RIGSS Podcast

Dive deeper into the minds that are making a difference. Listen to find out what ticks them as they share their perspectives, insight, knowledge, wisdom and experiences on subjects that matter. Join us on these engaging and intellectual odysseys with the luminaries of leadership, governance, democracy and public policy.

Dedicated to the 40th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty The King
Sir Ronald Cohen
Author/Venture Capitalist
RIGSS Podcast | Episode 19

Impact Entrepreneurship

Impact’ is such a powerful word. There is a deep-seated desire within each one of us to do something impactful in life. Sir Ronald Cohen, in his book, “Impact: Reshaping Capitalism to Drive Real Change” talks about the importance of shifting to a new system of doing business that is more impactful whereby individuals and organizations are encouraged to find fulfilment in being part of something bigger than themselves, and not just to amass wealth. He calls that new system, ‘impact capitalism’. This system aligns the investors and entrepreneurs with the objectives of the government in harmoniously working towards harnessing capital and innovation to solve social and environmental issues. His book provides a huge inspiration to the rising generation of impact entrepreneurs. In his words, “Impact is the hallmark of the new generation.” He is also the author of "The Second Bounce of the Ball - Turning Risk into Opportunity," a book about entrepreneurship.

Tandin Dorji
RIGSS Podcast | Episode 18

How to be Business Savvy?

For a country with a small population, herd mentality in businesses and many other areas could prove detrimental and lead to market bubbles. A case in point – it has been found that the burgeoning number of restaurants across the country is beyond what our current population can support for its sustainable growth. Following the herd can sometimes limit the exploration of untapped markets and hinder innovation and creative problem-solving. It has, therefore, become even more critical to break past the conventional boundaries of doing business and adopt innovative business models by capitalising on emerging trends for a successful venture.

Mr Tandin Dorji, the CEO of EducationPro, started from scratch and has built a name and brand for himself. In a successful entrepreneurial venture, he has managed to identify new growth opportunities to meet customer needs and think strategically beyond the box despite not being the first in the business. He is an alumnus of Murdoch University in Perth in Western Australia and Sherubtse College in Bhutan. He is also the head of Kingston International College in Perth and also one of the founders of the Bhutanese Language School there.

Tenzing Lamsang
RIGSS Podcast | Episode 17

The State of Media in Bhutan

Media is often referred to as the fourth estate of democracy, given its role as a watchdog on the political processes and institutions in ensuring a check and balance. Media in Bhutan continues to play a crucial role in fostering an informed citizenry in the country's democratic processes and promoting civic engagements despite being relatively young and new, especially the private media outlets.

Like anywhere else, the state of media in Bhutan is rife with challenges. The struggle to stay afloat and, reportedly, access to information remain major hurdles towards fostering a vibrant press in the country.

In this interview, Mr. Lamsang discusses the state of media in Bhutan and his unflinching courage and determination to keep informing the masses.

Sarah A. James
RIGSS Podcast | Episode 16

Women in Tech

Technology has become an indispensable part of our everyday lives; it is ubiquitous. Today, our existence revolves around technology and innovation, and it’s a reality that it will only be a more significant part of our lives hereon. 
While women continue to make strides, another challenge, yet again, for them to contend with is the tech industry, where they are significantly underrepresented and therefore, the gender gap remains stark. 
The tech industry, like any other, has been a reasonably male-dominated field ever since, and there is now a greater call for gender diversity and inclusion in our education system and workplace. 
The world’s first computer programmer was a woman called Aeda Lovelace from the 19th Century. If she were to be born again in this century, she would be happy to see many women take up leadership roles but not entirely satisfied or even disappointed to notice the stark gender gap in tech, which has been fuelled by age-old biases that have evolved so little.

Yuval Noah Harari
RIGSS Podcast | RIGSS Dialogue

What Does the Future Hold and How Do We Prepare as a Nation to Succeed?

