Of the many events organised so far to celebrate the 50th year of Bhutan-India diplomatic relations, both in the country and abroad, the one that happened at Madarihaat, India recently was by far the most meaningful and heart-warming.  

It was meaningful and heart-warming because the celebration involved the peoples of the two countries, not merely government officials and often out-of-the-way exhibitions of sorts in faraway locations.

The celebration at Madarihaat meant the people of the two friendly nations this side of the often-chaotic subcontinent could come together and commemorate the friendship in the truest sense. It also meant looking back to the many centuries and looking forward to as many years and seasons.

At a time when geopolitics and international outlook of the leaders are shifting in the most disturbing ways, such celebrations should be understood in the broader and much clearer perspective. Tagore comes to mind. A world broken up into fragments and narrow domestic walls offer little hope of future. The time of awakening is indeed come.  

Awakening, simply put, is recognising oneself and the relations outside of the self.  No nation can succeed alone and, by the same token, the world will not if nations suffer from unreasonable greed and fear. Respect between the nations and the peoples, more importantly, greater understanding of cultures and traditions, art and literatures, dreams and diplomacy must be carefully nurtured.

The celebration at Madarihaat had special relevance because of the fact that it happened just across the border. A sizeable Bhutanese population live in India due to certain socioeconomic inclemencies at home. Likewise, many Indians reside in Bhutan. There is so a need for the peoples of the two nations to understand each other in the many facets of relations.

Commemorating Bhutan-India relations must transcend celebration of small episodes and colours that define the bond between the two steadfast friends in South Asia. Fostering mutual respect between the two friendly neighbours can go a long way in giving new lease of life to the long-standing dreams of the subcontinent: a brotherhood of peaceful and prosperous nations.