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Loknath Sharma: Working to benefit society in Bhutan

Posted: 9 December 2021

Bhutan, COVID-19, Impact, Women empowerment,

Loknath Sharma’s journey to becoming a Lyonpo (Minister) in the Bhutan National Assembly had humble but dedicated beginnings. As a child, he was taught that every small good deed contributes to a larger benefit for society. This attitude fostered a passion for community development work that later motivated him to join the civil service.

In 2015, wanting to gain further knowledge in community practice, Loknath applied for and received an Australian Government-funded Endeavour Vocational Education and Training Scholarship. With the support of this Scholarship, he studied a Diploma of Community Services and Work at Canberra Institute of Technology. The diploma was the perfect platform for him to integrate his practical experiences and interest in community work with the technical aspects the course provided.

Adding new perspectives to his passion for community development, the Scholarship gave Loknath the opportunity to learn more about people and their attitudes towards life.

“The advanced Diploma program had modules on human behaviour, society, communities and their interrelationships, which interested me, and I saw that it would equip me with skills to help people from all walks of life,” he says.

As part of the study program, Loknath undertook a lot of case studies, which provided him with the opportunity to work with different communities and people in Canberra, learning about complex social issues and working towards finding solutions to improve such situations.

With renewed conviction and new knowledge in community practices, Loknath returned home in 2016 and worked with the community in his village. Eventually, however, he saw an opportunity to help at a country-wide level. After more than 15 years in the civil service, politics beckoned.

Describing his move into politics, Loknath says, “I didn’t make this move for professional enhancement, but rather to help me grow and become a better human being. This understanding is also my core strength that pushes me to work harder as I shoulder responsibilities to serve my King and the country.” Loknath’s ability to connect with people from diverse backgrounds at the grassroots level was a significant factor in securing him the winning votes during Bhutan’s 2018 parliamentary elections, which led to him being appointed Minister of Economic Affairs.

In this role, Loknath is determined to develop institutions and infrastructure to strengthen private and public sector industries, create employment, and raise the living standards of every Bhutanese. Loknath leads the ministry to accelerate the country’s economic growth by diversifying activities and using inclusive growth mechanisms to encourage entrepreneurship and foreign investment, always with an eye on sustainability.

Alumnus Loknath Sharma with colleagues at the Bhutan National Assembly

Taking development to the grassroots level, Loknath visits villages across the country to explore business opportunities and create prospects through start-ups and cottage and small industries. Above all, Loknath firmly believes in teamwork, saying, “For a small society like ours, if we support each other, we will be able to bring about the change we desire.”

Today, Loknath retains fond memories of his time in Australia and thanks the Australian people and the Australian government for equipping him with the knowledge, skills and exposure that have enabled him to take charge of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and guide his country towards economic growth.

Through recent involvement in promotional activities for Australia Awards, he encourages others to apply for Australia Awards Scholarships and opportunities. “My days in Australia will always remain a special chapter in my life,” he says, which is why he looks forward to attending alumni gatherings—to share and learn from those who have gone through similar life-changing experiences thanks to the Australian Government.