The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Saturday, December 8, 2018

Delhi Calls Bhutan King for an Orientation

Published on Dec 17 2009 // NEWS ANALYSIS
By Govinda Rizal
The Fifth Monarch Jigme Kesar Namgyal Wangcghuck is called to India to ensure that every step in Thimphu is in tune with trumpet played from New Delhi. Two year after the revision of Indo Bhutan Treaty 1949, a year after the enthronement of the king, the declaration of a royal democracy, election in Bhutan and comeback of the Congress (I) with a majority in the Delhi, South block wants to ensure that Bhutan is still in its cocoon. 
Until 2007, Bhutan was virtually an Indian protectorate state with Indo- Bhutan Treaty 1949 holding Bhutan’s foreign affairs under its surveillance. The 1949 treaty was rephrased into Indo Bhutan Treaty 2007 and signed on February 8 by Indian Foreign Affairs Minister Pranab Mukharjee and then Crown Prince Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck. The amendment particularly promoted Bhutan to take independent decision over her foreign affairs. 
Junior Jigme: Jigme Khesar
Junior Jigme: Jigme Khesar
Soon after Bhutan’s independence in the treaty, the People’s Republic of China and United States of America expressed their necessities for establishing their embassies in Bhutan. Now Bhutan is under decision time to say “Yes” or “No” to China and USA. Bhutan’s “Yes” to either or both the countries shall give an unexpected fever to India, and her “No” a source of continuous pressure on herself.

Territory and terrorism
India is worried about the Bhutan’s exchange of land with china in its north and west, the land that has strategic advantage for all the three countries. Bhutan shares 470-kilometer long partially demarcated border with China. China wanted a direct diplomatic relationship with Bhutan for all issues. China wanted to give Bhutan 495 square kilometers area of land in exchange for an area of 269 square kilometers of land of Sinchulumba from Bhutan’s North West. Sinchulumba is in militarily strategic position that touches the border with Sikkim and is very close to Chumbi valley. Both Bhutan and China had agreed to talk further, which has worried India.
Both the governments in New Delhi and Thimphu have lost the control of their rational over their people’s demands. A good number of India’s neo political activists and separatist groups are at a run in Bhutan’s jungles. Thimphu’s political opponents in exile are urging Delhi to change its side; to withdraw its existing support to the kings’ government and prop the struggle for people’s government in Bhutan. Instead, for a mutual hold on the power two governments are blind at the people’s concern.
Article 2 of Indo Bhutan Treaty 2007 mentions that   “…. Neither Government shall allow the use of its territory for activities harmful to the national security and interest of the other”. This clause is abused to harass the political activists even when they are in other countries. India is expected to ask the new king to flush out the Indian separatist groups hiding in Bhutan, with an assurance in return to check the Bhutanese in exile from returning to Bhutan via India. This sinister ploy has have worked in the past. 
Regarding the extradition of Bhutanese democratic leader and Thimphu’s head ache Rongthong Kuenley Dorji who is under house arrest in India for last 13 years, South bloc shall assure Bhutan that they’ll keep him confined and his voice silenced.
It may be noted that although the Bhutan has been declared democratic with a constitution, only the people from the earlier autocratic regime continue to exercise their rule. None of the present ministers or MPs had advocated a word for democracy, which the king was compelled to let under pressure from the people in exile and international community. Those who raised voice for democracy were banished from the country and were prohibited from taking part in inside- the- country activities, those who advocated for the autocratic royal system were let to continue their rule in the name of democracy.
On the business front, New Delhi shall ask Bhutan to use the Calcutta port to its fullest and reduce the reliance on Dhaka port in Bangladesh. It shall also aware the king on the possibilities of Chinese goods taking market in Bhutan and may suggest ways to mitigate it.

New Delhi may ask the king to be considerate if the Indian business community and Indians living in Bhutan decide to form an organization by name Non- Resident Indian (NRI) inside Bhutan. Bhutan is one of the three countries in the world where NRI does not exist. The other two countries are North Korea and Pakistan.
Bhutan’s hydro power shall remain a binding force between two parties. It is a source of royal income and royal happiness to Thimphu, and a source of energy to Delhi.

Roads and Airport
India had been skeptical in funding for an international airport in Gaylegphug and East west highway connecting Bhutan’s southern districts. Neither did it fund nor did it permit any donor to fund Bhutan’s national projects. The cause of India’s reluctance behind the international airport in Gaylegphug is that the true owners of the land were evicted and are now living in exile either in refugee camps in Nepal or in countries of Europe, America or Australia. India expects yet fears their return some day soon to put a claim on their land.
Regarding the road, when the people of the southern districts have to go to the next district they have to traverse via India. India is concerned about the networking and empowerment of the Southern Bhutanese people who were long deprived of their rights and freedom. Recently, Asian Development Bank granted US$36 million for the construction of roads joining southern districts. It shall also reduce the people’s interaction with the Indian people and their business.
Chief Guest
The Bhutan’s young monarch may ask a few astrologers to predict a gratifying date to visit India, how ever India may consider its republic day celebration appropriate for invitation and assignation. India has a tradition of inviting guests from neighboring states to grace republic day parade on January 26 every year. The political calendars show an overlap of events on the auspicious of  Indian Republic Day 2010; the possibility of the new king of Bhutan gracing the parade as the chief guest as well as taking orientation classes in Delhi, signing various agreements and memorandum of understandings.
To read similar stories by Govinda Rizal visit his Red Room

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