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Bilateral Ties Between India and Bhutan

What is in the news?

1. Prime Minister recently visited Bhutan to further strengthen bilateral ties.

2. It also emphasized the neighborhood first policy of India.

Why is Bhutan important to India?

1. India and Bhutan's relationship extend over a wide area of interest- cultural, religious, historical, geographical.

2. The geographical location (between China and India) gives Bhutan its strategic importance.

3. Bhutan is vital for India’s security.

4. China has been trying to increase its footprint in Bhutan.

5. Bhutan’s border dispute with China has also led to demand within Bhutan for stronger diplomatic and economic ties with China and shift away from India.

6. But India remains a priority for Bhutan due to the hydroelectricity India buys from Bhutan.

Which are the areas of collaboration between India and Bhutan?

Hydropower

1. Hydropower continues to be an important sector of cooperation between the two neighbors.

2. Both the countries will also start discussions on the 2,500 MW Sankosh project.

Space

1. A ground earth station has been built by India’s space agency ISRO to allow Bhutan to use a transponder on the South Asian Satellite for broadcast services and disaster management.

2. This will enhance communication, public broadcasting and disaster management coverage in Bhutan.

Mangdechhu hydropower project

1. This is one of the major projects under Bhutan’s initiative to generate 10,000 MW hydropower by 2020 with the Indian government’s support.

2. It is developed by the Mangdechhu Hydroelectric Project Authority (MHPA), which has been jointly constituted by India and Bhutan.

Education

1. Collaboration between Royal Bhutan University and IITs and some other top educational institutions of India are in line with present-day requirements for education and technology for the youth.

2. There are 4200 Bhutanese students in India.

Trade 

1. India aims to provide trade support facility to encourage Bhutanese exporters.

2. A special package is being given as trade support for companies and manufacturers to incentivize them to export more to India.

How can India retain its position in Bhutan?

1. India needs to meet the aspirations of young people in Bhutan.

2. India must stick to schedule to finish its projects on time without delays as it leads to an increase in price and cost for both the countries.

3. India’s pricing policy needs to be revised on hydroelectricity bought from Bhutan, as it is the main source of income for Bhutan from India.

4. Involving Bhutan in regional groupings like SAARC will help them to come out from isolation from the western world.

5. India needs to take Bhutan more seriously with mature and coherent policies.