Druk National Congress - Political Organization of Bhutan
Restricted for Private Circulation Only
June - August, 2011
June 17, Kathmandu: Druk National Congress (DNC) celebrated its 17th Foundation Day at its Kathmandu office on 16th June. The customary suja desi was served.
He added that democracy had arrived in Bhutan with the efforts and sacrifice of Bhutanese people, and with support from friends all over the world, but genuine democracy is still denied to the Bhutanese. Therefore, further effort and sacrifices would be needed.
The Party on its Founding Day, demanded that the Royal Government
release all political prisoners unconditionally, initiate the honorable
repatriation of refugees and grant genuine democracy to Bhutanese
citizens. The Party called on India to guide Bhutan in addressing
outstanding political issues. DNC expressed high expectation and hope
that positive action would come from India.
Is the Royal Family Surviving on Private Income?
Finance Minister Wangdi Norbu presented the 2011-12 Budget on 20th
June, with a total outlay of Nu 37.9 billion. The allocation of budgets
for various developmental projects and maintenance of earlier projects
were mentioned. Once again, the Finance Minister failed to mention
the budget for the upkeep of the Royal Family, unlike existing practices
in countries with Constitutional Monarchy. The Constitution of Bhutan
was promulgated three years ago and until now, there is neither mention
of budget allocation for the Royal Family nor is anything being done
to draw up and promulgate a Royal Annuities Act. The Privy Council
was formed in 2009, whose responsibility was to look after the affairs
of the Royal Family. There is nothing forthcoming from the Privy Council
in this regard. Constitutionally, the State must support the Royal
Family. The people have a right to know how the Royal Family are surviving.
Why does the promulgation of a Royal Annuities Act continue to elude
every session of Parliament, including the recent? Is the Royal Family
surviving on their private income for last three years?
King and PM on Different Wavelengths on Democracy
It is barely three years since the limited and exclusive democracy was introduced in Bhutan. But Bhutan’s first “democratically elected’ Prime Minster, Jigme Thinly, has already passed a judgment on the life of democracy in Bhutan. In his interview on 23rd August, he claimed that Bhutan’s democratic future is uncertain. In the first place, a full-fledged democracy has been denied to the public. Democracy in Bhutan exists only on paper after three years of Mr. Jigme Thinley’s tenure as Bhutan’s Prime Minister. On the other hand, the 5th King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, during a graduate’s orientation programme, on the same day, said that 10 to 15 years is needed to establish a strong democracy in Bhutan. What a divergence of views of the two most important personalities of Bhutan, on same day !
It is clear that Jigme Thinley’s admittance, that the future of democracy is uncertain in Bhutan, has to do with the existing power-structure and the institution that he is having to work with. It is an open secret in Bhutan as to who is actually still at the helm of power. Democratic rights enshrined in the Constitution are confined to paper. He, as a ‘democratic’ Prime Minister, is unable to do anything about it. Can it be an outburst of his frustration of the existing state of his position?
The King, on the other hand, should be absolutely happy with the existing arrangement. Any criticism on governance is directed to the Prime Minister, while all kudos are showered on the King. Besides, he is constitutionally vested with absolute power beyond the “democratic” Government.
The Head of State, displeasure notwithstanding, must toe the official stand of the Government in a Constitutional System - but in Bhutan, the official stand of the Government originates from the Head of State. Only genuine democracy will ensure and check both institutions - its responsibilities, its powers and its jurisdiction. In Bhutan’s prevailing situation, the Head of State is having his way, due to the absence of genuine democracy.
DNC congratulates GJM
The Druk National Congress extended its hearty congratulations
to the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha and its Party President, Mr. Bimal
Gurung, for successfully achieving the historic formation of the Gorkhaland
Territorial Administration (GTA), a step towards the statehood of
The Gorkha Territorial Administration accord was signed on July 18, 2011, between the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) and the West Bengal and the Central Governments at Siliguri, West Bengal.
DNC facilitates new Nepalese Prime Minister
The Druk National Congress extended its congratulations to Mr. Baburam
Bhattarai for being elected the Prime Minister of Nepal on 28th August.
