India has been a major seat of learning for thousands of years. The country was home to both Takshashila - the first university in the world, and to the inventor of the digit 0 - Aryabhaṭta. India has been the home to many scholars who have made India a progressive country and also one of the global leaders in offering world class education.
Today, India is known as a communication hub, and has become popular with international students from all over the world. Students of Nepal and Bhutan are now keen to pursue higher studies in India over other countries because of its proximity and affordability — the Bhutanese currency 'ngultrum' is equivalent to the Indian rupee. Bhutanese students feel at home as many associations organize events for them to mingle and get to fellow Bhutanese folks.
Bhutanese National Day is celebrated with great enthusiasm on the December 17, and students turn up in their national costumes, 'gho' for men and 'kira' for women, and sing their national anthem in the national language — dzongkha — besides electing new council members. Other than this, they also celebrate the freshers' welcome and farewell party for the outgoing students, along with their king's birthday on November 11, the Bhutanese New Year, 'Losar', in February and the 'Blessed Rainy Day' in September. To promote interaction among students, scholars, academicians from SAARC countries, the Government of India has introduced the SAARC Fellowship and Scholarship Scheme. Six fellowships and twelve scholarships are offered annually to the nationals of member countries viz. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Therefore, one fellowship and two scholarships are offered to nationals of each member country.
The Government of India (GoI) also provides several scholarships each year at the undergraduate level to deserving Bhutanese students in different professional streams such as MBBS, Engineering, LLB, B.Sc (Nursing), B.Sc (Agriculture), BDS etc.
All expenses such as tuition fees, book allowance, traveling allowance, medical fees and living allowance incurred under this Scheme are borne by Government of India. The Scholarship is awarded by Government of India on the advice of Department of Adult and Higher Education (DAHE), Ministry of Education, RGoB, based on the merit ranking of the student in Class XII. DAHE is the nodal agency for the nomination of students for this scheme. Under the 11th Five Year Plan of Bhutan every year 90 Bhutanese students are nominated and placed in reputed academic institutions in India for undertaking undergraduate courses. In the current academic year (2015-16) 90 Bhutanese students have already been selected under this scheme and most of them are in the process of settling down in institutions in India.