India Bhutan Relations

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 25, 2022, 12:53

Any relationship is dependent on friendship and trust. Located between India and China, Bhutan has a common border with four Indian states which include West Bengal, Assam, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh. Bhutan has maintained a positive relationship with India for a long time.

Diplomatic relations between India and Bhutan were initiated in 1968. The year 2018 marked 50 years of elations between the two countries. The first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, and the Third King of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, were both involved in the establishment of India Bhutan Relations. The relationship is built on trust, understanding, and cordial cooperation. The first office in India was opened in 1968 in Thimpu. In continuation, both the countries have maintained, nurtured, and strengthened their relationship through these years.

High-Level Visits Between Countries That Enhance India Bhutan Relations

The India Bhutan Relations are reflected through their high-level visits to each other's countries. Some of the important visits are listed below.

  1. In 2015, PM Tobgay visited Ahmedabad, Gujarat during the inaugural session of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit.
  2. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his first foreign visit to Bhutan after taking charge indicating India Bhutan Relations as a priority.
  3. Prime Minister of Bhutan Tshering Tobgay was present during the swearing ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.
  4. In 2018, the newly elected Prime Minister of Bhutan Lotay Tshering preferred India as the first country to visit.
  5. His Majesty of Bhutan attended the Republic Day Celebration in 2013 as the Chief Guest.
  6. The visit of His Majesty and Her Majesty of Bhutan was the first visit after the end of the standoff between India and China at the Doklam plateau.
  7. The King of Bhutan His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck visited India to pay last respects to the demise of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the former Prime Minister of India.
  8. Several tourists from Bhutan travel to visit Sikkim, Udayagiri, Rajgir, Bodh Gaya, and Nalanda which mark the important Buddhist sites in India.

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Consistent Assistance Provided By India to Bhutan for Socio-Economic Development

India Bhutan Relations have strengthened with cooperation on the development of Hydropower. Till 2018, the Indian Government has constructed three Hydroelectric Projects (HEP) in Bhutan. This includes the Punatsangchhu-I HEP, Punatsangchhu-II HEP, Mangdechhu HEP, and Kholongchu HEP.

The Indo-Bhutan Friendship Treaty was signed in 1949. The Treaty includes several areas of engagement including free trade, cultural exchange, and education.

Bhutan was among the first countries to receive Covishield vaccines under the Vaccine Maitri initiative under the Ministry of External Affairs. Around 150,000 Covishield vaccines were given to Bhutan in January 2021 followed by 400,000 doses in March 2021.

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Important Developments in New Emerging Areas Strengthens India Bhutan Relations

  • On August 17, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Lotay Tshering together inaugurated the Ground Earth Station in Thimphu. This South Asia Satellite station was constructed with the support of ISRO.
  • Currently, the Department of Information and Technology and ISRO are collaborating on a joint project of developing a small satellite for Bhutan to share knowledge on small satellite buildings.
  • In 2019, India launched its RuPay project in Bhutan wherein tourists from India can make cashless payments in Bhutan.
  • There are several integrations in the regions of sharing knowledge between research institutions, libraries, universities, agriculture, and healthcare. Currently, around 28 active DrukREN (Druk Research and Education Network) members from esteemed colleges, universities, and health care systems in Bhutan are attaining knowledge from this integration.

India Bhutan Relations have a long history of cooperation. Both countries have agreed mutually on maintaining peace, free trade, cooperation in cultural exchange, research, and education through its Indo-Bhutan Friendship Treaty. The high-level visits between the countries reflect the strong India Bhutan Relations.

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FAQs on India Bhutan Relations

Q1. When were the first diplomatic India Bhutan Relations formed?

The first diplomatic India Bhutan Relations were formed in 1968.

Q2. Which leaders were involved in developing the foundation of India Bhutan Relations?

The two leaders involved in developing the foundation of India Bhutan Relations were Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India and His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, King of Bhutan.

Q3. How are the India Bhutan Relations today and when was the Indo-Bhutan Friendship Treaty signed?

The India Bhutan Relations are very strong and peaceful to date. The Indo-Bhutan Friendship Treaty was signed in 1949.

Q4. What are the new developments in the field of emerging areas that reflect the strong India Bhutan Relations?

The developments in the field of emerging areas that reflect the strong India Bhutan Relations include sharing knowledge through integration with DrukREN, the development of small satellites for sharing knowledge, and the establishment of a Ground Satellite station in Bhutan.