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.