According to Harari, the most important skills for surviving and flourishing in the 21st century are not specific skills, like computer code, instead the key skill is how to keep mastering new skills throughout our life.

In talking about our technology-dominated future, Harari shares his concerns about the social inequalities such changes will eventually bring to surface. People, and for that matter, nations that have access to new technologies will have the upper hand, being able to control the data and manipulate them as necessary. What are the possibilities of technology narrowing the gaps of inequality at a global scale instead of further enhancing it?

Harari’s global world-view and big-picture level of thinking would be interesting and extremely useful to explore where a small country like Bhutan stands in the grander scheme of things. What do all these oncoming changes mean for a nation like ours that has yet to catch up with the outside world in terms of economic and technological development? More importantly, how can Bhutan prepare itself to better face these challenges, and succeed as a nation?

Themes/lessons such as being adaptable, building emotional balance, embracing change, staying relevant, taking responsibility, collaborating, learning continuously – all of which are well emphasised in Harari’s works – can be directly applied to this discussion.

Vincent Yip
RIGSS Podcast | Episode 15

Lifelong Learning

If Isaac Newton were not curious enough to question why the apple fell straight down rather than up or sideways, it would have taken us quite some time to understand the gravitational theory. Today, the works of the visionary creative innovator, Steve Jobs reign supreme in our everyday lives, both personally and professionally - leaving behind a creative legacy. And, one of the most curious and creative minds, Leonardo Di Vinci said, “Learning never exhausts the mind.”
‘Curiosity and creativity’ are two closely intertwined assets that can drive and inspire ‘lifelong learning’. The powerful duo can not only motivate and add a positive outlook to one’s professional life but can also bring about fulfilment and a sense of purpose in the personal sphere. In a world that is constantly clamouring for innovative solutions to our existing problems and new ideas to take us forward, curiosity, creativity, and lifelong learning are attributes we could seek and embrace.
So what sparks curiosity, creativity and lifelong learning in a person?
We introduce to you a student of life, Professor Vincent Yip, to sate our curiosity on this.

Delving into his international travels and deep experience, he will speak on the topic of ‘Lifelong Learning’ fuelled by curiosity and creativity.

Mr. Jacques Von Benecke
Chief Technology Officer, DHI
RIGSS Podcast | Episode 14

A Quantum Leap?

The world has been witnessing unprecedented digital acceleration in different fields. Even in Bhutan, we have always aspired to jump on the bandwagon faster, and the covid-19 pandemic leapt digital adoption forward by several years than we would have imagined possible. And with it taking some form and root in the country, this has indeed laid the foundation for its digital transformation journey.

As the country capitalises on this momentum to embrace and explore the best of both innovation and technology, we have with us Mr Jacques to discuss some of the exciting projects being undertaken in the country in the fields of Blockchain (NFT, stablecoins, Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)), National Digital Identity, Agriculture, Drones, Internet of Things among many others. This is in recognising its strategic advantages in realising our national goals and aspirations. As we unravel the limitless potential of leveraging technology as a small nation to our advantage, we will also discuss ways to manoeuvre through the foreseeable challenges of becoming a technology-based economy.

Ambassador Tommy Koh
RIGSS Podcast | Ninth RIGSS Anniversary Friday Forum

Nation Building - Lessons from Singapore’s Success

Nation Building - Lessons from Singapore’s Success

Professor Jon S.T. Quah
RIGSS Podcast | Ninth RIGSS Anniversary Lecture Series

Learning from Singapore’s Success in Combating Corruption - Lessons for Bhutan

Learning from Singapore’s Success in Combating Corruption - Lessons for Bhutan

Dr. Tan Khee Giap
RIGSS Podcast | Ninth RIGSS Anniversary Lecture Series

Factors Behind Singapore’s Economic Achievements

Factors Behind Singapore’s Economic Achievements

Mr. Khoo Boon Hui
RIGSS Podcast | Ninth RIGSS Anniversary Lecture Series

Strengthening Law & Order and Homeland Security

Strengthening Law & Order and Homeland Security

Prof. Kendall Bronk
RIGSS Podcast | Episode 13

The Science of Purpose

Sometimes, figuring out what is meaningful to you changes the course of your life and leads you to benefit people around you.  This in turn drives you to do more for the good of the larger world.  Such a profound drive a Purpose can be in one’s life.

