Bhutan-India ties and Gen Z

India has played an important role in Bhutan’s developmental journey right from the first five-year plan period and also an important economic role from the start of the 336 MW Chukha project.

Bhutan in return has been a valuable and important friend of Bhutan both in the sphere of foreign policy and security.

Apart from the obvious, the relationship between two countries with very little similarities clicked from day one with mutual warmth and respect.

India has gone out of its way to accommodate Bhutan’s developmental challenges and Bhutan in return has been sensitive to India’s security concerns. For example, it launched the 2003 Operation All Out led by His Majesty the Fourth King to drive out Indian militants camped in the dense forests of Bhutan.

The above is all well and good and has provided an important foundation and pillar to the relationship.

However, it is also important to think of the future.

Bhutan is the youngest country in South Asia in terms of the youth population and many of them are of the ‘Generation Z.’

A frequent concern from Indian diplomats is on what the next generation of Bhutanese youth think about the relationship.

The Bhutanese Gen Z is aware of the importance of the relationship but their orientation and priorities are quite different.

This generation is not content to get a government job and settle down quietly, but it is much more exposed and much more aspirational than all past generations as is only natural.

This is also the generation that is moving abroad in droves creating a major migration crisis in Bhutan.

Bhutan’s many recent efforts to modernize its economy and carry out many reforms is mainly keeping this generation and beyond in mind.

India’s traditional partnership in development cooperation is welcome, but at the same time it is also important to make an investment in the future.

This is why it is so important to have India’s cooperation and help in the Gelephu Mindfulness City project and other projects similar to it that are all targeted at addressing the needs and concerns of the next generation of Bhutanese.

This generation exposed to the wider world believes in getting things done faster and has no patience even for its own government and society to wait around for promises to get fulfilled or not.

The Bhutan-India ties depends both upon the leadership and the people and so it is important to ensure that future foundations are laid now.

“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.”Henry Ford

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