The spring of 2046

It is the spring of 2046. The dazzling capital city of Thimphu, the world’s cleanest metropolis, is gearing up for a historical event of massive proportions – the coronation of the Sixth Druk Gyalpo or the hereditary monarch of Bhutan. 
The grand amphitheater at Changlingmithang, the heart and pulse of the capital city of around 300,000 residents, is bedecked in multitude of colors while orange-clad Desuup volunteers are making final touches to the event that will see world leaders and movers and shakers from across the planet gather to commemorate the crowing of their new King, HRH Crown Prince Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck as the sixth hereditary monarch of the Kingdom of Bhutan. 
The cobblestoned lanes and the main thoroughfare at the Norzin Lam Memorial which is today considered a heritage site is given a new lease of life with the traditional row of houses across both sides given a fresh dab of paint, somehow, reflecting vivid memories of the distant past when the street was the main artery of the capital’s traffic system. Built in the latter half of the 20th century in the late 1980s,the lone and time-tested circular traffic-stand which is located in the heart, and which used to be manned by a policeman directing traffic in the capital’s hub, is now a memorial structure with a life-sized statue of a uniformed traffic policeman complete with a plaque which reads: In Loving Memory of the Traffic Man. The neat rows of peach and cherry trees in full blossomalso adds a beautiful contrast to the azure blue April skies while little monks and children gleefully runs amokand swing on the old willow branches.
Bhutan, a country of close to one million inhabitants is better known across the globe as the world’s happiest country whose core developmental philosophy of Gross National Happiness (GNH) has taken the world by storm. The United Nations General Assembly adopted GNH as one key development index in its historic 85th Session in 2031 whereby, all 195 member-states unanimously endorsed and adopted the GNH agenda citing it as a “true hallmark in modern developmental values.” 
The Himalayan Kingdom also boasts of having one of the best and safest social security nets with zero incidences of poverty while unemployment and joblessness virtually remains unheard of. It is also stated that the country’s yearly turnover, earned chiefly from hydropower, tourism and export of organic food and herbal products, is distributed equally among its close to a million citizens. Among a host of social and people-centric policies, the country is also well known for caring its senior citizens who are provided free housing and pensions to see them through in their old age. Bhutan’s fifth King has also mandated that no citizen in the country should be rendered homeless or jobless. This has led to the birth of the King’s Housing Project and the Queen’s Lotus Foundation which ensures that all able and economically active citizens get a job of their liking. Led by His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, Bhutan is also championing the global fight to finally put an end to the practice of genetically engineered human species. The UN General Assembly has unanimously decided to table the agenda in the coming year and Bhutan’s New King is expected to represent the country and continue this global initiative which has taken the modern world by storm.   
Much of the country’s rapid rise to modern-day status was engineered by the Fifth DrukGyalpo, or the Dragon King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who relinquished the golden throne a year ago, aged 65. Fondly revered as the People’s King by his citizens and by well-wishers from across the globe, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchucuk was a visionary who, in his close to four decades of rule, pioneered the use of technology and AI in almost developmental spheres, and much before the world had truly embraced and fathomed of the miracles technologies would bring to humankind. The marvels of AI and technology has brought sweeping changes, especially in the health, education and the agriculture sectors of this tiny nation that Bhutan’s life expectancy today is one of the highest in the region at 85 years. Its education system has also ensured that their children are not only aptly educated in academics but has also helped mold them into competent beings with intrinsic human values, and love and care for theircountry and the global community. The per-acre average agriculture yield has also multiplied five-folds compared to two decades ago massively contributing to the nation’s food basket and making the country largely food-surplus.
The fifth King was a true champion of His people who initiated the historic Gyalsuung and the Dessung national programmes which are today the centerpieces of the country having achieved communal harmony and enduring peace. Bhutan is one of the few nations in the world where there is no standing military or a police force. Unlike in other countries, Bhutan’s thirty thousand plus Desuups, or the Orange Brigade, which is a civil organization formed by volunteers is the only organized force that looks after the law and order situation of the country. Apart, the Desuup also have specialized forces that deal with search and rescue, building and rehabilitation, and crowd and disaster management among their list of duties. 
