India and Bhutan share a unique and strong bilateral relationship – characterized by mutual trust, goodwill and cooperation – which has been continually strengthened through regular high-level exchanges between the two countries. In light of the historically cordial relations Bhutan and India share along with the immense developmental landscape presented by constructs such as the BBIN, SASEC and other key bilateral/multilateral engagements in the region, there is substantial scope for enhancements in strategic areas such as energy trade, transit/logistics/transport, trade of minerals, resource sharing, etc. among many more.

The existing symbiotic relations between both the countries has the potential to further benefit through strategic developments not only in the domain of trade, but also in key areas such as passenger movement, people-to-people connect, education/skill development, tourism, etc. At the heart of such holistic developments would remain a robust border infrastructure enabling seamless connectivity between both the countries. There is immense potential to completely transform the existing landscape through the development of ICPs as well as mirror infrastructure on both sides of the border, which would go a long way in improving trade (bilateral and third country), passenger movement as well as the border economy as a whole.

In this context, this study envisions to create a strategic narrative highlighting the importance of connectivity in fostering socio-economic symbiosis, identifying the potential border points wherein developments may be undertaken, underlining the benefits of such developments to Bhutan as well as India, assessing potential areas for stakeholder engagement/sensitisation and indicating operational streamlining that may be achieved through envisaged reforms.

The study focusses extensively on key areas such as optimisation of border infrastructure, identification of key nodes for cross border connectivity, assessment of India-Bhutan product basket with respect to bilateral trade, demarcation of areas for capacity building, potential interventions to boost bilateral and third country trade, strategic/economic relevance of enhancing connectivity, evidence-based gender-responsive analysis for inclusive development, etc. This exercise – through extensive research and interactions/observations on both sides of the border – aims to create a detailed body of knowledge with respect to border infrastructure augmentation – at select points along the India-Bhutan border – to boost connectivity and cooperation between both the countries.