Reflecting all-weather ties with a country which prefers to measure its national wealth in gross national happiness and is critical to New Delhi’s interests, India has conveyed warm greetings to Bhutan’s beloved monarch Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck on his birthday.
“We wish you a long life of good health and happiness as you guide the people of Bhutan towards ever greater progress and prosperity,” India’s President Pranab Mukherjee said in a felicitation message ahead of the Bhutanese monarch’s birthday on February 21.
The president also expressed his gratitude for excellent hospitality by the Royal Family of Bhutan during his state visit to Bhutan in November 2014.
“I take this opportunity to also once again thank Your Majesty and the Royal Family of Bhutan for my very productive state visit to Bhutan in November 2014.” The presidential visit underlined a confluence of civilizational, economic and geostrategic imperatives that grounds special ties between the world’s largest and youngest democracies.
By making his first visit abroad to Bhutan in June 2014 as the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi had reinforced Bhutan’s vital strategic value for fulfilling India’s regional aspirations. Mr Modi noted during his visit that India and Bhutan are ‘made for each other’, considering the historical and traditional linkages between the two.
“Your Majesty’s personal commitment to our bilateral relations and Your Majesty’s leadership have brought further strength and substance to the unique relationship between India and Bhutan,” President Mukherjee said in his greetings.
Besides other socio-political and economic interconnections, India is Bhutan’s largest trading partner and is one of the largest providers of hydropower to India. India remains Bhutan’s largest development. India has generously deployed funds and expertise for an entire array of landmark projects, including the airport at Paro, the Bhutan Broadcasting Station, the Bhutan-India microwave link, 1 million-tonne Dungsum Cement Plant, Bhutan Institute of Medical Sciences, and all exploration, survey and mapping of mineral resources.
India’s sizeable financial assistance to Bhutan’s five year plans telescopes special partnership between the two countries. The Indian government provided over Rs. 5000 crores for the 10th FYP. Out of this, Rs. 2000 crores was project tied assistance focused on 70 projects spanning key socio-economic sectors such as agriculture, ICT, media, health/ hospitals, education/schools, capacity building, energy, culture and infrastructure. Small development projects have had an enormous transformative impact on the lives of Bhutanese people.
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