The year 2046 also marks the silver jubilee of the institution of the Gyalsung National Programme. The country today has twenty Gyalsuung centers located in all principle Dzongkhags with its headquarters stationed in Lungtenphu, Thimphu. The AI department of Gyalsung HQs has assembled 108 futuristic robots built in collaboration with world leading AI companies from India and China. For the first time in the history of the country the Robotic Legion will perform a military drill, complete with a brass band, with their Desuung and Gyalsung contingents during the upcoming coronation celebrations. 
Bhutan’s journey to the new order and the crowning of new King will also mark another historic milestone with Bhutan shutting it last prison cells. Over the years, with rapid socio-economic progress and rising level of education and awareness, the country saw most of its prisons shut down, and the only walled prison enclosure in Chamgang will now be turned into a state-of-the-art open air rehabilitation center. The new king will also grant amnesty to the last one hundred prisoners housed there and rehabilitate them into the mainstream society,successfully bringing an end to an age-old system of confinement. 
The main coronation event of the 30-year-old Oxford educated IT-savvy King is scheduled to start early in the hallowed courtyards of the majestic Pungthang Dewachhenpoi Phodrang in Punakha where the new King will receive His traditional five-coloured ceremonial khadars. Punakha is a three-minute ride in a vacuum-powered bullet train which starts from the Bright Lights’ Tunnel at Simtokha and ends at Metsina Hope Tunnel, while a more leisurely road trip in your driver-less car will take you close to 20 minutes. Most of the visiting dignitariesand head of states will be accommodated at the expansive200-acre Tree House Island in Zomlingthang, Punakha. The Tree House Island is considered the most unique hotel and resorts complex that has created a niche for itself in the architectural world as one of the most natural and ecologically friendly complexes. It is said that no nails and concrete were used to construct this Island complex and inspiration was drawn from centuries-old traditional building techniques. The island is also self-powered and uses everyday wastes and solar power to generate electricity. 
A good number of visiting dignitaries and international journalists will also be housed in the Trashiyangtse Olympic Village, a sprawling state-of-art complex in the old Yangtse town which can accommodate about 50,000 individuals at a single time. Trashiyangtse is connected to the capital city of Thimphu by vacuum-powered bullet trains and the journey takes about 35 minutes. Dignitaries can also opt to commute in supersonic jets or in robot-driven choppers that will provide mesmerizing views of the valley floor below, including the magnificent high bridge connecting the view point at Trongsa to the main district headquarters, considered one of glorious feats of engineering and architectural wonders in this part of the globe. 
The main coronation festival, which will take place in the first week of May this year, will be a year-long episode and one of the main events that is expected to attract the global community’s eye balls is the Snowman Run, an ultra-marathon in the high Himalayas, that has created a niche for itself as the World’s Toughest High Altitude Marathon and sees an average of 150 international runners in a single year. Started in 2021, the Snowman Run which celebrates its silver jubilee this year will see 250 international athletes from 200 different countries. The marathon which begins in the alpine village of Laya is today connected with cable cars, popularly known as the flying cars to locals, from the end of the road point at Koena. The numerous luxury homestays in Laya and other highland communities are expected to add charm to the visitors while scores of luxury mobile tents have also been pitched to accommodate another 500-odd contingent comprising medics and media personnel.     
The alpine dwellers of Laya, Lunana, Saephug and Merak and Sakteng in the east are today considered one of the most beautiful and developedhighland communitieswhere tourists flock just to breathe the clean air and absorb the calmness surrounding these magnificent valleys. The annual Snowman Run, which starts from Laya and ends at Merak village in Trashigang, is also considered the main economic lifeblood of these communities who have reaped extensive socio-economic benefits from massive tourist arrivals. In the past, these highland communities solely relied on harvesting cordyceps as their main income generator. However, over the years, the magic fungi gradually dwindled and finally disappeared from the alpine lands leaving most of them destitute until the Snowman Run changed the entire socio-economic map of the highland communities. Today these communities are connected by aerial ropeways and helicopter services, and the famedBhutan Yak Cheese, a delicacy of the highlanders, makes it all the way to European and Japanese kitchens. 
