His Majesty the King in a special and extraordinary gesture broke protocol to receive the President of India at the airport. In a traditional society this step, more than anything else, shows the level of warmth and strength in the relationship between Bhutan and India.
When Bhutan became a democracy there was some apprehensions on what it would portend on Bhutan-India ties and if it would become more complicated. In the South Asian region leaders of other countries for short term political gains and to deflect attention of internal issues have used anti-India politics as a domestic political card.
However, in the case of Bhutan led by our wise Kings, the relationship with India has only become stronger and warmer. This is the reason why despite having an increasingly strong democracy given as a gift from The Throne, Bhutan maybe the only South Asian country which has no anti-India politics of any kind.
The consistency of the relationship between the two countries on the Bhutanese side can be attributed in large part due to the efforts of the Monarchy in Bhutan. If one observes the old clips from the times of His Majesty the Third King and His Majesty the Fourth King welcoming Indian Presidents and Prime Ministers and compares it to the present, there will the same levels of warmth and happiness.
Bhutan’s wise Monarchy has always done well for Bhutan and guided this once tiny and vulnerable nation through difficult paths to take its rightful place in the comity of nations with a positive international reputation that very few countries in the world can compare with. One of the early and fundamental choices that the Monarchy made was to establish and strengthen our ties with India.
The friendship with India has served Bhutan well and over the years the relationship has matured at various levels.
In the South Asian and larger regional framework Bhutan has been a very good neighbor to India not causing any threat to its security and prosperity and also standing by it through all times. A lot of this has been made possible due to the internal stability and peace in Bhutan and the various measures and reforms implemented by the Monarchy over the decades.
In other words Bhutan is a good friend of India not because it is weak but because it is a strong, confident, wise and stable nation that has no qualms about dealing confidently, wisely and in a friendly manner with a bigger neighbor.
Bhutan also does not forget old friends and President Pranabh Mukherjee is very much an old friend of Bhutan.
From his early days in the planning commission to various ministerial portfolios to even his current position he has always been one of the biggest friends and allies for Bhutan in the Indian establishment. The President is also a highly competent political who has played an important role in the rise of modern India.
The meeting of the two heads of state beyond the personal warmth also symbolizes the old and institutional nature of the friendship that has served the two countries well.
It is also fitting that the President’s visit is around the same time as His Majesty the Fourth King’s 60th birth anniversary celebrations which will be launched next week.
The coming together of these three great leaders in Thimphu is a lesson to nations and leaders in the wider world on what great nations and wise leaders can achieve both individually for their own countries and in cooperation with each other.
Indo-Bhutan Friendship is indispensible for the future success of Bhutan
His Majesty the King