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Bhutan remains a priority for India: Modi

IANS 16 Jun 2014, 6:42:59 IST
Thimphu: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday assured Bhutan that the Himalayan nation remained a priority for his country despite the change in government and termed the relations between the two nations as "made for each other".

Speaking at a banquet hosted by his Bhutanese counterpart Tshering Tobgay, Modi said India was committed to Bhutan's happiness and progress.

"The government may have changed in India, but we will continue to build on our shared cultural values and make our relationship stronger," he said. He said the relationship should develop in a multi-faceted way, beyond just financial consideration.

Noting while the world talks of GDP but Bhutan talks of National Happiness, Modi said that while there could be many parameters to measure happiness, "I wish to suggest a new one - how is your neighbour".

"That's because we know the advantages of having neighbours, and the problems of having neighbours."

He said among the many parameters on which Bhutan measures happiness, "having a good friend like India should be one of them".

Modi's comment is being interpreted as a reassurance to Bhutan with which India's long-term friendly relations had struck a sudden jarring note after the then UPA government decided to cut short the landlocked nation's gas subsidy, before again reversing its stand.

Modi's trip takes place ahead of a further round of bilateral dialogue between China and Bhutan, which is locationally sandwiched between the two big neighbours.

India is also involved in building schools, libraries, drinking water projects, and community centres in Bhutan, a crucial northern neighbour of just 750,000 peace-loving people, with which China shares a 500 km bourder through Tibet.

Beijing is keen to establish closer ties with Thimphu and has been trying to set up an ambassy in the Bhutanese capital

Modi also mentioned areas like peace, security, development and tourism for giving a further boost to the India-Bhutan bilateral ties.

"I said a while back B for B meaning Bharat for Bhutan and Bhutan for Bharat. Though I had then said it, I now reallise it must have been a sign from God that I uttered those words," he said.