From April 3–5, 2023, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the King of Bhutan, visited India on an official trip at the invitation of President Droupadi Murmu.
His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck was accompanied by Lyonpo Dr. Tandi Dorji, Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, and other top Royal Government of Bhutan officials.
- While in India, His Majesty the King of Bhutan met with Droupadi Murmu, President of India, and held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was also visited by External Affairs Minister (EAM) Dr. S. Jaishankar and National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval.
India – Bhutan Ties
i.India and Bhutan have unique friendship and collaboration ties that are distinguished by trust and mutual understanding.
ii.During the COVID-19 pandemic, India was the first country to respond to Bhutan’s medical needs, sending 13 consignments of medical supplies and becoming the first country to offer Indian-made Covishield vaccines to Bhutan.
iii.India has historically been Bhutan’s top trading partner and continues to be its top investor.
iv.The Indian government formally announced the establishment of 7 new trade routes in November 2021 for bilateral and transit trade between India and Bhutan.
v.New market access was granted for the formal export of 12 agri-products from Bhutan to India, as well as several specific exceptions and export quotas.
vi.Since Bhutan began implementing its Five-Year Plans in the early 1960s, India has provided financial support for its socio-economic development.
vii.India provided Bhutan with Rs. 4500 crore for a number of multi-sectoral project-tied assistance, small development projects, direct budgetary support, and so on for the 12th Five-Year Plan.
India, Bhutan agree on steps to boost cooperation in hydropower, trade and space
India and Bhutan have agreed on a number of new measures to strengthen their cooperation in sectors such as hydropower, trade, and space, including the finalization of a joint plan of action to deepen their partnership in space technology.
- These measures were finalised during Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck’s visit to India.
Various Measures to Strengthen Relations Between India and Bhutan
i.India decided to increase its support for Bhutan’s upcoming 13th Five-Year Plan (2023-28), has agreed to an increase in the tariff on the Chhukha hydroelectric power (HEP) project, and is negotiating an additional standby credit line for Bhutan.
ii.India and Bhutan also agreed to work together on developing the Kokrajhar-Gelephu rail link project, which would be the first-ever rail link between India and Bhutan.
- The rail link project connects Kokrajhar in Assam to Gelephu in Bhutan with Government of India (GoI) support in tandem with the Bhutanese government, and is based on an engineering and technical survey done by Indian Railways.
iii.India and Bhutan have planned to establish the first integrated check post (ICP) along the border in Jaigaon and Phuntsholing, the busiest commercial hubs between the two countries.
iv.Following advancements in the space sector, the two parties will concentrate on new areas of cooperation like startups, space, and Science, Technology, Engineering, And Math (STEM) education.
v.The first satellite developed by India and Bhutan was launched, and a ground-based earth station was inaugurated in Thimphu, Bhutan.
vi.Both parties underlined their commitment to enhance subregional cooperation, notably with Bangladesh, and assessed the performance of projects totaling 2,136 MW in the area of hydropower cooperation, a cornerstone of the bilateral economic partnership.
vii.Additionally, they expressed satisfaction with the development of the 1,020-MW (megawatt) Punatshangchhu-II plant, whose commissioning is anticipated for early 2024.
Click here for India-Bhutan Joint Statement
Recent related News:
i.In January 2023, Captain Surbhi Jakhmola, an Indian Army officer from 117 Engineer Regiment, was posted in the Project Dantak of Bhutan. She becomes the 1st woman officer to be posted on a foreign assignment at the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).
ii.Project Dantak, is an overseas project of the BRO under the Ministry of Defence of India.
About Royal Government of Bhutan:
Prime Minister – Lobgay Tsering
Capital – Thimphu
Currency – Bhutanese Ngultrum (BTN)