RIGSS Podcast | Episode 5

The Genja of 1907

-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

This is the final episode of the series by Dasho Dr. Sonam Kinga on the institution of Bhutanese Monarchy. In the two previous episodes of this series, Dasho provided a comparative perspective on Bhutan as a Monarchy and talked on what makes Bhutan’s Monarchy modern as opposed to the general perception of the institution as being outdated.

In this final episode of the trilogy series, Dasho will reveal the lesser known facts on the short, yet very important text of the “Genja” or the contractual agreement of 1907 that defined Bhutan as a modern monarchy and changed the course of Bhutan’s history forever.

Dasho explains the format and significance of the Genja in Bhutan’s history and provides his analysis on the symbolism and the content. By the end of the talk, we will get a better sense of why the unanimous enthronement of Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck as the First Hereditary King in 1907 was an answer to the collective aspirations of the Bhutanese people.

According to Dasho, the three historic events in the formation and development of the Bhutanese nation-state—the promulgation of the Pelden Druk Zung by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the founding of Monarchy, and the introduction of Parliamentary Democracy—all during times of peace and stability, is something very unique to Bhutan.

As we eagerly look forward to watch the LIVE National Day address of His Majesty The King tomorrow from the magnificent Punthang Dewai Chenpei Phodrang, what can be a better reminder of the historic event that took place 113 years ago in the same place where Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck was enthroned as the First King of Bhutan and the historic Genja was adopted that laid a secure foundation for Bhutan’s future.

We hope you’ll be able to better connect with our history, and gain a deeper understanding of the essence of our National Day by the end of the talk.

As we celebrate our 113th National Day tomorrow, RIGSS joins the nation to offer our deepest respects and gratitude, and humble Tashi Delek to the Wangchuck Dynasty for all the sacrifices and extraordinary leadership that have greatly shaped the destiny of our beloved country and her people. We wish all Bhutanese a Very Happy National Day la.

Pelden Drukpa Gyalo.