A relation that cannot be overlooked
Bhutan as a nation has always preserved its isolation from rest of the world. This 39,000 square meter nation with approximately 7,00,000 population cozily exists between Asia’s two giants – India and China. Bhutan not only withstood numerous attempts to be conquered by the Tibetans and Mongols, but also managed to evade colonization and the resultant incorporation into the British Raj, despite two wars against the British. Under the Treaty of Punakha in 1910, Britain guaranteed Bhutan’s independence, and approved Bhutanese Royal Government an increased stipend. The Treaty allowed control of Bhutanese Foreign Relations and defense to Britain. Bhutan has always stayed out of international organizations and has maintained few bilateral trades.
Bhutan was one of the first nations to recognize India’s independence in 1947 and both nations have fostered close relations. The tie between these two countries is augmented further during 1950’s annexation of Tibet by People’s Republic of China and its border dispute with both India and Bhutan. India strengthened its ties with both Nepal and Bhutan as its “Himalayan Frontier” security policy. India shares 605 kilometers (376 mi) border with Bhutan and is its largest trading partner. Bhutan’s smooth transition from political monarchy to a successful democracy is commendable. The credit of course goes to Bhutan’s royal family for ushering in democracy.
After the 1960 government ban on trade with Tibet, Bhutan’s external sector became almost totally oriented toward trade with India. With the completion in 2002 of the second hydroelectric power project financed by India—built largely with Indian migrant labor and designed to deliver the majority of its power outputs to India—India’s dominance in terms of exports has remained over 90%. Import sources, however, have become increasingly diversified.
On his first ever visit to Bhutan for 2 days on 16th June 2014; Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured cooperation between the two countries related to their mutual security. Both Prime Ministers agreed to continue with their close coordination and cooperation with each other on issues relating to their national interests, and not allowing each other’s territory to be used for interests unfavorable to each other. This was PM’s first foreign trip after assuming office. I think his quick decision making ability and his no nonsense approach in taking executive decisions and assuring quick implementation of policies need salutation from all of us. Security and defense are priority of his governance.
The main objective of the visit was to flush out Northeastern insurgents from the Bhutanese territory. On the eve of Modi’s visit, Bhutan’s PM said this was a chance to celebrate the ties between the two countries and added, “We have to further strengthen this friendship.” Bhutan’s PM Tobgay assured that his county was very serious against terror camps. The nation has dismantled all terrorist outfits or camps. Since then none have entered Bhutan. The Bhutanese PM assured that his territory will never be used in any way against security interests of India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized having a good neighbor is important for a country’s happiness and in its absence a nation cannot live in peace despite prosperity. He made the remarks while reminding Bhutan that one of the factors responsible for its happiness was having a good neighbor like India!!