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B2B (Bharat to Bhutan) Ties with Bhutan
Jun 16, 2014

Arriving to a rousing welcome in the Himalayan nation wedged between India and China in his first visit as the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi  declared to expand bilateral ties he termed as Bharat to Bhutan (B2B) relations.

Narendra Modi, who called on Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and later met the nation's premier, Tshering Tobgay, expressed satisfaction at India being considered a privileged partner of Bhutan. The primary focus of both the meetings was the extensive development cooperation between the two countries and measures to enhance the economic ties. 

The Indian PM called for greater economic ties and a more responsive Indian financial assistance to Bhutan. He suggested doubling the scholarships provided to Bhutanese students in India and offered help in setting up a digital library of two million books and periodicals in the Himalayan nation.

In his meetings with the Bhutanese leadership, PM Modi said his government would not only nurture strong relations with the nation but would also strengthen them. The Indian PM also inaugurated the new supreme court building in Hejo, which was constructed with funding from the Indian government.

Narendra Modi assured Bhutan that India is committed to its happiness and progress. He specified areas such as peace, security, development and tourism for focus of pushing bilateral ties. Referring to Bhutan's unique trait of laying thrust on Gross National Happiness rather than Gross Domestic Product (GDP), he said one of the parameters for measuring this could be the consideration that it has a neighbour like India.

Bhutan and India share a very special relationship that has stood the test of time. Bhutan, the size of Switzerland and with a population of 750,000, has only recently emerged from centuries of isolation and has a lot to achieve. Its first road was built in 1962 and television and the internet arrived in 1999. It is the world's first country to monitor gross national happiness an alternative to gross domestic product, to balance a tentative embrace of modernity with an effort to preserve traditions.

But Bhutan, which made the transition from absolute monarchy to parliamentary democracy in 2008, is struggling with high unemployment and a growing national debt. The government that took power 2012 says rather than talk about the happiness index, it wants to focus on obstacles to happiness.



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