The Bhutan Model: India’s Strategic Partner in the Himalayas

Syllabus : GS-2 International Relationship

Question : “Analyse the importance of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Bhutan in the context of India’s foreign policy objectives, particularly in response to China’s growing influence in the region

Importance of Bhutan Visit:

  • Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Bhutan highlights its significance for India’s foreign policy.
  • The urgency stems from China’s growing influence in the region.

China’s Rise and Influence:

  • China’s economic and political assertiveness challenges India’s regional dominance.
  • China’s economic clout allows for strategic investments in South Asia.
  • China’s presence is felt throughout the world, influencing elites and narratives.

Bhutan’s Strategic Location:

  • Bhutan is a key Indian partner with no formal ties to China.
  • Bhutan sits in a sensitive Himalayan location bordering China’s Tibet.
  • China’s activity in the Doklam plateau (Bhutan) caused tension with India in 2017.

India’s New Approach:

  • India acknowledges China’s presence in South Asia and is adjusting its strategy.
  • Focus on deeper economic cooperation, respecting sovereignty, and mutual security interests.
  • Bhutan visit exemplifies this new approach, emphasizing “Bharat for Bhutan and Bhutan for Bharat.”
  • The visit strengthens India-Bhutan ties on security and economic connectivity (physical & digital).


  • A successful India-Bhutan relationship can be a model for India’s ties with other neighbors.

Additional Notes:

  • China is pressuring Bhutan for a favorable border settlement and equal bilateral relations.
  • India’s historic dominance in South Asia requires a new, realistic approach.



WTO’s Existential Crisis:

Syllabus : GS-2 International Relationship

Question : Examine the impact of the United States’ strategy of de-judicialization on global trade governance, and its implications for the future of the WTO and international trade relations.

Major Letdowns from Recent WTO Ministerial Meeting:

  • Public Stockholding (PSH) Programs:
    • A sovereign right of countries to manage food security programs clashes with WTO rules.
    • WTO limits subsidies like Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farmers.
    • Outdated reference period (1986-88) for calculating price support makes it difficult for developing countries.
    • India’s PSH program and farmers’ demands for MSP guarantees are challenged.
    • “Peace clause” from 2013 offers some protection but is insufficient.
    • India needs a permanent solution and alternative support mechanisms (e.g., Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi).
  • Subsidies for Overfishing:
    • Developed countries subsidize industrial fishing fleets, leading to overcapacity and overfishing (OCOF).
    • OCOF depletes fish stocks and threatens the marine environment.
    • India demands binding rules to limit these subsidies but richer nations resist.
  • Dysfunction of Dispute Settlement Body (DSB):
    • Dispute settlement mechanism (DSM) is paralyzed due to the US blocking appointments to the Appellate Body (AB) since 2019.
    • WTO members aim for a functioning DSM by 2024, but the US likely won’t allow full restoration of the AB.
    • Developed countries focused on non-transparent negotiations on dispute settlement reform, avoiding the core issue.

US Strategy: De-judicialization of Global Trade:

  • The US aims to weaken international courts and tribunals like the WTO’s AB.
  • This pushback against “judicialization” (courts dominating decision-making) reflects a broader trend.
  • The US seeks to regain control over trade disputes, potentially to address challenges from China.


  • The WTO Ministerial deepened the organization’s crisis.
  • Unresolved issues and US influence create uncertainty and instability in global trade.

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