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Highlights of PM Modi’s state visit to Bhutan from 22-23 March 2024

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PM Modi visit to Bhutan from March 22-23, 2024Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi was on a 2-day state visit to Bhutan from 22nd to 23rd March 2024. He was received by Tshering Tobgay, PM of Bhutan at the Paro International Airport, Bhutan.

  • He also held meetings with His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the King of Bhutan and His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the 4th King of Bhutan.


i.The 45-km route from Paro to Thimphu was lined with people waving both Indian and Bhutanese flags.

ii.The PM was accorded a grand welcome at Tashichho Dzong Palace in Thimphu, Bhutan before receiving an audience with the King.

iii.A group of Bhutanese youngsters performed a traditional Garba song penned by PM Modi to welcome him.

Meeting with PM of Bhutan: 

PM Narendra Modi held a bilateral meeting with Tshering Tobgay, PM of Bhutan in Thimphu on 22nd March 2024 over a working lunch hosted in his honour.

  • Both leaders held discussions on various sectors such as renewable energy, agriculture, youth exchange, environment, forestry, and tourism.

PM Modi Received the Order of the Druk Gyalpo, Bhutan’s Highest Civilian Award

Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, King of Bhutan, honoured PM Modi with the Order of the Druk Gyalpo, Bhutan’s highest civilian decoration in a public ceremony at the Tendrelthang, Thimphu, Bhutan.

  • He became 1st foreign head of government to receive this award. He was also the 4th person ever to receive the honours.

Points to note: 

i.The award recognizes PM Modi’s outstanding contribution to the growth of India-Bhutan relations and for his distinguished service to the Bhutanese people.

ii.The Order of the Druk Gyalpo was instituted as the decoration for lifetime achievement and is the highest level of honour in Bhutan.

Note: The announcement regarding the decision to honour PM Modi with Bhutan’s highest honour was made by the King of Bhutan on 17th December 2021, the 114th National Day Celebrations of Bhutan.

Exchange of MoUs between India and Bhutan

Several Memorandum of understandings (MoUs)/agreements in the fields of energy, trade, digital connectivity, space and agriculture, were exchanged in the presence of PM Modi and Tshering Tobgay, Bhutan’s PM.

  • The MoU on the establishment of rail links between India and Bhutan was also finalised during PM Modi’s visit.

Details of the MoUs/Agreements: 

Rail links: 

The MoU proposed the establishment of two rail links between India and Bhutan and their implementation modalities. The 2 links are,

  • Kokrajhar(Assam, India)-Gelephu(Bhutan) rail link and
  • Banarhat(West Bengal, India)-Samtse(Bhutan) rail links.

Other noted MoUs: 

i.India and Bhutan signed MoU on general supply of Petroleum, Oil Lubricants (POL) and related products from India to Bhutan.

  • Under this MoU, India will facilitate its supply to Bhutan through the agreed entry/exit points.

ii.During PM Modi’s visit, an agreement to recognise the official control exercised by the Bhutan Food and Drug Authority(BFDA) by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India(FSSAI) was also agreed.

  • This will promote ease of doing business between India and Bhutan and reduce the compliance cost on both sides.
  • Under this MoU, while exporting products to India, FSSAI will accept an export inspection certificate issued by BFDA in compliance with the requirements set by FSSAI.

iii.Energy Efficiency and Energy Conservation: India and Bhutan signed a MoU to assist Bhutan in enhancing energy efficiency in the household sector by promoting a star labelling programme developed by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency(BEE).

  • The MoU covers providing the formulation of building codes on India’s experience. Also, institutionalizing training of energy auditors to create a pool of energy professionals in Bhutan.

iv.Both nations signed a MoU on cooperation concerning sharing reference standard, pharmacopoeia, vigilance and testing of medical products.

  • This MoU would help to strengthen our close cooperation and exchange information in the field of the regulation of medicines under the respective laws and regulations of each side.
  • It would allow for the acceptance of India Pharmacopeia by Bhutan as a book of standards for medicines and supply of generic medicines at affordable prices.

v.A Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) on Space Cooperation was also signed during the visit. This JPOA laid down the framework for developing space cooperation between India and Bhutan through exchange programmes, training etc.

vi.National Knowledge Network (NKN) of India and Druk Research and Education Network (DrukREN) of Bhutan signed a MoU to renew the peering agreement between NKN and DrukREN. This aims to enhance digital connectivity between India and Bhutan and will benefit the scholars and research institutions of Bhutan.

  • This will enhance digital connectivity between India and Bhutan and will benefit the scholars and research institutions of Bhutan.

vii.Sports and Youth: India and Bhutan signed a MoU to promote people to people linkages in both the nation by advancing linkages between sports agencies and conduct sports activities.

PM Modi Announced Rs 10,000 crore Support to Bhutan over next 5 years

During the event held at Tendrelthang, Bhutan on 22nd March 2024, PM Modi announced that India will provide financial support of Rs 10, 000 crore to Bhutan over the next 5 years.

  • This reflects India’s unwavering support to Bhutan’s 13th FYP.

Key Points:

i.PM Modi appreciated Bhutan King’s vision of setting up a “Mindfulness City” in Gelephu, Bhutan which he believed would lead to economic prosperity and development in Bhutan in a sustainable manner.

ii.He also termed the Gross National Happiness Index of Bhutan a “visionary framework”.


i.Earlier, India committed financial assistance of Rs 5,000 crore for the 12th FYP (2018-2023) of the Royal Government of Bhutan.

ii.So far, India has implemented 82 tied assistance projects and 524 high-impact community development projects in Bhutan.

iii.India has provided financial assistance of Rs 400 crore towards the Transitional Trade Support Facility.

PM Modi Inaugurated a Hospital Built with Indian Assistance in Bhutan

On 23rd March 2024, PM Modi and Tshering Tobgay, PM of Bhutan, inaugurated the Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck Mother and Child Hospital in Thimphu, Bhutan.

  • The state-of-the-art hospital was built with the financial assistance of the Government of India.

Points to note: 

i.The hospital with a 150-bed facility was developed in 2 phases.

ii.The 1st phase of the hospital was constructed at a cost of Rs 22 crore and has been operational since 2019.

iii.The 2nd phase was developed at a cost of Rs 119 crore under the 12th Five-Year Plan (FYP) of Bhutan.

iv.The hospital will provide facilities such as Pediatrics, Gynecology and Obstetrics, National Intensive Care etc.

Note: India and Bhutan established diplomatic relations in 1968. The Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation was signed between the two countries in 1949 and later updated in 2007.

India & Bhutan Committed to Promote Connectivity, Trade & Investment Linkages

India and Bhutan have committed to promoting connectivity, expanding development partnerships and bolstering trade and investment ties with a special focus on the Gelephu Special Administrative Region (SAR).

  • This initiative includes promoting connectivity through rail links, roads, air, waterways, and trade infrastructure for cross-border movement of goods and services.

Key Points:

i.India and Bhutan welcomed the Joint Vision Statement on the India-Bhutan Energy Partnerships.

ii.Both countries are further committed to make use of technologies for economic growth and promoting the well-being of the people of Bhutan and India.

Note: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a joint statement on the state visit of the PM of India to Bhutan titled “Bharat and Bhutan: Together for Progress and Development”.

About Bhutan:
Prime Minister– Tshering Tobgay
Capital– Thimphu
Currency– Bhutanese Ngultrums(BNTs)