Bhutan-India Relationship

Royal visit to India

By Dr. D.N.S Dhakal

Relationship between Bhutan and India have been always warm; it is increasing at an unprecedented rate not seen elsewhere!

It is a family like relationship. This has been nurtured carefully by the two countries since the first visit of the Prime Minister Jawarahal Nehru with his daughter Indira Gandhi.

It was Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who supported Bhutan’s membership to the United Nations. Bhutan was the first country to recognize the breakaway East Pakistan as an independent Bangla nation.

India ignored the cry of Lhotsampa refugees when they were ousted from Bhutan. Bhutan cooperated with the Indian military to flush out the northeast militants who had taken shelter in southern Bhutan.

India has invested heavily in Bhutan. The revenue from the sale of hydroelectricity provides access to cash reserve for the rich and powerful but there is no clear scrutiny on distribution of benefits to ordinary people.

This “intimate” relationship has helped the regime in Thimphu to prosper at the cost of welfare of its own people. It has managed to silence the voice of democratic reforms, trample upon ethnic and minority rights and to transfer one sixth of the country’s population in overseas countries.

Only can time tell the long-term sustainability of such a relationship. As Bhutan aspire to graduate into a self-confident nation such an arrangement may not necessarily work in the long-term benefit of both the nation.