Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that India stood solidly with its neighbour Bhutan amid the coronavirus crisis and added that meeting the country’s requirements would be India’s top priority, PTI reported.
Modi made the remark at the virtual launch of the second phase of card payment service RuPay.
Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, meanwhile, praised Modi’s leadership in handling the crisis in India, ANI reported. “I’m sure India will come out much stronger from the pandemic,” he said. “The lead that India is taking in developing vaccines is source of hope for all of us.”
Tshering also thanked Modi for promising to provide a vaccine to Bhutan, whenever it would be ready for use.
Modi, while elaborating on the card payment scheme, said that there had already been 11,000 successful RuPay transactions in Bhutan. “Had COVID not happened, this number would’ve been much higher,” Modi said.
The prime minister added: “From today [Friday], RuPay cards issued by the Bhutan National Bank can be used at ATMs for Rs 1 lakh and for Rs 20 lakh at point-of-sale terminals. This would make tourism, shopping and other transactions easier for Bhutanese tourists in India.”
Modi also spoke about India and Bhutan’s new space agreement. “Recently, India and Bhutan signed a framework for Peaceful Usage of Outer Space,” he said. “This will help institutions in both countries and improve cooperation. India has recently opened its space sector for private enterprises. This will promote capacity, innovation and skills.”
Bhutan has registered only 378 coronavirus cases so far, according to the Johns Hopkins University. The country has reported no deaths. India, on the other hand, is the world’s second worst-affected country with over 90 lakh cases and 1,32,162 deaths.
Modi has repeatedly said that India was looking at the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity to help other countries. In his keynote address at a session of the United Nations Economic and Social Council on July 17, Modi had said that India was providing medical assistance to 150 nations.