Professor Kendall Bronk defines purpose as “a stable and generalised intention to accomplish something that is at once personally meaningful and at the same time leads to a productive engagement with some aspect of the world beyond self.”  She has studied purpose in young adolescents for years. Her research has explored the relationship between purpose and healthy growth, the ways young people discover purpose, and the developmental trajectory of youth with strong commitments to various purposes in life. Further, she explored how passion and purpose contributed to the success of people like Blake Mycoskie and Steve Jobs in their leader developmental readiness. These leaders identified personally meaningful aims which they were passionate about and their purpose inspired others to follow them.

Koh Buck Song
Author & Brand Adviser
RIGSS Podcast | Episode 12

Nation Branding

When Simon Anholt first wrote about ‘nation brand’ in 1996, he simply observed that the reputations of countries behave like the brand images of companies and products, and they are equally critical to the progress, prosperity, and good management of those places. However, since then, the term has prominently evolved into ‘nation branding’ albeit with some differences in meaning and context.

Countries today place huge importance on ‘nation branding’ and rightly so, as it has helped reap the targeted economic and social dividends. Today, one country that shines outright when it comes to successful nation branding is Singapore. The country, in its quest to become Asia’s leading global city, has consciously and painstakingly invested its time, money, talent and all the resources at its disposal to build ‘brand Singapore’ to where it ranks today.

Mr. Koh Buck Song, the author of ‘Brand Singapore’ writes, ‘As a country, you can be paradise on earth, but it’s no good at all if no one knows. The message has to be delivered well and get through to the target audience.”

Saul Singer
Author, Start-up Nation
RIGSS Podcast | Episode 11

The Secret Behind the Success of the Start-up Nation

Israel today remains one of the most dynamic & vibrant entrepreneurial economies in the world with more than 6,000 active start-ups, making it the world leader for start-ups per capita. The entrepreneurial and innovative spirits of Israelis are nothing short of inspirational and exemplary, and could offer a lot of insights and experiences to the fledgling start-up culture in Bhutan and elsewhere. Bhutan has recognized the importance of entrepreneurship in the 1990s and also launched various initiatives towards reaping its benefits. However, it is still in its nascent stage today and calls for a vibrant and dynamic entrepreneurial development in the country.

One of the authors of the Start-up nation, Saul Singer, writes "Israeli culture and regulations reflect a unique attitude to failure, one that has managed to repeatedly bring failed entrepreneurs back into the system to constructively use their experience to try again, rather than leave them permanently stigmatized and marginalized." This, perhaps, speaks volume behind the success of Israel as a start-up nation, having churned out thousands of high-growth entrepreneurs that revolutionized the global industries.

Dasho Karma Tshiteem
Gyalsung National Service Programme
RIGSS Podcast | Episode 10

Leadership of the Self

Leadership of the Self – What it means and entails

‘Leadership of the Self’- As self-explanatory and familiar as it sounds, the phrase merits a more profound understanding of what it entails to summon ‘leadership of the self’ within each one of us. It not only transcends the conventional barriers like gender, nationality, religion & power to exercise ‘leadership of the self’ but integrates & values humanity to its core.

Inspired by His Majesty The King’s address during the convocation at the University of Calcutta in India where His Majesty stated, “What we need is not a leader to lead the masses - we need Leadership of the Self”, the Royal Institute for Governance and Strategic Studies is guided by this profound wisdom in all its leadership development programmes.

