India and Bhutan’s relationship has a long history that dates back to the 8th century when Padmasambhāva introduced Buddhism to Bhutan from India. The Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1910-12 and its subsequent claims on Bhutan led to the signing of the Treaty of Punakha in 1910 with British India, which expelled any claims that China might have made, but did not legally define Bhutan’s status.
After India gained independence in 1947, Bhutan’s status became clearer, and negotiations for a new Indo-Bhutan Treaty began in 1949.In 1949, India acknowledged Bhutan’s independence and established diplomatic relations with the country.
The Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, signed between the two countries in 1949 and revised in February 2007, provides the basic framework for their bilateral relations. It provides for perpetual peace and friendship, free trade and commerce, and equal justice for each other’s citizens. Bhutan re-evaluated its traditional policy of isolation due to the geopolitical scene in the Himalayan region and Indian subcontinent following the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China and the takeover of Tibet by the People’s Liberation Army in 1950. In January 1968, formal bilateral relations between Bhutan and India were established with the appointment of a special officer of the Government of India to Bhutan.
India and Bhutan have had long-standing diplomatic, economic and cultural relations. India-Bhutan relations are today characterized by maturity, trust, respect and understanding, and joint endeavors in ever-expanding areas of activity. Bhutan-India relations are governed by a friendship treaty that was renegotiated only in 2007, freeing Bhutan’s external relations from New Delhi, but still subjecting the Himalayan nation’s security needs to supervision.
INDIA–BHUTAN TREATY, 1949
India recognizes the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Bhutan.
India and Bhutan have agreed to extend national treatment to each other to established free trade. It facilitates free trade and transit points. Indian citizens have same right for employment in Bhutan as Bhutani nationals do in India.
India and Bhutan have agreed to have an open border. Under the open border system, citizens of India and Bhutan have a right to move into each other’s territory without a visa.
The treaty has a special mention of a clause of extradition.
Bhutan agreed to let India “guide” its foreign policy and both nations would consult each other closely on foreign and Defence affairs.
In 2007, Bhutan raised this issue with India and advocated the modification of this. India, immediately agreeing to revise the treaty. This instilled confidence in Bhutan about its broad relations with India and made an impression that India is a partner in Bhutani progress.
INDIA-BHUTAN FRIENDSHIP TREATY, 2007
India re-negotiated the 1949 treaty with Bhutan and signed a new treaty of friendship in 2007.
The new treaty replaced the provision requiring Bhutan to take India’s guidance on foreign policy with broader sovereignty and not require Bhutan to obtain India’s permission over arms imports.
Neither Govt. shall allow the use of its territory for activities harmful to the National Security and the interest of the other.
Under the revised treaty of 2007, India and Bhutan will cooperate with each other on matters of national security.
There shall be free trade and commerce between the territories of the Government of Bhutan and the Government of India.
Government of Bhutan shall be free to import from or through India into Bhutan, whatever arms, ammunition, machinery desired for the strength and welfare of Bhutan.
The Government of Bhutan and the Government of India agree that Bhutanese subjects residing in Indian territories shall have equal justice with Indian subjects, and that Indian subjects residing in Bhutan shall have equal justice with the subjects of the Government of Bhutan.