Despite the long and substantial involvement of India in Bhutan's economic, educational, and military affairs, and India's advisory role in foreign affairs embodied in the August 8, 1949, Treaty of Friendship Between the Government of India and the Government of Bhutan, Thimphu's autonomy has been fully respected by New Delhi. Bhutan's geographic isolation, its distinctive Buddhist culture, and its deliberate restriction on the number and kind of foreigners admitted have helped to protect its separate identity. Furthermore, Bhutan's relationship with China, unlike Nepal's, has not become an issue in relations with India. Bhutanese subjects have the same access to economic and educational opportunities as Indian citizens, and Indian citizens have the right to carry on trade in Bhutan, with some restrictions that protect Bhutanese industries. India also provides Bhutan with developmental assistance and cooperation in infrastructure, telecommunications, industry, energy, medicine, and animal husbandry. Since joining the UN in 1971, Bhutan has increasingly established its international status in a concerted effort to avoid the fate of Sikkim's absorption into India following the reduction of Sikkim's indigenous people to minority status.
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