On the 17th Anniversary of the Foundation
Day of DNC
The 4th King ascended the throne in 1972. Despite minor internal problems and lack of major developments, for about ten years, in general, peace and tranquility prevailed in the country. All of a sudden, appalling policies were introduced. Let aside the common people, even those peace-loving religious people were denied the freedom to practice their faith. No one knows whether these policies were initiated directly by the King himself. From 1987 onwards, various policies were implemented one after another that plunged the country into darknes
The Lhotshampa community had appealed to the King to look into their citizenship issue. The King was angry to receive the appeal, and there was no avenue for the Lhotshampa community to seek redressal. They staged a strong protest and rebellion. Unable to bear the brunt of Royal Government’s crackdown, with summary torture, rape, killings, imprisonment, over a hundred thousand Lhotshampas were compelled to flee their homes. In the prevailing situation, the members of Royal Family who had harbored a personal grudge against me, and until then had found no proper excuse to get the better of me, griped the opportunity presented by the fabricated reports submitted by Sonam Drukpa, without proper investigation. Sonam Drukpa had bribed two royal family members, the Home Minister, Dago Tshering, the Army Chief, Gungleon Lham Dorji, Om Pradhan, Jigme Thinly, Chief Justice Sonam Tobgay, Dasho Wangchen, Gyalpo Zimpoen Dorji Gyaltshen and Lyonpo Sangay Nidup by way of gifting them many ghos and kiras and other monetary assistance. The truth was brushed aside and an innocent man was victimized.
On the 18th of May, 1991, I was arrested at Samdrup Jongkhar, and taken in handcuffs, via Bumthang, to the Royal Bodyguard headquarters at Dechencholing, Thimphu. Fifteen minutes after we arrived, Sonam Drukpa, asked me whether I had visited the hideouts of Lhotshampa rebel leaders at Garganda. He didn’t wait for my answer, and straightway went on beating me. He then immersed my head into a water tank again and again. Thereafter, he put two planks between my thighs and squeezed. Then he would start to beat the soles of my feet with rods. This torture was repeated again and again. It went on up to midnight. In the next day, same thing was repeated from 5 am to midnight and he never cared whether I spoke the truth or not. He kept on torturing me. On the third day, the Lhotshampa issue was discontinued. Their main question thereafter was whether Dasho Ugen Dorji (Rimp) was paying me Nu 2 lakhs per month to mobilize the people of the East to make him the Prime Minister. He said Hyder Ali, the Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, and Nar Bahadur Bhandari, the Chief Minister of Sikkim, were involved in the conspiracy. He asked me to admit who else, beside them, were involved in the conspiracy? I was stunned. I never dreamt of such thing even in my wildest dreams. Besides, Dasho Rimp wasn't cut out for the responsibilities of a Prime Minister. With his lifestyle and his habit of getting drunk every night, he wouldn’t have even been remotely considered for the job by the people.
The torture continued in order to force me to corroborate that the “conspiracy” was true. Unable to bear the torture and to put him off track I said that there was a “conspiracy” and that many senior Bhutanese officials, including Chenkap Dorji (the Chairman of Privy Council) and Leki Dorji, former Minister, etc. were involved. As I had expected, the naming of senior and prominent Bhutanese officers as a part of this “conspiracy” shocked him. Again, I was tortured. Actually there was no such conspiracy as claimed by Sonam Drukpa, and I merely agreed to his claims to stop him from torturing me to death.
The King wanted to make an example out of me to put fear in the Sharchop community that they would meet with similar fate if they tried to extend support to the Lhotshampa rebellion.
What saddened me most was that there are thousands of Royal Bodyguards at the King’s disposable to beat me up. Why Sonam Drukpa - a businessman?
I informed Major Sangay Thinley that Sonam Drukpa, in first place, is venting the jealousy he houses against me due to his unfound suspicion that his wife is friendly towards me; secondly, he couldn’t compete with me either in business or otherwise at Sandrup Jongkhar; and thirdly, he had bribed the government officials and army officers, police officers at Samdrup Jongkhar by way of organizing parties every day and giving lavish gifts and thereafter planting false stories about me. I asked Major Sangay Thinley to make an inquiry into the charges. I will abide the judgment of inquiry team, be it life imprisonment or capital punishment. Sonam Drukpa was thereafter immediately taken out from the team assigned to my case.
