India-Bhutan Relations

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  • Juhi Srivastava asked: What role does the soft power play in the India-Bhutan relations?

    Medha Bisht replies: India and Bhutan have shared a special relationship since 1950s. It was a display of soft power when the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru reached out to Bhutan in an effort to strengthen ties between the two countries. India's soft power approach to Bhutan is well reflected in its foreign policies ranging from economic to cultural domain. For instance, India has been giving financial assistance to Bhutan towards its five-year plan. Both countries also hold cultural exchange programmes on a regular basis.

    Shivam Yadav asked: Is there a need to revise the Friendship Treaty with Bhutan?

    Medha Bisht replies: A treaty can only be revised by the mutual consent of the concerned parties. The India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty was first signed in 1949. Since certain aspects of the over five-decades-old Treaty were seen as outdated, not reflective of the bilateral relations as it stands today, the two countries agreed to update the Friendship Treaty in 2007. For instance, in the updated Treaty of 2007, many articles from the 1949 Treaty such as Article II, III and IV were dropped.

    Resituating Menser and Darchen-Labrang in the Boundary Negotiations with China

    The Doklam episode should prompt India and Bhutan to rethink their hitherto overlooked issue of resituating Menser and Darchen-Labrang in their academic discourse and policy positions.

    February 16, 2018

    Visas: How They Work—An India–Bangladesh Case Study

    A visa is issued to facilitate an individual’s travel to another country in a regulated way. There are agreements between some countries on a no-visa regime; however, most countries do follow some sort of visa system. Typically, a visa allows a person to travel to the destination country as far as the port of entry (airport, seaport or land border crossing) and advises the immigration officer to allow the visitor to enter the country.

    May 2015

    India and Bhutan: The Strategic Imperative

    India and Bhutan: The Strategic Imperative

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi seemed aware about the nuances Pthat underpin India's cultural and political obligations in Asia. By making Bhutan as his first visit abroad followed by a visit to Nepal, he has effectively invoked the deeper imperatives to revitalize India's national interests.

    Modi’s Maiden Foreign Visit: Consolidating Bharat for Bhutan Relations

    Modi’s visit to Bhutan is politically significant. After inviting SAARC leaders to his swearing in ceremony; his choice of Bhutan as the first country came as no surprise. Bhutan is also the only country where the bilateral relationship is free from tension and expectations from each other are also easy to attain.

    June 18, 2014

    Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk’s Visit to India: Towards an Assuring Alliance

    Given Bhutan’s strategic significance India needs to respond sensitively to its Himalayan neighbour so as to create further goodwill for the long term.

    February 01, 2013

    Bhutan–India Power Cooperation: Benefits Beyond Bilateralism

    The article argues that as India and Bhutan have moved into the second phase of power cooperation, it is important that the two countries revisit their policies and identify approaches that will be sustainable in the long term. The article emphasises that a sub-regional energy grid between Bhutan, India and Bangladesh can become an effective conduit for strengthening sub-regional diplomacy and help in addressing the latent but underlying concerns of Bhutan, which have the potential to impact India–Bhutan bilateral relations in the long term.

    September 2012

    The Rupee Crunch and India- Bhutan Economic Engagement*

    While loans, grants and lines of credit offer a solution to deal with immediate crises, it is important to gauge the long-term impact of such Indian policies on India-Bhutan relations.

    July 16, 2012

    Turan Nishant asked: Is there any sign of Bhutan possibly titling towards China for economic reasons? If yes, then what should be India's strategy towards Bhutan?

    Medha Bisht replies: Bhutan has adopted a very cautious, guarded and pragmatic foreign policy towards China. Given the strong India - Bhutan relations, which is built on the foundation of trust and mutual benefit, it is unlikely that Bhutan will tilt towards China. There are three other reasons which will discourage Bhutan's tilt towards China. First, Bhutan's industrial belt is in the South and geographically trade facilitation becomes more convenient with India. Second, Bhutan- China boundary dispute has not been resolved as yet. I do not see both countries having an economic relationship with an unresolved boundary dispute in the back burner. Third, for establishing ties with China, Bhutan will have to reverse its policy of not having any diplomatic relations with P-5 countries. That would mean having diplomatic relations with the United States of America too.

    Having said this, I am not negating the possibility of the China factor. Domestic pressure is building up in Bhutan to resolve the boundary dispute with China. With Bhutan now encouraging the private sector to come up, there will be some circles in Bhutan, who will see business in engaging with China.

    Today, the Indo- Bhutan relations have become all encompassing, cross cutting various sections of society. India, therefore, has to be more sensitive and responsive in its engagement with Bhutan. India also needs to factor in the change taking place in Bhutanese society and politics.

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