This pandemic has, among others, clearly defined and exuded ‘Leadership of the Self’ in action through an extraordinary exemplar in His Majesty The King. That Bhutan has been a success story thus far in dealing with the pandemic is inspired by the role model-ship provided by His Majesty, which has greatly helped in navigating the country through these turbulent times with direction, fortitude and unity.

Tshering Denkar
Denkars Getaway
RIGSS Podcast | Episode 9

A Getaway with Denkar

Few have dared to dream different and found their niche by taking the road less travelled or, in literal terms, ‘taking the path less traversed’.

She is a wanderlust – hitting adventurous high notes by taking us to places in Bhutan we would not have known otherwise. We mostly traversed with her to the most remote and sacred sites in the country, even if virtually—exploring & discovering nature’s wonderment, local hospitality, culture and heritage, age-old traditions and customs—all that makes us truly blessed to be born in Bhutan.

In this episode, we are pleased to offer a getaway with Miss Tshering Denkar, the woman behind 'Denkars Getaway'. She will walk us through her journey of embracing and venturing into untested waters to pursue her passion with hopes for herself and the country. This not only requires having an outlook that goes beyond normal societal expectations and general conformity of a career in life but also resilience to face every curveball with grace.

Ujjwal Deep Dahal
Director, InnoTech Department, DHI
RIGSS Podcast | Episode 8

Expanding Possibilities with Technology

Technology has presented a completely new evolution whereby we live in an era that surpasses our imagination every day with its limitless potential to revolutionize the economy, health, education, communication among many others.

Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly elicited the potential that technology holds for the future and made it acutely necessary for the world to embrace it, or risks being left behind.

In Bhutan, His Majesty has been a staunch believer in leveraging emerging technologies that hold a great deal of promise to achieve our national objectives, and therefore, has also been an impelling force to build and nurture a coherent environment to foster the same. With such profound blessings bestowed, we must work towards making our institutions smart, dynamic and efficient to promote a vibrant nation driven by technology as envisioned by His Majesty The King.

The Royal Academy
A King’s Vision for Education
RIGSS Podcast | Episode 7

The Royal Academy | A King’s Vision for Education

"Our nation's vision can only be fulfilled if the scope of our dreams and aspirations are matched by the reality of our commitment to nurturing our future citizens."- His Majesty The King

The King His Majesty The King has always acknowledged and attributed our country's remarkable journey of modernization and development within a short period to our education system. It is also with the same conviction on the importance of education that His Majesty has established the Royal Academy in Paro as a model school to foster a new approach to holistic education in keeping with changing times and demands of the 21st century. The Royal Academy aspires to be a centre for excellence, one where education is a dialectical process that enables collaboration among teachers, learners, teacher educators and research. It adopts a unique approach towards teaching and learning that are beyond the normal confines of classrooms and textbooks.

Clear and profound visions for reforms in the Bhutanese education system have been spelt through the Royal Decree issued on 113th National Day to ensure that our national hopes and aspirations are reflected in the classrooms of our future generations. As the education fraternity in the country gears towards this noble task of revolutionizing our education system, the RIGSS Podcast is happy to bring out this special episode on the Royal Academy in Paro as humble tribute to commemorate the 41st Birth Anniversary of His Majesty The King.

Azusa Kubota
Resident Representative of UNDP for Bhutan
RIGSS Podcast | Episode 6

Up To Speed with UNDP Bhutan

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) remains one of Bhutan’s key development partners for almost 48 years since it first started its assistance program in Bhutan in 1973. Notwithstanding the challenges posed by the pandemic, the UNDP was quick to assess and evolve as necessitated by the situation and continues to forge a stout path ahead for a vibrant and resilient future.