In 2007, Sonam Drukpa was imprisoned for some case. Ministers, lamas, senior government officials paid repeated visits to him in prison. There must have been secret understanding for senior officials to pay him repeated visits in prison. He was released after 1½ years by the King’s kasho, though he had been sentenced to 3½ years. Likewise, ex-Major Pem Tshering, who was sentenced to 9 years by the High Court for embezzlement of Nu. 9 million from the illegal sale of the Army Welfare Project’s liquor, was released after 3 years after the King issued a kasho to this effect. But on the other hand, hundreds of people have been imprisoned for raising their voice for democracy and their plight is totally neglected by the King, even after the establishment of the so-called “democracy”. I am saddened to witness the King’s heartless and cold attitude.
After fifty days of Sangay Thinley inquiring into the alleged charges against me, they found out that all the allegations leveled against were untrue and I was released. I returned to Samdrup Jongkhar and stayed there for a night. Next day, I, along with my family went to Guwahati, India, for medical treatment. After 28 days, I tried to return back home. But my friends tipped me off about a grave threat to my life. So from Gawahati, I traveled to Nepal.
On August 3, 1991, I reached Kathmandu, Nepal. After two weeks, I telephoned the Chief Justice, Sonam Tobgay, that I would be sending an appeal to the King through him. I recorded the facts of my case in audio cassettes and dispatched them to him. After three years, there was no response.
So on the 16th of June, 1994, the Druk National Congress was established. The main aim of the party was to establish a democratic system of governance in Bhutan under Constitutional Monarchy, ensure that people’s rights are safeguarded by law, while preserving and protecting Bhutan’s sovereignty and independence. Several publications, like “The Silent Suffering in Bhutan” and other publications were distributed, particularly to the international community.
In order to strengthen the struggle for democracy and human rights in Bhutan, many of exiled organizations and those based in the refugee came together and formed the United Front for Democracy in Bhutan. Realizing that it was important to apprise the Indian Government and the Indian peoples of the Bhutanese aspirations, UFD teams undertook two visits to Delhi. In the first visit, the team met many Indian political leaders and the civil society. In the second visit, the Government of Bhutan presented fabricated charged against me to Indian Government and on 18th April, 1997, I was arrested at Delhi and an attempt was made to deport me immediately to Bhutan to my doom. But with grace of the Triple Gem and solidarity of the Indian people, the wish of the King was not fulfilled. For over a year, I was kept at Lampur Beggars’ Home and then at Tihar Jail. On the 6th of June, 1998, I was released on bail. However, I had to report to the local police station twice in a week and could not go out of Delhi jurisdiction without Court permission. For 11 years, I stayed under these stifling conditions.
There was no legal ground for my arrest, but I was imprisoned because of the misuse of powers by the Governments of Bhutan and India. In 2010, finally at Delhi High Court, Government of India withdrew the extradition case against me. Thus, I won the case and became a free man. On the basis of High Court’s verdict and my freedom, the President of Indo-Bhutan Friendship Society wrote two separate letters to the Government of Bhutan and the Government of India highlighting that democracy had been established in Bhutan and in accordance with fundamental human rights, Mr. Dorji must be allowed to return to Bhutan, and the Government of India must facilitate this. No response was received to either letter. Thereafter, I wrote a letter to the 5th King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, explaining the issues clearly. No response was received.
Democracy, in whatever its form, has finally come to Bhutan. It is
the responsibility of all Bhutanese to strengthen this democracy and
take it forward. My conviction and spirit hasn’t decreased,
but with advancing age, my strength has decreased, which is but natural.
And there will come a time when, for the betterment of the party,
and in accordance with the times, but with common vision, old party
office bearers will move on and the new will fill their place - which
too is natural.
Tobacco Ban - Legacy of the 4th King
On August 19, a 22-year old woman and mother of two children, was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment by the Dagana District Court for smuggling tobacco worth $10. She is the 37th person so far to be charged and imprisoned so. She won’t be the last person. Section 54 of the Tobacco Act, 2010, states that “Any person found smuggling tobacco or tobacco products shall be guilty of an offence of smuggling and shall be punishable with minimum sentence of felony of the fourth degree, i.e. minimum three years imprisonment”. This is obviously overzealously implemented by the Police since January 1, 2011. Until now, 67 persons have been charged, imprisoned or are under trial.
During a Parliamentary debate on the Tobacco Act, many Parliamentarians expressed their view that the tobacco ban should be lifted outright. But the King’s sycophants in Parliament veto the proposal to lift the ban, realizing that lifting of the ban could show an abject failure of policy enunciated by the infallible ex-King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. Instead, the sycophants in Parliament, in their pursuit to project an unblemished reign of the ex- King, want the failure of this policy to fall on the DPT Government.
