NDI – A Gift From the Father of Digital Bhutan

Every Bill discussed, every Act endorsed in the Parliament is important. However, there are exceptions, especially from the lenses of greater significance; and the forthcoming National Assembly Session has such a Bill – the National Digital Identity (NDI) Bill. Its significance radiates because it is a Bill, at the core of which is His Majesty’s belief that technology must be leveraged. It is important because, His Royal Highness Gyalsey Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck is Bhutan’s first digital citizen. And it is vital because the NDI will be the solution to most of the problems that our people face.

For a country that is small geographically and economically, remaining relevant in the world is imperative. Relevance cannot be bought and in most cases relevance is tied to economic, military and geographical might, which we do not have. Bhutan’s soft power continues to keep us relevant. But we cannot bet on it for long. Thus, we need to harness our comparative advantages and stand at the vanguard of modern states. And in today’s world, the application of technology has become one of the most effective ways to tell the world that there is a small country called Bhutan, which may be economically weak but a Hercules in terms of harnessing technology.

Our venture into digital asset mining has generated a lot of interest in the global corridors of money and power. Similarly, the NDI is a signal to the world that, despite challenges, Bhutan does not want to be left behind and that we can do what is required. To quote His Majesty; “There is nothing that cannot be done. It is whether we want to do it or not.”

The NDI was launched in February 21, 2023, coinciding with the birth anniversary of His Majesty The King. His Royal Highness, the Gyalsey was the Chief Guest and honored as the first digital citizen of the nation.  It was symbolic, especially in two ways. It was like a birthday gift to His Majesty the King, who can justifiably be called the Father of Digital Bhutan. His Royal Highness as the Chief Guest and first digital citizen embody the fact that the future of Bhutan, just as that of the world, is technology. Bhutan must leverage it.

There are several benefits of DI and the NDI. Everyone may not be aware of it. Thus, it is the responsibility of every Bhutanese who understands the benefits of the NDI to disseminate it to those who do not. We should not leave everything to the government.    

In one of the national addresses, His Majesty said: “The question I have is how we are able to leverage technology for education; job creation; good governance; effective, timely and efficient delivery of services to our people; private sector development and growth for accountability and transparency. In addition, there are emerging new developments such as Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, Blockchain, Machine Learning, Big Data, IOT (the Internet of Things), Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality…”

The NDI is a product that used all resources mentioned above, which will lead to the desired outcomes.

It is a realization of one of the aspirations of the Father of Digital Bhutan, His Majesty, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.