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Union Budget 2019-20 foreign affairs outlay: The importance of being Thimpu

India-Bhutan relations received a big boost with the allocation of the lion’s share of the foreign affairs outlay in the Union Budget presented in Parliament on Saturday. That the budgetary allocation has been hiked successively over two years shows that following the 2017 Doklam crisis, India is according highest priority to the Himalayan country.

Bhutan received ₹2,802 crore, out of the total allocations for foreign affairs commitments. This move has indicated that India is going to firm up its development commitments with the Himalayan country in the coming year which will also be crucial for ties with Beijing, with a new bilateral India-China summit being planned here.

High-profile visit

Ties with Bhutan will receive the highest level of attention with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit which is expected shortly. Though the External Affairs Ministry is yet to announce the date, it is understood that Bhutan will be the third South Asian destination of the Prime Minister after his re-election following his June visit to the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

Bhutan’s premier Lotay Tshering was one of the heads of government at the swearing-in of Mr. Modi for the second term. It is expected that top-level projects such as the Manghdechhu hydropower project and a multi-speciality hospital backed by India will be on the agenda during Mr. Modi’s visit.

The Mangdechhu project is in its final stages and it is expected that the visit of the Indian PM could coincide with the inauguration of the high-capacity power project.

Another high-profile project between the two countries is the South Asia Satellite programme. Dr. Tshering had told The Hindu that he expected more bilateral hydropower projects to take off.

Ahead of Mr. Modi’s visit to Thimphu, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale paid a two-day visit to the Himalayan nation’s capital last week and held discussions with senior officials.

Foreign Minister Lyonpo Tandi Dorji hosted a dinner in the honour of the Indian Foreign Secretary.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 2:25:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/union-budget-2019-20-foreign-affairs-outlay-the-importance-of-being-thimpu/article28306832.ece

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