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Bhutan King’s Visit to India: India-Bhutan Relation

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: International Relations

 

Source: TH

 Context: Bhutan King’s visit to India commenced with his arrival in Assam. India and Bhutan’s focus on infrastructure and connectivity in recent talks signals a move toward bilateral regional initiatives.

 

Various dimensions of cooperation between India and Bhutan with examples:

 

 

 

New Initiatives Planned: India and Bhutan are jointly planning several development initiatives:

  1. Rail Links: Ongoing discussions for rail connections between Kokrajhar (Assam) and Gelephu (Bhutan) and between Banarhat (West Bengal) and Samtse (Bhutan).
  2. Infrastructure Upgrades: Checkpoints along the India-Bhutan border are being upgraded to facilitate smoother trade and movement.
  3. Special Economic Zone: Bhutan plans to establish a Special Economic Zone at its southern border with Assam to drive growth and investment.
  4. Airport Development: Proposal for a new airport at Gelephu to enhance accessibility and promote economic development.
  5. Energy Integration: Planning an ‘energy exchange’ to share hydropower resources among Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, fostering intra-regional growth.

 

Issues between the two countries:

  • Border Dispute: Disputes over the exact demarcation of the border between the two countries.
  • Hydropower Projects: Concerns in Bhutan over environmental and social impacts from the project. Also, Bhutan has sought greater revenue from these projects
  • Trade Imbalance:Bhutan is heavily dependent on India for its imports.
  • Cross-Border Movement: Bhutan has restricted the cross-border movement of Indian workers, citing concerns over the impact on Bhutan’s culture and society.
  • Political Interference: Bhutan has accused India of interfering in its internal affairs, particularly during the 2013 elections.

 

Conclusion:

India-Bhutan relations have remained strong and friendly, characterized by a deep sense of

trust and understanding.  Both countries must enhance connectivity which is a central pillar of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ and ‘Act East’ policies.

 

Inta Links

India-Bhutan