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Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
In August 2016, Nepal elected its new Prime Minister- Prachanda or Pushpa Kamal Dahal for second time. The PM of Nepal made his first official visit to India unlike last time. His four day visit is seen important in light of recent strains developed between the neighbouring countries.
India- Nepal tensions
The Nepal PM visit is considered very important because there has been a change in government. With the previous government headed by PM Oli, the relationship was much tensed because of blockade and allegations of interference.
Constitution of Nepal was an internal issue and for their own sovereignty. Initially, there was an interim agreement supported by all stakeholders, but in the final draft, the key factors which were wanted by the Madhesi group were left out, which ultimately created problems. However, it has to see from India’s side too. Any intense problem like that, particularly in Terai region, India also gets affected. Terai has an open border, if any tension is there, it spills over in this region and thus India is legitimate in being concerned about the security, law and order, stability aspect. Nepal’s constituent should be inclusive so that all parts of nations are satisfied. New Nepal PM has said that it wants an inclusive government as its government wants now the National Nepal congress, Madhesi party to be partner to government.
India and Nepal have a very conscious and deep desire to overcome the difficulties of the past and to move ahead in a spirit of understanding, mutual accommodation and with realisation that both India and Nepal need each other.
Geographically and historically close
Geographical closeness will always remain and the intensity of relation between India and Nepal is unlike any other two countries. Open border, Gurkha regiment of Indian army, easy work availably on both side of border are key highlights of India-Nepal relationship.
Nepal has not yet fully recovered from devastation of earthquake. It has affected millions of people, more than year and half has passed but there is no rehabilitation at a rate as fast as it should have. The one billion dollar promised by India will be now actually distributed for reconstruction projects. Other issue is agreement on water resources. The HEP plant visit will realised that water resources development is very important for Nepal.
The constitution problems still persists. Two third majority is required to amend it and India is keen on that amendment. The change might happen as it is visible from two factors
There was an agreement when interim constituent was finalised
Only two-three parties got together and went against the interim constitution which created a great deal of misunderstanding and mistrust that came in between various groups in Nepal.
The fact that they were on verge of inclusive constitution, the younger generation of Terai region decided to voice their disagreement.
Younger generation is more impatient and the older generation have realised that if at this point, in this constitution, they don’t get these key provisions- residentship provision, demarcation of various provinces, then in future, the new generation will be devoid of their rights.
For India, the concern is how it spills over in India. There was loss of life, property, trade due to Madhesi blockade. At present, it is encouraging that amongst all the political parties there seems to be a broad consensus with exception of Oli’s party for an inclusive constitution.
The new PM of Nepal made it very clear that he himself was committed to a positive, strong and good relation with India. In first instance, he sent his special envoy as the home minister to India and the deputy PM to China. Next, the Nepal PM came to India with a schedule to meet all the top leadership of Indian government, visit Jhakri HEP in HP and discuss border security.
Change in foreign policy?
Analysts have observed that there seems to be a movement by Nepal to move towards China to find an alternative to their dependence over India during Oli government. China factor will remain. But geographically, India and Nepal have more close relation than Nepal and China due to presence of Himalayas as the international boundary. Nepal may try to have multiple agreements with China and also have close relation with it, but in the end, China, Nepal and India know that the India-Nepal relation is the key for Nepal’s development. Even at the height of blockade, China told that Nepal has to have good relation with India. India and Nepal relation is part of South Asian family whereas China is not a south Asian country. They have to build a brand South Asia identity with stronger India-Nepal relationship.
It is very important that India and Nepal relation stand on their own strength. There are problems between neighbours but how are those problems solved is important. They have to be carried forward, be strong and irreversible in terms of friendship and understanding. They both have to see their respective security interest, economic development, prosperity and work out what they need from each other.
Old promises, new partnerships
It had adverse impact in India when in 2008, Prachanda visited China first. Those in India who cherished comprehensive relationship with Nepal were not happy. The PM’s visit is meant to restore the full confidence once again in positive India Nepal relation.
This was PM’s visit to do the course correction and sort out the problems. So, there have not been many new agreements. The focus is on building what is already been signed. It has been stated very categorically that dynamic and time bound implementation of existing projects is needed. There is a whole plethora of projects between Nepal and India- hydropower, transmission lines, activities connected with earthquake relief etc. So, all these things are being picked up for speedy implementation. Implementation and time bound completion has been emphasised.
PM Modi has mentioned that India has also created a special purpose vehicle for national developments on their borders.
Both the countries want to deliver good for their people. There is a general impression that India says a lot but does not deliver. India has to assure that it values more people to people relation. India has to make an impact on the socio economic profile of the country with which India is very intimately connected and any slide there affect our part of the border and vice versa. For instance, take hydro power- Nepal has perennial shortage of electricity, 16 hour of power cuts and it is sitting on world’s topmost hydro resources. 80000 GW can be produced and these river water projects- mahakali, pancheshwar have been hanging for last 30 years. But in recent years, there has been active engagement on both sides to accentuate engagement there and to speed up work and accomplish the remaining. These projects have impact on people. Their villages and townships will be benefiting from that. So it has vast socio economic impact. Success will be of both countries. So, it is completely mutuality of interests and at the level of country and people.
Connecting the dots:
What has been the basis of strong relationship of India and Nepal in South Asia? Does China’s closeness with Nepal threaten India’s relation and position in Nepal? Examine.