Tuesday, July 25, 2017

To all within and outside Bhutan and India the truth of Bhutan- India Relation Status.

It  all began with Indian Prime Minister His Excellency  Pandit Jawaharlal  Nehru's arduous journey to  Bhutan in 1958.  I often wondered why a 68 year old PM of India had to trek on foot, on horse back and ride Yaks to come to meet the King of Bhutan. The King of Bhutan much younger in age 29 years and mountain fit physically could have travelled to New Delhi.

Then much later I came across a book by an Indian author who travelled with Nehru's party. In his book, he related that Nehru was surprised that the King of Bhutan accepted so little of what Nehru had to offer. It seems that the Dragon King was not that enthusiastic about opening up to India. No wonder the King did not choose to visit New Delhi. He was quite comfortable with the way things were both socially and politically within his Kingdom. The King had come upon the Throne in 1952. And immediately had shifted the Capital to Thimphu. Then constituted the  National Assembly to give voice to his people in the administration of the Nation. He also did away with the heavy taxes both material and labour. The King had already mapped out his reign.  He did not fear China or India.  But Prime Minister of India felt that he had to meet the King because the Kingdom of Bhutan was the vital  buffer state between China and India. And India needed the goodwill and friendship of Bhutan. 

In 1956, both His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness the Panchen Lama of Tibet visited India to celebrate the 2500 years Buddha Jayanti. It was outwardly a religious visit but may have been a planned political visit though not that well  planned. (  I say " not so well planned " because it was during this visit that His Holiness the Panchen Lama lost faith in the Indian Government due to protocol insult ).  Between 1956 and 1958, development in Tibet did not go in the way India and her Western Allies had envisioned. And Prime Minister Nehru may have realised that with Tibet gone, India had to have Bhutan on Indian side or else whole of North Eastern States would fall into Chinese hand. 

It seems Nehru's trek to Bhutan had two purpose. One was that the King of Bhutan was not prepared to travel to New Delhi. So Nehru had to trek to Bhutan.

His Majesty the King of Bhutan was too shrewed a politician to take the Indian bait. The King was not going to publicly take sides in a regional tussle between China and India by going to Delhi. His Majesty may not have felt any urgency to seek Indian friendship or goodwill let alone  ( now much hyped ) protection as Indian of all shameful brand want the world to believe.

And the second purpose may have been to study the geographical layout of  Sino- Bhutan Border. ( The Indian PM was accorded a Chinese reception after crossing Nathu La probably in the vicinity of Doklam ).  Also Nehru would have wanted to study the strength and base of the Dragon King who refused invitation to New Delhi and who had nothing to discuss with Indian political emissaries including the Indian Political Officer in Sikkim.

There is an incredible scene documented by Indian documentary team.  One is of the King of Bhutan substituting his Bhutanese translator assigned to translate Nehru's speech to the Bhutanese public at Paro Ugyen Pelri Palace ground. The raised traditional  podium for Nehru's address to the Bhutanese nation is still preserved in its original form. His solemn commitment though has vanished with the wind. His Majesty had very good command of the Hindi language. In fact during his visit to India,  he addressed the Indian nation over All India Radio in Hindi to the astonishment of Indian heavy weights. 

Another scene that really got my adoring attention was the King hitting the target with both his arrows as PM Nehru watched on at the archery ground. Bhutanese believe that such domineering display of skill at such an occassion  demonstrated the dragon spirit of the Druk Gyalpo. The King was superbly confident and it seems Shri Pandit Nehru got the silent message. The Indian PM took pains to assure Bhutan that India was seeking friendship with an equally sovereign Bhutan. Size did not matter. I invite Indian political hawks to re- read the speech of their Prime Minister to the Bhutanese nation.

His Majesty died in 1972. Till then though the 1949 Treaty was not revised, the ground reality demonstrated that Bhutan only considered India an equal friend who sought Bhutanese friendship and goodwill  to secure her north-eastern states. Bhutan herself never seriously feared any Chinese invasion. Chinese troops did not follow the Tibetan refugees into Bhutan in 1959. And in 1962 again the Chinese troops at Arunachal did not violate the Bhutanese sovereign land at her Eastern border.

