The early spring rains disrupted the scheduled visit of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bhutan. It, however, did not dampen the spirit. If the weather permits, we will welcome the highly anticipated visit of the Prime Minister today.

As a close and friendly neighbour, a visit by a Prime Minister of  India is always special for Bhutan.  The early rain is symbolic of the outcome of the special visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who always considered  tiny Bhutan as an important partner, besides being a close friend.

Spring in Bhutan heralds a busy if not a fruitful season. What happens in spring will dictate what we reap in autumn. Our farmers are welcoming the early showers. It is, as they say, an indication of a successful year. As superstitious as we are, the early spring showers coinciding with the visit are symbolic of a fruitful year and beyond.

There are expectations from the Prime Minister’s visit. Even as we wait to kickstart the 13th Five Year Plan, the joke among many is that the rain disrupted the landing of the Indian prime minister’s aircraft carrying boxes of money for Bhutan. The expectations were heightened because of the ambitious 13th Plan and the promise of the Nu15 Billion economic stimulus plan, which thousands, especially in the private sector, are hoping will kickstart economic activities.

Prime Minister Modis has consented, despite his busy schedule in an election year, to the invitation of His Majesty The King. The special programme is the presentation of the Order of Druk Gyalpo medal to the Prime Minister by His Majesty today. However, beyond the ceremony, what we will be witnessing is the testimony of the Bhutan-India friendship.

We heard that the discussions on India’s assistance to the 13th Plan are underway. We also understand that this is the process of finalising the details, including India’s grant for the  Plan and other assistance for Bhutan’s overall development. The expectations are about what announcements would be made. But for Bhutan, more than the promises, the visit by the Prime Minister is of great significance.

If it is a testimony of bilateral relations. It is an example of  how the leaders of the two neighbours are  continuously nurturing the relationship at the highest  levels. As Bhutan embarks on ambitious projects to leverage the country to a developed economy by the next decade, we need the support of our closest friend.

If our plans and visions are clear, the visit of  Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlines  India’s commitment to ourpriorities and aspirations. It reaffirms India’s role as a reliable and committed partner in Bhutan’s journey and objectives towards a progressive and self-reliant and exemplary nation.