Indo-Nepal Bilateral Relations
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TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Indiaand its neighbourhood- relations.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving Indiaand/or affecting India’s interests
In news: Recently, PM of Nepal visited India when both the nations are not sharing best of times together. The visit took place at sensitive time both in context of Nepal’s internal development and in context of India-Nepal relations.
Nepal’s constitution building process
Nepal shall be completing its constitution writing process soon. It will have now provinces as it is going to be a federation. Nepal’s constitution has been a long and difficult process. The previous constituent assembly could not complete its task and was dissolved.
In the meantime, India was trying to advice Nepal that all sections of Nepal were carried along and constitution was as inclusive as possible. However this advice was somewhat misunderstood and there was agitation by madhesis on border with India which Nepal thought was instigated by India. This led to serious misunderstandings between nations.
The two countries are facing bilateral challenges. It has a lot to do with perceptions about each other. And that sometimes reflect reality also.
In India, there is widespread perception that Nepal is not sensitive enough to India’s legitimate security concerns, it is getting too close to china disregarding the fact that India-china relations are not good. In Nepal, the perception is that India is sometimes behaving with a big brother attitude. So, both sides have perceptions which are accumulation of previous grievances and irritants not solved.
India and its neighbors
The India-china-Nepal set of interactions has been going on for decades. Nepal’s attitude shows that it is overwhelmed by India’s cultural influence, economic and political influence. So it all the time tries to over assert its national identity and geopolitical location.
In the meantime, china has gained enormous self confidence with its economic prosperity. It is now second most important economy in world and soon will be first. It considers itself to be a part of global order and its involvement with everything.
China and Nepal are getting closer. Nepal has joined OBOR which India has refused to endorse. Because of such India always tries to ensure that Nepal would not play the china card in such a way that Indian sensitivities and security would be ignored and undermined. Yet Nepal seems to be playing along with china’s game partly because of psychological resistance to its dependence on India and partly due to mismanagement of relations. That’s why, earlier, anti-Indianism restricted to small population in Nepal has now spread to more areas.
So, its not just Nepal, but all around India, china is increasing its profile- Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Maldives.
The government has pushed forward the neighbourhood first policy. There has been approach by government that neighbourhood is the priority. Thus it should extend cooperation and better relation with all neighbours.
India has to accept that fact that no matter what it does to support the neighbours in fulfillment of aspirations and hopes for development, India should not expect gratitude in return. India should just do its bit of managing relations with each country so that there is no sense of Indian interference and they have their sovereign space.
India has to adjust its style of diplomacy so that the small neighbours feel at ease and much more comfortable. For example, with Nepal, the government is doing as much as possible. But people to people relation is important. If they are nurtured properly, the people will ensure the governments are also not anti-India. The past experiences have showed that better relations with people have played crucial role in correcting any disturbances in official level relationship.
So, India has to reimagine a complete different relation with Nepal as the new Nepal is no longer a monarchy. Now it will be a federation. With Nepal now a federation, India can deal with local governments, provinces, sister city relation, build institutions at local level. Greater decentralization should be there.
Countries like Bhutan and Nepal will worry about china and not India has they have seen the kind of problems china can cause. But china will try to influence these countries to be positively inclined towards it. It will try to instigate problems regards to India’s border issues with countries like Nepal. Thus, it has to be realized by them that China will never be a true friend of Nepal or in terms of Nepal’s dependence on any other country. India cannot be replaced by china when it comes to countries like Nepal or Bhutan.
Connecting the dots:
- India and Nepal are seeing growing issues between them for sometime now. Discuss by suggesting appropriate solutions to solve them.