India will provide postgraduate scholarships to 98 Bhutanese students this year as part of its annual assistance in education.
The scholarships are for studies in subjects like teaching, survey engineering, counselling, geo-technical engineering, public administration, human resource management and business administration, said a statement by Bhutan's Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC).
In December 2004, New Delhi had agreed to provide 50 postgraduate courses every year to Bhutanese students starting from 2005.
The RCSC is implementing 98 scholarships this year, including 48 that could not be implemented last year.
Of the 98 postgraduate courses, placements for 23 candidates have been confirmed and the students are in India for their respective study programmes.
India is the single largest donor to Bhutan's human resource development department, particularly in the field of undergraduate studies.
Bhutan avails itself of 50 undergraduate scholarships and 50 to 80 training slots for in-service personnel from the Indian government every year under various funding schemes.
A majority of Bhutanese graduates have studied in various universities and colleges in India.
Announcing the scholarships at a function in Thimpu, Ketan Shukla, the Indian embassy's deputy chief of mission, said the scholarship programme equips Bhutan with experts in diverse fields.
"India's contribution to Bhutan's human resource development has been immense and pre-dates the starting of our development cooperation plans," Shukla was quoted as saying by Bhutan's national newspaper Kuensel.
Shukla said a large number of qualified Bhutanese would be sent for more than 500 courses for call centres, IT and hotel management jobs and other vocational training courses, to promote skill development in the private sector.
Said Karma C Thinley, chief human resource officer of RCSC: "The focus of human resources development in the past was on strengthening the undergraduate base in various fields. Today the demands are for higher qualification and therefore it had become necessary to upgrade the qualification of existing graduates."
She said India had always been the first destination for education and training for the Bhutanese.
"We have availed more than 2,000 training places under various schemes since the early 1950s," she said, adding the Bhutanese government had also sponsored over 3,000 candidates to India under various projects.
An estimated 5,000 students have graduated from India under the scholarship programmes over the past few decades.