Desuung-The Guardians of Peace and Harmony
It is 3.30 am. I get up, rush to bathroom hopping to catch an empty one so that my precious few minutes are not lost. I get a shower and clad myself in the orange dress with the orange cap and the most famous DMS boot.
I look at myself in the mirror and find a new person there. I find a Desuup ready for “Fall In” at 4 a.m listening to the instructions of the Peljab (Sergent) who would use all means to get us right, both mentally and physically. Some days, he would make us stamp so hardduring drills that he would want the entire Rinchengang hill shake.
The Gopa(Corporal)is more ferocious than the Peljab. He would call himself the devil of Tencholing Training Centre and would command us that our stamping should shake the entire mountains of Bhutan. The word “Fall In” means a lot more than how it may appear or sound. This is the word with which we start and end the day. This is the word that keeps ringing in our ears long after the training has been completed.
Starting from the morning yoga, running, walking, drills, firing, rappelling, rafting, river crossing, games of all kinds to a coffee night jam session, cultured dinner, recruits nights, limited alcohol dinner to unlimited alcohol dinner, cooking competition, games and sports competition, best shooter to being the best marathoner, the entire training keeps one so occupied that we don’t realize how time passes by.
This is the “Guardian of peace” in the making at the Tencholing military training ground.
This is what I underwent under the Integrated Desuung Training Programme in the cohort of 13th batch from 8 to 20 September 2014. We were 121, which included 17 ladies with the senior most being Sangay Thinley, Dasho Dzongdag of Bumthang who was actually superannuating right after the training.
Envisioning the important role of civilians in the protection of the nation’s peace and sovereignty and maintaining national unity and harmony just as militia personnel used to, His Majesty the King initiated the De-Suung Integrated Training Programme.
The programme was launched on 14th February 2011 with 125 candidates that included 80 men and 45 women.
It was His Majesty’s noble vision that the programme be a value based personal development program with the main objective to encourage all citizens to be active in the greater role of nation building. The underlying premise of the training programme is built upon the spirit of volunteerism and the positive influence of ethics and values of community service, integrity and civic responsibility,”according to TashiTobgye, Director of Desuung Office.
Since its inception, the Dessung office has trained 21 batches with 2,516 Desuups being trained so far under the vision and guidance of His Majesty The King.
Amongst many initiatives ever since His Majesty took over the responsibility in 2006, Desuung has taken a very prominent place in terms of realizing His Majesty’s vision of encouraging citizenry to be active in the greater role of nation building, providing useful and appropriate skills and knowledge in the field of disaster management, instilling a greater sense of community, harmony and co-operation as a group and individual members of the society besides providing value based personal development programmes and instilling enhanced sense of volunteerism.
Sharing the Royal vision, His Majesty, during His address to the 18th Batch Desuups on 21 January 2016, said that their (Desuups) service to the nation would help build the kind of future that we envision for Bhutan.” (Face Book Page of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.)
The men and women in orange, as many would call, has since played an important role in search and rescue, helping during natural disasters like floods, fires, road blocks amongst others across the country in keeping with their honour code – “I as De-suup will keep service to my nation before my own safety and comfort.”
One of the greatest disasters Bhutan has seen in recent times was the most unfortunate fire, which reduced Wangduephodrang dzong to ruins on 24thJune, 2012. Along with six officers and142 NCOs and OR from the Armed Forces, nine Desuups from the 4th batch bravely fought the fire and saved 17 trucks of precious relics from the dzong. These nine Desuups were later awarded the Drapoi Norbu Yoesel (Light Treasure of the Armed forces) medal by His Majesty the King on 21st Feb 2013 at the Dechencholing Palace.
In every address to the Desuups, His Majesty shares the royal vision behind the programme and inspires every Desuup to play their part in nation building and in serving the country. “Your character and attitude towards work and disposition towards service will shape our future. You are the guardians of peace, stability and happiness of our country, and the custodians of our National Identity,” His Majesty The King said on 29 April 2015 to 15th Batch Desuups.
