The RIGSS Blog

To stimulate analysis, innovation, and forward thinking, and generate new ideas and insight
on subjects that matter in 21st Century Bhutan.
A humble tribute to celebrate learning, leadership and service that His Majesty The King continues to champion.

Launched on 21st February 2021 to commemorate the 41st Birthday of His Majesty The King

DISCLAIMER:
The views and opinions expressed in the articles on the RIGSS Blog are that of the authors and do not represent the views of the institute.

LESSONS FROM THE PANDEMIC
How we can apply them to nation-building

POSTED ON April 11, 2022
Lilly Yangchen, Yeshey Ohm Dhendup
Research Officers, RIGSS

During the recent and first outbreak of COVID-19 in Tsirang, some of us from RIGSS had the honour to serve on the interim Tsirang Dzongkhag Task Force for about a month. It was a great learning opportunity for us to witness how leaders must strategise swift decision-making and resource allocation in times of crisis. Throughout the course of the pandemic, His Majesty The King has tirelessly toured the high-risk regions in the country, interacting with the frontliners and the general public alike and inspiring each one of us along the way. While in Tsirang, we were also blessed to be a part of the audience His Majesty granted to the Dzongkhag Task Force on two occasions. The Royal audiences have always offered us profound insights into His Majesty’s concerns and vision for the country, which only challenge and motivate us to do better as individuals and public servants.

One of the earnest messages from the Royal audience in Tsirang was how we must transfer and apply the lessons we learnt from the pandemic to other aspects of nation-building. His Majesty said that going forward, we should focus on our national goals with the same drive and determination we showed in combating COVID-19 as a nation. This is an invaluable insight, given the possibility that most of us would likely forget many good things we did together when the pandemic comes to an end.

His Majesty highlighted that our collective effort and effectiveness in dealing with the pandemic exhibited our country’s potential to achieve great results worthy of global recognition. If we prioritise one problem at a time and give it our 100 per cent like we did during the pandemic, we can create breakthrough impacts and bring transformative reforms. For instance, if we target to improve the education system in the country and make it more STEM-centric, we should draw all our attention, energy and resources toward realising this goal until it is achieved. His Majesty’s wise and prophetic words always give us hope and a sense of direction at this crucial juncture of our country’s development.

There are so many lessons we can, and need to, carry forward from the last two years of dealing with the pandemic. These moments of reflection are filled with countless examples of how we came together, and each played our part with the national interest at heart. The solidarity and sense of urgency to adhere to the highest standards were best exercised and demonstrated during the pandemic. With the national goal to prevent the loss of lives due to the virus, the government enforced every possible measure to mitigate community outbreaks in the country. Despite the resource constraints, Bhutan did not compromise on the quality of services provided to the public, be it in terms of the state-sponsored quarantine facilities, healthcare services, or vaccination, to name a few. As we now prepare to live with the virus, the reverse isolation initiative - a first of its kind in the world - was introduced in the country under His Majesty’s guidance to protect the vulnerable and the immunocompromised population.

The various Task Forces set up in the country to manage the impacts of the pandemic clearly demonstrated the importance of multi-sectoral cooperation and collaboration at every level of governance. We had observed the effectiveness of breaking out of the silos mindset during our interactions with the Southern COVID-19 Task Force that was stationed at RIGSS in Phuentsholing. The many agency heads and representatives provided a holistic understanding of the issues. Decisions that would have otherwise taken weeks or months to finalise were made instantly and implemented accordingly. Different sectors must continue to work together to solve common problems and serve the public better, instead of one sector pursuing its mandates oblivious, or at the cost of the other sector(s). This is the future of public service delivery in our country - to be proactive, collaborative and efficient.

Another valuable lesson is the need to leverage technology to make better decisions and enhance public service delivery. For example, the development of digital platforms such as the Check Post Management System (CPMS) and the Druk Trace App significantly aided in contact tracing during the early stages of an outbreak. The public service call centres, which were systematised and streamlined, provided valuable data that enabled our leaders to make informed decisions and disseminate accurate and reliable information to the general public. We realised more than ever before the importance of maintaining robust and comprehensive data for successful policy interventions. Our public health policies, like the nationwide vaccination campaigns, were extensively informed by reliable data from both global and national sources. Henceforth, these databases could also be applicable in other areas of development where needed, reducing time and resource wastage. It is encouraging that such a paradigm shift in governance to become more data-driven comes at a time when His Majesty is consistently advocating for use of technology and data in our country’s advancement.

As the country transitions into the next phase of the pandemic and strives for economic recovery, Bhutan is extremely fortunate to have a farsighted leader on the frontline. The whole world has commended Bhutan’s fight against COVID-19. The possibilities to achieve similar feats in other areas are endless. We have shown that we have the potential, and we have the momentum going, which we must now maintain without giving up halfway or leaving things hanging in the middle, whatever be the project. After a great start, we must persevere to see things through to the very end; we must finish as well as we began. This was another ardent remark expressed by His Majesty during the Royal audience, which reminded us to be consistent in our work at all times, not just during a global crisis.

Dealing with the pandemic has surely been challenging for us, but the lessons learnt have been equally rewarding, especially in terms of their relevance and applicability towards nation-building. Situating our role within the larger vision, we must fulfil our responsibilities with the same dedication and due diligence that we showed these last two years. Words may not suffice to thank our King for all the sacrifices and selfless acts of leadership, but our right attitude and actions towards nation-building can be a good starting point.

COVID-19

EXPOSED BY COVID-19

POSTED ON April 08, 2021
Tshering Phuntsho
Sr. Research Officer, RIGSS

POST VACCINATION DILEMMA

POSTED ON August 07, 2021
Chewang Rinzin
Director, RIGSS