Diplomatic relation was established between India and Bhutan. The embassies were named Mission to illustrate close friendly ties. Not because of uneven relation between the strong and the weak.  It was in line with the nomenclature of  High Commission instead of Embassy nonemclature between former colonies of British Empire to illustrate closeness.  The Head of Missions in New Delhi and Thimphu were named  Represententatives with Plenipotentiary powers similar to High Commissioners and Ambassadors. Yet after His Majesty passed away, India started down grading the status of the Mission. And it took much effort on part of His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuk to change the Mission  to Embassy nonemclature to silence any further Indian political maneuvering. 

Today during Doklam crisis, Indian Agencies, Media and Analysts so freely declare that Bhutan is a " Protectorate of India". And this is happening in the reign of the Fifth King. India is repeating history to test the Dragon King on the Throne.

They have refused to acknowledge the status of 2007 revised 1949 Indo-Bhutan Treaty that reflected ground realities and the  demands of modern  political relationship between two nation states. The 2007 revision of 1949 Indo - Bhutan Treaty was hammered out between His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck and His Excellency Prime Minister ManMohan Singh.  Indians now  claim that  the old clause of India managing external affairs of Bhutan still applies though the same was done away with in the revised Treaty.  I wonder what is the actual take of the two honourable Signatories of  the revised 2007 Treaty? The two Signatories were the the King of Bhutan His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck the Fifth King of Bhutan and His Excellency President Pranab Mukerjee of India in their official capacities as the Crown Prince of Bhutan  and Minister of External Affairs of India in 2007. The two eminent negotiators are still in good health and very much present in the political scenes of Bhutan and India.

How did Nehru's trek of 1958 solicitating the good will and friendship of Bhutan for the sole purpose of protecting the security of North Eastern Plains of India  change into that of the  Kingdom of Bhutan seeking protection and economic assistance from India? Who are responsible for such distortion of Bhutan- India Relationship? Why does Bhutan accept such distortion of historical events ?

The ongoing silence of Bhutanese leadership is not necessarily a cause for Bhutanese public to be anxious . But I hope we as a nation is gathering the courage to sign the Border Agreement with China and establish long awaited diplomatic relationship. Not that we do not value friendship with India. Not that we need the goodwill and protection of China. But to remove once and for all times this stigma of being called and treated by India as a " Protectorate State ". It is an insult to the Tsawa Sum ( The King, the Bhutanese nation and the Bhutanese People )  to be so off handedly humiliated to protectorate status.

India has slashed  the hand of friendship that His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck extended  to His Excellency Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru when he treked to Bhutan solicitating friendship and goodwill in 1958. As Defence Minister of India Shri Arun Jaitley  said, India is no longer the old India.  In her new found wealth and power, India forgot Bhutan of 1958 who befriended a desperate needy India.  

I have heard few Bhutanese people wondering about whether  Bhutanese national  Democratic leadership and Political Parties are ready to stand up to this onslaught upon Bhutanese sovereignty or simply are readying to ask for more Indian money to fill their personal coffers.  I have no idea what is going on in the silence of political darkness.  However, the Constitution has entrusted the security of the nation and the welfare of the citizens to one Institution- The King of Bhutan. So I guess all are awaiting in respectful silence.

I feel that India should not interpret this silence and lull in the Bhutanese polity as a sign of meekness. Sure Bhutan would hesitate a great deal because we had genuine friendship for  India. But no friendship warrants self suicide. The King of Bhutan owes it to the Throne, to the forefathers and to the solemn oath to protect and serve the Kingdom and her people to stand up to such blatant political aggression.  Accepting  " protectorate status quo " is only for people like late Kazi Lhendup Dorji of Sikkim. And he lived in hell whilst on this earth for his betrayal of the Kingdom of Sikkim.

Pelden Drukpa ! Lha Gyel Lo! May Triple Gem Bless our great King with the gift of good health, indomitable spirit and ocean of wisdom.



  1. India takes bhutan for granted. For the sake of the future, Bhutan needs bravery to say no to India this time.

  2. As India entered at its own will, now it is also right time for India to withdraw ASAP without having to be asked and before it gets too late and without further delay and complications. Let Bhutan and China settle the rest considering their national interests.