Inspired by His Majesty’s selfless dedication to his people’s safety and comfort, the Desuups under the leadership of His Majesty played a very crucial role in the mitigation and restoration work when late monsoon this year flooded southern parts of the country recently.
It was His Majesty’s vision to extend the service of the Desuups across the border when Bhutan’s friend and neighbour was devastated by a massive earthquake in April 2015. Under the Royal Command,15 Desuups left for Nepal to offer medical assistance for the earthquake relief operations along with other Bhutanese team on 27 April 2015. Seven more Desuups partook as a reinforcement team based in Trishul, Nepal on 5th May 2015 with the blessing of His Majesty The King.
Besides the presence of orange uniform in disaster management, Dessups are also seen controlling crowd, serving refreshments or meals, taking care of senior citizens at every festive occasions or at places of large gathering. Desuups also took active border patrolling duties at India border in the South and China border in the North to understand the significance of porous borders and its impact on Bhutan.
During the Royal Address to 15th Batch Desuups on 29 April 2015 that lasted for over an hour, His Majesty inspired the volunteers to contribute to nation building through various ways, big and small-from reading everyday to increasing the overall knowledge of the society, and aspiring to create clean, well managed and beautiful surroundings that contribute to national pride and integrity, to larger visions of strengthening our economy and achieving prosperity for all our people. (Face Book Page of His Majesty The King)
“Where we live must be clean, safe, organized, beautiful, for national integrity, national pride, and for our bright future. This too is nation building.” His Majesty The King said at the first ever Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition in Paro Ugyen Pelri Palace on April 1 2015.
Taking His Majesty’s wise words of wisdom by the letter, Desuups also volunteered to be the permanent members of the Clean Bhutan and pledged to keep our country clean and green. Thus, Desuups took up several cleaning initiatives as well as planted thousands of trees at various places across the country.
Today, Desuup sare volunteers from all walks of life starting from students of class X and XII, university graduates, teachers, health workers, members of parliament, civil servants from various organizations, private and corporate personnel. “Being trained as Desuup not only teaches self discipline, compassion, being helpful to the community, and providing support in terms of disaster, but it also helps you as a teacher to communicate these values further to thousands of students in the schools,” a teacher Desuup, Pema Wangchuk, said. “You train one teacher Desuup and in turn you train thousands of students.”
Desuung has also bonded so many people from all walks of life irrespective of posts, titles, and designations at their cohort level and also amongst other cohorts of Desuups. Each cohort of Desuups remain connected through creating group on social media. This connectedness has helped Desuups to respond to emergencies at a faster rate.
Desuup Karma Tshering, an eminent member of the National Council from 13th batch says, “I feel privileged and proud to be able to give back to the community through this service and be in such inspired company.”
Desuung has further provided a platform for individuals to contemplate and reflect on their daily life routines, thoughts, and ways of living. “Joining Desuung was like experiencing the other side of life. It was about finding your strength and weakness. It was the test of patience, perseverance, commitment and loyalty,” said Desuup Tshering Choki, 2nd batch. Desuup Kinley Tshering from the 9th batch further reiterates this spirit of self awareness “Desunng training has helped me understand the value of life by helping others, respecting the senior citizens and come forward for any cause.”
“Through the De-Suung course and participating in various other De-Suuung activities, I have learnt and experienced the values of, “Brotherhood, self-discipline, responsibility, mindfulness, team work, mental and physical fitness, initiative, patriotism, selflessness, service to Tsa-Wa-Sum”, DesuupTshering Wangmo, 17th Batch.
“Nothing has been a greater achievement for me than to see thousands of individuals graduate as Desuups and most importantly realizing the Royal vision of His Majesty The King in creating a pool of committed nation builders”, says Tashi Tobgye, Director,Desuung Office.