Thursday, 28 August 2014

Brajesh's Review : Bhutan - Through the Lens of the King

I spotted this photo book by His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, at a wild life resort in Gujarat. As I am scheduled to visit the Shangrila Country of Bhutan next month, the coincidence was great, or may be given my impending visit, the country was top of mind and hence I spotted this book amongst the collection.

"Bhutan Through the Lens of the King" is a beautiful collection of photos by the current King (5th), taken during his visits across the country. He is known to travel across Bhutan regularly to connect with his people. Often these visits are difficult treks of 4-5 days in hilly terrain, which he undertakes while sleeping in make shift tents.

This book hence not only gives us a peek into this breathtakingly beautiful country, it tells us a lot about the commitment and selfless approach of the Bhutanese Kings. It is the father (4th King) of the current King who invented the now famous concept of Gross Domestic Happiness Index. GHI is now widely regarded as a more wholistic tool of progress. GHI adds the dimensions of Good Governance, Environmental Harmony and Preservation of Cultural Heritage to the traditional economic measure of GDP.

The commentaries by Pavan Varma and Malvika Singh helped my uninformed mind get a context on this neighbouring country. A monarch who willingly renounced his throne at 50 without any compulsions of health or political issues. Then along with his son he dismantled the monarchy to usher in democracy in a peaceful transition.

A society which has this great ability to balance the demands of modern technological advances and economical growth measures perfectly, alongside the preservation of their cultural and environmental heritage.

Clearly this youngest democracy of the world in a tiny nation has lots of offer to its big brothers across the globe. I only hope that the big brothers are paying attention to the case study.

Once the country context is understood and the reader understands that the king is positioned not as a ruler but as a servant of the people, the photographs attain a different meaning. Rather than talk about the photos, I am attaching a collage to give you a sample. This book has now given me reasons to visit Bhutan with the respect of a student and not the lens of a tourist.

Rating : 3.5 / 5

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