The ex-King, taking Karma Ura’s praises of him being a “Bodhisattva” literally, actually imagined himself to be a true Bodhisattva incarnate, and banned the sale of tobacco in 2004. In January, 2005, at Delhi in India, an Indian journalist quizzed him about the smoking ban and his own smoking habits. In the Buddhist Kingdom, statistics show that one out of every four Bhutanese use tobacco products. To the 37 prisoners, will the ex-King be their Bodhisattva?
The Tobacco Act in its present form would only create more “criminals” unless amended or even repealed.
Tobacco-related deaths in Bhutan, is minimal in comparison to alcohol-related deaths. Will the King dismantle the monopolistic liquor factory of the Army “Welfare” Project? Will the DPT Government dare to keep up its election promise to break up monopolies like the liquor business? It is doubtful, since an enormous profit is earned from the Army “Welfare” Project, and it is no big secret where this massive profit goes.
Mr. Dodo, the gup candidate from Kabesa Gewog in Punakha, submitted a petition to the King on August 10, charging his rival, the gup-elect Tshering Tobgay, of corruption, and for nullifying his win. The King admitted his petition.
Mr. Dodo accused Tshering Tobgay of bribing five of his supporters. But what is interesting is that these five had in fact voted for Mr. Dodo, not otherwise. Mr. Dodo’s case is that of a bad loser, and his attitude shows a frame of mind similar to the 4th King, who continues to persecute the children and family members of the participants of the 1990s pro-democracy political protests, even after the country instituted “democracy” in 2008.
Mr. Dodo had filed a petition in the Dzongkhag Court, and his case was dismissed by the Court citing that it had no jurisdiction in this matter, and it was the Election Commission who was the competent body. By submitting a petition to the King, Mr. Dodo has displayed that his faith on the Election Commission and the Dzongkhag Court was minimal.
The important lesson to be learnt from Mr. Dodo’s case, is that the independence of the Election Commission can be as easily violated as such. At the same time, the King should never have entertained such appeals, when a competent institution responsible for such purpose already exists and is trying to judge in accordance with the prevailing laws of the country. The King is at the summit of appeal. What about the institution of independent Judiciary? There are already several cases where the King has intervened to strike down the judgment of the Courts and shorten the sentences of persons already serving prison terms for corruption and other serious offences.
Will this set a precedent for the future and open the floodgates to the King for settling disputes?
Hope this is just a momentary lapse consequenced by the limited democracy in Bhutan.
National Assembly Members visited prisons and detention centres at Bumthang, Lhuntse, Mongar, Trashigang, Samdrupjongkhar, Sarpang and Chukha, between 8th to 21st August. They found the prisons and centres overcrowded and lacking adequate number of toilets and other facilities. They concluded, in a nutshell, that prison conditions throughout the country were worse than before.
For example, they found out that the cells did not have blankets and mattress. Inmates at Chamgang Central Jail were not provided adequate blankets and clothes to brave the chilly winter. Political prisoners in April claimed that they were not provided with new dress which prisoners normally received.
Parliamentarians submitted a number of suggestions to the Home Ministry to improve the conditions of prisons. But one particular Parliamentarian, Rinchen Dorji, ridiculed his colleagues’ proposal for better facilities to prisoners, arguing that more average Bhutanese would join prisons to escape the difficult lives outside. It seems the privilege of impunity enjoyed by the Parliamentarian has gone too far into his mind. And is this also an unwitting admittance that the actual conditions of average Bhutanese is worse than those of prisoners, and not quite as the Royal Government has cooked it up to be - the happy, smiling, GNH lot of people in Shangri La??
The recent adoption of happiness as UN’s goal had Bhutan basking in glory.
Thanks to the philosophy of Gross National Happiness, Bhutanese have to accept harassment or persecution that comes their way, with a “happy” smile. Otherwise you are not just being a hypocrite, but also an antinational.
The corrupt who are friendly with those in high places can walk free, despite the Judiciary sentencing them to prison. And the innocent, despite being on the right side of the law, are imprisoned, because they are on the wrong side of the fence.
Bhutan’s sovereignty can also be violated, because the Bhutanese are a “happy” lot who never express their disapproval, lest it compromise its “national” GNH ideals. Bhutan just lost over 8000 square kilometres on our northern borders with a smile.
Who know what more the Bhutanese are fated to lose with a “smile”.
