Indo-Bhutan Relations


Relations between India and Bhutan goes a long way back in history, even during colonial times. Bhutan itself was never a part of the British Empire. The political relations between the two countries were set by events such as the Young Husband expedition to Tibet (1903-1905), that had to pass Bhutan to go to Tibet, and the Treaty of Punakha signed in 1910 with the British Government. After India's independence, the treaty of Punakha was renewed in 1949, but with India this time, in which Bhutan agreed to be guided by India's advice in regard to its external relations while India undertook to exercise no interference in Bhutan's internal administration.                                                                                                                                                                                                  army                                                                                                                                   . Indian Army chief presents momento to King of Bhutan            India sponsored Bhutan's membership to the Colombo Plan, the NAM, the Universal Postal Union and most importantly to the United nations. Although India has given bhutan advice, at times, in terms of its external relations, Bhutan had been independently deciding its Foreign policies. It can get advice from India but the decision whether to take it or not, lies completely in the hands of the Bhutanese Government.

Although the two countries signed the Treaty in 1949, they exchanged fully accredited ambassadors, only as late as 1978. Now Bhutan has an Embassy in New Delhi, the capital of India and India too has one in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.

Over the years Bhutan and India's partnership has steadily grown. India has aided Bhutan in many aspects of its development process. It has generously donated a lot of aid, and leaving the usage of the aid to the Government of Bhutan to decide. India has given both technical assistance and financial assistance that helped develop road infrastructure, power supply and telecommunications. The first two Five Year Plans were fully funded by India, although that has decreased to about 27% in recent years, with other donors and the internal resources, the assistance of India is still significantly large.

India has also been Bhutan's main trading partner. Bhutan being a land-locked country and with most of it's border with India, around 90% of it's exports go to India and 70% of it's imports come from India. Especially after the closing of borders with Tibet in the 1950s, all the trade was directed toward India, the only other country that shares borders with Bhutan.

Bhutan and India share the best of relations and being form the same region, has a lot of similar interests. The friendship between these two countries have lasted for a very long time and continues to strengthen.

Some Links:

The Times of India 

India- Almanac  

Recent Kuensel Article on Indo-Bhutan Relations (29th April, 2000)               

Kuensel, The National Newspaper of Bhutan.




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