This initiative is in line with the National Medical Council and NEET guidelines
In a significant development aimed at enhancing educational cooperation between India and Bhutan, the Assam government has announced the reservation of three additional MBBS seats exclusively for Bhutanese students in the state's medical colleges. This decision elevates the total reserved seats for Bhutanese nationals to five, reinforcing the strong educational and cultural ties between the two neighboring countries.

The newly reserved seats will be allocated at the Nalbari Medical College Hospital and the Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College and Hospital in Barpeta. This move follows the directive issued during the state visit of His Majesty the King of Bhutan to India in November 2023, where the Government of India pledged to enhance educational support to Bhutanese students.

According to a press release issued by the Embassy of India in Thimphu on Tuesday (April.30, 2024), this initiative is in line with the National Medical Council and NEET guidelines. The Royal Civil Service Commission of Bhutan, in coordination with the Embassy of India in Thimphu, will be responsible for shortlisting eligible candidates. 

"This initiative is reflective of the strong India-Bhutan collaboration in the field of STEM education and skills development," stated a press release from the embassy.

India and Bhutan share a robust partnership in various sectors, particularly in education and culture. Currently, the Government of India offers over 1,000 scholarships annually to Bhutanese students under various schemes. These scholarships support studies in a wide range of disciplines, including medicine and engineering.

Significantly, about 4,000 Bhutanese students are enrolled in undergraduate courses in Indian universities on a self-financed basis. The Nehru Wangchuck Scholarship Scheme, since its inception in 2010, has provided eight slots annually for Bhutanese students and scholars. In addition, 25 slots are offered every year under the ICCR Scholarship program, and the Ambassador’s Scholarship supports deserving Bhutanese students studying in India.

In a notable expansion of support, the outlay under the Ambassador’s Scholarship has been doubled since 2023, reflecting the growing importance of educational exchanges in the bilateral relationship. Furthermore, the introduction of three new scholarships for Bhutanese youth to pursue M.Tech. courses at IIT Kanpur highlights the focus on advanced technical education.

The India-Bhutan Foundation, established in August 2003, plays a crucial role in fostering people-to-people exchanges through a variety of cultural, educational, and scientific activities. 

The increase in MBBS seats for Bhutanese students in Assam is more than a gesture of goodwill; it is a strategic enhancement of the long-standing relationship between India and Bhutan. By investing in the education of Bhutanese students, India reaffirms its role as a supportive neighbor and key contributor to regional development in education and beyond. This initiative not only benefits the students but also strengthens the fabric of India-Bhutan relations, setting a precedent for future collaborations in higher education and professional training.