A nation’s relationship with its neighbours is one of the true measures of its worth. Weight in gold, by that yardstick, should India and Bhutan claim theirs.
Claim they do this year as they celebrate 50 years of friendship. A diplomatic tie initiated in 1968, between India’s first prime minister after independence, Jawaharlal Nehru and the Bhutanese monarch responsible for bringing about modern reforms to its country, third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, turned gold this year.
It was during a time of insecurity wreaked by geopolitical factors in the region and absence of economic assistance to launch itself on a path to modern developments that Bhutan found a lending hand in India.
Beginning with the first major roads that opened up the otherwise landlocked nation to the world outside, to building some of the biggest hydropower projects, never before fathomed, is how far and big the Indo-Bhutan relations have come and grown.
As in friendship, in all matters of trade and security too, the two neighbours have exhibited a sterling quality of respect and mutual interests.
How is it, the world asks, that a nation but a speck on the map of the world and another, whose smallest of states, several times bigger in size and population, exude such harmony?
However, what the world fails to understand is, much before being piqued by such a quiz, it serves a great deal well as humans to ask whether there is a need for every small nation to be swallowed by the big.
This is what sets the two nations apart, in thought as in intention, to respect the sovereignty, the differences and understand the boundaries to avoid interference, so as to harness the best they help bring out in one another.
Though clichéd, this is perhaps what diplomats of the two countries mean when they define the relationship of their nations as being “exemplary”.
Over the years, on its own and with India’s help in the initial years, Bhutan has expanded its diplomatic ties with more nations than could be imagined a few years ago. But for the tiny kingdom, its bearings are as clear as the once popular western scouts song that goes: “Make new friends, but keep the old; One is silver, the other is gold.”
The rhyme shall chime through the year-round celebrations in the country.