Thimpu: Addressing the students at Royal University of Bhutan in Thimpu on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the country’s understanding of the essence of happiness.
‘Bhutan has understood the spirit of harmony, togetherness and compassion. This very spirit radiated from the adorable children who lined the streets to welcome me. I will always remember their smiles,’ said PM Modi here recalling the waving of Indian and Bhutanese national flags by school children to welcome him in Bhutan on Saturday.
Modi also said India and Bhutan’s history, culture and spiritual traditions have created unique and deep bonds between both the nation and its people.
“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,” he added.
Modi said that India is home to one of the biggest start-up eco-systems in the world and invited the students to launch their start-ups in the country.
“It is a matter of great happiness that young Bhutanese scientists will travel to India to work on designing and launching Bhutan’s own small satellite. I hope that someday soon, many of you will be scientists, engineers and innovators,” the Prime Minister said.
“As Bhutan soars high in its endeavours, your 1.3 billion Indian friends will not just look on and cheer you with pride and happiness. They will partner with you, share with you and learn from you,” he added.
Highlighting the initiatives taken up by his government, Modi said that infrastructural development has doubled in the last five years in India.
“Today, India is witnessing historic transformations in a wide range of sectors. India is eliminating poverty faster than ever before. India is home to the world’s largest healthcare scheme, Ayushman Bharat, which offers health assurance to 500 million Indians. India has among the cheapest data connectivity in the world, which is, directly and indirectly, empowering millions,” the Prime Minister remarked.
Modi said that India is seeking to cooperate with Bhutan in sectors beyond the traditional ones like hydropower.
“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,” he said.
The Prime Minister underlined that the inauguration of the ISRO-built Ground Station for South Asian Satellite in Thimphu has boosted space cooperation between both countries.
“Through satellites, benefits of telemedicine, distance education, resource mapping, weather forecast and even warning of natural disasters can reach even remote areas,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that anyone visiting Bhutan is struck by its natural beauty and the warmth and simplicity of its people.
All 47 MPs from Bhutan’s lower house of the parliament (National Assembly of Bhutan) were invited for the address, along with the 25 MPs in the Bhutanese Parliament’s upper house (National Council of Bhutan). Over 200 students were present at the event.
Following the address, Modi visited the National Memorial Chorten, where he offered ‘khaddar’ and lit butter lamps.
Modi arrived in Bhutan on Saturday for an official two-day visit aimed at further enhancing India’s relations with its Himalayan neighbour. The main highlights of the visit were the inauguration of the 720 megawatts (MW) Mangdechhu hydroelectric power project, along with the remote launching of ISRO’s Ground Earth Station.
The Prime Minister had a packed first day in Bhutan on Saturday, having had a string of meetings with dignitaries like the King of the nation at Tashichhodzong and his Bhutanese counterpart, amongst others. PM Modi also met the former King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
Nine Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and one power purchase agreement were exchanged between India and Bhutan in the presence of Modi and his Bhutanese counterpart Lotay Tshering.
Modi will leave for New Delhi from Paro on Sunday afternoon after wrapping up his bilateral engagements.