Aboard an Indian Air Force transport aircraft, the 34-year old Maharaja of Bhutan arrived in New Delhi Feb 8 to begin a three-week State visit to India.
Aboard an Indian Air Force transport aircraft, the 34-year old Maharaja of Bhutan arrived in New Delhi Feb 8 to begin a three-week State visit to India. After greetings by Premier Nehru, the young ruler inspected a combined forces guard of honour. He expressed his delight at seeing Bhutanese and Indian flags flying alongside each other for the first time.
The following day, he laid a wreath at Mahatma Gandhi's shrine, and visited President Prasad at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, where the two man exchange gifts.
Accompanied by his Prime Minister, Jigme Dorji, the Maharaja of Bhutan - Druk Gyalpo (King of the Dragon People) Namgyal Wang chuk - is expected to discuss recent Chinese overtures to the small Himalayan kingdom. Although India is responsible for Bhutan's external affairs and defence, China is believed to have tried to seek direct negotiations with Bhutan over her claims to Bhutanese territories.
Completely closed for foreigners for centuries, Bhutan is one of the most isolated countries in the world, and its way of life is still very similar to that of the Middle Ages. Shielded from the modern world by stark, wind-lashed and often snow bounds slopes 18,000-feet above sea level, Bhutan has only recently abolished slavery, and barter economy is gradually being replaced by a coinage system. Much of this reform is due to the young Maharaja, but modern ideas are filtering into the country over a new system of roads being built by Indian engineers.