Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Agent of Change Is Coming

Narendra Bhai is coming. And it is an honor without parallel! Bhutan certainly deserves this rare honor, after all, when every one else in the neighborhood chose to stick their noses up in the air, we have remained resolutely by their sides.

It is symbolic that Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi chose Bhutan as the first country to visit, after becoming Prime Minister of India. Even if it is nothing more than an astute diplomatic maneuvering, we in Bhutan are still extremely encouraged by this gesture and hope that his visit will usher in a reversal of Bhutanese people’s altered perception about India and her real intentions. But it is in India’s hands. In recent times, our relationship has digressed from being trustworthy buddies to that of being an estranged couple - slowly drifting apart with the danger of finally ending in divorce. This would be so unfortunate.

To allow a mere handshake to define her foreign policy towards the only friendly country in the neighborhood is to undermine her own greatness. India should learn to shed her unfounded paranoia about Bhutan’s intentions and place her faith in our vulnerability that is implicit.

It would be na├»ve to believe that India’s foreign policy would be overhauled overnight. But if Narendra Bhai is the agent of change that whole of India thinks he is, then I dare believe that he comes with a fresh perspective on things. If nothing, he can start the process of redefining India-Bhutan relations based on trust and good intention, which has been sorely lacking so far.

I hope that somewhere tucked away in a small corner of his luggage, Mr. Modi brings with him a brand new and re-tinkered foreign policy initiative towards Bhutan that is progressive and based on trust and good intention.

During the tenure of Mr. Modi as the Chief Minister, I was one among few privileged bird photographers of the world to be invited by the State Government of Gujarat - all expense paid - to participate in the 2010 Global Bird Watchers' Conference. Something urgent came up at the last minute and thus I had to cancel the trip. Now that he is the Prime Minister, may be I will get an invite to cover all of India's birding destinations :)-

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