The ‘happily” smiling Bhutanese always looks over his shoulder before he whispers aloud to the walls about any critical view of the Royals, lest it consequence fatal outcome. That’s Bhutanese “democracy” for you.
Bhutanese citizens must give serious thought to Bhutan’s GNH policy in its relation with the safeguarding of Bhutanese well-being and the country’s territorial independence and sovereignty.
Mr. Teknath Rizal, Chairman of the Peoples Forum for Human Rights in Bhutan, expressed his solidarity with social activist Anna Hazare, who staged a protest at New Delhi against the Indian Central Government from 16th August to 24th August, demanding the adoption of strong laws to tackle the corruption menace. Mr. Rizal writes that menace of corruption is not confined to India alone. India’s neighbor, Bhutan, which receives massive development funds from India is also seeped in corruption.
He added, “My fight against corruption in Bhutan was my downfall. Nevertheless, I never regret in these times for fighting corruption”.
In 1985-86, under orders from the King, he investigated corruption in Bhutan and indicted dozens of senior government officials, including members of the Royal Family. The King ultimately chose his family over his own plan to rid the country of corruption. Rizal was dismissed from his post, imprisoned on another pretext, and eventually ended up a refugee in Nepal.
He said that Anna Hazare and his team are doing tremendous service to the people and the nation and he salutes them.
Until recently, ex-convicts had no idea of how long they would have to wait to get security clearance certificates (SCC). The Royal Government withheld issuance of SCCs at will. In July, the Royal Government unveiled the decision to reduce the probation time depending on the degree of crimes.
It was unveiled that first-degree crime ex-convicts would have to wait 6 years to get a SSC. With the implementation of this new policy, they are liable to get a SCC in 4 years. But those Bhutanese who had participated in peaceful demonstrations against the Royal Government in the 1990s, demanding the establishment of democracy and human rights are still denied SSCs. Government officials admitted that some offenders are not at all eligible to get SCCs. According to the Penal Code of Bhutan 2005, only murder, treason and terrorism are first-degree crimes. On what grounds does the Royal Government continue to deny the issuance of SSCs to them? There cannot be two separate laws in the country.
The issuance of No Objection Certificates/Security Clearance Certificates was introduced in the 1980s. It is required for applying for citizenship, employment, training, various licenses, higher education, promotion, and for travel documents. It was used as a weapon by 4th King, as a continuation of the crackdown, against the relatives of dissenters who had demanded the establishment of democracy and human rights in Bhutan in the 1990s.
Mr. Teknath Rizal, Chairman of People’s Forum for Human Rights in Bhutan, has come up with a Personal Information Form for filing a lawsuit against the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
Mr. Rizal says, “I am going ahead with this initiative after receiving massive support from Bhutanese in exile. I however want accurate information and thus have come up with this form”.
After completing the collection of these forms, it will be handed over to a lawfirm to initiate a lawsuit, he added.
The Personal Information Form seeks, among other details to be provided, the name of the person, address, current city of residence, telephone, last address in Bhutan, date of departure from Bhutan, name of family members killed or imprisoned, etc.
Bhutanese media censors itself according to “Media Development Assessment 2010” published by the Ministry of Information and Communications, RGOB. It notes that the Bhutanese media practices self-censorship and it notes “As examples of self-censorship, the media do not cover stories critical of the Royal Family, the Clergy, people in the camps (refugee) etc”.
The fact is otherwise. Even if they wanted to, no journalist would dare cover stories critical of the Royal Family because s/he would be charged with treason, for going against the TSA-WA-SUM (King, People and Country), and the security and legal authority in Bhutan doesn’t differentiate between the King and the Royal Family separately. Critical stories on the Clergy would invite charges of disturbing the harmony between different religious. Likewise, highlighting the rights of Bhutanese refugee would invite the charge for promoting enmity between different communities and disturbing the harmony and tranquility of communities. These charges have been leveled before against many other individuals who are currently serving sentences.
Freedom of speech and expression, is hamstrung by the draconian National Security Act, enacted and adopted in 1992. Unless the National Security Act, 1992 is repealed by the Parliament, let alone journalists, no Bhutanese would come forth freely to express their mind. Until then, media “self”-censorship will continue.
In August, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) declared that some 50,000 Bhutanese refugees have left the refugee camps in Nepal and had resettled in eight countries. Most of the refugees have found new homes in the US. The other resettling countries are Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK.
