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Is Nepal Hurting Itself? – OpEd

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In recent months there have been number of irksome developments in India Nepal relationships, which has caused considerable concern amongs citizens both in India and Nepal. Many of them really do not understand as to what could be the basic reason for such souring relationship between both the countries.

The recent cancellation of Nepal President’s state visit to India, which was followed by recall of Nepal’s ambassador from India, is certainly a new low in the relationship between these two neighbors, who have much in common between themselves.

In the last decade or so, Nepal has undergone considerable stress and faced constitutional crisis, which resulted in abolition of monarchy and evolving of multi party democracy under federal republic. In such developments, India had no role and India was not really in a position to influence the events in Nepal in any significant way, in the emotionally charged scenario that prevailed in Nepal in the past. With democratic rule coming into practice, it appears the politicians in the government in Nepal may have different perspectives and change of priorities.

The prolonged Madhesi agitation which brought life to complete standstill in Nepal recently created some tension between India and Nepal. Nepal suspected and blamed India for what it called as” the support extended to Madhesis by India by imposing official blockade”. India denied such accusation but the tension persisted.

In the light of such developments, it appears that Nepal has been going extra mile to strengthen it’s relationship with China in recent time and has signed several agreements with China on bilateral cooperation and execution of the projects in Nepal.

Obviously, the present leadership of the government in Nepal appears to think that China would be a better bet for Nepal than India.

It was widely thought that after Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India, the relationship between both the countries will undergo a sea change for the better. Prime Minister Modi visited Nepal twice in 2014 with the declared objective of strengthening the relationship in variety of ways. Modi government has taken some significant steps such as stepping up power supply to Nepal and also signing agreements for setting up 900 MW power project in Nepal. In 2016, three new transit points were added including Visakhapatnam port to help Nepal in stepping up it’s trade. India also extended line of credit to Nepal worth 1.3 billion US dollar. But, such gestures appear to be of no avail.

Nepal appears to be doing a grave mistake by showing hostility to India which will do harm to Nepal in the long run. The traditional practices and way of life of people in Nepal are closely similar to the practices in India and both the countries cannot afford to do away with such close historical relationships.

Certainly, as an independent and sovereign country, Nepal is entitled to have it’s own choice of relationship with other countries. But, at the same time, there has to be an element of pragmatism based on ground realities and enlightened self interest. Nepal should not evolve it’s foreign policy due to the prejudice of some people in charge of the government at present, who may be there today but may not be there tomorrow. Of course, this is applicable to those in charge of Indian government also who should not allow personal prejudices to come in the way.

It is important that public opinion in India and Nepal should be molded by good Samaritans in both the countries , who should try to create a conciliatory atmosphere where good relationships can be sustained that would prevent the short sighted politicians in having their way.

Nepal continues to remain as one of the economically poorest countries in the world and it has to go a long way in catching up with the rest of the world. It needs support from other countries particularly from neighbors. What it needs is peaceful and amicable relationship with all it’s neighbors and it should seek to exploit the opportunities for it’s benefits in an enlightened way.

It is high time that the leadership of Nepal government should have a honest and frank dialogue with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who certainly knows that good relationship with Nepal is in India’s short term and long term interests.

It needs two hands to clap and the government of India and Nepal should have the wisdom to remove the irksome factors and move on.

The government of Nepal should be careful not to hurt itself by thinking that it should move closer to China and away from India, which is unwise and will make it vulnerable.


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N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

6 thoughts on “Is Nepal Hurting Itself? – OpEd

  • May 18, 2016 at 1:00 pm
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    Excellant. I fully endorse your views

    Reply
  • May 18, 2016 at 1:58 pm
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    We in India have to realise that times have changed and these small states on our NE fringes are in. Bargaining mood. For Nepal as well as for Bhutan China is as much in close neighbourhood as India and we have to compete with China to prove that we are greater and safer do gooders foe them compared to China. We aren’t moving in that direction and simply banking on the British era treaties. During British era China wasnt a factor and the empire held monopolistic sway over this region. That is no longer possible.
    Narendra Modi’s visits to Nepal were counter productive as each time he left the negative impact due to his big brotherly pronouncements. Our approach has to change to suit the changed geopolitical realities and power equations.

    Reply
  • May 18, 2016 at 3:14 pm
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    Well argued and timely article.Both countries,in their own interest need to appreciate the importance of maintaining centuries of relationship.But initiative must come from India.

    Reply
  • May 19, 2016 at 2:10 am
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    PM Modi also cancelled visit to Lumbini. It is simplistic view, India has always influenced Nepal, only it was done diplomatically and discreetly. To make public statements that resulted in Nepal complaining to UN, and the Secretary General upholding the rights of Nepal for transit, Openly blaming the Napalese for not coming to settlement and thus precipitating the blockade. Exhorting Nepal in a joint statement with EU, the result was Nepal accused India for uncalled for statements and that Nepalese were fully capable of resolving the issues themselves.
    It has put Nepal’s backup so to say.

    Reply
  • May 19, 2016 at 4:33 pm
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    Well written article. It is very relavant and timely.
    ‘Give and take policy’ will work! India should not stand on outdated policies and treaties but sincerely recognise the present needs of this small nation and offer a helping hand .
    In short,India should treat Nepal the way it expects to be respected and treated in its dealings with the U.S.A. and the other Western Countries!

    Reply
  • May 20, 2016 at 6:19 am
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    This requires delicate handling.A lot depends upon our Mission in Nepal too.However,the Napalese should realise that the balance of advantage for them lies in closer relations with India.

    Reply

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