As Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) marked its 57th founding day this week, Bhutanese who availed of ITEC’s educational courses recalled their academic sojourn in India highlighting how the benefits continue to prop up their career even today. In a span of decade, 2,862 Bhutanese have benefitted through the ITEC with the majority taking up courses in yoga, health and wellness, leadership development, and IT and English skills. Bhutan is one of the top beneficiaries of the ITEC among countries from all over the world including Asia, Africa and Europe. Development partnership is considered to be the “soul” of India’s foreign policy, and ITEC was created to serve this purpose of training and capacity-building of the partner countries. The focus of the ITEC program is to share India’s technical know-how expertise by offering customised training courses at India’s premier institutions. Thirty six year-old ITEC alumnus Sangay Tshering, now a senior programme officer with the Ministry of Health, said the ITEC course he took up gave him the opportunity to build networks, and interact and build lasting friendship with fellow-students. It helped deepen the bilateral ties between Bhutan and India while the knowledge and experiences gained helped him do his work with confidence. “As we understand various issues in India, we feel immensely confident to work here in the country,” he said. “We discovered India.” Kinley Penjore, a 34-year old IT officer with the Bhutan Development Bank Ltd. (BDBL), attributed his successful career to the ITEC. The exposure to India helped him professionally not to mention the fact that he has friends all over India who are ever ready to help any time. “I am doing great today,” he said. Another alumnus said he was ‘groomed on many topical developments’ besides having been equipped with the skills to take initiatives, recommend solutions and track developments. The ITEC courses are comprehensive – it spans judicial, management, engineering and medicine. The candidates are also attached with the army, air force and navy. When the Covid-19 pandemic shut down international borders and locked the gates of educational institutions, the courses were offered through a digital platform packaged as an e-ITEC programme. ITEC-packaged courses are relevant and tailor-made to suit the changing needs of Bhutan, according to the minister for foreign affairs, Dr Tandi Dorji. “I hope this continues to benefit many other Bhutanese professionals.” The Indian ambassador to Bhutan, Mrs. Ruchira Kamboj, said the study goes beyond education. “ITEC courses serve purposes beyond training and capacity building; it is a wonderful way to forge friendly ties. Networking is a vital tool for activities of professionals in the civil service,” she said. Networking opportunity through the ITEC, she explained, is not just between India and Bhutan; candidates taking the courses of the ITEC package are from Asia, Africa and Europe, among others. The ambassador added that the ITEC courses are available for everyone, and that the courses will always be customised according to the changing needs of Bhutan.
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