Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck on Wednesday attributed the friendship with India to the success of Bhutan as a nation.

“Bhutan would not be where it is today without India’s friendship,” he said while delivering the Madhav Rao Scindia Memorial Lecture here.

“Some say Bhutan was wise to seek strong bilateral relations with India. Yes, after all, whether we speak about our socio-economic progress or our recent transition to democracy, India has been our steadfast partner and friend. But I feel that the true wisdom lies in the fact that we sought and continue to seek true friendship with India,” he said.

Nehru’s journey

The King saw the root of the ties between the two countries in Jawaharlal Nehru’s journey to Bhutan in 1958, which subsequently led to the widening of bilateral cooperation.

“One country [India] - while still radiating joy and warmth from the attainment of Independence - ushered the other [Bhutan] into the realm of modernisation,” the King said.

Since then, the ties have grown strong, vibrant, and dynamic. From religious and cultural links to political and economic cooperation, the ties encompassed a diversity of areas and issues on which both countries worked closely together in each other’s best interests.

Changing world

The strength of India-Bhutan ties, the King felt, was more striking when viewed in the context of the changes that took place in the world in the last few decades.

“With modernisation, people have a greater awareness of the world beyond our region. And, though awakened to new realities and experiences, our friendship has evolved as only true friendship can over time.

Despite the vast difference in size and population, our friendship has been constant because of the pillars of trust and understanding on which we have founded it. Our relationship stands as a model of partnership and cooperation.”

Justifying the title of his talk - “Changing World and Timeless Values” - the King said he wanted to think more deeply into finding an enduring place for simple human values in a world that was becoming unrecognisable from one generation to the next. “And how sadly, while the need for values is stronger and more urgent than ever, the climate in which they would flourish grows more and more unfriendly.”

Focus on basic values

Advocating adherence to basic human values as only these would guide the world through the problems of environmental degradation, terrorism and world poverty, the King said that though the approach may sound idealistic, he felt this was the natural and practical way of approaching things that seemed intractable and inflexible.

“The image of a shared planet must always be present in our minds - and especially in the minds of those who are in positions of leadership,” the King said.

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