Discussions on recent developments in diplomatic and strategic ties have an overtone of countries opting one over the other. As we have seen with Nepal opting out of BIMSTEC military exercise and poll results of Bhutan with ousting of People Democratic Party.
The BIMSTEC military exercise, MILEX-18, should not be dragged into controversy with Nepal opting out. It was clearly a political call. Nepal instead sent a team of observers for the exercise which can be considered as participation.
In Bhutan, leading parties Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) and Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) have never publicly spoken out against New Delhi or Bhutan’s close relations with China. DNT indicated further strengthening of economic ties with India in its poll manifesto. The party being more left of centre in its outlook will focus more on social issues, health and economy. DPT too in its manifesto promised diversification of ties with India.
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What needs of be identified is that this does not show a likely alignment towards one or the other. As general Bipin Rawat clearly indicated that geography will naturally incline Nepal and Bhutan to India. Furthermore, any country looking for its economic growth is bound to explore bilateral and multilateral ways of cooperation. China being economically advanced will be seen in picture often wherever common neighbours are concerned.
Viewing the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia region, China and India play a more influential role. Both are among the fastest growing economies. They target common markets and a competition is bound to exist between the two. To gain from the competition India needs work towards being economically strong. Moreover, our common neighbours will also capture a great deal and will grow.
General Bipin Rawat also said that India is consciously taking steps towards developing diplomatic relations with neighbouring countries following its motto of “neighbourhood first and act east”. If we take initiatives other counties will follow.
In today’s news, PM Modi is looking forward for a visit to Bhutan soon on the occasion of 50 years of creation of diplomatic ties between the two countries. Regardless of election results, a cordial relationship is expected to continue with the Bhutan King.
With the changing global economic scenario, we will continue to see shifts in ties. India needs to focus on its economic growth to make the best out of the competition and capture markets. Furthermore, cordial relationships with the neighbours will continue to boost, owing to the shared common close history and geography.