Narendra Modi picks Bhutan for first foreign visit, official team to leave tomorrow to work out logistics

It has been reliably learnt that an official team will be leaving for Thimphu on Friday to set up the visit and work out the relevant logistics.

Written by Pranab Dhal Samanta | New Delhi | Updated: June 6, 2014 8:18 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shake hands with his Bhutan counterpart Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay during a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Tuesday. (Source: PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi shake hands with his Bhutan counterpart Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay during a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Tuesday. (Source: PTI)

Keen to start his foreign tours from the neighbourhood, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will undertake his first visit to Bhutan, the friendliest among all neighbouring countries, this month.

It is reliably learnt that an official team will be leaving for Thimphu on Friday to set up the visit and work out the relevant logistics. The visit is likely to take place after the ongoing Parliament session, possibly in the third week of June.

The decision was taken over the past few days during which Modi’s tour calendar was worked out. The PM, sources said, made it known that he would want to begin his visits from the neighbourhood, both to reach out as well as a policy priority.

The choice was largely between Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh, although Afghanistan also came up for discussion. Nepal was also on the BJP’s radar given the party’s own equity in that country, the only Hindu nation in the world until 2006 when it was declared a secular state.

Also, no PM has visited Nepal for nearly 13 years and the last proper bilateral visit was in the late 1990s.

But Nepal will be hosting this year’s SAARC Summit and has suggested dates in November, a proposal that is now under circulation. Modi, therefore, will get an opportunity to visit Kathmandu soon and honour the invite of the Nepalese PM, who had made a strong pitch for an early visit when the two met after the swearing-in ceremony.

On Bangladesh, sources said, the government still has to make up its mind on crucial agreements like the land boundary settlement, to which the BJP has not extended support and has been under constant pressure from its Assam unit.

Bhutan, on the other hand, has been among India’s friendliest neighbours and enjoys a close inter-dependent relationship with India. The country’s economy is closely linked with India and despite pressure from powerful countries, Thimphu has been conscious in not taking any decision inimical to Indian interest. China, for instance, has been trying hard to open a mission in Bhutan.

India and Bhutan have various layers of interaction to coordinate on several fronts including foreign policy position.

Modi’s visit, sources said, will also signal strong support to the Bhutanese monarchy’s efforts at ushering in democracy in the Himalayan country.

 

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  1. A
    Abhishek Kumar
    Jun 6, 2014 at 8:02 am
    Developments have weakened the caste-based parties, which have also been affected by their need to become catch-all parties. The best example here is the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party, which has diluted its core ideny.
    Reply
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      Abhishek Kumar
      Jun 6, 2014 at 8:03 am
      Ghettoisation of Muslims is making progress, at least in the North and in the West. There is a parting of the ways. In the city, there is greater exposure to propaa. You can't escape the Sangh Parivar machine easily.
      Reply
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        Abhishek Kumar
        Jun 6, 2014 at 8:03 am
        Rumours spread faster too, and communal riots are still a predominantly urban phenomenon. But the communal violence that has affected the rural parts of Muzzafarnagar district shows that the gap between village India and urban India is not as wide as before.
        Reply
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          Abhishek Kumar
          Jun 6, 2014 at 8:03 am
          The gap between village India and urban India is not as wide as before- partly because of the way new forms of communication (including social media) are reaching the countryside. And for the first time, perhaps, villages are experiencing ghettoisation on a religious basis.
          Reply
          1. A
            Abhishek Kumar
            Jun 6, 2014 at 8:02 am
            The idea of erosion of caste and rise of cl ideny has gained currency, but are we really there yet? Caste also operates in the city. True, upper castes and dalits still belong to different worlds. But this huge group called the OBCs does not form a homogeneous category any more.
            Reply
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              Abhishek Kumar
              Jun 6, 2014 at 8:03 am
              Urbanisation makes syncretism more difficult. In the village you can't escape the other. The Muslim hears the bell of the local temple and the Hindu goes to a Muslim dargah if they attribute some power to it. In the city, except in the old core when it exists, that doesn't happen.
              Reply
              1. A
                Abhishek Kumar
                Jun 6, 2014 at 8:03 am
                We are not in 1991 when Mandal had fostered their sense of unity, at a time when jobs in the public sector were the main avenues for social mobility. We are in 2014, after almost 25 years of capitalist growth behind us.
                Reply
                1. A
                  Abhishek Kumar
                  Jun 6, 2014 at 8:03 am
                  We see this in fast urbanising western UP and in the Muzaffarnagar riots, where violence in villages was being aided by the circulation of videos over smartphones. What is it about urbanisation and industrialisation that attracts people towards a religio-political ideny and makes them more right-wing?
                  Reply
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