4.163.33 million as Kidu averages to all 54,783 people having received about Nu 75,996 each. Moreover, all the above individuals have received Kidu at least once over the past 23 months. Monthly child support Kidu to around 7,000 children of the applicants have also been provided. 
Through the DGRK, Nu. 150 million was disbursed as the first disbursement of the Relief Kidu to 13,006 people. The Relief Kidu was Nu. 12,000 per person per month for recipients of the full amount of the Kidu and Nu. 8,000 per month for recipients of the partial amount of the Kidu. Additional support of Nu.800 per child per month was granted to eligible beneficiaries with children. 
The DGRK received 33,829 applications in Phase I (April – June 2020), of which  around 34% was from the tourism sector, followed by 14% from the transport and communication sector, 12% from retail and 9% from restaurant and food services. Phase II (July-September 2020) saw 30,000 applicants, out of which, 74% were re-applicants from Phase I.
In total, over 41,000 applications were received between April and September 2020, of which 54% were males and 46% females.  26% were in the 25-29 year age group followed by 23% in the 20-24 year age group. 24% had a higher secondary education level and 20% middle secondary education level.  
In summary, between April 14, 2020 to March 31, 2021, 52,644 individuals applied for the DGRK, with 40% applying in the first month itself. Over 75% of the applicants from each phase have re-applied in the subsequent phases. Phase III, which initially covered October, November and December 2020, was extended for another 3 months till March 2021 without the need for re-application to provide immediate relief during the second national lockdown. 18,867 individuals or 35.8% of the total had applied in all phases. 14.7% had applied in only Phase I, 5% in only Phase II, and 9.8% in only Phase IV.  The number of new applicants had dropped to 217 in November 2020, increasing to 3,627 in December 2020 and further to 4,725 in January 2021 during the second lockdown. There were only 87 applicants in March 2021.
Of the 52,644 applicants, 45,766 accounting for 86.9% of the total, received Kidu at least once. A substantial proportion of them received lockdown support Kidu. 14.2% of the total applicants received Kidu for all 12 months while 23.3% received Kidu once and 10.8% received Kidu twice.
In this period, Nu. 2.25 billion was granted as Kidu for DGRK applicants. The highest increase in Kidu disbursement was observed in August 2020 and January 2021 which saw an increase of 71.9% and 84.9%, respectively, because of the grant of the lockdown support Kidu. The Kidu amount included child support Kidu of Nu. 70.89 million which accounted for about 3% of the total Kidu granted in the last one year. Child support Kidu was granted to 9,614 applicants (18.3% of the total applicants) covering a total of 15,464 children. Among them, the majority, 53% of them had one child while 35.2% had two children. Around 6,000 children were supported each month. By amount, 9,339 individuals had received Nu. 100,000 or more as of March 2021. This included child allowance if they had children
On 22 April 2021, coinciding with the auspicious occasion of Zhabdrung Kuchoe, His Majesty The King commanded the continuation of the DGRK for 15 months, from April 2021. This was in view of the ongoing social and economic difficulties faced by the people due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainties stemming from regional and global developments. 
While discussing about sources for the Kidu, the National Resilience Fund (NRF) team submitted several options, including transfers from government budget, borrowings from domestic market and concessional loans from multilateral development partners. However, His Majesty commanded that replenishing the NRF should not disrupt the economy and affect development works. His Majesty further said external borrowings would increase national debt and burden future generations. With this, His Majesty commanded that the next tranche of the NRF be financed in entirety from His Majesty’s Kidu Fund and Sungchob Fund. These were funds committed for Gyalsung, Bhutan’s National Service.  Between June 15 and July 15, 2021, 15,640,000 shares held in the names of Sungchob Fund and Kidu Fund were sold. 
Additionally, another Kidu was granted, the 50 percent loan interest payment support. On May 24, 2021, a press release was issued by the DGRK saying that with the threat of COVID-19 on the health and wellbeing of our people looming larger than ever before, the need for enhanced vigilance and care across the country has become very important. “The economic situation is also looking increasingly grim. Therefore, the need to build greater resilience and shore up the confidence of our people has become paramount. In order to deliver the Royal Kidu in a timely manner, the Office of the Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu would like to announce that holders of loan accounts eligible for interest payment support Kidu do not need to submit the online application with immediate effect. As announced on 22 April 2021, the 50% loan interest payment support Kidu will be granted from the National Resilience Fund to all eligible loan accounts who availed loans prior to 10 April 2020,” the press release said. 
The latest press release from the office of the DGRK says that on average, 11 applications were received daily till December 2021, which had dropped to 3 applicants daily in January 2022 just before the lockdown. Applications surged with the announcement of the lockdown. 15,638 applications were received between 16 January and 20 March, 2022 of which 8,132 (52%) has applied for the first time. 
Most of the recent applications were from the construction, transportation, and retail sectors. 98% of these applicants are currently living in the Dzongkhags affected by COVID-19. A significant number of applications were received from those living in Thimphu, Sarpang, Paro, Chukha, and Wangduephodrang. 
Since August 2020, the DGRK has also provided ration support to households in need of immediate aid during the lockdowns. Between January 16 and March 20, 2022, a total of 1,033 households received support. Majority of the recipients live in Wangduephodrang, Thimphu, Punakha and Sarpang. Ration support has been facilitated in person by the Office of Gyalpoi Zimpon in Thimphu and Dzongkhag Kidu Officers in other Dzongkhags. The DGRK is disbursed directly into the recipients’ bank accounts. For unbanked recipients, the Dzongkhag Kidu Officers have delivered the DGRK amount in cash.
The Royal and benevolent gestures of His Majesty seen during the pandemic has been appropriately described by Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Bhutan, Gerald Daly. “His Majesty embodies what Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel said 400 years ago: my resolve is such that until the task is accomplished, I will persevere even if lightning should strike from above, the space in-between collapse, or the earth below move.” 
His Majesty has also said: “A King’s sacred duty is in looking after the wellbeing and Kidu of our people. Thus, I have spent these years meeting my people in their homes and villages as I fulfill this duty. I pray that my people will utilize to the fullest the Kidu I strive to bring to them, and ensure that its benefits accrue, not only them but to the future generations.” 
We have a leader “walking the talk.”

(Written with information from Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu).