Foreign Policy Watch: India-Nepal

[op-ed snap] A new beginning with Nepalop-ed snap


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Complement this newscard with [op-ed snap] The Nepal reset.


Realization of a new beginning

  1. Nepali PM has realised that his campaign rhetoric of Nepali nationalism with overt shades of anti-Indianism is needed to be modified,
  2. and by observing the tradition of visiting Delhi, he was signalling the shift
    (It is a long-standing tradition that Nepali Prime Ministers make Delhi the first foreign port of call after taking over)
  3. In India too, there has been a growing realisation that time had come to make a new beginning with Nepal

Some crucial issues

  1. India’s openly stated reservations on the new constitution in support of the Madhesi cause
  2. and the economic disruptions caused by the undeclared blockade had fuelled anti-Indianism
  3. This anti-Indianism was cleverly exploited by Mr. Oli and he made significant electoral gains
    There are many other difficult issues which are needed to be addressed, including
    (1) review of the contentious 1950 Treaty,
    (2) recruitment of Nepali nationals in the Gurkha regiments of the Indian Army,
    (3) resolving the fallout of the 2016 demonetisation exercise which has left the Nepal Rastra Bank holding a stock of Indian currency,
    (4) long-pending hydel projects like Pancheshwar,
    (5) resumption of the SAARC summit process which remains stalled since 2016 after Jaish-e-Mohammed militants attacked the Army base in Uri, etc.

Slow pace of project implementation 

  1. For decades, India has been Nepal’s most significant development partner
  2. Yet the pace of project implementation has been slow, leading to significant time and cost over-runs
  3. To be fair, both India and Nepal share the responsibility for this and political instability in Nepal hardly helped
  4. For example, the idea of four Integrated Check Posts (ICP) on the India-Nepal border to facilitate movement of goods, vehicles and people was mooted 15 years ago and an MOU signed in 2005
  5. While preparation of surveys and project reports moved slowly on the Indian side, acquisition of land by the Nepali authorities got held up leading to delayed construction
  6. As a result, only the Raxaul-Birgunj ICP has been completed and was inaugurated last week
  7. During this time, the cost of the project went up fourfold
  8. Another example is, Motihari-Amlekhgunj cross-border petroleum products pipeline, a project for which the MOU between the two governments was signed in 2004
  9. It took another three years for the Indian Oil Corporation and the Nepal Oil Corporation to sign the follow-up MOU, eight years to convert it into an agreement and three more to begin the works

The way foreward

  1. What is now needed is effective delivery on the pending projects so that connectivity is enhanced and the idea of ‘inclusive development and prosperity’ assumes reality

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