Neighbor Bhutan Rolls Out the Welcome Mat for India's Prime Minister Modi

Newly sworn-in Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) shakes hands with Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay during a meeting in New Delhi. Image by Amit Kumar. Copyright Demotix (27/5/2014)

Newly sworn-in Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) shakes hands with Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay during a meeting in New Delhi. Image by Amit Kumar. Copyright Demotix (27/5/2014)

Narendra Modi, prime minister of one of the world's largest economies, meet Tshering Tobgay, prime minister of one of the smallest.

Newly elected Modi made his first trip abroad to neighboring Bhutan, arriving on Sunday, June 15, 2014, for a two-day official visit. India is Bhutan’s largest trade partner and provides a hefty amount of development assistance to the mountain nation – about one-third of India's overall annual foreign aid, to be exact. Last year India announced a development assistance package of Indian Rs 4,500 crore (about 750 million US dollars) for the neighboring country's 11th Five Year Plan.

For its part, Bhutan is an important source of energy for India, with India likely to import 10,000 megawatts of electricity from Bhutan by 2020Cooperation between the two countries on hydropower projects has already started.

Bhutan and India traditionally share warm bi-lateral relations. According to reports, Modi's visit is to re-assert Indian influence in the region, offer financial and technical help, and tackle China's growing influence in this region.

Social media played an important role in the elections that saw Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) come to power last month. Post-elections, Modi continues to be a hot topic of discussion online, and his visit to Bhutan – his first foreign visit as prime minister – was no exception. Some saw his trip as a positive step, like Twitter user Kuldeep Sharma:

Others didn't see the logic behind the leader's actions. Journalist Seemi Pasha in New Dehli thought there were other pressing diplomacy matters to deal with first:

Modi was greeted at the airport by Prime Minister of Bhutan Tshering Tobgay, who is quite active on Twitter and was a regular blogger before his election. True to form, Tobgay documented the meeting with Modi:

Modi's Twitter account also provided a peek into the trip:

Bhutan made sure to greet Modi with a warm welcome. Bhutanese blogger Yeshey Dorji posted some photos on his blog showing how the capital Thimphu was decorated and spruced up:

As I walk along the road to observe the preparations, I am convinced that PM Modi will be satisfied that the Bhutanese people worked very hard to make him feel loved and welcome in a country that believes that his visit marks the second stage in Indo-Bhutan relations.

Engineer and blogger in Pune, India, @tokyanachu sarcastically took note of the effort:

Blogger Peldhen Nima wrote that media reports were speculating that the Indian prime minister, who arrived in Bhutan to sunshine and wind, was bringing billions of rupees with him to aid Bhutan. Details of the funding aside, Nima was grateful to Modi for something quite different. “Now its lots of rain here. Good for the wilting paddy plants. Thank you Modi ji for bringing in lots of rain,” he wrote.

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