New Delhi authorities cooperated on several occasions with
the government of Bhutan to control the exiled opposition
politicians who resided in northern India, and several
demonstrations against the government of Thimbu were halted.
Bhutan in turn assisted by supporting India internationally.
Bhutan agreed with India and Libya on the ban on nuclear
In early 1998, Amnesty International accused the
Bhutanese authorities of systematically pursuing opposition
in the country. Supporters of the Bhutan National Congress
Party, led by exile, had been subjected to illegal arrests.
According to Amnesty International, the majority of these
persecuted were Buddhist monks and religious teachers. The
National Congress Party demanded the establishment of
democracy and respect for human rights. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Bhutan.
In the second half of 1998, the king announced a number
of changes to the government. Parliament was also given the
right to take political initiatives on its own, to veto the
king's decisions and even to request the king's resignation.
The king also appointed Lyonpo Jigme Thimley as prime
minister. The opposition accused the king of presenting the
reforms as a big step forward, despite the measures taken by
the king's father himself in 1971, after which Singye
Wangchuk later canceled them. The opposition further noted
that the king had only implemented his reforms after placing
his supporters in key seats in parliament.
In December 1998, a number of opposition groups decided
to join forces, and elected the leader of the National
Congress Druk, Rongthong Kinley Torji as leader of the
movement. In January 1999, hundreds of Bhutanese refugees
departed from Nepal to join democracy demonstrations in
Thimbu, but were detained by the Indian authorities who
accused them of having traveled illegally into the country,
thus preventing them from reaching Bhutan.
The eighth development plan for the period 1997-2002
placed the emphasis on decentralization of decision-making
processes at the municipal level. In the 9th development
plan, this trend has continued, and the population is now
consulted at the village level. Singye Wangchuk has
formulated her own development philosophy in the document
«Bhutan 2020, Vision for Peace, Welfare and Happiness». In
this, he states that economic growth and material progress
are not the only relevant parameters when measuring personal
development. They must be complemented by a similar emphasis
on emotional and spiritual security. The consequence is that
the state not only sets targets for an economic Gross
Domestic Product, but also a Gross Domestic Product for
The gross domestic product of happiness was also included
in the agreement between Bhutan and the Asian Development
Bank in 2001. The agreement, as a general purpose, was to
reduce poverty in the country, but also stated that all
measures in this direction should be translated in a
Bhutanese context: «The bank is therefore sensitive to the
difficulties that the translation of concepts such as
poverty, the vulnerable, etc. into Bhutanese gives ». At the
same time, in its actions, the bank agreed not to reduce its