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We must rejuvenate SAARC, says former Bhutan PM Tsering Tobgay

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Speaking at the fifth “India and the World” lecture, former Prime Minister of Bhutan Tsering Tobgay expressed concerns about the current status of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and, citing the recent political and economic crises in Sri Lanka, called for greater efforts to rejuvenate the regional intergovernmental organisation.


Tobgay’s lecture was moderated by former Indian foreign secretary Shyam Saran, and part of a monthly series organised by the Centre for Policy Research, to mark Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.


Earlier, Saran had called Bhutan and India an odd couple, pointing at the major differences in the two country’s economies and demographics. He asked Tobgay how India’s approach to its relations with its neighbours like Bhutan or Pakistan should change to allay any anxieties that they might have from the “lumbering giant down south”.


In response, Tobgay assured that Bhutan had experienced immense generosity from India and expressed confidence that the South Asian giant maintains similar relations with all its neighbours. However, he emphasised, that “this generosity needs to be reciprocated by the neighbours too.”


He said, “The individual countries should work on equal terms with India, as Bhutan has done and found beneficial to its own economic growth and stability. The neighbourhood will grow and prosper with India’s growth and prosperity.”


Tobgay also emphasised India’s role as a leader in promoting renewable energy sources and stated that climate change is a global problem that needs to be tackled globally. Responding to whether climate change should be part of the agenda in BBIN — a body sub-regional cooperation with Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal as its members — Tobgay welcomed the suggestion but emphasised that SAARC is the “mother organization” and should take the lead in confronting global leaders in carbon emissions such as the United States and China.

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Speaking at the fifth “India and the World” lecture, former Prime Minister of Bhutan Tsering Tobgay expressed concerns about the current status of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and, citing the recent political and economic crises in Sri Lanka, called for greater efforts to rejuvenate the regional intergovernmental organisation.


Tobgay’s lecture was moderated by former Indian foreign secretary Shyam Saran, and part of a monthly series organised by the Centre for Policy Research, to mark Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.


Earlier, Saran had called Bhutan and India an odd couple, pointing at the major differences in the two country’s economies and demographics. He asked Tobgay how India’s approach to its relations with its neighbours like Bhutan or Pakistan should change to allay any anxieties that they might have from the “lumbering giant down south”.


In response, Tobgay assured that Bhutan had experienced immense generosity from India and expressed confidence that the South Asian giant maintains similar relations with all its neighbours. However, he emphasised, that “this generosity needs to be reciprocated by the neighbours too.”


He said, “The individual countries should work on equal terms with India, as Bhutan has done and found beneficial to its own economic growth and stability. The neighbourhood will grow and prosper with India’s growth and prosperity.”


Tobgay also emphasised India’s role as a leader in promoting renewable energy sources and stated that climate change is a global problem that needs to be tackled globally. Responding to whether climate change should be part of the agenda in BBIN — a body sub-regional cooperation with Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal as its members — Tobgay welcomed the suggestion but emphasised that SAARC is the “mother organization” and should take the lead in confronting global leaders in carbon emissions such as the United States and China.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

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