Sunday, April 1, 2012

1958 – Pandit Nehru in Bhutan

Diplomatic relations between India and Bhutan were established in 1968 with the appointment of a resident representative of India in Thimphu. Before this our relations with Bhutan were looked after by our Political Officer in Sikkim. The basic framework of India – Bhutan bilateral relations is the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation of 1949 between the two countries, which was updated and signed during the visit to India of His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck in February 2007.
The visit to Bhutan by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India became an epoch making event in the relations between the two countries. In his address to the Bhutanese public in Paro on 23 September, 1958, Prime Minister Nehru ruled out any pressure on Bhutan which might impair its independent status. He said: “Some may think that since India is a great and powerful country and Bhutan a small one, the former might wish to exercise pressure on Bhutan. It is therefore, essential that I make it clear to you that our only wish is that you should remain an independent country, choosing your own way of life and taking the path of progress according to your will.”
His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (left) seen here with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru (right) in 1958. The Nehru visit reiterated the independent status of Bhutan and marked the first step towards planned economic development in Bhutan. This historical minisheet of stampds was given to me by Shashi.

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