Add news
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010June 2010July 2010
August 2010
September 2010October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011March 2011April 2011May 2011June 2011July 2011August 2011September 2011October 2011November 2011December 2011January 2012February 2012March 2012April 2012May 2012June 2012July 2012August 2012September 2012October 2012November 2012December 2012January 2013February 2013March 2013April 2013May 2013June 2013July 2013August 2013September 2013October 2013November 2013December 2013January 2014February 2014March 2014April 2014May 2014June 2014July 2014August 2014September 2014October 2014November 2014December 2014January 2015February 2015March 2015April 2015May 2015June 2015July 2015August 2015September 2015October 2015November 2015December 2015January 2016February 2016March 2016April 2016May 2016June 2016July 2016August 2016September 2016October 2016November 2016December 2016January 2017February 2017March 2017April 2017May 2017June 2017July 2017August 2017September 2017October 2017November 2017December 2017January 2018February 2018March 2018April 2018May 2018June 2018July 2018August 2018September 2018October 2018November 2018December 2018January 2019February 2019March 2019April 2019May 2019June 2019July 2019August 2019September 2019October 2019November 2019December 2019January 2020February 2020March 2020April 2020May 2020June 2020July 2020August 2020September 2020October 2020November 2020
News Every Day |

Nepal-India Relations: A View From Kathmandu – Analysis

flags nepal and india

By Yubaraj Ghimire*

A somewhat long meeting between Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Oli and Secretary of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), Samant Goel, on 21 October 2020 continues to trigger a debate in Nepal’s political circles about openness—or lack thereof—in Nepal-India relations.

Oli, who hosted the meeting, has been criticised—even by his own party—of not only breach of protocol and diplomatic norms, but also for meeting with the intelligence chief rather than a diplomat or senior political leader at a time when Nepal-India relations are their lowest ebb. This comes after New Delhi and Kathmandu published new political maps, with both sides including the 370 sq km area of Kalapani, Lipulekh, and Limpiyadhura in their respective versions.

Oli clarified that he met Goel not in his capacity as Secretary (R), but as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s special emissary. The territorial dispute has soured bilateral relations which have suffered an intermittent dose of irritants: India only ‘noting’ but not recognising Nepal’s new constitution promulgated in September 2015, and the border blockade that created enormous shortages and hardship for the Nepali public for nearly five months.

Nepal’s journey to radical politics and a prolonged transition began in 2005-06 when the Maoists—the ultra-left force that had been leading the insurgency against the state for a decade at the time—and seven major left, democratic, and regional (Terai or plain-centric) political parties were brought together under India’s mediatory role. The goals charted by the deal reached in New Delhi in November 2005, commonly known as the 12-point agreement, were the end of absolute monarchy, consolidation of peace and democracy, and economic prosperity. In April 2006, in his last declaration as the Monarch, Gyanendra Shah said that Nepal would have a new constitution written by an elected Constituent Assembly. Shah was put under suspension soon after and the monarchy abolished in May 2008.

The constitution declared Nepal a federal democratic republic and a secular state. It is however contested by a huge, although unorganised, opposition of dissenters, not just for its vagueness about many crucial issues such as centre-state relations, but also the way in which the only Hindu kingdom in the world was declared a secular republic without involving the people directly, or through a referendum. In October 2020, the government secretly issued a circular that the country will henceforth be identified only as ‘Nepal’, without using the terms ‘secular’, ‘federal’, and ‘republic’ in both internal and external communications. 

This indicates major problems within Nepal’s domestic politics, which have manifested in the brewing dissent against KP Oli’s government that secured a nearly two-third majority in parliament less than three years ago. Nepal is nowhere near achieving economic prosperity, consolidated peace, democracy, and political stability as envisaged by the 12-point agreement. There are also signs of visible distrust and uncertainty in its relationships with India and China, its immediate neighbours, and the world outside. The distrust between Nepal and India is mutual, and it puts both sides’ diplomacy to the test. Will the future relationship conform to the rhetoric often parroted by both, which is of Nepal and India’s common civilisational, cultural, and historical links leading to a shared destiny?

The heat and dust raised by Goel’s visit to Nepal must thus be understood in context. Former Secretary (R) PKH Tharakan played a crucial role in bringing Nepal’s eight parties to agree on a common agenda 15 years ago, in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Why then has his successor’s visit raised such doubt and resentment in Nepal? The answer is China. Between the radical changes ushered in 2006 and now, China has emerged as the most influential actor not only in Nepal’s investment and development sectors, but also as a key factor in Nepal’s internal politics, thus displacing India.

India’s mediation for change in Nepal, and its successful lobbying of endorsement by major Western powers, mainly the US and the European Union (EU), was seen as a matter of strategic concern by China. A suspicious China began making deep inroads into Nepal and magnifying investment manifold, across a range of crucial sectors: hydro energy, trade and investment, post-earthquake reconstruction, and tourism. It has been the biggest FDI contributor in Nepal for four years in a row. 

China also exploits India’s perceived negative image in Nepal as an external force that ‘interferes too much in internal politics’, and a development partner that has a record of poor delivery compared to pledges. Further, there is still skepticism about international motivations since the monarchy, a party to the conflict, was kept out of the peace accord signed in November 2006.

General MM Naravane, India’s Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), visited Nepal less than a month after Goel. The next visit is scheduled to be by  Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Sringla. However, whether these engagements will re-initiate a culture of dialogue and be effective in resolving bilateral tensions amicably and to mutual benefit remains to be seen. India must realise that the management of internal politics is Nepal’s own sovereign business—but certainly with the commitment that it will not allow its territory to be used in detriment to India’s core or vital interests.

*Yubaraj Ghimire is editor, Deshsanchar.

The article Nepal-India Relations: A View From Kathmandu – Analysis appeared first on Eurasia Review.

Read also

Marco Rubio Is No Fan Of Joe Biden’s Foreign Policy Team

Doctors and nurses to get a pay rise, Rishi Sunak announces

For AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine, less may be more more—and that’s puzzling researchers

News, articles, comments, with a minute-by-minute update, now on — latest news 24/7. You can add your news instantly now — here