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Bhutan’s King Propels Visionary Gelephu Mindfulness City in 116th National Day Address

In a pivotal moment during Bhutan’s 116th National Day address, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck championed the Gelephu Mindfulness City, a visionary project poised to reshape the economic landscape of the region. The King underscored South Asia’s ongoing economic transformation and the vast opportunities inherent in the approximately two billion-strong population of the region.

The proposed land connection from Gelephu or Samdrup Jongkhar, extending through Assam and Northeast Indian states, aims to create a dynamic economic corridor linking South Asia to Southeast Asia. This ambitious project aligns with Bhutan’s strategic vision for economic growth and regional connectivity.

During his recent visit to India, King Wangchuck revealed that the Indian government expressed full commitment to enhancing major roads leading to Bhutan. Additionally, plans were outlined to connect two or three border towns with railway lines. This support from India is seen as a significant catalyst for the success of the Gelephu project.

Envisioned as an autonomous economic hub, the Gelephu SAR is designed to have executive autonomy and legal independence, allowing it to shape essential laws and policies. Rooted in Bhutan’s values of Gross National Happiness (GNH), the SAR aims to be a Mindfulness City, fostering conscious and sustainable businesses inspired by the country’s spiritual heritage.

To maintain alignment with Bhutanese culture and values, the SAR will implement a rigorous screening process for companies and individuals looking to establish a presence in Gelephu. The invitation-only approach ensures that businesses align with Bhutan’s interests and values.

King Wangchuck identified three immediate priority areas to support the Gelephu project—Energy, Connectivity, and Skills. Plans include expanding the energy sector by harnessing various sources and developing connectivity infrastructure to facilitate trade and investment.

Describing the Gelephu project as an “inflection point” and a “moment in history,” King Wangchuck emphasized its transformative nature. He highlighted its significance for his reign and the current generation, underlining the project’s pivotal role in shaping Bhutan’s future.

Gelephu is not merely seen as an economic center but as a gateway connecting Bhutan to the world. The envisioned road is considered a conduit to global markets, capital, innovative ideas, knowledge, and technology—a pathway to chart Bhutan’s destiny on the international stage.

King Wangchuck expressed unwavering commitment to realizing the vision of Gelephu, pledging to put his own life on the line for the sake of the Bhutanese people. He recognized the extraordinary devotion and love of the people for their country.

The Gelephu Mindfulness City project stands as a testament to Bhutan’s forward-looking approach, blending economic development with cultural values and environmental consciousness. King Wangchuck’s vision reflects a commitment to sustainable growth and the well-being of the Bhutanese people.

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