“Tuberculosis remains a significant public health challenge in India despite various control measures.” Discuss the factors contributing to this persistence and suggest measures needed to achieve India’s goal of eliminating TB by 2025.


Prime Minister Modi is on a two-day State visit to further cement India’s unique relations with Bhutan as part of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ Policy.


  • Introduce your answer by outlining the historical foundation and evolution of India-Bhutan relations is a reflection of India’s Neighbourhood First policy.
  • In main body, discuss the key elements of the partnership, including mutual respect, economic cooperation, and shared security, linking each to the policy’s goals. Next address how this relationship sets a standard for regional diplomacy, acknowledging both the successes and the challenges of replicating this model with other neighbours.
  • Conclude by emphasizing the need for customized diplomatic efforts in India’s broader regional engagements.


The relations between India and Bhutan have been a beacon of enduring friendship and cooperation, tracing back to the signing of the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in 1949. This laid the groundwork for a unique partnership that has flourished over the decades, characterized by mutual respect, trust, and shared values. The essence of this relationship is deeply embedded in India’s Neighbourhood First policy.

Key Elements of India-Bhutan Partnership:

  • Mutual Respect and Sovereignty: India and Bhutan treat each other as sovereign equals, despite the size disparity. This mutual respect is at the heart of the Neighbourhood First policy, emphasizing dignity and respect among neighbors.
    • India’s non-interference in Bhutan’s internal affairs and its support for Bhutan’s unique cultural identity.
  • Economic Cooperation and Development: The economic ties, particularly in hydroelectric power, are a cornerstone of the partnership, aligning with the policy’s aim to promote mutual economic growth.
    • The completion of the Chukha, Tala, and Mangdechhu hydroelectric projects, benefiting both nations.
  • Infrastructure and Connectivity: Recent agreements aim to enhance connectivity and infrastructure development, crucial for regional integration and economic prosperity.
    • MoUs on the establishment of rail links, enhancing digital connectivity, and collaboration in space technology.
  • Development Assistance: India’s significant contribution to Bhutan’s development projects aligns with its commitment to the prosperity of its neighbors.
    • India’s financial support for Bhutan’s 12th Five-Year Plan and the upcoming 13th plan, emphasizing infrastructure and socio-economic development.
  • Trade and Investment: Bilateral trade agreements and investment initiatives have facilitated economic growth, making India one of Bhutan’s largest trading partners.
    • Development of border infrastructure, trade via land ports, and Indian investments in energy, tech, tourism.
  • Security Collaboration: Shared security interests, especially in maintaining peace and stability along their borders, exemplify the policy’s emphasis on regional security.
    • Coordination between the two countries during the Doklam standoff.
  • Cultural and People-to-People Ties: The strong cultural and educational exchanges underpin the Neighbourhood First policy’s focus on building bridges between peoples.
    • Scholarships for Bhutanese students in India and the celebration of cultural festivals that highlight shared heritage.
  • Environmental and Sustainable Development: Cooperation on environmental conservation and climate change initiatives reflects the policy’s commitment to sustainable development.
    • Joint efforts in maintaining Bhutan’s status as a carbon-negative country.

Benchmark for Regional Diplomacy:

  • The India-Bhutan partnership, while a model for regional diplomacy, faces challenges in replication due to varying perceptions and realities across South Asia.
  • Skepticism towards India’s influence, concerns over economic dependency, unresolved border disputes, and contentious political involvements underscore the need for nuanced diplomatic strategies.
  • Additionally, security interests, particularly with Pakistan, introduce complex dynamics not present in the India-Bhutan relationship.
  • These factors highlight the importance of tailored approaches to each bilateral relationship within India’s Neighbourhood First policy framework.

India-Bhutan relations epitomize the essence of India’s Neighbourhood First policy. However, the unique dynamics of India’s relationships with each of its neighbours necessitate a nuanced approach, recognizing distinct geopolitical, cultural, and historical contexts to replicate this model of bilateral cooperation effectively.

‘+1’ Value Addition:

  • PM Modi – Aspirations of Bharat and Bhutan are similar. We’ve decided to build Viksit Bharat by 2047; Bhutan has decided to become a ‘high-income’ nation by 2034. India supports ‘Brand Bhutan’ and ‘Bhutan Believe’.”
  • India remains Bhutan’s primary development partner, with INR 100 billion assistance planned for the 13th plan, an increase from its INR 45 billion for the 11th and 12th five-year plans.
  • While India-China competition and Chinese assertiveness have triggered some changes in Bhutan’s foreign policy, recent developments suggest that continuity still looms large in Bhutan-India relations.
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