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K5 – King of Hearts

In order to reach the most vulnerable people in the shortest time, the Office of the Gyalpoi Zimpon (OGZ) has been taking kidu to the people instead of people in need traveling to Thimphu to seek an audience(with His Majesty).

“The poorest of the poor will never be able to make it to Thimphu to seek kidu; these people cannot even make it to the dzongkhag offices from the villages for many reasons. And even if they make the effort to walk the distance, the main obstacle is their lack of financial resources and the knowledge of bureaucratic procedures,” said Zimpon Wogma Yeshey Lhendup.

His Majesty

Gyalpoi Zimpon Dasho Penjore said that upon the inception of the new Gyalpoi Zimpon’s Office, His Majesty had commanded that the kidu system is a social safety net and that it had a clear social and economic role to play. His Majesty had commanded that the kidu system must be professionalized and must be based as much on principles of equity and charity as on scientific method and research. However, the approach must be proactive, His Majesty had commanded. The OGZ must ensure that not for a single extra day should any person suffer the pains of dire poverty, of injustice or of neglect and disability. These Bhutanese must be found as soon as possible and provided kidu.

To identify the needy, the OGZ which includes the Zimpon and six Zimpon Wogmas continuously travel to all the 20 dzongkhags. This is why most of the staff are relatively young and come from varied backgrounds.

For monitoring and evaluation to ensure that the lives of people who have received kidu from His Majesty have improved, His Majesty has set up three regional offices in Bumthang, Mongar and Thimphu headed by Their Royal Highnesses Ashi Kezang Choden, Ashi Dechen Yangzom, and Ashi Sonam Dechan.  Meanwhile, Ashi Chimi Yangzom is studying the potential for rural enterprises.  Their Royal Highnesses are supported by a small group of young staff from different regions and professions.

“We study the land holding, family members who earn, disabled persons in the family, school-going children, source of steady income, the type of house they live in, and so on,” said Zimpon Wogma Karma Thinley. “It is easy to see poverty in urban areas but in rural backdrops the genuinely vulnerable and poor are difficult to spot without detailed study.”

The OGZ has three broad categories of kidu.

The first and the most urgent kidu is to help the poorest of the poor, including people who are too old to work or disabled people who are not able to earn their own living. This group includes children who need support in order to attend school. This also includes the victims of unforeseen calamities and disasters. Many people are left homeless or penniless during such times as their recourse to standard relief such as insurance and other compensation is either not possible or limited.

In the second category, people who feel that they have been treated unfairly by the system appeal to His Majesty.

Young achievers and citizens who have served the country and people with dedication and distinction are rewarded in the third category.

“His Majesty also grants audiences to students and civil servants leaving Bhutan on scholarships for study and long trainings to acknowledge their achievements and also to grant them a perspective of the history of Bhutan, the challenges that have been overcome and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. We have been told by many of these people that the audiences have changed their outlook and been a source of immense inspiration,” said Zimpon Wogma Yeshey Lhendup.

It was found that His Majesty has taken the time to grant handwritten messages to students who stood first and second in their class in all the schools of Bhutan in appreciation of their hard work and achievement. During His Majesty’s tours of the nation they have received separate audiences as well.

In a new development, Geog Administrative Officers of the GNH Commission have been trained and now function as Geog kidu counterparts so that the Zimpon’s office has a representative at the grass-root level. All kidu petitions can now be submitted through the Geog counterparts making it easier for the people. Gups, mangmis, other village representatives and village elders play a vital part in the kidu process.

Since December 2006, over 3,000 households have received various kinds of kidus. During His Majesty’s visit through Laya and Lunana in August, over 300 households were granted kidu in all the three categories. Zimpon Wogma Karma Thinley said mostly land kidu was granted.

His Majesty, attending his first National Assembly as King, had stated that kidu was a sacred duty of the King and thus all the people’s problems, in particular, those related to land and land records, would be resolved personally by His Majesty. In early 2007, the National Land Commission was instructed to initiate a comprehensive cadastral re-survey exercise.

Dasho Penjore told BT that since the exercise is geared toward solving land problems “once and for all” the resurvey will take at least another year or two. “In the meantime, all excess land payments have not only been deferred till the cadastral re-survey exercise is over, but once the survey is completed, with better information and data His Majesty will address this and other problems within a short span of time, and with only the people’s interests as priority,” he said.

Identifying landless farmers for land kidu has been in progress since the start, he added.

Zimpon Wogma Karma Gyamtsho said the OGZ has also been involved in building houses for the old and providing financial assistance to educate children from poor families. His Majesty supports children in almost every school in the country and has also sent many children from poor families abroad for further studies. Some of these children are the first from their communities to attend college or university.

Karma Gyamtsho said: “His Majesty’s kidu process is all encompassing and wholesome. We have been commanded to see the grant of kidu as the start of a relationship. If we provide a student scholarship we are also mandated to follow their academic progress, to work with their teachers and parents to counsel and encourage them to work hard and succeed. This means we follow the child from community school to college and beyond. If His Majesty grants stipend to an old person in a village, our village counterparts conduct regular visits to ensure their well-being and health. For poor families or individuals, the office has to study employment opportunities or means for improving their employability, as well as educating their children. This approach extends to all aspects of our work.”



>> Written by Tshering Chuki Gyamtsho for Bhutan Times