Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014

Need a good neighbour to be happy: PM in Thimphu

Visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stands with Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, left and Queen Jetsun Pema, right, during a ceremonial reception at Royal Palace in Thimphu, Bhutan. (Source: AP) Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Bhutan's King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema during a reception at Royal Palace in Thimphu, Bhutan. (Source: AP)
Written by Ajay Kaul | Thimphu | Posted: June 15, 2014 10:23 pm | Updated: June 16, 2014 8:01 am

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday night that having a good neighbour is important for a country’s happiness and, in its absence, a nation cannot live in peace despite prosperity.

In comments that appeared directed at China and Pakistan, he also reminded Bhutan that one of the factors responsible for its happiness was a good neighbour like India.

“In the guarantee of happiness, it is important what kind of a neighbour you get. Sometimes you get such a neighbour that in spite of having all the happiness and prosperity, you cannot live in peace,” Modi said speaking at a banquet hosted by Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay.

Modi arrived in Bhutan earlier in the day for a two-day visit, his first foreign halt after taking over as the PM. He was accompanied by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh.

Speaking at the banquet, Modi reassured Bhutan about continued special treatment by India despite the change of government in Delhi, and said India was committed to the country’s happiness and progress. The assurance assumes significance as China has been trying to win over Bhutan recently.

Modi identified peace, security, conservation and tourism as focus areas for strengthening ties.

Modi said India and Bhutan were “made for each other” considering the “glorious” traditional linkages between the two countries. “I said a while back B4B. I said it just like that, but later I realised that it must be a sign from God that I said this,” the PM said.

Modi had made the reference during wide-ranging talks with Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk and PM Tobgay, saying he vowed to nurture bilateral “B4B” relations — “Bharat for Bhutan and Bhutan for Bharat”. “The primary focus of both the meetings was the extensive development cooperation between the two countries and measures to enhance economic ties,” official sources said.

Referring to Bhutan’s unique trait of laying thrust on ‘Gross National Happiness’ rather than Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Modi said: “Bhutan’s parameters of happiness — among them, one is having a friend like India. It is an important parameter for happiness. Because we know what are benefits of neighbours and what are problems of neighbours. That is why, being a good neighbour is a big reason for happiness and it gives a chance for progress.”

The PM underlined that India and Bhutan share not only land boundary but also “glorious cultural traditions”. “The colour of our passports may be different but our thinking is the same… India stands committed to Bhutan’s happiness and progress. India is with Bhutan, with its success, its happiness, and will continued…

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