Looking for the Grand Finale

An individual or a nation that does not utilize technology in today’s world will not go far. Due to this reason, the Bhutanese government continues to emphasize on utilizing technology wherever possible.

In order to benefit the eastern districts, help connect remote pockets of the country and increase the internet speed, Thimphu had talks with New Delhi, which was also discussed during the visit of Indian External Affairs Minister of India, Dr. S JaiShankar earlier this year. It cantered around the Third Internet Gateway for Bhutan. Following the meeting, there were positive sparks, with the Bhutanese Foreign Minister Dasho Dr. Tandi Dorji saying India is positive.

Today, we have a reason to celebrate, for we are being told that discussion on the Third Internet Gateway has reached the final stage. Once a mutually agreed rate is brought to the table, the program will start. 

 The same was informed by the Bhutanese Prime Minister (PM) Dr. Lotay Tshering as he delivered the State of the Nation Address recently. The PM also said that the government is in its final phase of rate discussion with the Government of India (GoI). Once finalised, the Third Internet Gateway will be set up in Gelephu.

Due to the time taken for this, there are skeptics in Bhutan, exercising their freedom of expression saying that the GoI must be “purposely delaying,” the project.

We do not see any reasons why India would ever do this. India has been the most trusted and reliable development partner since Bhutan’s first five year plan. It is difficult to think about a scenario where India will move ahead without Bhutan. Our journeys are linked. If India prospers, Bhutan will benefit and vice-versa.

Nonetheless, when words about a support is given and the project takes time to kick start, conspiracy theories begin and thrive. This is augmented when opponents of Indo-Bhutan relations add sauce to the theories. Concerning the Third Internet Gateway, people ask why decisions for a rate should take “such a long time,” forgetting that such resolutions are not like buying something from a mall.

We cannot remember in recent history or before any major incident where India backtracked from what they had committed. From the Bhutanese side too, we have displayed that we can be trusted. There will be difference of opinions and others. It is natural. But the two nations have always solved issues amicably.

Coming back to the Third Internet Gateway, Bhutanese are excited. Further, majority of the Bhutanese, who understand Indo-Bhutan relation know it will come. Both governments are bad implementers. That is why everything takes time; from building roads to buildings.

But everybody and everything is waiting; for acceleration in the digital world to access to the internet.

Bhutan is waiting. People do not want another “last phase”. We want the grand finale – establishment of the Third Internet Gateway – a hallmark in Indo-Bhutan relations in recent history.