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 testing.
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.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Provides latest population data about Bhutan. Lists by Year from 1950 to 2020. Also includes major cities by population.
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 Happiness.
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 intangible wealth.