  3. Inflow of so many Indians itself indicates domination and this is exactly what we don't want to happen. We the Bhutanese are free spirit and we don't need anyone saying so proudly that they are our guardian. We respect friendship but not to that extend to be called dependents. We have kind and we love our kingdom.

  4. Top officials of India actually admits the sovereignty and independence of Bhutan to develop friendly relation with China if you recollect Mr. Shashi Tharoor and Mr. Shiv Shankar Menon's response during the question answer session at the RIGSS Friday Forum lecture in 2013 and 2017 at Phuentsholing and Thimphu.

  5. Thanks to Sr. Wangcha Sangay for providing us a historical perspective and current status of the Bhutan-India relation through your writing. Wish Bhutan's mainstream media does the same, but sadly they seem to lack both the b*lls and the inegrity to do it. What is worrying is that the western and Indian media portrays the current stand-off as a result of Bhutan's hiding behind big brother against big China. I hope this was not true. For if this was true, then we have let the world know that Bhutan is indeed a protectorate state of India as claimed by the Indian media

  6. The only solution which Bhutan can do is that:
    The Bhutan government makes a public declaration that it does not ask Indian for help and put this declaration in public media (facebook, or whatever).

    1. Bhutan gov. should understand that if there was a war the Chinese troops will not go to Doklam before cleaning up the Indian military bases in Bhutan and Sikkim, and they have enough artillery rocket to do the job. Bhutan will be another Syria. Bhutanese will not be the happiest people on Earth for sure. It's time for Bhutan Gov to say: India, please go!

    2. Mr.Wangcha Sangey: Please open a Youtube channel. When I put comments at Indian youtube channels, they delete...

    3. But we have a govt that is india's puppy, only knows to make india happy.

  7. What Bhutan fears is the punishment from India, cut off the electricity and gas,...etc, but time is changing, based on Google map, Thimphu to Lhasa is only about 200 km, Bhutan should have diplomatic relationship with China and join the OBOR, China has the capacity to build the road or even railway from Lhasa to Thimphu, and also help with the electricity and gas, we all remember what India did to Nepal just yesterday and China gave help. In a large picture, for Bhutan open border to both India and China will only bring prosperity to Bhutan, bring security to Bhutan, and more importantly, bring dignity to Bhutan. Bhutan as a kingdom with 4000 years history should not be vanished in the 21st century.

    1. This is 21st century. No one can vanish a country without the condemn of the whole world. Bhutan needs to balance her foreign relation between China and India. Just bravely announce the truce to the world. The Western are quite bias. With Bhutan keeping silence, a lot of them just blindly or purposely line with India and claim that Bhutan is india's "Protectorate State" and China is being bully. They take every chance to blame China, while the irrational and aggressive India keeps playing the "victim" role. India is really a shameless and irrational country, trying to control Bhutan and Nepal by threatening. Bhutan should learn how to survive and develop by balancing between big countries. Singapore would be a very good example.

  8. If Bhutan wishes to resolve its boundary issue with China based on the wishes, lectures and bible provided by India, then that will be a waste of efforts and not going to happen even after 100th or any round of talks. Because no matter what India and China are born as bitter rival, competitor, jealousies and hater of each other’s superiority and risings. India China issues will be solved only if both of them go for a dreadful war and if one of them gets defeated and crushed to the dust.
    So, for Bhutan to settle & demarcate its boundary with China, establish diplomatic relation, prevent further loss of land and maintain peace in the northern frontiers, then Bhutan must remove India’s issues & interests when negotiating with China. Therefore, it is up to the Bhutanese leaders and its government to take the boldest decisions.

  9. Why and who is responsible for this standoff?

    It was the governor of Bengal who ill-advised the governor general of India to push the Ashley Eden mission to Bhutan of 1864 despite Bhutan’s request not to send the mission in the middle of the civil war. And the terms of the treaty was unacceptable to both the countries. And Bhutan couldn't agreed to its dictated terms, an a war was declared on Bhutan by the British. It was called the Duar war of 1864. The war was fought over a period of 1 year. Bhutan lost the war and this led to the permanent annexation of Assam and Bengal Duars by British India from Bhutan, and this virtually ended Bhutan’s rule over the fertile Duars. As a result of it, Bhutan was forced to sign the treaty at Sinchula in 1865 to their terms of dictation. This is how Bhutan befriended with British India on the term dictated by victor British.

