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ANNOUNCEMENT

The 9th A.K Dave Memorial Lecture

Date & Time: August 31, 2019 (Saturday)
Assembly/Tea : 10:00 am - 10:30 am
Lecture & Q/A : 10:30 am - 12:45 pm




Topic: India-China Bilateral Relations: Developing Trends


Venue : Conference Room No. 2
India International Centre, New Delhi



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B.S. Das – The Forerunner

- Tandin Dorji

‘Agreeing to a transfer to Thimphu from the High Commission Office of India in London in 1968 was a big sacrifice. It was a time when even basic amenities were scarce in Bhutan.

It had become urgent for India to strengthen the Indo-Bhutanese relationship after the 1962 Sino-Indian war debacle. The responsibility entrusted to B.S. Das was immense that he describes it as a “challenge I could have never had the opportunity to face anywhere else.”

He arrived in Thimphu as the Special Officer on January 22, 1968. Thus, the first ever diplomatic mission in Bhutan was established in a four-room mud-house that served as an office and residence for the whole team.

During his initial months, IMTRAT and DANTAK, the Indian agencies that were already in Bhutan before the mission considered him as an Officer on Special Duty and put them above him.

They were unwilling to give in as doing so meant losing some of the powers that they had been enjoying. However, he successfully tackled the problem and established his position as the Head of the Mission.

A stride toward building Indo-Bhutanese relationship was his involvement in the organization of State visits by the leaders of the two countries.

He accompanied King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck to Delhi in February 1968 and organized the visits of Deputy Prime Minster Morarji Desai in March1968 and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in May the same year to Bhutan.

His relation with the King was more than formal. He was one of the few peoples with whom the King discussed matters like reforming the election procedures to the then National Assembly and the vote of no confidence against the King.

Towards the end of 1969, a new class of Bhutanese who were educated abroad through Colombo Plan Scholarship returned with new concepts and ideas. However, Bhutan still did not have any organized form of civil or diplomatic service capable enough to handle the new assignments that came along with development and progress. Thus, as the Head of the India Mission, B.S. Das was instrumental in training and establishing a sound Foreign Service mechanism for Bhutan.

In July, 1971 the Mission became an Embassy and B.S. Das presented his credentials as the first Ambassador of India to Bhutan.

B.S. Das was not only a veteran diplomat but also a fine scholar. He was associated with several Institutes of Asian and Chinese Studies in India and was a Visiting Professor at the School of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

B.S. Das stayed in Bhutan from 1968 to 1972 playing instrumental role in the formative years of modern Bhutan. In his book Mission to Bhutan – A Nation in Transition, he wrote: “My mission was one of discovery… There were no diplomatic niceties or protocol… Each situation required its own solutions which both sides evolved. This trust was my only success.”

 
 
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