From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 2- Engage with Nepal without intervening
The article suggests recalibration of India’s approach towards political turmoil in Nepal.
Nepal in political crisis
- For the second time in weeks, Prime Minister K P Oli has persuaded President Bidya Devi Bhandari to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections.
- That is, unless the Supreme Court decides to declare the dissolution of parliament as unconstitutional, as it had done in the recent past.
- The current dissolution has been challenged in the court by five political parties.
Medhesi demand fulfilled
- Prime Minister Oli has also delivered on the longstanding Madhesi demand to reverse a constitutional provision which denied citizenship to children born of Nepali mothers who had foreign husbands.
- The widespread unrest in the Terai adjoining India in 2015 was triggered by this attempt to deny equal rights to the Madhesi population.
- This provision had directly targeted the Madhesi population, which has close kinship and marital ties across the border with India.
- While this provision has now been removed through a presidential ordinance, it could well be reversed in future by Nepali political parties dominated by the higher caste.
Steps India needs to take
- Political uncertainty in a neighbouring country is never good news for India, particularly in Nepal with whom we share a long and open border.
- The Indian government has maintained a studied silence on the current political developments in Nepal and this may be the right thing to do.
- But this silence should not imply the lack of a proper assessment of the political situation in Nepal and what would serve the interests of India best.
- Following are the steps India need to take:
1) India should declare it does not support the revival of monarchy
- The abolition of the monarchy is a net gain for India and the government must firmly and unambiguously declare that it does not support the revival of the monarchy, which has already been rejected by its people.
- India should declare its unconditional support to Nepal’s republican democracy.
2) Remain engaged with Nepal
- India should remain fully engaged with Nepal at all levels and across the political spectrum.
- The safeguarding of India’s vital interests demands such sustained engagement.
- A hands-off policy will only create space for other external influences, some of which, like China, may prove to be hostile.
- However, engagement must dispense with the recurrent tendency to label Nepali political leaders as friends or enemies.
- India should advocate policies rather than persons.
3) Recognise the role of Madhesi population
- In India’s engagement with Nepal, the Terai belt and its large Madhesi population plays a critical and indispensable role.
- In an effort to win over the Kathmandu political and social elite, one should be careful not to neglect citizens living in the plains.
- Our engagement with Nepal must find an important place for Nepali citizens who are our immediate neighbours and act as a kinship, cultural and religious bridge between our two countries.
4) Appreciate people-to-people link
- India needs to appreciate that the people-to-people links between our two countries have an unmatched density and no other country, including China, enjoys this asset.
- The challenge to our Nepal policy lies in leveraging this precious asset to ensure a stable and mutually-productive state-to-state relationship.
- India has every reason to approach its relations with Nepal with confidence and assurance.
Consider the question “What are the factors that make India-Nepal relationship special? What are the recent challenges impacting this special relationship? ”
The safeguarding of India’s vital interests demands India’s engagement with Nepal without intervening in its politics. A hands-off policy will only create space for other external influences.