    And the Indo-Bhutan friendship treaty of 1949 with independent India was based on this treaty, and same treaty was revised in 2007. The Article 2 of the revised treaty of 2007 reads: "In keeping with the abiding ties of close friendship and cooperation between Bhutan and India, the Government of the Kingdom of Bhutan and the Government of the Republic of India shall cooperate closely with each other on issues relating to their national interests. Neither Government shall allow the use of its territory for activities harmful to the national security and interest of the other."

    However, in June this year, the same clause of the revised treaty became the subject of different interpretation. This is the reason of india’s military intervention to stop the suspected Chinese Border Road Builders at sino-Bhutan border. And it was not sure if china actually took road construction at the sino-Bhutan border. India says Bhutan asked for military help from India, and this is the reason why indian border guards are at Doklam.

    Bhutan never asked military help from India to the contrary. it was india who misinterpreted the article 2 of the revised indo-Bhutan treaty of 2007 to occupy Bhutan’s border, which has a security and national interest of India given Doklam’s strategic location. This particular clause is subject to interpretation. India interpreted otherwise to justify their military occupation on Bhutan's behalf; perhaps, this was the reason why India accepted to the request of the Bhutan government to revise the Indo-Bhutan Treaty in 2007. Sending their troops to our border, people of Bhutan felt betrayed by our trusted ally.

    And the direct implication of their occupation of Doklam:
    1. Military Standoff between China and India in the Bhutanese soil;
    2. Sino-Bhutan border talk impasse;
    3. Bhutan’s sovereignty at stake;
    4 All diplomatic efforts of the past government of Bhutan are in vain;
    5. threatening of full-scale war between the warring giants;

    Article 8 of the treaty must be sought to address the issue of misinterpretation of this article 2 of the treaty by india. This will allow india to withdraw its troops from our border to deescalate the tension as a result of sino-india standoff at our border.

    Article 9 says “Any differences and disputes arising in the interpretation and application of this Treaty shall be settled bilaterally by negotiations in a spirit of trust and understanding in consonance with the historically close ties of friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation that form the bedrock of Bhutan-India relations.”

    It was again the government of Bengal who has ill-advised the Modi government to send the troops to our border by misinterpreting article 2 of this revised treaty.

  10. Indians are widely known to be slippery and treacherous. Just ask President Nixon. I hope Bhutan will be able to resolve their border boundaries with China without further delay and ultimately have diplomatic relations with China. I believe China will be able to bring to Bhutan much more economic growth than India the undisputed No. 1 open defecating country.

  11. Does Bhutan really want to be associated, let alone signing a defense agreement, with such a corrupt and incompetent country, like India?

    Its dirty laundry just keeps piling up everyday. Its road projects along China border has been way behind schedule; even the ones that are so called completed may not be usable for military purposes. It doesn't have enough ammunition to protect itself after 10 days of intensive fighting, let alone protecting Bhutan. It plans to buy submarines from a foreign entity; what superpower does that? No competent superpower should be forced to buy any major defense equipment from a foreign entity; yet India does it on everything, which tells you the current state of India. Now, we are hearing its much raved indigenously invented anti-China SAM is so unreliable at best, and even its own army doesn't want it and plans to purchase its replacement from Israel. I am sure the list goes on and on, and this is probably the tip of the iceberg.

    This is very embarrassing (actually beyond embarrassing, more pathetic, by claiming itself to be an emerging superpower) and incompetence to the extreme for India. Bhutan needs to think it through and hard, and ask itself: Why is Bhutan even associated with such a corrupt and incompetent country, like India? What does Bhutan get out of it?

  12. Question is: did Bhutan really ask India to stand against China on its behalf. I suspect the Indians did it on their own and said to the international community that they were on the disputed area at the request of Bhutanese government. The Bhutanese people are totally in the dark. The media or the government does not inform the people. If indeed what the Indian govt or Indian media say is true, then I think its a blunder of historic proportion on the part of the Royal Government of Bhutan. Otherwise the Bhutanese Govt must come forward and expose the truth. If not then I am afraid that our government is failing in its duty to protect the sovereignty of our beloved country by yielding to our big brother, India.

