Even as India and Bhutan expands the horizon of its bilateral ties, the two countries saw further consolidation of their core area of cooperation—hydel power—during the ongoing state visit of President Pranab Mukherjee to Bhutan.
Mukherjee Friday inaugurated first-of-its kind power training institute of Bhutan. New Delhi and Thimphu had agreed to develop 10,000 MW of hydropower 2020 for which India will also be the biggest buyer.
Mukherjee, in his meeting with Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, described the situation as “win-win” for both sides, emphasizing that Indo-Bhutan friendship is based not just on rhetoric but on solid cooperation.
But Mukherjee also pointed out during his meeting with Tobgay that both countries need to be sensitive to each other and not endanger each other’s security interests.
Later, at a freewheeling interaction with media, PM Tobgay said, “China is not an elephant in the room. It is our neighbour. But our relations with India are deep, wholesome and extensive.”
During PM Narendra Modi’s visit, Indian extended its assistance to launch e-library project towards digital-education. During Mukherjee’s visit, a school reforms process will kickstart on Saturday. It aims to expand 49 schools in Bhutan.
The National Innovation Foundation will sign a MoU with Royal University of Bhutan for sharing innovative technologies to benefit common people and capacity building. The Bhutanese University will sign another MoU with English and Foreign Languages University for academic and consultancy services.
Although there are glitches in areas like rail links, but both sides are keen to overlook them and find solutions. The Bhutanese government also gave a presentation of the status of hydro projects which have collaboration with India.
Mukherjee’s press secretary Venu Rajamoni added, “relations between Bhutan and India have always been extremely close. President has also made it clear that his visit has absolutely no connection with Bhutan-China talks.”
Bhutan and China are engaged in border negotiations for a long time and China is keen to open consular offices in Bhutan.