India and Bhutan have signed an MoU(Memorandum of Understanding) for developing cooperation between both nations in the area of the environment. The MoU was signed virtually by Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairperson of the National Environment Commission Lyonpo Dr. Tandi Dorji of Bhutan.
Speaking on the occasion, Prakash Javadekar said that the MoU will open new vistas of bilateral co-operation in areas of climate change and waste management, etc. Describing the relationship between the two nations as symbolic, he said, ‘’India wants to engage with Bhutan on environmental related issues including climate change.’’
The MoU will provide a platform to strengthen Indian-Bhutanese cooperation and support, as well as exchange best practices in areas such as air pollution control, waste management, chemical management, management of natural resources and climate change, etc. It also provides the possibility to have collaborative initiatives in areas of mutual interest.
The MoU will further enhance technological, scientific, and management capabilities and expand the areas of cooperation in the field of environment to promote a mutually beneficial partnership between the two countries.
The Memorandum of Understanding also facilitates the exchange of experiences, best practices, and technical know-how through both public and private sectors that can contribute to sustainable development.
Earlier, an MoU was signed between the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) of the Government of India, and the National Environment Commission (NEC) of Bhutan on 11th March 2013. This MoU expired in 2016. Noting the benefits of the earlier Memorandum of Understanding, both sides decided to continue cooperation and collaboration in the field of Environment in the year 2020 also.
Diplomatic ties between India and Bhutan were established in 1968 with the establishment of an Indian office in Thimphu. The Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between both nations was signed in 1949 and revised in February 2007 which serves as the foundation for bilateral ties between the two countries. The Golden Jubilee of India and Bhutan’s formal diplomatic ties were celebrated in 2018.
India and Bhutan share a bilateral relationship, characterized by mutual understanding. The special relationship has been sustained by a tradition of regular high-level visits and dialogues between the two countries. The Indian Government has consistently supported Bhutan’s socio-economic development and is one of the major development partners of the country. The two countries’ hydropower partnership is an example of win-win cooperation.
Since the early 1960s, India has provided economic assistance to Bhutan. India is Bhutan’s largest trading partner. In 2018, the two countries combined bilateral trade was Rs. 9,227.7 crores. Mineral goods, machinery and mechanical instruments, electrical devices, base metals, automobiles, vegetable products, plastics, and articles are among India’s major exports to Bhutan. Bhutan’s main exports to India are ferrosilicon, portland cement, timber, cardamom, and wood products.
Education and Tourism
India is the most popular educational destination for Bhutanese students who are enrolled in several Indian Universities as many of them are being provided with various scholarships by the Govt. of India. There are vibrant cultural exchanges between the two countries on a regular basis. A number of Bhutanese pilgrims travel to holy Buddhist sites in India. Both nations share an open border with regular exchange of travelers in both directions including work, tourism, shopping, medical care, etc.
As part of Vaccine Maitri, Bhutan has received 5,50,000 doses of Covishield from India which enabled the country to launch its successful nationwide vaccination drive.