We should thank New Delhi for the considerations taken in restoring Wangdue Phodrang Dzong, and now for the commitment on Indo-Bhutan railways, something which was discussed during the tenure of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo. Yes! Studies were done as there were many alternatives. The Hashimara to Pasakha proposal could not materialize due to the Tea Gardens.
But the program wasn’t abandoned. And the Indian government has now pledged a railroad into Bhutan. It will be a milestone in Indo-Bhutan relations once again and at a good time.
Something both countries and especially New Delhi need to think is the demographic change in Bhutan, with the population comprising more people who have not had no connections with India. And they are the youth.
Unlike today’s average civil service and executives who were taught by Indian teachers; who loved the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, today and tomorrow’s Bhutan is a different breed. They may not know Amitabh Bachan.
The point here is that there is an increasing number of youth who do not understand Indo-Bhutan relations, mainly because there has been a change in education or other reasons. The group is technologically driven. India’s commitment for the Third Internet Gateway made the youth very happy. Now, they are asking if India had just said it for the sake of saying. These are factors that trigger formation of beliefs related to trust, believe and similar aspects.
The railways are also coming after a long time and we sincerely hope the Internet Gateway will not take so much time. Bhutan will benefit. So will the Indians, who can now earn more.
India has also assured our Minister of Economic Affairs that there will be no disruptions in export and import. An understanding has been reached. If there are disruptions now, like at Jaigoan, what do we do?
There will definitely be questions from the other side, but the Indian Government need to regain trust it has lost in other countries and now with Bhutan. The Indians know the Bhutanese. We are a forgiving type.
Nonetheless, the news about the tracks to Gelephu should make us happier. Connectivity is very important. Railways have displayed their efficiencies. We cannot fathom the social and economic benefits, not just for Bhutan but India, too.
In future, the boulders of Gelephu need not wait for long before reaching Bangladesh. Tons and tons can now be lifted by train. Do we have the weighing machines in place? Where in Gelephu could the railway station be constructed? It is time to think about all these aspects.
To reiterate, the railway program has come at an important time, when the transformations are happening. Executives should be ready to implement.