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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    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.
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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.
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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.
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            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.
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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.
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                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.
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                  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?
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                    laldo
                    Jun 6, 2014 at 4:03 am
                    good move by modi foreign policies since UPA really lacked with most neighboring countries moving towards china.
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                      Amit Goda
                      Jun 6, 2014 at 6:44 am
                      Please visit Nepal, Burma, and Thailand for strengthening the ties
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                        luuke
                        Jun 5, 2014 at 1:59 pm
                        For many who don't know....Bhutan relies on India for almost everything from defense to trade...So Modi has made the right choice of choosing Bhutan....That country needs our urance and Modi is exactly doing that....Do you'll know that we Indians do not need a pport to visit Bhutan ?? So a country that's this welcoming needs to our closest attention.....Good on ya Modi....
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                          S.Gonesh
                          Jun 5, 2014 at 2:27 pm
                          Great start of India. Support your friends first. Give them the helpthey need to become prosperous.
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                            INDIENKENENR
                            Jun 5, 2014 at 1:30 pm
                            The import of Bhutan should not be lost upon readers. With their Gross National Happiness Index concept as a measure of successful living Bhutanese have shown how avant garde they are in the matter of development. The western GNP is in contrast a poor way to measure social development. Nor is it much of a success as evident in humanity's miserable condition worldwide. Narender Modi seems to know his mind rather well which augurs good for India and the rest world. After all, the original India is World Guru substance!
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                              Raj
                              Jun 6, 2014 at 3:48 pm
                              This is a good decision.We should not take Bhutan's friendship for granted or ignore their importance. Previous government were short-sighted in their policies with respect to our neighbors.We should be generous to our friends and ruthless towards our enemies. Neighbors will know which type of relations they want with India and India must cultivate it accordingly. We can't allow nations like Maldives or Sri Lanka to make a fool out of our friendship and treat them the same as we treat our friends like Bhutan.
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                                ravikumarv
                                Jun 6, 2014 at 1:42 am
                                Why this Kolaveri ?! @ Indian Express
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                                  Srijith Balakrishnan
                                  Jun 5, 2014 at 1:08 pm
                                  One factual error in the article- Nepal is no more a Hindu nation. And citing that for stating that as reason for an imaginary proximity between Nepal and BJP is uncalled for.
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                                    International Bite
                                    Jun 6, 2014 at 2:04 am
                                    It's a good decision. I remember last Bhutanese Prime Minister visited Beijing and even declined to share about the meeting he had with the Chinese.It's time to re-build and strengthen relations with neighbours, that includes stan. In the Congress-rule - India focussed too much on Eastern neighbours (Look East Policy). But, it ignored the benefits of cooperating relations with SAARC nations. The SAARC had become a direction-less bloc.
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                                      Sreeraj Mohandas
                                      Jun 5, 2014 at 3:42 pm
                                      Make more road links and increase the trade which will develop our border states and will benefit Bhutan too. Hope Modiji will do this.
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                                        street lawyer
                                        Jun 5, 2014 at 8:51 pm
                                        Kuchchh Baat hai jo hasti mitati nahin hamari
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                                          ramdas
                                          Jun 5, 2014 at 3:31 pm
                                          Congis have taken the neighbours for granted and showing big brother atude. Spoiled the friendly relationship with neighbours. Modiji has to resurrect from scratch. Beginning with a small country like Bhutan is right step in this direction.
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                                            Rudra
                                            Jun 5, 2014 at 4:14 pm
                                            Nepal is no more a Hindu nation after 2006 April Movement the country adopted secular principle. It needs correction. But in Kathmandu, speculations went round of reinstatement of the Hindu state after Modi swept to power last month. A party favoring Hinduism seemed much expectant of reviving the Hindu state which will make a sigh of relief to ousted King Gyanendra in 2008.
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