In the refugee camps, there are reports that UNHCR is interviewing the refugee as to whether they want to opt for repatriation or third country resettlement. Nobody knows the actual motive of UNHCR in this exercise. However, many view that it must be related to the recent initiative of the Government of Nepal and the UNHCR on the implementation of the Community Base Development Programs (CBDP) to address the demands of local communities.
UNHCR head in Nepal says that there would be just two camps, Beldangi of Jhapa and Sanischare of Morang, by mid-2012, and just 10,000 would be in camps by 2015, especially those who do not choose to resettle. From this statement, repatriation of refugee is very unlikely till 2015 in spite of Bhutan and Nepal agreeing to resume bilateral talks on refugees in April.
India must be partner of Bhutanese people,
not of a government
Blocked by the untraceable Himalayas in the north, Bhutan virtually has only one neighbor to meet – India. This is not only geographically but diplomatically too that Bhutan until very recently failed to go beyond India. And Bhutan was defined to be a protectorate even in one of the latest Indian edition of the Oxford Dictionary. The fact that fourth monarch King Jigme Singye Wangchuk went not out of India in his foreign tours, except attending SAARC conferences, throughout his reign, demonstrates the isolation of the country in the wake of 21st century and maintaining relation only with India.
Bhutan’s relation with India begins with war, popularly called Duar War, culminated into Sinchula Treaty in 1865. The Firangees maintained special relationship with Bhutan, in their plan to create a buffer zone outside China. British’s willingness to support establishment of monarchy in Bhutan and China’s attempt to capture this tiny Himalayan kingdom further strengthened Indo-Bhutan ties. The Dorji family based in Kalimpong, who have gradually been knocked out of the political sphere since last four decades, gets all credits for building so strong relationship between the two countries.
To be true, Indo-Bhutan relation is a show at government level, it has hardly reached to people’s level. In all important events, be it during British rule or under independent India that still thrives on colonial-bureaucratic mentality, India has supported the monarchy and its followers. For instance monarchy received the best of all supports from India during the murder of Shabdrung in 1930s, political movement in 1950s, crisis in 1960s and 1970s, democratic struggle of 1990 and eastern uprising in 1997. The rhetoric of Indian establishment for not lending even sympathy to democratic struggle of 1990 not only invited criticism from democratic fighters of Bhutan but from within its citizens and the international community for demeaning democratic values in neighbourhood.
In all these, Bhutan has bargained with India at its best. In response to support for ensuring smooth transition of monarchy in the crisis of 1960s and 70s, Bhutan accepted Indian proposal to station over 100,000 Indian military in the country meant for protecting Bhutan’s northern border. However, several instances have proved it, India has failed to protect Bhutan’s northern border. There have been several Chinese incursions in the north, the latest being Bhutan agreeing to cede over 7000 sq km of land to China. India failed to play it role, protect Bhutan.
Bhutan presented its immense hydro potential to bargain with India not to support the cause of democracy raised from the south or assist in self repatriation of Bhutanese refugees. This is indirectly a license for creating a nation of one ethnic group, either through elimination or integration. The so-called largest democracy remained spectator to un-democracy. It is regrettable that India playing a pivotal role in ushering democracy in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan or Maldives paid no attention for planting multi-ideological system in Bhutan.
India has always put its economic interests over social or ideological reforms in Bhutan. This cannot foster to good in longer run. Bhutan’s gradual opening to international stage, increasing political consciousness among Bhutanese citizenry and increasing involvement of India in Bhutan’s internal affairs have systematically inculcated hatred. In several of my conversations with new parliamentarians, political leaders and journalists in Thimphu for last two years have compelled me to conclude that India’s negative image is taking shape in Bhutanese society. In one instance, a journalist said, “India never allows Bhutan to clear border dispute with China.” That won’t a wonder if any time in future, India met a shock from Bhutan like the recent MRP fiasco in Nepal.
The need is building relations based on popular interests. A democracy takes side of the people, not the rulers. Fostering democracy, strengthening human rights and promoting free press in Bhutan is in no way problematic for India. The greatest fear for India that Bhutan might turn towards China in case India supported the call for change, is just a utopian assumption. The warmth of relation will be felt by citizens of both the country, if it penetrates to general mass. For India, to penetrate into Bhutanese public is just to support for genuine cause – be the partner of people not that of a government and rulers. This is the need of time in building real Indo-Bhutan relationship.