Saturday, November 4, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Bhutan and India

THIS has reference to “Bhutan and India” by Mr Thinley Penjor, Charge d’ Affairs, Royal Bhutan Embassy, New Delhi (Oct. 30), which refutes Col P.K. Vasudeva’s assertion that Bhutan is a protectorate of India.

The fact is that the early history of the landlocked kingdom of Bhutan is obscure. Bhutan, “the land of thunder dragon”, comprising an area of 46,500 sq. km., was conquered by Tibet in the 16th century. Accordingly, it came under a dual spiritual and temporal rule. Later, in the 19th century, the southern parts of the country were occupied by the British, and these were annexed to India. Britain now began paying Bhutan an annual subsidy.

On December 17, 1907, Sir Ugyen Wangchuk, a former local governor, established a hereditary monarchy. Under an Anglo-Bhutanese treaty, signed in 1910, Bhutan’s foreign relations were placed under the supervision of the Government of British India.

Consequent upon India’s Independence in August, 1947, the aforesaid treaty was replaced in August, 1949, by the Indo-Bhutan Treaty of Friendship, whereby Bhutan agreed to seek the advice of the Government of India, with regard to its foreign relations. However, it remains free to decide whether or not to accept such an advice. Further, India returned areas annexed by Britain in 1865.

In 1959, Communist China published certain maps showing parts of Bhutan as Chinese territory on the basis that these belonged to greater Tibet. Whereupon, India warned that any attempt on Bhutan would be regarded as an act of aggression against India.

In 1964, Prime Minister Jigme Dorji was assassinated. His brother Lendup Dorji, who became acting Prime Minister, was accused of plotting a coup, and was exiled. Thereupon, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk assumed full powers. King Wangchuk was succeeded in 1972 by Western educated 16-year-old Crown Prince Jigme Singye Wangchuk, who has maintained ‘excellent relations” with India.

Bhutan joined the UN in 1971, the Non-Aligned Movement in 1973, and became a member of SAARC in 1983.



A titan bows out

KUDOS for the most timely and thought-provoking editorial “A titan bows out” (Oct 30), highlighting West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu’s graceful exit from office. The country’s politicians seldom retire voluntarily. They stick to office virtually like a limpet. They leave violently “kicking and screaming” whenever perforce “thrown out”, as the editorial aptly observes.

Mr Basu’s case comes as a much needed exception to the rule. May the “Titan” live long and may his tribe increase and flourish!

Ambota (Una)


Narmada controversy

THIS has in reference to your editorial “Medha: not the right path” (Oct 25). The stand taken by Ms Patkar against the verdict of the apex court is really shocking and shows immature thinking.

The Sardar Sarovar Project is definitely going to be the lifeline of tribals in the hitherto underdeveloped regions of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh

Ms Patkar is doing no good to her supporters by chanting slogans like “People are bound by life, not just by the law”.

The Supreme Court should immediately take serious note of it and initiate contempt of court proceedings against her.



Sirimavo’s example

Indian politicians should take a lesson from Sri Lanka’s former Prime Minister, the late Sirimavo Bandaranaike whose eyes, after death, were used to give sight for two blind Sri Lankans! Legislation may be enacted for automatic donation of eyes and other organs of departed leaders entitled for state cremation, and of all persons, including legislators and government employees, dying after availing themselves of medical expenses from the government.

The government spends too much on medical facilities. As such, people using such government facilities have a duty towards the general public.

Incentives may also be devised for popularising body-donation. Posthumous honour may be given to persons donating bodies after death for medical research. Such donating persons may be free to nominate one person who may get free medical treatment for life at government expense.


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