[op-ed] Rebooting India-Nepal ties

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Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

Once you are done reading this op-ed, you will be able to attempt the below.

Discuss how India’s interventions led to a trust-deficit in India-Nepal relations? What should be India’s priorities in rebuilding it?

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: India-Nepal relations


News

Context

  1. Indian interventionism in Nepal having backfired, the Nepal PM’s visit is an opportunity to raise the level of bilateral ties
  2. India’s interest to secure its own neighbourhood, and that can only be through letting national politics and governance of the smaller neighbours evolve without interference.

India’s Nepal policy – What went wrong?

  1. India played a valued role in ending the Maoist insurgency in 2006, but the period thereafter was marked by escalating micro-meddling in Nepal’s internal affairs.
  2. In Constitution-writing, there were attempts to define the new provincial boundaries according to Indian dictates
  3. The presence of India’s heavy hand contributed to the distortion of consensual governance needed in transitional times.
  4. India ‘noted’ rather than welcomed the Constitution.
  5. A society trying to emerge from the April 2015 Great Earthquake was slapped with the punitive Great Blockade
  6. While keeping silent for years on Nepal’s post-conflict transitional justice process, in 2015 India’s representative in Geneva cynically utilised the forum of the Human Rights Council to influence government change in Kathmandu.
  7. Indian interlocutors pushed the Nepali Congress to renege on its promise to continue in coalition with the mainstream left Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist)
  8. Indian strategists are seeking ways to get Kathmandu to allow the construction of high dams and deep reservoirs on Nepal’s rivers — for flood control, navigation, urban use and irrigation in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
  9. New Delhi made deep inroads into Nepal’s political class, but none did it use more than the Madhesbaadi parties
  10. The Great Blockade, forced the Kathmandu to reach out to Beijing and sign a slew of trade, transit and infrastructural agreements with it.
  11. Nepal is today better connected by air to Chinese cities than to India.

Pending matters

Nepal and India have to concentrate on the numerous matters that need concentration and resolution

  1. Open border -While it is Nepal’s Left that has traditionally demanded restrictions on the border, the call now rises from the Indian security establishment.
  2. Massive floods in Nepal plains have also affected downstream areas across the border. A permanent bilateral mechanism is required to save the plains population of Nepal from suffering
    • The Kosi Barrage and attendant embankments have the possibility of wreaking havoc because siltation of six decades has raised the riverbed within the levees far above the outlying tracts
    • The easy answer for the Indian politician is to demand a high dam in the hills of Nepal even as alternatives are not studied, such as redistribution of waters into various older channels of the Kosi in Bihar.
  3. The rights of migrant Indian labour in Nepal and Nepali labour in India is a topic that rarely comes up
  4. Border disputes pending between the two countries — at Susta, Kalapani and the ‘tri-junction’ of Lipulekh
  5. Nepal has planned to sell electricity to India once it has a hydropower surplus.
    • But Indian government directive that it will not allow import of electricity other than from power companies with more than 51% Indian equity.
  6. Neglect by the Kathmandu intelligentsia, such as regarding the impact of demonetisation and the application of Goods and Services Tax on Nepal’s economy and citizenry.
  7. The arbitrary blockages and go-slow at Indian Customs at border points, the selective use of quarantine for the export of Nepali agricultural produce, the increasing high-handedness of the Sashastra Seema Bal in dealing with Nepalis crossing over

 

Foreign Policy Watch: India-SAARC Nations
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