Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Not much
Mains level: The complex issues present in the Indo-Nepal relationship.
- The Indian PM is visiting Nepal from 11-12 May
- The back-and-forth visits(of both PMs) indicate that India and Nepal are working towards scaling up their bilateral relationship
What explains the frequent meetings between the premiers of the two countries?
- There seems to be a growing recognition in India as well as in Nepal that deterioration in relations between the two countries, with close socio-economic-cultural relations, is not desirable
- There is a strong opinion that India is reaching out to Kathmandu because of China’s growing presence in Nepal
Complexities of the relationship
- Given Nepal’s power asymmetry with India and China, it should be no surprise that it seeks to swing between the two nations to maintain autonomy
- However, from an Indian perspective, it appears that New Delhi has been at the receiving end of considerable animosity
- On the other hand, there is a strong opinion in some segments in Nepal on cultivating a robust relationship with China in response to alleged Indian interference in domestic politics
Railway line project
- A railway line to Kathmandu from India was recently announced
- Once operationalized, it will significantly enhance the already rich people-to-people interactions
- Now, if the Chinese build a railway line to Kathmandu and Indians deliver on their own promise, then it would become a de facto trilateral project
- Given the growing trade deficit, the prospect of granting direct and greater market access to China without any reciprocal gestures will raise concerns in India
China and Nepal relationship: The issues
- While China does not have people-to-people interactions on a par with India, it has a long history of deploying overseas assistance to Nepal
- The Chinese connectivity projects need to overcome two significant limitations
- First, their economic viability is contingent on their ability to access the Indian market
- Second, they will have to traverse the Terai region, which enjoys a close socio-cultural relationship with India
Will India and China also collaborate to build connectivity projects in Nepal?
- It is doubtful at the moment
- In addition to traversing the Himalayas, such collaboration would also have to overcome a mountain of distrust