In the sixth episode of the RIGSS Podcast, Ms. Azusa Kubota, the Resident Representative of UNDP for Bhutan talks about the emerging issues that have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic and shares her thoughts on how Bhutan can navigate through such challenges to come out even stronger. Drawing from global experiences and knowledge, Ms. Kubota shares her perspective on how initial steps of innovation could be assimilated into our systems, particularly to enhance public sector service delivery, and how UNDP can work in close partnership with the Royal Government of Bhutan to that end. Some important highlights include addressing the knowing-doing gap, Bhutan's graduation from the Least Developed Countries (LDC) category in 2023, Bhutan's Human Development Index (HDI) ranking, building capabilities, and personal reflections on her destined tryst with Bhutan.

UNDP Bhutan has been actively engaging and complementing the efforts of the government and the people of Bhutan by strengthening the democratic discourse and integrating and aligning their measures and support with the successive Five-Year Plans of the government.

As the UNDP Bhutan remains firm in its commitment and action towards balanced social, economic and environmental sustainability by shifting the focus towards re-thinking economy and governance to tune in with the changing times, Bhutan remains ever more confident and optimistic of what can be achieved together, going forward.

Dasho Dr. Sonam Kinga
Royal Research and Advisory Council
RIGSS Podcast | Episode 5

The Genja of 1907

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.


Dasho Dr. Sonam Kinga
Royal Research and Advisory Council
RIGSS Podcast | Episode 4

The Modernity of the Bhutanese Monarchy

In this episode of the trilogy series on the Institution of the Bhutanese Monarchy, Dasho Dr. Sonam Kinga talks on “The Modernity of the Bhutanese Monarchy’ and questions prevailing ideas of monarchy as ancient, divinely ordained, feudal and irrelevant for modern society, and explains that the Bhutanese monarchy, on the contrary, is modern in ideological foundation and institutional design. He unpacks many assumptions and simplistic accounts of monarchy which are based on western experiences and then demonstrates the complexity surrounding this institution. 

His comparative approach enables us to develop a deeper understanding about many aspects of our monarchy which were either unknown to us or taken for granted.

We hope you will find this episode educative and enlightening to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of why and how Bhutan’s Monarchy is dynamic, modern and one of a kind.


Dasho Dr. Sonam Kinga
Royal Research and Advisory Council
RIGSS Podcast | Episode 3

Comparative Perspectives on Bhutan as a Monarchy

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.

Ruchira Kamboj
Ambassador of India to Bhutan
RIGSS Podcast | Episode 2

Women Leadership in the 21st Century

The dynamics of professions around the world are changing at a rapid pace, so is the pattern of the gender-based division of leadership that is transitioning to accommodate more women in the fields which were once considered patriarchal strongholds.

There is no denying that women have sailed a long way in adding diversity to the workplace and continues to make slow yet steady strides in various leadership positions. We are also witnessing more women appointees in the international hierarchies and senior leadership positions as compared to the past decade or so that is gradually leveling the playing field and opening new dimensions for women altogether.

Her Excellency shares her perspectives on ‘Women Leadership in the 21st Century’; her career in foreign service that has mostly been a male-dominated sphere until less than a decade ago, impression of women leadership in Bhutan and her advice to the younger generation among other powerful messages.

Dr. Lotay Tshering
Prime Minister of Bhutan
RIGSS Podcast | Episode 1

Governing Amidst a Global Crisis

The government campaigned and won the elections with the overarching goal of ‘Narrowing the Gap’. However, as the pandemic derails the 12th FYP, stalls economic development activities, and continues to disrupt the social sectors, it is likely to exacerbate the problem of inequality as much as it affects the country’s overall growth.

Exercising astuteness in mitigating the immediate socio-economic impacts of the pandemic while at the same time, formulating long-term cushion plans, remains both a priority and a challenge.

In this inaugural episode of the RIGSS Podcast, His Excellency the Prime Minister speaks on the 21st Century Economic Roadmap, Bhutan’s response to the pandemic so far and lessons learnt to build back better. His Excellency also shares his views on the prospect of Bhutan’s graduation from LDC by 2023, and underscores the importance of good bilateral and multi-lateral relations and global solidarity.

About the Host

Sonam Yangdon is a Media and Public Relations Officer at the Institute.

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