RIGSS Podcast | Episode 3

Comparative Perspectives on Bhutan as a Monarchy

-Dasho Dr. Sonam Kinga

Dasho Dr. Sonam Kinga currently works for the Gyalsung at the Royal Research and Advisory Council and is also a faculty member at RIGSS.

Dasho was conferred the much coveted Red Scarf in 2012 and the National Order of Merit, Gold in 2014 by His Majesty The King in recognition of his dedicated services to the nation and its people. 

Dasho has several books to his credit and has published several articles both within and outside the country. As his works suggest, Dasho has a keen interest in state-society relations in Bhutan.

  1. Education
    1. Ph.D. (Area Studies), Graduate School of Asian and African Studies, Kyoto University, Japan, April 2006 – August 2011
    2. B.A. (English Honours), Sherubtse College, Kanglung, Bhutan, July 1994 – June 1997
    3. I.B. (Diploma), Lester B. Pearson College, Victoria, Canada, September 1991– June 1993
  2. Professions
    1. Member of Teaching Faculty, Royal Institute for Governance and Strategic Studies (since October 2013)
    2. Chairperson, National Council, Parliament of Bhutan (May 2013- May 2018)
    3. Deputy Chairperson, National Council, Parliament of Bhutan (November 2009 – March 2013
    4. Executive Editor, Bhutan Observer, (June 2006-August 2007)
    5. Senior Program Officer, Save the Children (May 2005 – August 2005)
    6. Research Officer, The Centre for Bhutan Studies (March 1999- April 2005)
    7. Publication Officer, Ministry of Education (January 1998- February 1999)
  3. Awards and Fellowships
    • 2019. Visiting Professor, Kyoto University, Japan
    • 2001. Visiting Research Fellow, Institute of Development Economies, JETRO, Japan
    • 2006. Monbusho scholarship. Government of Japan
    • 1991. Third World Scholarship from Canadian International Development Agency
    • 1997. First position, Royal Civil Service Commission’s examination
  4. Publications:
    1. Books
      • 2019. Democratic Transition in Bhutan: Political Contest as Moral Battle: A perspective on Bhutan’s democratic transition. London and New York: Routledge
      • 2009. Kingship, Polity and Democracy: a biography of the Bhutanese state. Thimphu, Bhutan: Ministry of Education
      • 2005. Speaking Statues, Flying Rocks: writings on Bhutanese history, myth and culture. Thimphu, Bhutan: DSB
      • 2004: Ugyen Wangchuck and the Younghusband Mission to Lhasa. Thimphu, Bhutan: Galing Printing and Publishing
      • 1999. Gaylong Sumdar Tashi: Songs of sorrow. Thimphu, Bhutan: Sonam Kinga

The trilogy series of a talk on the Institution of the Bhutanese Monarchy by Dasho Dr. Sonam Kinga has been specially curated to commemorate the momentous 113th National Day of Bhutan. The Part-I of this series will provide a comparative analysis of Bhutan’s Monarchy vis-zà-vis other monarchies and similar establishments around the world. Dasho provides a scholarly perspective on what makes us unique—one of a kind “Monarchy” in the world—and where we stand today as a nation.

We have come a long way—from a monastic government in the seventeenth century under Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to the historic establishment of the hereditary monarchy with the enthronement of Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck as the First King of Bhutan on December 17, 1907. A hundred years later, the world witnessed yet another unprecedented event in history as Bhutan transitioned to a Democratic Constitutional Monarchy in 2008. As some observers say, the monarchs in Bhutan persuaded and convinced people to accept democracy. 

Such a profound level of trust and faith between the Monarchs and the people is a ‘Special Blessing’ that perhaps only Bhutanese can comprehend and cherish. The burgeoning trust, love, and unwavering faith and respect by Bhutanese people of all generations is a testament to the selfless service and leadership of the successive sovereigns of the Wangchuck Dynasty.
Pelden Drukpa Gyalo.