A lot of interest shown by Bhutanese fb friends in the article in fb post " India's Real Problem lies in its Foreign Policy, Not Border".
It was authored and posted on 14th July, 2017 by Professor Phunchuk Stobdan a foreign policy expert of India.
( A brief about the author courtesy Google). Ambassador (Prof.) P. Stobdan is a distinguished academician, diplomat, author and foreign policy expert. He has been India’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Kyrgyzstan until recently. Ambassador Stobdan has earlier served in the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS). He also served as Director of the Centre for Strategic Studies in Jammu & Kashmir. He is the Founding President of the Ladakh International Centre, Leh. Ambassador Stobdan is currently Senior Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. He is a Distinguished Fellow at the United Services Institution (USI). Ambassador P. Stobdan is a leading columnist for Indian Express and other national dailies in India.
I thought it may serve Indo- Bhutan equal interest to share my own perspectives. So I sent an email to the distinguished author and hopefully through him other Indian Experts and Analysts will be aware.
firstname.lastname@example.org 14th July, 2017
Sub; " India's Real Problem lies in its Foreign Policy, Not Borders "
I went through your feeling and views. You are a sincere well wisher of Indo-Bhutan friendship. Hopefully there is room for such understanding and accommodation in the power halls of New Delhi.
I could never fathom why Indian leaders and advisors still suffer from the subjugated trance of British Raj Era ? In almost all dealing with her dependant neighbours especially the two landlocked, India is not satisfied with " Namas-te" greetings. One is required to bow from kneeling position. A copycat attitude of British Raj to Indians.
I suppose you realise that if the push comes to shove as they say, it is not possible for India to takeover Bhutan without China claiming over half the Kingdom. It's a touch and go situation. Presently Bhutan's status as a buffer nation actually guarantees the security of the oft quoted "chicken neck " of India and her North Eastern Frontier States. A divided Bhutan can place the whole of Northern India in peril.
However, if India does not obstruct/ hinder Sino Bhutan Border Agreement, this will guarantee the security of all of Northern India. It is therefore, actually in India's interest to encourage Bhutan to sign the Border Agreement with China. Instead the successive Indian leaders have taken out their British Raj era humiliation upon the only nation and people that they can safely bully. To allow Bhutan to sign Agreement and have relation with China is elevating the national status of Bhutan and Bhutanese people which Indian cannot stomach. It seems that the Indian ego which is so badly bruised under Whitemen subjugation, cannot accept Bhutan as an equal neighbour. Thus it is not Indian national security priority nor the fear of Chinese invasion or competition that prevents India from giving Bhutan the go-ahead to friendlier ties with China. It is the psycological burden of accepting Bhutan as an equal neighbour that haunts the false Indian elitist pride.
I suppose Indian experts are well aware that what was once part of Bhutan like the Duars and Doklam was wrested away by British India. Doklam may have been originally that of Tibet before Bhutan took over. At one time in Bhutanese history, Bhutan had land in Ladakh , Nepal, Tibet and Sikkim and in north eastern India the Duars. But British India changed all that. Bhutan was given a yearly cash annuity for the 18 Duars as the tax collected from those domains was important revenue for Bhutanese heiracy. The other domains had more to do with religious purpose than revenue. So probably these were simply written off. Anyway British India sold Doklam back to China.
Bhutan cannot get back the Duars or Doklam or the other religious domain in Nepal, Sikkim or Ladakh. In the revised 2007 Indo-Bhutan Treaty that " annuity clause " regarding the 18 Duars was taken off and so was the clause " foreign affairs to be guided by India". In other words an exchange was concluded though never highlighted or publicly stated for claim against Duars in exchange for freedom in exercising foreign affairs by Bhutan.
Can you imagine what such an "annuity clause " be worth to a mighty nation in the modern era when everybody is claiming something off another? That may be the reason why India removed it when Bhutan insisted upon self auhority in foreign affairs as a member of UN. You may be aware that India did not willingly back Bhutan's admission to UN. India had no choice when she realised that King Jigme Dorji Wangchcuck was prepared to go broke on that score.
Bhutan is too small and weak to assert her historical domination and have wisely chosen peace and sovereignty within the physical space that we have as of date. We have no alternative but to choose peace and friendship with India. Likewise we have no alternative but to forget Doklam as we have foregone the Duars and other religious domains and sign the Sino- Bhutan Border Agreement so that what we have now remain ours for eternity.
There is much affection and respect for India within the larger Bhutanese community. However, there is resentment and fear, too, as you pointed out. I do not know what secret magical hold India has over the Wangchuck Dynasty but whatever it is, that is wearing rather thin. I feel Bhutanese can accept and live with their King no matter what India may say or reveal about our deeply respected Dynasty.
Democracy has been introduced by the King and the process cannot be halted. And with democracy comes more free thinking and more questions that can be uncomfortable to answer. And as amenable as the last two Kings have been with Indian approach to Bhutan, 34 years and 24 rounds of delay tactics in negotiations with China in compliance to never ending dictates of India upon Bhutan, can wear out the utmost patience of China with Bhutan and that of Wangchuck Dynasty of Bhutan with Indian leadership. Afterall their Majesties are the true son and grandson of the King who once declared, " would rule as a sovereign King or not at all ". And probably the people of Bhutan ,too, would be exhausted in search for a chance for dignified peaceful existence. And take matters off everyone's table.
I feel for sake of durable genuine love and frienship between the people of India and Bhutan, India should wisely and generously permit Bhutan with adequate leeway in signing the Border Agreement and have diplomatic and trade relations with China. This will not change fundamental basis of Indo Bhutan friendship and reliability. It will only enhance the political status of Bhutan as a more strengthened Sovereign Buffer State and enable a less stressful China and India relationship.
May there be more such thinkers like you and may Indo- Bhutan friendship reach a healthy level of equal love and respect.
I wish you well Sir.