Bhutan on Friday became the second country after Bangladesh to open a consulate in Guwahati.
Bangladesh had in May last year established a consular office headed by an assistant high commissioner, underlining the city’s growing reputation as a trade and connectivity hub of a region of 45.6 million people.
“Bhutan’s diplomatic relationship with Assam precedes that with India, and history refers to cordial relationship between the kings of Bhutan and medieval Assam. It is thus apt for us to set up our second consulate here in Guwahati,” said Bhutan’s Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji, after inaugurating the consulate along with Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
Bhutan has had a consulate in Kolkata for years besides a High Commission in New Delhi.
“Bhutan’s social, cultural and economic ties with Assam are deep-rooted, and Guwahati has been a prime destination for Bhutanese traders, students and patients referred by our doctors to hospitals in India,” Mr. Dorji said.
“Assam has also been a pilgrimage destination for Bhutanese Buddhists, justifying the Himalayan country’s focus on the State 50 years after Delhi and Thimphu established diplomatic ties on January 8, 1968,” he added.
The Bhutanese Foreign Minister announced a Drukair flight between Bhutan and Singapore via Guwahati. Drukair or Royal Bhutan Airlines has been operating a periodic flight between Paro, Bhutan’s only international airport, and Bangkok via Guwahati.
Mr. Sonowal hoped Bhutan would exploit the benefits of Delhi’s Act East Policy “just as we would like to increase our Gross National Happiness.”
The Bhutan government is guided by the philosophical Gross National Happiness, an index used to measure the collective happiness and well-being of the population in that country.
Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, who arrived on Thursday to attend the two-day Global Investors’ Summit from Saturday, had earlier said Bhutan would organise several programmes in India to celebrate the 50 years of friendship between the two countries.