Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday proposed extensive co-operation between Indian and Bhutan in new areas like space and digital payments.
“Today, India is witnessing historic transformations in a wide range of sectors. India is eliminating poverty faster than ever before. The pace of infrastructure construction has doubled in the last five years. India is home to the world’s largest healthcare programme, Ayushman Bharat, that offers health assurance to 500mn Indians,” Modi said while addressing students at the Royal University of Bhutan on the final day of his two-day visit.
“India has among the cheapest data connectivity in the world, which is directly and indirectly empowering millions. India is also home to among the biggest startup eco-systems in the world. This is indeed a great time to innovate in India.”
Modi said many other transformations have at their core dreams and aspirations of the Indian youth.
He asked the “brightest minds” of Bhutan to work hard and take the Himalayan nation to great heights. “There is no better time to be young than now.”
He said India-Bhutan co-operation in hydropower and energy was exemplary, and stressed on building relationship between people of the two countries, and showed India’s eagerness in co-operation in new frontiers – from schools to space and digital payments to disaster management.
“Our co-operation in all these sectors will have a direct impact on young friends like you,” the prime minister said.
He said was crucial to connect scholars and academics beyond borders in this day and age.
“Co-operation between India’s National Knowledge Network and Bhutan’s DrukREN, which became a reality yesterday, will serve this purpose,” Modi said.
“It will provide secure and fast connectivity between our universities, research institutions, libraries, healthcare and agricultural institutions. I urge you all to make full use of this facility… As Bhutan soars high in its endeavours, your 1.3bn Indian friends will not just look on and cheer you with pride and happiness. They will partner you, share with you and learn from you.”
Modi said the world today offers more opportunities than ever before. “You have the power and potential to do extraordinary things, which will impact generations to come. Find your real calling and pursue it with full passion.”
Referring to India’s space programmes and the moon mission Chandrayaan-2, the prime minister said Bhutan was also on its way to having its own satellite.
“It is even a matter of great happiness that young Bhutanese scientists will travel to India to work on designing and launching Bhutan’s own small satellite. I hope that someday soon, many of you will be scientists, engineers and innovators.
“We inaugurated the Thimphu Ground Station of the South Asia Satellite and expanded our space co-operation. Through satellites, benefits of telemedicine, distance education, resource mapping, weather forecast and even warning of natural disasters will reach even remote areas,” he said.
Modi took a leaf out of his book Exam Warriors to encourage students about “overcoming fear”.
“Can I tell you something? Much of what I wrote in Exam Warriors is influenced by the teachings of Lord Buddha, especially the importance of positivity, overcoming fear and living in oneness, be it with the present moment or with Mother Nature.
“Yes, we have challenges. But for every challenge, we have young minds to find innovative solutions to overcome them. Let no limitation constrain you,” he said.
In the 20th century, Modi said, many Indians came to Bhutan as teachers. “Most Bhutanese citizens of older generations would have had at least one Indian teacher during their education.”
After his speech, Modi paid his respects at the National Memorial Chorten, a revered monument honouring the late Third Druk Gyalpo.
Modi was in Thimphu on his second visit to Bhutan as prime minister and the first since his re-election in May this year.
He returned home in the evening.