PM’s Bhutan visit: Reaffirming commitment to building stronger ties - The Tribune India

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PM’s Bhutan visit

Reaffirming commitment to building stronger ties

PM’s Bhutan visit

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister



BARELY 24 hours after putting off his trip to Bhutan due to heavy rain in the neighbouring country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi availed a spell of good weather to visit Thimphu. India’s efforts to ensure that the bilateral ties did not enter a state of limbo were reciprocated by Bhutan, which conferred its highest civilian honour on PM Modi. As was expected, Bhutan PM Tshering Tobgay received his counterpart at the airport. In another indication that PM Modi’s quick visit was a win-win proposition for both sides, both Tobgay and the Bhutan King, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, were present to see him off.

These courtesies reflect the two countries’ willingness to be receptive to each other’s aspirations in a rapidly altering geopolitical landscape. Bhutan’s expectation of more aid from India, the world’s fastest-growing major economy, was met when PM Modi doubled the assistance for Bhutan’s next Five-Year Plan. India will also shoulder the financial burden of the Gyalsung Initiative, an integrated training programme for Bhutan’s youth. New Delhi is readily backing King Jigme’s Gelephu Special Administrative Region Project by financing a railway line that will be connected to the plains of Assam.

However, India’s steadfast commitment to Thimphu is inseparable from its security interests vis-à-vis China, as the Doklam standoff of 2017 had demonstrated. New Delhi has shown respect for Bhutan’s sovereignty by revising the India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty to enable Thimphu to decide its own foreign policy. Understandably, Bhutan cannot keep itself away from greater diplomatic engagement. India had facilitated Bhutan’s emergence from isolation by sponsoring its membership of the UN and the World Bank. The bonhomie among the leaders at Paro airport suggests that both sides will continue to synchronise their geopolitical moves. 

#Narendra Modi


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