GMC – A Vision For The World

During formal audiences with the media, His Majesty the King unveiled insights about the Gelephu project, now known as the Gelephu Mindfulness City (GMC). As Bhutan celebrated its 116th National Day, His Majesty shared this transformative initiative with the nation, painting a vision of progress and mindfulness.
From January 4th to 6th, 2024, I had the honor of being part of a delegation visiting GMC. His Majesty, embodying his characteristic humility, personally guided us for nearly two days. Despite these audiences and firsthand information from His Majesty, I must admit that initially, I grasped very little about GMC. His Majesty’s vision was immense, challenging for an ordinary person like me to fully comprehend.
Determined to understand, I embarked on a journey of learning—delving into topics His Majesty highlighted, revisiting his various addresses, and studying the rise of nations like Singapore. I explored what sets Bhutan apart from other countries. Now, I can say I see a glimpse through His Majesty’s vision and can provide credible insights about GMC.
Executing the right actions at the right time has been the hallmark of our leaders. As His Majesty stated, “South Asia is experiencing an unprecedented economic transformation. This is a period of growth and immense opportunities for our region, home to around two billion people. We are in a unique position to reap great benefits if we seize the opportunity, make good plans, and work together diligently.” This underscores Bhutan’s uniqueness and the critical importance of timing. Today, we are a nation where trust, faith, and love between the Sovereign and the people have flourished. All three arms of governance place their full trust in His Majesty, just as His Majesty trusts his people.
This unique bond provided the foundation to transform Gelephu into a Special Administrative Region (SAR), a nation with two systems. This feat is nearly impossible in other countries due to internal divisions and political disparities. In His Majesty’s words, “Many large and industrialized countries may find themselves unable to implement an enterprise of this scale and ambition due to the lack of internal consensus, deliberate obstructions, and conflict of ideas among vested interest groups.”
Furthermore, Bhutan enjoys significant goodwill globally as the spring of Gross National Happiness, a carbon-negative country with leaders who serve selflessly and citizens steeped in humility. Bhutan has made waves internationally, but we have not been selfish in leveraging this goodwill. We believe in the right timing, and His Majesty understands this more profoundly than we do.
His Majesty’s vision for GMC is not just about economic growth. It is about creating a sustainable and prosperous future for all. He has always been committed to permanent and sustained prosperity, avoiding temporary solutions that offer short-term gains. His focus on resolving issues “once and for all” reflects a long-term perspective that seeks to build a strong foundation for future generations.
“I want all land issues resolved, once and for all,” His Majesty commanded during the National Cadastral Survey, and it happened.
Another example from the 2023 National Day address illustrates His Majesty’s foresight. He said, “Some have suggested that we export high-value Bhutanese products, like Bumthang honey, organic fruits, and mushrooms to niche markets in the Middle East, Singapore, or Japan. Such efforts may help, but they won’t bring us sustained prosperity.” His Majesty’s quest is for permanent and sustained prosperity. He further stated, “Our challenge is that we have barely 700,000 people in our country. Unless we find the right solution, our population may dwindle to the point where we have more shops than customers, more restaurants than diners, and more houses than tenants. Guided by our collective aspirations and concerns, a clear path unfolds before us. Our immediate goal is for Bhutan to become a developed country.” It is crystal clear—one project for sustained prosperity.
His Majesty’s journey of discovery and understanding has been marked by a deep engagement with global perspectives and best practices. He has studied the successes and failures of other nations, drawing valuable lessons from each. He has met with experts across various fields, both in person and virtually, to gain insights into what the world needs today. Within the Asia-Pacific region, His Majesty has not only seen the opportunities but also the challenges, anticipating when these challenges would snowball and become severe.
Wise people learn from others’ successes. The wiser ones learn from failures. The wisest learn from both. His Majesty belongs to the third category—understanding why civilizations thrive or fail. Like a seer, he has acquired the skills to foresee the future of different countries.
The GMC initiative is also a response to the challenges faced by Bhutan’s farmers and traders, who struggle to compete with their counterparts in neighboring countries. His Majesty understands that these challenges are rooted in economic realities that require innovative solutions. By addressing these issues through GMC, Bhutan can create new opportunities for its citizens while also benefiting its neighbors, from blue-collar workers to white-collar professionals.
To me, GMC represents the profound vision of a King who has forged an extraordinary connection with his people. His Majesty has not only identified and understood their problems and issues, but he has also embarked on a relentless quest to find enduring solutions. This vision is the culmination of years of reading, listening, and traveling the world, seeking the ultimate solution for Bhutan.
The conception of GMC did not occur in isolation. It emerged from the cauldron of the global economy, where opportunities and threats intermingle. His Majesty has been acutely aware of Bhutan’s future in this complex environment, engaging in countless dialogues and discussions to chart a clear path forward. He envisioned GMC as a beacon of hope, not just for Bhutan, but for the entire world. This unique approach is a testament to Bhutan’s ability to leverage its strengths and goodwill on the global stage.
To me, GMC embodies the vision of a King who has deeply connected with his people and learned about their problems and issues. It is the result of a leader who has read, listened, and traveled the world, seeking Bhutan’s ultimate solution and the cascade affect. In the midst of the global economy, with its diverse opportunities and threats, Bhutan’s future has been carefully considered through dialogues and discussions, leading to the conception of GMC. This initiative is not just for Bhutan but for the world, offering a model of mindfulness, sustainability, and prosperity that can inspire nations far and wide.

A humble effort to understand an unparalleled vision.

Ugyen Tenzin