    1. I think the Bhutanese government has already showed courage not to publicly confirm India's propaganda, asking Bhutan to expose the propaganda will be too much, India will retaliate.

    2. The very reason our leaders and government keeping silence on this issue answers the question. And this is the same question China is repeatedly asking India to show the evidence that Bhutan has asked for India's help.
      By blunder, if there is truth in it that Bhutan has really invited India to deal the Chinese, then we can say from now onwards our independency, sovereignty, security, peace and rights are under the mercy of India and that the Bhutanese people have no business in it.
      Ask, why India did not intervene when three such road constructions had taken place towards Haa in the past. Why today only at Doklam ?
      India has also jeopardized the future as well as wasted the past boundary negotiations that had taken place between the two countries.

  13. people of Bhutan must wake up to this harsh reality of Indo-Bhutan friendship. People of bhutan cannot stay uninformed.
    Time now're politically mature to understand the local, regional, and international politics. i personally feel we're not politically mature to understand our own government fully well. unless we understand our government well, task ahead of our government to address such issue of national importance is paramount. realizing the bane of isolation, the third king opened the country's door to the outside world. This is how development came to Bhutan from 1961. our fourth King educated our illiterate population from zero literary to 100% literary. He introduced many sound policies that are the pride of the nation today. his policies like gross national happiness has earned recognition from the world. under the present king, democracy is the gift to train the leadership in each one of us to take the country forward. Each Bhutanese must grow its potential to fullest to become self-sufficient. Only then can we survive as a nation free of outside influence and exercise our own freedom of choice..

  14. I keep reading this fallacy among the so called more literate in India (lately, even some of the more prominent ones are starting to believe it as well) that boycotting Chinese goods will solve all the India’s internal as well as external issues, specially the ones with China. I just want to set the record straight here: this is pure fantasy and whoever said it has absolutely no idea how the world economy works, which appears to be the majority population of India. 

    According to latest report, the 2016-2017 trade deficit between China and India is around 51 billions.  First of all, this 51 billions may be a gigantic number for India, but it is a drop in the bucket for China.  China will do just fine without this 51 billions.  On top of that, anyone who has a sense of how world economy works, knows that this 51 billions is not all profits; most of it are variety of expenses. In fact, a good portion of the expenses is raw material imported from all over the world, including India.  I bet a good percentage of it might have come from India.  In this case, by boycotting Chinese goods, India essentially renders its own people jobless, in addition, to the the millions Indians that are selling the Chinese products in India. Then you say, since the raw material came from India, India can do it locally cheaper and better. But the problem is that India is so corrupt and incompetent, it is not possible; stop lying to yourself: if India could, India would have done it long time ago.    

    Secondly, if India does decide to boycott all Chinese goods at once, not only India inflation will go through the roof, but also its standard of living will go down dramatically, which means people’s buying power will be much less, and India economy will grow at a much lesser rate, may be even recession -- this is even more true for the US as the US has a much bigger deficit with China than India with China. How do you think US economy has grown as well as it has during the past 20 years?

    Thirdly, if there is indeed a trade war between China and India, all China needs to do is stop watching those terrible India movies, and stop importing India IT dummies, everything should balance out nicely.  

    This is why in order for India's economy to grow, it needs more Chinese goods, not less. Case in point, if Bhutan decides to start buying Chinese goods, instead of being forced down to its throat with the crabby and expensive India products, today, Bhutan buying power/living standard as a nation will instantaneously increase by at least 20%. Talk about highway robbery, if anyone that needs to boycott, it should be the Bhutanese boycotting India products: instead of buying those overpriced and poor quality India products, Bhutan should start importing and buying Chinese products, that is if India let Bhutan.

