[op-ed snap] Freedom from being ‘India-locked’: on Nepal-India relations


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: India’s dwindling relationship with Nepal post the 2015 blockade and ways to rejuvenate it


Nepal Prime Minister’s China Trip

  1. The visit had much significance as Mr. Oli had made his first visit as Prime Minister to China in March 2016, as Nepal was just recovering from the Indian blockade that had paralyzed lives
  2. The visit was hailed as a great success

Anti-India sentiments in Nepal

  1. Whipping up anti-India sentiments as Nepali nationalism has been common since the Shah Kings and Rana rulers
  2. The blockade of 2015 was different in nature
  3. Nepalis, who had been hit by a major earthquake in April 2015, were still recovering and India started a blockade, due to its reservations about the constitution Nepal was adopting
  4. An entire generation of young Nepalis, who were already alienated from India due to the opening of newer education destinations, saw the blockade as a move against a neighbour which had not got its act right

Problem with Nepal

  1. Nepal has historically remained ‘India-locked’, rather than being termed landlocked, as it is dependent on India for transit to the seas
  2. Being landlocked is not much of an issue as one can get sea-locked, like the Maldives, but to be completely dependent on a single country for transit rights now became an issue to resolve

India’s problem only increasing with the blockade

  1. During his visit to China in 2016, Mr. Oli, for the first time, managed to push the agenda of a trade and transit agreement with China on the lines with special agreements with India
  2. With Southeast Asia well covered and inroads made in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, for China, Nepal is the obvious next country for engagement
  3. With India opting out of the BRI, Nepal continues to remain the best conduit for Indian markets for China
  4. Nepal will be connected with China through a railway network in addition to roads
  5. Rail and road networks will provide Nepal an alternative for petroleum products that continue to remain the highest imported product

What can India do?

  1. Nepal is a place of opportunity for people from the border towns of India
  2. The perspective has to change in New Delhi to factor in Nepal’s concerns on the open border
  3. It is time for India to be proactive and redefine its engagement rather than continue to be reactive
  4. The way India has been flexible with the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) meetings is a good signal

Way forward

  1. The onus is on India to rethink on a long-term basis how to recalibrate its relationship with Nepal
  2. India needs to continue to understand that there is another opportunity to rewrite bilateral and geopolitical history. It should not be squandered
  3. India needs to also realize the new reality that its monopoly over geopolitics in Nepal is over, and there is another relationship that Nepal is nurturing
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Nepal
  • Subscribe

    Do not miss important study material

Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
Notify of