SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF THE KING OF BHUTAN, H.M. JIGME KHESAR NAMGYEL WANGCHUCK
New Delhi, 22nd December 2009
Your Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the King of Bhutan,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome Your Majesty and the distinguished members of your delegation to India. This visit, the first abroad after your Coronation in November 2008, is a milestone in the special relationship between our two countries.
Your Majesty, I have the fondest memories of my visit to your beautiful country last year on the historic occasion of your Coronation. The warm hospitability and welcome accorded to me shall forever remain etched in my memory.
We consider Bhutan as our closest friend and neighbour. Our relationship is special because it is based on mutual respect, deep understanding and goodwill. Ever since the historic visit of Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to your beautiful country in 1958, this relationship has grown exponentially and to mutual benefit. Today, it encompasses hydropower, transport, communications, infrastructure, education, IT, medicine and agriculture, to name just a few sectors. The agreements that have been signed, between our two countries today, are a testimony to the ever-expanding ambit of our bilateral engagement. Our working together successfully in the hydropower sector is an important example of mutually beneficial cooperation between our two countries. It gives us inspiration and confidence to achieve the target of 10,000 MW of new hydropower capacity by 2020.
In recent times, Bhutan has seen historic developments. We were witness last year to Your Majesty's Coronation; that was also the year when the first elections were held and a new Constitution adopted. We are confident that under your guidance, and your personal emphasis on harmony and constructive engagement, democracy in Bhutan will grow and flourish. I want to assure Your Majesty that any assistance that India can provide to the friendly people of Bhutan on this remarkable journey will always be forthcoming.
We in India rejoice at the success of Bhutan and its increasing prosperity. We admire its unique paradigm of Gross National Happiness which seeks to balance economic growth with deep respect for the environment and the preservation of culture and heritage. India, and indeed the world, has much to learn from it.
Your Majesty, the future of Bhutan is safe in your hands. I say this because you embody the passion and commitment of youth with the wisdom and statesmanship that are intrinsic in your personality, and which have been handed down to you as a legacy by your forefathers, and in particular, by His Majesty the Fourth King, who we deeply respect. I recall, in this context, what you said to the people of your country during your Coronation Address, "Throughout my reign I will never rule you as a King. I will protect you as a parent, care for you as a brother and serve you as a son. I shall give you everything and keep nothing." I can only say that love and a sense of duty towards the people is very evident in the sentiments expressed in these words.
May I take this opportunity to wish you great success in the decades ahead. May your reign bring Bhutan unprecedented happiness and prosperity. May these years be for you, personally, one of fulfillment and happiness. I am confident that under your leadership India-Bhutan relations will grow on the strong foundations of the past, and will accomplish, in the fullest manner possible, the potential of the future.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I request you to join me in raising a toast to:-
- the good health and well being of His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the King of Bhutan;
- the progress and prosperity of the friendly people of Bhutan; and
- the everlasting friendship between India and Bhutan.