Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a two-day visit to Bhutan, addressed students at the Royal University of Bhutan in Thimpu on Sunday. This is Modi's second visit to the neighbouring country since his last visit in June 2014. It also happened to be Modi's first visit to a foreign country as the Prime Minister. Visit to Bhutan is also Modi's first trip since the Doklam tri-junction military face-off in 2017 which led to heightened tensions between India and China after the Chinese troops intruded into a disputed territory between China and Bhutan.
Lauding the country for its concept of 'Gross National Happiness', Modi, while addressing the students, said that the two neighbours had "unique and deep" bonds. "It is natural that the people of Bhutan and India experience great attachment to each other, because we are close not just due to our geography. Our history, culture and spiritual traditions have created unique and deep bonds between our peoples and nations," Modi said in his address.
Modi also listed India's achievements and said that India was "home to among the biggest start-up ecosystems in the world". "This is a great time to innovate in India!" he said.
He added, "Today, India is witnessing historic transformations in a wide range of sectors. We are eliminating poverty faster than ever before. The pace of infrastructure construction has doubled in the last five years. India is also home to the world’s largest healthcare programme, Ayushman Bharat that offers health assurance to 500 million Indians.
"These, and many other transformations have dreams and aspirations of the youth of India at their core."
PM Narendra Modi in Thimpu: It is natural that the people of Bhutan and India experience great attachment to each other, as we are close not just due to our geography. Our history, culture and spiritual traditions have created unique and deep bonds between our peoples and nations pic.twitter.com/MSKn0WfJp9
— ANI (@ANI) August 18, 2019
Modi also referred to his book 'Exam Warriors' and said that he had been influenced by the teachings of Gautama Buddha. "Much of what I wrote in Exam Warriors is influenced by the teachings of Lord Buddha, especially the importance of positivity, overcoming fear and living in oneness, be it with the present moment or with Mother Nature," he said.
Hailing the "relationship" between the two neighbours, which saw the signing of ten memorandums of understanding between Modi and Bhutan prime minister Lotay Tshering, Modi said that India and Bhutan were cooperating "extensively" on "new frontiers".
"Going beyond the traditional sectors of cooperation, we are seeking to cooperate extensively in new frontiers, from schools to space, digital payments to disaster management. We inaugurated the Thimphu Ground Station of the South Asia Satellite and expanded our space cooperation," he said.
Modi added, "Through satellites, benefits of telemedicine, distance education, resource mapping, weather forecast and even warning of natural disasters and reach even remote areas. It is even a matter of great happiness that young Bhutanese scientists will travel to India to work on designing and launching Bhutan’s own small satellite."
He also said that it was "not surprising" that Bhutan was known world-over for its concept of "Gross National Happiness". "Bhutan has understood the essence of happiness," he said.
Encouraging the students to go beyond any limitations, he said, "I want to tell you all — there is no better time to be young than now. The world today offers more opportunities than ever before. You have the power and potential to do extraordinary things, which will impact generations to come,"
Modi, who is here on his second visit to Bhutan and the first since his re-election in May this year, on Saturday inaugurated 740 MW Mangdechhu hydroelectric power plant and also launched stamps to commemorate five decades of India-Bhutan Hydropower cooperation.
"I am very happy to come to Bhutan at the beginning of my second term," Modi said in a joint press statement after delegation-level talks with his Bhutanese counterpart at the historic Simtokha Dzong.
The two countries signed 10 Memorandum of Understandings in the field of space research, aviation, IT, power and education. "The relations between India and Bhutan are based on the common interests of progress, prosperity and security of the people of both countries," Modi said as he described Bhutan as "special friend" of India.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Aug 18, 2019 11:20:23 IST