If we take a close look at Bhutan’s development since 1961, we will see that every plan had priorities, based on the needs of the country at different junctures. Gradually, institutions were established with clear mandates and purposes. And when the world stood still as the Fourth Druk Gyalpo announced his abdication and political transformation of Bhutan from a Monarchy to a Democratic Constitutional Monarchy, an important institution was established – Druk Holding and Investments (DHI).
It is perhaps time for us to reflect on the charter of DHI, which has three very important components, underlining why DHI was established. It reads: “Recognizing the need to accelerate socio-economic development to achieve the goals of Gross National Happiness for our people; Realizing that the national wealth belongs to the people, and should be safeguarded for all generations of Bhutanese and therefore must be managed and enhanced through prudent investments; Conscious of the need to build a strong dynamic economy as the foundation for a vibrant democracy.”
The message is clear. In layman terms, DHI should make money, not just for today but tomorrow, too, through prudent investments. And it has been doing so, though the journey has not always been without hurdles. However, when an article appeared about DHI’s investment in crypto currency, it was appalling to see different international media pick up the story. Perhaps, it is because Bhutan is intriguing; perhaps they cannot imagine “the small Himalayan Kingdom” having reached this level.
Apart from few skeptics, Bhutanese who understand technology and aspects of global business call DHI’s special project a milestone. There is understanding that we have missed several opportunities and that we cannot make the same mistake. And as mentioned by many, DHI would never engage in business without proper studies and with national interests in mind.
Skeptics of the project, who talk about risks should also know that DHI has not put all eggs in one basket. Its portfolio contains investments across a range of asset classes, which include global equities, fixed income and venture capital investments in promising startups; domestic and international real estate; renewable energy including hydropower generation; healthtech, biotech, life sciences and agritech; and digital asset mining and investment.
The world today is very different from what it was a decade back. Technological innovations are changing everything and we are fortunate to have resources, especially human, who can ensure that we do not miss the boat. Further, if we seriously want to move ahead, we need to be bold and take calculated risks.
There are also people talking about possible ramifications because of the special project. However, what development partners need to know firstly is why DHI ventured into this business. They need to understand Bhutan’s limitations and comparative advantages, which have to be harnessed, so that we move along with the world. To reiterate, we cannot be left behind. And the present generation of Bhutanese have a very important responsibility; we have to secure Bhutan and her people’s future.