    1. The very center of the problem lies in this sentiment of "if India let Bhutan" in Bhutan. To the rest of the world it is very hard to understand why India, itself still a extremely poor country, controls Bhutan and tries to control Nepal and other neighbors. It is also very hard for the rest of the world to understand that India, which cannot even manufacture the basic ammunition supplies for its troops, tries so hard to demand that the rest of the world respect it as a "world power". The matter of fact is, China never regards India as a worthy adversary, although India may appear a giant in the eyes of its small neighbors. Beating up India militarily does not bring much glory to China, and the Chinese has shown the utmost restraint in this stand-off. China has always been aware of its giant size compared with many other countries and has been conscious of not creating an intimidating atmosphere hampering problem resolution. India has gotten itself into a hysterical down spiral: demand respect and not get it, become irrational, demand more and not get it, and become more irritated and irrational. Following this path of India will not serve Bhutan's national interest well. The problem is India has instilled this fear of Indian punishment into Bhutanese people's mind if it deviates from the path India wants it to be on. And I think one of main reasons of this stand off is the fear from India that opening Bhutan further to the northern giant China will weaken its control on Bhutan. How could a sovereign independent country tolerate being treated like this? Look at North Korea. Everyone in this world knows its economy depends on China, much more than Bhutan on India. Yet China does not have a single soldier in North Korea. Moreover, North Korea does many things that China does not like. In addition, China has been encouraging North Korea and the United States to have direct talks with each other. If India can show self confidence like that, the border areas between India, China, and Bhutan will be much more peaceful. For Bhutan, the Chinese cannot wait to formalize our bilateral friendship. It's time Bhutanese stood up to the Indian.

    2. As a long time observer of India I think I know the reasons why India behave the way it behaves towards its neighbors. The first reason is that India is created out of the polity left behind by the British Raj. And this polity has never existed before in historic context. Therefore naturally the rulers of the new country look to its predecessor the British Raj for guidance in how foreign policy should be conducted. And of course the Raj is an unabashed bullying and land grabbing expansionist. Only that people usually don't use the term expansionist to describe the Raj, but colonialist/imperialist. The second thing is India's own ambition and the so called 'Akhand Bharat' nonsense. If you don't know what Akhand Bharat is google it and you will understand.

      The good thing is this standoff happened at a juncture when China is experiencing its greatest national rejuvenation in one and a half century's time. Today China's comprehensive national strength dwarfs India in every aspect you can imagine. India could not have not take China into account if it make any rash move toward its smaller neighbor like it did to Sikkim. And I can already see Bhutanese are standing up to India. Just a few days ago Bhutan ambassador to India attend a celebratory event in the Chinese embassy in New Delhi, an extraordinarily shown of goodwill towards a country Bhutan has no diplomatic relation. This is unprecedented and certainly irks India as India is used to excessive deference by Bhutan. And this occurs from a government supposedly 'pro India'. I see this as a good sign. Whatever motives India instigates this incidents the result is probably the acceleration of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Bhutan. A development New Delhi is trying to prevent.

    3. Thanks for pointing me to read more about "Akland Bharat"! I have to admit that most Chinese do not pay that much attention to India and what happens in India so reading about "Akland Bharat" was an eye opener for me. This type of mentality will for sure set India onto a collision course with many of its neighbors. I do agree there will very likely be positive outcomes from this standoff and I can think of at least three: 1) make China more aware of India's ambition and adjust her approach to relation with India; 2) hopefully both China and Bhutan will not hesitate as much as before to establish closer ties; and 3) alert other neighbors of India to put eggs in more baskets. Having said that I do hope these can be accomplished without a military conflict. It takes a mentality shift in the Indian government. The Chinese side has always wanted to work with India on the basis of recognizing the fact that much of our borders have not been clearly demarcated for historical reasons. And the Chinese have been proposing the approach of mutually respecting the sections that have been agreed upon in historical treaties and negotiating for the sections not demarcated. The Indian approach has been always 1) both sides recognize the fact that much of the borders have not been demarcated, and 2) when India takes a pen and draw a line, China only needs to accept it. This was the cause of the 1962 border clash. I hope the Indian government has learned from the past so that another military conflict is not needed. I see the Chinese government has issued extremely serious statements in the last two days. But all the Indian government is doing is brushing it aside. Not a very good sign. Makes me wonder why, a country full of smart people, makes such a miscalculation!