Bhutan, which was considered an underdeveloped nation just about two decades ago, has made distinct strides in its education reforms as literacy figures touched 100% in 2035. One of the most unique features of Bhutan’s education system is that it has been able to blend its centuries-old values and drawn inspiration from its monastic education which is inculcated into its mainstay classroom syllabus. It would no longer be a surprise to see monks and students debate on pertinent issues that cover both their spiritual and academic propensities. The inculcation of spiritual and monastic lessons in the classrooms has directly contributed to a better socio-cultural atmosphere in the country. Today, most of the prisons in the country have been shut down and crime is on an all-time low. The country is also considered one of the safest and cleanest in the world and also provides the best platform for aspiring global business conglomerates.
In yet what is widely considered unique only to this tiny Himalayan Kingdom, Bhutan is the new leader in developing indigenous herbal-based medicines and in promoting medical and wellness tourism. The Asian Institute of Indigenous Medicines in Gyalpozhing in Monggar has made significant breakthroughs in this field that the WHO has assured to aid the country in its efforts and also start an AI wing in the institute to help come up with new products and conduct adequate scientific researches. Much of this was possible courtesy to the nation’s constitution which mandates the country to have 60% of its geographical landmass under forest cover for all times. The Jigme Singye Wangchuck Environmental School in Samdrupjongkhar, a premier institute dedicated to The Great Fourth His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, is also expected to collaborate with leading global institutions to further develop indigenous herbal medicines as a natural substitute to lab-produced drugs and chemicals. 
After ascending the golden throne about 40 years ago in 2006, the fifth Dragon King of Bhutan has carved a future for the country that is built on the foundations of peace and happiness, and also left behind a legacy that will remain embedded in the great annals of Bhutan and the world’s history. A recipient of some of the highest global accolades and a champion and propagator of GNH and world peace, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck has ensured that Bhutan evolve into a robust 21st century nation that has GNH and the well-being of its citizens at the core of its development philosophies.The beautiful and clean cities and neighborhoods, and uncontaminated rivers and streams that we see today were engineered by this visionary monarch who always stressed that the neighborhoods that we live in must be beautiful and safe. From organizing yearly national flower exhibitions to creating a safe social-environment, the movement for better and safer homes and communities was sown ages ago,the labors of whichwe proudly live to see fruition today.
And, as the tiny Himalayan nation gears up for the historic coronation of its Sixth Hereditary Monarch this year, Bhutan and its blessed citizens reflects back on an era that saw the nation transform from an under-developed nation into a vibrant sovereign nation. On this most significant juncture in its history, the entire nation reverberates with one common sentiment, of that of His Majesty the King and how He helped champion a national cause sacrificing all His personal goals and comforts. 
His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck truly embodies all the precepts of the Philosopher Kings, and which has rightly earned Him the sobriquetThe People’s King.Today, as the nation basks in the glory of the selfless deeds of our Fifth Druk Gyalpo, His undying words, conveyed during His Address to the Nation on the eve of His coronation back in the autumn of 2008, still reverberates among the distant hills and valleys exemplifying how His Majesty truly lived a life of divinity,dignity and sacrifice. Such were His vision and love for the nation when His Majesty said: “Throughout my reign, I will never rule you as a King. I will protect you as a parent, care for you as a brother and serve you as a son. I shall give you everything and keep nothing; I shall live such a life as a good human being that you may find it worthy to serve as an example for your children; I have no personal goals other than to fulfill your hopes and aspirations. I shall always serve, day and night, in the spirit of kindness, justice and equality.”
The journey ofBhutan’s rise and success isa textbook example of how a nation’s destiny can be crafted by the visions of god-like philosopher kings. And, the coronation of the Sixth Druk Gyalpo this year ensures that these flames of hope and inspiration will continue to flourish, at least in this tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.
By: Rinchen Dorji