India-Bhutan relations

India-Bhutan relations

News: Bhutan’s King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck recently visited India and met Indian President, Prime Minister and NSA discussing on a wide range of issues.
Instruction – Remember the names of Hydropower projects, rail-link projects and Indian state’s bordering Bhutan.

About India-Bhutan Relations:
Historical and cultural relations
 The Indo-Bhutan Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1949, is the bedrock of India and Bhutan’s relationship.
 India also offers various scholarships for Bhutanese students through Nehru-Wangchuck Scholarships, Ambassador’s Scholarship.

Economic relations
 India is Bhutan’s largest trading partner. Also, increased trade with Bhutan benefits landlocked states like Assam
and Arunachal Pradesh.
 Since the launch of the First Five Year Plan of Bhutan in 1961, India has been extending financial support to Bhutan’s FYPs.
 India has decided to support Bhutan’s upcoming 13th Five-Year Plan (for 12 FYP, India had provided 4500Cr)
 India is also examining the possibility of setting up the first Integrated Check Post along the India-Bhutan border at Jaigaon and expediting the proposed Kokrajhar-Gelephu rail link project.
 Under Financial Cooperation or Integration, the first phase of the RuPay project was launched, India’s Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) was also launched in July 2021.

Strategic Interests
 Strategically, Bhutan acts as a buffer zone between India and China, protecting Siliguri Corridor (Also known as Chicken’s neck)
 The Doklam standoff (2017) has re-established Bhutan’s strategic significance for India.

Hydropower projects
 Four hydro-electric projects (HEPs)- Chhukha, Kurichu, Tala and Mangdechhu totaling 2136 MW are already operational in Bhutan and are supplying electricity to India.
 Two HEPs namely, Punatsangchhu-I, Punatsangchhu-II in Inter-Governmental mode are under various stages of implementation
 The two sides will also try to expedite negotiations on the reservoir-based 2,500 MW Sankosh hydel project, which has been stuck for decades due to environmental and cost concerns.
 India has agreed to discuss buying power from the Basochhu hydel project that was built with Austrian support in 2008.

Co-operation in regional forums

Grey areas in India-Bhutan Relations
 Bhutan is heavily dependent on India for its imports.
 Disputes over the exact demarcation of the border between the two countries.
 Concerns in Bhutan over environmental, social and revenue implications from hydroelectric projects with India.
 Bhutan has restricted the cross-border movement of Indian workers, citing concerns over the impact on Bhutan’s culture and society. 

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