PM Modi’s third visit to Bhutan witnessed many firsts

New Delhi, March 22 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s third state visit to neighbouring Bhutan in 10 years — where he was accorded a grand welcome upon his arrival on Friday — witnessed many firsts.

As he stood reminiscing about his first visit to the ‘Land of Thunder Dragon’ as the Prime Minister in 2014, PM Modi on Friday became the first foreign leader to be accorded Bhutan’s highest civilian honour, the Order of the Druk Gyalpo, in recognition of his efforts to strengthen bilateral ties.

The award was instituted as the decoration for lifetime achievement and is the pinnacle of the honour system in Bhutan, taking precedence over all orders, decorations, and medals.

Since its institution, the award has been conferred upon only four persons, which include Her Majesty Royal Queen Grandmother Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck; His Holiness Je Thrizur Tenzin Dendup (68th Je Khenpo of Bhutan); His Holiness Je Khenpo Trulku Ngawang Jigme Choedra in 2018; and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.

Upon receiving the award from Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, PM Modi underlined that it was an honour bestowed on the people of India and a testament to the excellent state of bilateral ties between the two countries.

Dedicating the award to 140 crore Indians, he said: “As an Indian, it is a big day for me. You have presented me with Bhutan’s highest civilian honour. All awards are special but when they are received from another country, it boosts confidence that both nations are moving in the right direction.”

In another first for any Indian Prime Minister, PM Modi received a private dinner from Bhutan’s King. It was also the first time an Indian Prime Minister was hosted at Lingkana Palace — the residence of Bhutan’s King.

The palace grounds are adjacent to the Tashichho Dzong in the capital city of Thimphu, and it holds importance as King Wangchuk and Queen Jetsun Pema welcomed the birth of their children there.

PM Modi also announced a support of Rs 10,000 crore for the Himalayan nation in the coming five years, and said that India stands firmly with Bhutan in its efforts to achieve self-reliance and become a high-income nation.

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