Foreign Policy Watch: India-Nepal

Recalibrating India-Nepal ties


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Recalibrating India-Nepal ties

The article suggests the need for a relook at the India-Nepal ties in the changing geopolitical circumstances. 

Unchanging perspective on of each other

  • Many in Nepal continue to equate being anti-India with being nationalistic.
  • Politicians and political parties whip up such sentiment especially before an election.
  • Prime Minister K.P. Oli won the 2017 election partly because he projected himself as someone who stood up to India during the blockade.
  • He again whipped up nationalistic sentiments when he got the Nepal map amended to add new territory.
  • India continues to think that by providing aid and development projects in Nepal, it can win Nepali hearts.
  • But despite pouring billions of rupees into Nepal over decades, it has still not been able to do so.
  • Therefore, it needs to reflect on what it is not doing right.

India’s aid Vs Chines aid to Nepal

  • Two issues are important to understand here.
  • First, all aid to Nepal from countries other than India and China go through the Plans of the Government of Nepal.
  • Indian aid is seen in Nepal as a favour bestowed on a constituency it wants to garner support from rather than a contribution to Nepal’s planned development.
  • Second, India competes with China in providing aid outside government budgets.
  • And China picks up projects of visibility and strategic location.
  • Chinese involvement in Nepal has increased since the April 2015 earthquake and Nepal is surely an area of strategic influence in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

People-to-people ties

  •  In the past two decades, two significant changes have happened.
  • 1)  Indian workers in Nepal constitute a big part of the workforce and send about $3 billion to India every year.
  • In terms of remittances to India, Nepal ranks eighth.
  • So, the Government of India needs to keep in mind that many households in India are being run with remittances from Nepal.
  • 2) Nepalis have migrated in the past 20 years to more than a hundred countries; India is not the only country that Nepalis rely on for jobs or education.
  • This is a new Nepal comprising young people with global aspirations.
  • Meanwhile, Nepal needs to plan how it engages with the youth in mainland India for whom Nepal is just like Bangladesh or Myanmar.

Consider the question “The unchanging perspective of each other in both countries calls for the recalibration of India-Nepal ties. Examine the factors that India should consider while having a relook at its ties with Nepal”


There are some fundamentals that we simply cannot forget: geography will not change, the border will remain open as millions of livelihoods on both sides depend on it, and China is going to be a big global player with varied interests in the neighbourhood. Therefore, the India-Nepal relationship has to be recalibrated.

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