AsiaBhutanIndiaSouthern Asia

‘Modi government will take neighbours along to path of prosperity’

Thimphu, June 15 The new Indian government’s foreign policy focus on its South Asian neighbourhood and to work towards creating a peaceful, stable and economically inter-linked neighbourhood “bodes well” not only for the collective SAARC but also for Bhutan as the Narendra Modi government will “take everybody along to the path of prosperity”, says an editorial in a Bhutanese daily.

The Bhutanese, in an editorial ahead of Modi’s two-day visit to the Himalayan country that began Sunday, said that “Bhutan, as an old friend, would want India to do well and surge ahead in the global scene as experience in the past has shown that the economic rise and prosperity of India has translated into benefits for Bhutan, including other countries in the region.”

“However, for any major country or regional bloc, they can only ever truly rise on the global platform if their neighborhood is stable and happy, so to speak. The new dispensation in New Delhi led by Mr Modi has wisely realized this, and is thus, focusing with renewed energy and depth in its own neighborhood which is loaded with a lot of potential and unexplored opportunities, apart from the well known challenges,” says the editorial.

“It is in this context that India-Bhutan friendship model will serve as a positive example to the entire region in terms of the good and stable political ties and also the various benefits that flow from such trust, such as the mutually beneficial economic projects like hydropower.”

It says: “There can be no doubt that Bhutan has benefitted immensely over the decades, starting from the 1960s with planned Indian assistance and grants”, which has played a key role in Bhutan’s rapid socio-economic development.

“Bhutan, on the other hand, has been a close and reliable strategic friend and partner and has resisted the strong efforts of some major global players to gain a Himalayan foothold.”

“Bhutan has also been very perceptive of India’s security interests demonstrated, especially, during the time of the former BJP government in 2003, when His Majesty the Fourth King personally led Bhutan’s armed forces to flush out large numbers of Indian militants and terrorists all armed to the teeth after they failed to heed Bhutan’s peaceful requests to leave,” the editorial said.

“With the core fundamentals of the India-Bhutan relationship being secure and strong, it is time to now further expand and diversify this relationship. One such area where good progress is already being made is in the field of hydropower projects that will benefit both countries for the obvious reasons.”

“India could also explore the various economic potentials in Bhutan and invest in industries, tourism, cottage industries, ICT, agriculture, which would not only mean a more prosperous Bhutan but also benefit the Indian investors.”

“A good start could be made by strengthening the communication and transport infrastructure between the two countries like railways lines, roads, dry ports, etc. For a rupee and liquidity scarce Bhutanese economy, the Indian government could also consider extending reasonable rupees facilities for big projects in Bhutan that normally drain out rupees.”

“The India-Bhutan relationship has not only stood the test of time, but has also gotten qualitatively better and more mature over the years. This landmark and historic visit will be another opportunity to take the relationship to the next level for the mutual benefit of both countries,” the editorial says.

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