India and Bhutan are part of a region which is overwhelmingly characterised by the much familiar trend of deep rooted distrust, uncertainty and suspicion. However there has been one maj exception to this: the Indo- Bhutan relations. Both the nations have been able to strike the right chord and have been able to sustain their friendship.This paper makes an attempt to answer some of the lingering questions pertaining to various facets in the backdrop of Indo-Bhutan relations.as follows:- Various elements which link the two countries. Whether the bond serves only Bhutanese interests or it holds equal gains for India.
The way ahead. Bhutan’s Interests.As far as Bhutan is concerned, it has derived optimum benefits in almost all spheres from its relations with India.
Economy. Bhutan is a landlocked country and is extremely backward. India has always extended massive sp to Bhutan so as to come out of isolation. The Indian government is involved in numerous projects, which include hydel projects, cement industry, road constr etc. Hydropower exports encompasses around 40% of domestic revenues earned by Bhutan and is a maj constituent at around 25% of its GDP. Benefits of initiative like “Make in India” are also bound to overflow into the Bhutanese economy. In the eventuality of India becoming a global manufacturing hub, Bhutan will gain, because of its abundant natural resources.
Bhutan will emerge as a maj exporter of raw mtrl.Transit of Goods. Being a landlocked country, India provides Bhutan with several transit routes. A free trade agreement is prevalent between India and Bhutan. Bhutanese goods transiting through India if accompanied by the Transit Declaration document are not subjected to any sample check by the Indian authorities.Air Travel. A citizen of Bhutan entering India by Land or Air does not require passport or VISA for entry into India.
Education. Popularity of Indian institutions among Bhutanese students is a benchmark for judging the essence of bilateral ties.Today, around one third of Bhutan’s students are pursuing higher education in India.(ii) The main reason behind majority of Bhutanese students preferring India is because it is more economical and the ready availability of a plethora of scholarships. Scholarships.
Several scholarships are granted every year by India to meritorious students. Some of the maj scholarship schemes are enlisted below:-Under Graduate and Post Graduate scholarship. Every year GoI provides fully funded ninety scholarships to deserving Bhutanese students in different professional streams.Nehru- Wangchuk Scholarship. Aid to Bhutan ICCR Scholarship.
ITEC Training Programme Scheme.Ambassador’s Scholarship.Sports. India offers excellent opportunities and a viable platform to the budding sportsmen from Bhutan. Chencho Gyeltshen who is currently representing Minerva Punjab Football Club in the ongoing Indian Super League is one such example.Tpt. The No.
of Bhutanese vehs plying on Indian roads far exceeds the Indian vehs in the dragon kingdom. This is a common sight across all the border cities. The Bhutanese still undertake a maj portion of their journey through Indian road space while travelling towards east. Bilateral Trade. India is Bhutan’s largest trading partner. India accounts for nearly 90% of Bhutan’s total exports. India’s Interests.
India presently follows a policy of mutual benefit from the projects which are being undertaken in Bhutan. The market for these projects will be India and in this manner it also ensures the development of the north-eastern parts of India.Security. Bhutan holds immense security imperatives for India. An unwavering and stable Bhutan is a prerequisite for it to be an effective buffer state.Hydro Power.
Hrdropower Projects in Bhutan epitomise and are a befitting example of the win – win cooperation between India and Bhutan. It is an economical and reliable source of clean electricity to India. The Chukha and Tala Hydel power projects ensures power supply to several parts of West Bengal and Assam. Such projects go a ;ong way towards partially resolving the power shortage problem. Image in Intl arena. The goodwill garnered by India is likely to ensure that irrespective of changes that might come in the future in the political realm in Bhutan, the positive attitude towards India will not change. Bhutan sees it in its own interest to be friendly with India as it is derives multiple benefits out of the relationship.Tourism Bhutan has deliberately kept it isolated from the maximum parts of the world, in order to maintain its cultural identity, tourist from the west are rarely seen in Bhutan.
But Indian tourists don’t require a visa for entry into Bhutan. The Indian currency is accepted as legal tender and fetches similar currency exchange rate.Trade. India’s limitless budgetary support to the tune of billions including the setting up of hydropower-plants have been useful for Bhutan but have also helped India capture the benefits. As per a study, “90- 95% of whatever Bhutan borrows from India ultimately comes back to India”.Employment. There are around 60,000 Indian nationals living in Bhutan. They are generally employed in the hydel projects and constr industry.
In addition around 8000- 9000 daily workers from India enter and exit Bhutan every day in border towns.Conclusion Bhutan has gained immensely from the special relations it has had with India in all aspects of its development as a nation. It has grown in international stature. Economically, India has helped in its multifaceted development. Both the countries need to take concrete measures in the field of education to increase transparency in monitoring admission of Bhutanese students in various institutions in India.
Indo Bhutan relations are set to reach newer heights in all spheres in the near future. The partnership is a win – win sit for both the nations, however the pendulum of accruing more advantages seems to be favouring the Bhutanese more in the overall gambit.