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Bhutan: Development of Centralized Government, 1926-52
Country Study > Chapter 1 > Historical Setting > Development of Centralized Government, 1926-52

DEVELOPMENT OF CENTRALIZED GOVERNMENT, 1926-52


Ugyen Wangchuck died in 1926 and was succeeded by his son, Jigme Wangchuck (reigned 1926-52). The second Druk Gyalpo continued his father's centralization and modernization efforts and built more schools, dispensaries, and roads. During Jigme Wangchuck's reign, monasteries and district governments were increasingly brought under royal control. However, Bhutan generally remained isolated from international affairs.

The issue of Bhutan's status vis-à-vis the government of India (was Bhutan a state of India or did it enjoy internal sovereignty?) was reexamined by London in 1932 as part of the issue of the status of India itself. It was decided to leave the decision to join an Indian federation up to Bhutan when the time came. When British rule over India ended in 1947, so too did Britain's association with Bhutan. India succeeded Britain as the de facto protector of the Himalayan kingdom, and Bhutan retained control over its internal government. It was two years, however, before a formal agreement recognized Bhutan's independence.

Following the precedent set by the Treaty of Punakha, on August 8, 1949, Thimphu signed the Treaty of Friendship Between the Government of India and the Government of Bhutan, according to which external affairs, formerly guided by Britain, were to be guided by India. Like Britain, India agreed not to interfere in Bhutan's internal affairs. India also agreed to increase the annual subsidy to 500,000 rupees per year. Important to Bhutan's national pride was the return of Dewangiri. Some historians believe that if India had been at odds with China at this time, as it was to be a decade later, it might not have acceded so easily to Bhutan's request for independent status.

Data as of September 1991




Last Updated: September 1991


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Bhutan was first published in 1991. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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