Tshering Tobgay

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Tshering Tobgay
Tshering Tobgay.jpg
Prime Minister of Bhutan
In office
27 July 2013 – 9 August 2018
MonarchJigme Khesar Namgyel
Preceded bySonam Tobgye (as Chief Advisor)
Succeeded byTshering Wangchuk (as Chief Advisor)
Lotay Tshering
Personal details
Born (1965-09-19) 19 September 1965 (age 54)
Haa, Bhutan
Political partyPeople's Democratic Party (1991-Present)
Tashi Dolma (m. 1998)
Alma materUniversity of Pittsburgh
Harvard University

Tshering Tobgay (born 19 September 1965) is a Bhutanese politician, environmentalist, and cultural advocate who was the Prime Minister of Bhutan from July 2013 to August 2018. Tobgay is leader of the People's Democratic Party,[1] and was also the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly from March 2008 to April 2013.

Early life and education[edit]

Tobgay was born into a family of six brothers.[2] Both of his parents helped expand the country of Bhutan. Tobgay's father was one of the first soldiers of the Royal Bhutan Army, while his mother helped to build the first road connecting Bhutan to India.[3]

Tobgay attended secondary schooling at the Dr. Graham's Homes School in Kalimpong, India, in the eastern Himalayas.

In 1990, Tobgay received a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering after obtaining a scholarship from the United Nations.[4] Tobgay also completed a master's degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2004.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Tobgay married Tashi Doma[6][7] in 1998, and has two children.[8] He is an avid cyclist and is into fitness, gym and yoga.[9][10]


Tobgay was a civil servant before he engaged in politics. He started his career in 1991 with the Technical and Vocational Education Section (TVES) of the Education Division in Bhutan. After his stint with the TVES from 1991 to 1999, Tobgay created and led the National Technical Training Authority (NTTA) from 1999 to 2003.

Tobgay also served from 2003 to 2007 in the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources as the director of the Human Resources department. Tobgay resigned from the Ministry of Labour in February 2007 and entered politics to serve his duties for the reigning king, who established democracy in 2008. After the election in 2013, Tobgay became the Prime Minister of Bhutan through a secret ballot.


Tobgay was a co-founder member of the People's Democratic Party and was responsible for establishing the Party as Bhutan's first registered political party. At the 2008 election, the PDP only obtained two seats, with Tobgay winning one of the seats. In 2009, the PDP's leader Sangay Ngedup resigned from his position, and Tobgay took over as the party's leader. After the 2013 election, Tobgay was elected as Prime Minister of Bhutan by a secret ballot.

2013 campaign[edit]

During Tobgay's campaign in the 2013 election, Tobgay focused on improving Bhutan with small promises. Instead of following in his predecessor's footsteps and promoting the Gross National Happiness, Tobgay pledged to give each village a power tiller, utility vehicles for each district and two national ambulance helicopters. Tobgay's election campaign focused on improving the economy which had then fallen to a record low of 2%. The campaign also promised strengthening the rural economy, reforming the education sector, and empowering local government.


Rather than just talking about Gross National Happiness, Tobgay believes that the principles of GNH has to be implemented, and some of the important problems that need to be worked on are tackling youth unemployment, corruption, and national debt. Tobgay also concentrates on stopping corruption in Bhutan's government, and interacting with the Bhutanese population. Human rights is also an ideology of Tobgay, however, he has not spoken anything about LGBT rights in Bhutan, where homosexual acts continue to be illegal since an anti-gay law was imposed by British colonialists.[11]


In 2015, Tobgay delivered a speech[12] at Vibrant Gujarat, inviting leading corporates from across the globe to do business with Bhutan.

At a 2015 TED talk titled TEDxThimphu, Tobgay spoke about happiness and how common the theme of happiness was talked about at other Ted Talks, including by Nancy Etcoff, and Silver Donald Cameron. In his speech, Tobgay emphasized that having a sense of purpose, identity, and security is important to become happy.[13]

At a 2016 TED talk, Tobgay spoke about Bhutan's pledge to remain carbon neutral for all time. He shared his country's mission to put happiness before economic growth and set a world standard for environmental preservation.[14] He spoke at the UN general assembly in 2017, resonating Bhutan's environmental achievements and the need of the world to unite to save the environment.[15]

On 9 January 2019, Tobgay spoke at the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) on the first ten years of democracy in Bhutan.[16]

In September 2019, Tobgay once again spoke at TED concerning the impacts of global warming on the world's "Third Pole" - the Hindu Kush Himalaya region. He speaks to a report stating two-thirds of the glaciers could be gone be the end of the century; having impacts on over 2 billion people living in the region and further downstream. [17]


On 17 December 2014, the King of Bhutan presented Tobgay with the Lungmar Scarf for his efforts in the well-being of the nation while being Prime Minister of Bhutan.[18]



  1. ^ "Opposition leader voices concerns". Kuensel. 2 August 2008. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  2. ^ Peldek, Sonam. "Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bhutan, Tshering Tobgay". raonline.ch. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  3. ^ Ahmad, Omair. "Experiments With Democracy in Bhutan". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  4. ^ Pelden, Sonam. "Politician by chance, PM by choice". KunenselOnline. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  5. ^ "Prime Minister". cabinet.gov.bt. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  6. ^ Joseph, Jisha (15 September 2018). "Ex-Bhutan PM Carries Wife On His Back Reminding Us Of Monica & Chandler". Storypick.
  7. ^ "Bhutan's PM Tobgay in Luxembourg - Diplomat magazine". 24 September 2015.
  8. ^ "Tshering Tobgay". thinkglobalschool.org.
  9. ^ "Strava Cyclist Profile - Tshering T." Strava.
  10. ^ "9 Surprising Things You Didn't Know About Strava". 14 June 2016.
  11. ^ "Bhutan lawmaker says law criminalizing gays may go". Gay Star News. 16 September 2013.
  12. ^ ET Bureau (12 January 2015). "Vibrant Gujarat: Spotlight turns on Bhutan PM Tshering Tobgay" .
  13. ^ "TEDxThimphu - Tshering Tobgay - Happiness Matters". Tedxtalks.ted.com. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  14. ^ "Tshering Tobgay - This country isn't just carbon neutral — it's carbon negative".
  15. ^ "YouTube". www.youtube.com.
  16. ^ OPHIOxford (2019-01-09), Dasho Tshering Tobgay - The First Ten Years of Democracy: Reflections from Bhutan, retrieved 2019-05-19
  17. ^ "YouTube". www.youtube.com.
  18. ^ a b "HM confers the first reinstituted Lungmar to PM". kuenselonline.com. Archived from the original on 26 November 2015. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  19. ^ Bhutan Majestic Travel Archived 2016-09-24 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Sonam Tobgye
as Chief Advisor
Prime Minister of Bhutan
Succeeded by
Dasho Tshering Wangchuk
as Chief Advisor