‘Hope PM Modi lives up to commitments to Bhutan’

Thimphu : The Bhutanese people have been impressed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that he would review with the Bhutanese leadership India’s development cooperation programme to make it more effective, and are hoping that Modi, “known as a doer”, would translate his commitments into action, an editorial in a Bhutanese daily said Monday.

The Kuensel said that while the people are hearing praise about the relations that the two countries enjoy, “what struck Bhutanese was the prime minister’s statement that he would review with the Bhutanese leadership the development cooperation programme to make it more effective and responsive to the changing aspirations of the people of Bhutan”.

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“That is a very powerful statement; one that our policy makers, and even ordinary Bhutanese, should look forward to. The two governments have already laid out the priorities of cooperation, hydropower being the main focus,” the editorial added.

Modi was here on a two-day visit during which he held talks with the Bhutanese leadership on ways to boost cooperation.

The editorial said that if Bhutan and India “can cooperate in areas where the government can fulfill the aspirations of the people, education and youth are two areas that demand attention today.”

“We have thousands of students studying both in schools and tertiary institutions across India. But most of the institutions are determined by cost. Cooperation in education, where Bhutanese students could have access to high quality education in India’s institutions of higher learning would help Bhutan immensely.”

It said that most Bhutanese “aspire for an improved cross border infrastructure, like roads and railways and digital connectivity, while a secure border could enhance trade and peace at the border areas”.

“As a landlocked country, a railway link along our border towns would reduce the dependency on our already stretched road network. Given that more hydropower projects are in the offing, a railway link would really help in bringing down the cost of transportation and ease traffic congestion.”

“Bhutanese and Indians have always enjoyed good relations at the people to people level given our close cultural ties. For an average Bhutanese, getting to travel safely along the bordering states without harassment itself will be a good start.”

“Prime Minister Modi, in a day, has already chalked out a vision of our cooperation in future, according high importance to democracy, education, youth and people to people ties.

“We can see the already good relations touch new heights if the aspirations of the common people are fulfilled, apart from big projects of mutual interest. And there are reasons to look forward too.”

The editorial concluded by saying: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known as a doer. We can only wait for commitments to translate into action.”