Jigmi Y. Thinley became Prime Minister (Lyonchhen) of Bhutan after leading his party, the Bhutan Peace and Prosperity Party or Druk Phuensum Tshogpa, to victory in Bhutan's first ever national election in March 2008. He represents Nanong Shumar constituency in Pemagatsel, Eastern Bhutan. Before the introduction of democracy in Bhutan, he served the previous government in various capacities, including as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs. He also served as Prime Minister from 1998 to 1999 and again from 2003 to 2004, when cabinet ministers held the post on an annual rotational basis.
Born in Bumthang, Bhutan in 1952, Thinley graduated with honors from St. Stephen's College of Delhi University and went on to obtain a master's degree in Public Administration from Pennsylvania State University in 1976. He joined Bhutan Civil Service in 1974.
Currently he also serves as Chairman of his country's Tourism Council, Dzongkha Development Commission, Gross National Happiness Commission, National Environment Commission, Royal Education Council, Ugyen Wangchuck Institute of Conservation and Environment; and Patron of National Solid Waste Management Programme.
Thinley has published many essays and papers on a wide range of topics and spoken at several conferences, meetings and seminars. He has addressed the United Nations General Assembly numerous times, spoken at regional summits and other international meetings such as the SAARC, the BIMSTEC and the Non-Aligned Movement as Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Bhutan. He is an International Counselor for the Asia Society, New York; Member of the International Advisory Board of the Netherlands Development Organization; and Chairman of Steering Committee for the International Expert Working Group for the new paradigm to promote well-being and happiness of all life on earth.
As a concerned leader Jigmi Y. Thinley has always advocated for Gross National Happiness (GNH) in measuring progress of any nation, instead of depending on growth in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He has always looked for happiness for every individual and continues to emphasise on the need for a holistic approach to development. He advocates for equitable and sustainable socio-economic development, judicious use of natural resources, conservation of environment, motivation for developing human relations and good governance. For the happiness of individual, he speaks about health and physical well being, educational attainment, environment resilience, cultural diversity, community vitality, emotional and psychological well being, etc.
A person with such sensibility and sensitivity could not have remained without being rewarded, for which he has received many awards and accolades like Dasho, Red Scarf, Orange Scarf titles, Druk Thuksey and Coronation medals. In 2009, His Majesty the Fifth King of Bhutan awarded Thinley the Druk Wangyel Medal - the highest civilian decoration - for excellence in carrying out his duties. That same year, Penn State presented him with the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor the university confers on an outstanding alumnus. In February of this year, Thinley received the HR Strategic and Iconic Leader Award at the World HRD Congress 2010 in Mumbai, an international initiative dedicated to shaping the future of organizations through talent management and development.
It is for his towering personality and for his vision, the KISS Humanitarian Award for 2012 goes to him.