Major General V’s message to the younger generation on Bhutan-India Friendship

The enduring and deeply rooted friendship between Bhutan and India took center stage at the Bhutan Echoes: Drukyul’s Literature Festival held on 15 August. A panel discussion featuring Ambassador Major General Vetsop Namgyel, Ambassador of Bhutan to India, shed light on the nuances and significance of the Bhutan-India relationship, echoing the profound trust, cooperation, and mutual support that have characterized these two neighboring nations.

The relationship between Bhutan and India transcends mere diplomacy, with shared borders, cultural heritage, and historical ties dating back centuries. Amidst a shifting global landscape, this friendship has not only endured, but has also thrived, firmly anchored in shared values, respect, and understanding.

Major General Vetsop Namgyel, a distinguished figure who has witnessed the evolution of this relationship, emphasized its exceptional nature, spanning 55 years of diplomatic engagement. Speaking from his vantage point as a former schoolboy studying in India and later as the Principal Aide-de-Camp to his Majesty The Fourth King of Bhutan, Major General Namgyel recounted the journey of this special relationship.

Reflecting on the pivotal role that India has played in Bhutan’s socio-economic development, Major General Namgyel remarked, “India is very special as they are the key to Bhutan’s socio-economic development.”

He credited India’s friendship and support for much of Bhutan’s progress since the launch of its First Five-Year Plan (FYP) in 1961.While acknowledging the importance of maintaining good relations with both immediate neighbors, China and India, Ambassador Namgyel underscored the significance of India’s role in Bhutan’s progress, urging young generations to appreciate and nurture this precious relationship.

He recounted the historical milestones that have shaped the Bhutan-India relationship.

“The friendship treaty of 1949 marked the beginning, followed by the state visit of His Majesty The Third King of Bhutan to India in 1954, setting the stage for a partnership based on trust and shared vision. Key moments highlighted include the support of India when Bhutan sought to join the United Nations in 1971, the diplomatic visits by leaders of both nations, and the joint efforts to counter security threats, such as the successful removal of insurgent camps in 2003.”

He emphasized the modernization progress that was catalyzed by India’s support, a testament to the strong foundation that has been laid over the decades. He asked the Bhutanese youth to ask their parents and elders on the important role played by India in Bhutan’s development.

The discussion also delved into the environmental front, where Bhutan’s commitment to sustainability and environmental conservation aligns with India’s renewable energy efforts. The Bhutanese approach to forest preservation and carbon neutrality was attributed to the visionary guidance of His Majesty The Fourth King, ensuring that a significant portion of the land remains under forest cover. He said that this was also made possible in part due to Indian aid.

Ambassador Namgyel expressed optimism about Bhutan and India’s joint initiatives in clean energy, emphasizing the potential for collaboration in preserving biodiversity, wildlife conservation, and leveraging space technology for climate-related applications.

Ambassador Sudhakar Dalela, Ambassador of India to Bhutan, underscored the profound legacy of the Bhutan-India friendship, rooted in religious and spiritual connections dating back centuries. He highlighted the momentous state visits and the guidance of Bhutan’s Monarchs that have nurtured the partnership.

Ambassador Dalela outlined the cooperative efforts on various fronts, including digital connectivity, space technology, clean energy, and skill development. He noted that the partnership has stood the test of time and is growing stronger, adapting to new challenges and opportunities.

Both envoys expressed confidence in the younger generation’s potential to take the partnership forward and contribute to a brighter future for their nations and the region.

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