India Nepal

GS 2 International Relations Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Introduction 

                  India and Nepal share a unique relationship, both of them share friendship and cooperation underpinned by linguistic, cultural and civilizational links, along with a wide range of commercial and economic ties, and above they are linked with extensive people-to-people contacts. 

Historical relationship between India – Nepal: 

  • Firstly, the bedrock of the India-Nepal relationship was the Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950. 
    • Under this treaty, Nepal became the only country whose nationals required no passports to cross into India. 
  • Few important information of India-Nepal treaty of Peace and Friendship 1950: 
    • India-Nepal Treaty was signed after Nepal feared the Chinese threat as the Chinese occupied Tibet
      • The treaty has an explicit reference to threats from third countries, which both countries would tackle by cooperation. 
    • The treaty extended rights to residence, employment and purchase of property to each other’s citizens reciprocally 
      • in other words, it extended ‘national treatment’ by each country to the other’s citizens. 
  •  Secondly, Buddha’s birthplace is in Nepal and also Nepal is the only other Hindu majority country in the world. 
    • So cultural and religious visits between India-Nepal is so strong. 
  • Thirdly, the Ministry of External Affairs termed India-Nepal relations as Roti-Beti ka Rishta (Relationship of food and marriage) 
    • as the open border enabled kinship, familial ties in the terai region. 
    • There are six million to eight million Nepalis who live and work in India, 
      • (according to Indian home ministry estimates. )
  • Fourthly, the 1996 trade treaty resulted in the phenomenal growth of bilateral trade
    • which witnessed a sevenfold increase in a decade 
    • Nepal’s exports to India increased eleven times and Indian exports to Nepal increased six times.  
  • Fifthly, the 2009 revised trade treaty has retained the positive features of the 1996 treaty and further enhanced bilateral trade between India-Nepal. 
  • Sixthly, Defence and Humanitarian relations were provided greatly by India, 
    • as Nepal is landlocked and geographically prone to disasters being situated in the Himalayan region.  

Challenges in India-Nepal relations:

India-Nepal relations often swung between two extremes much quickly. There are a few underlying reasons for it. 

  • Firstly, the Constitutional question on Madhesi’s: 
    • In general, Madhesi’s section of People lives throughout the southern part of the Terai region and has much closer ties with India. 
    • The challenges in this regard are, 
      • The political rights of Madhesi’s section of people were diluted in their new Constitution promulgated in 2015 
    • which led to wider protests and blockade in Nepal led to the blocking of oil and other essential supplies. 
    • Nepal government accused India of supporting Madhesi’s and stated India is interfering in the internal matters of Nepal. 
    • Nepal raised the issue in a “trade blockade” at the UN in October 2015. 
      • But Madesi’s protest was a spontaneous movement and it had nothing to do with India. 
    • major challenges with the Nepal government as, 
      • India’s fears that a Constitution drafted under assertive Maoist leadership may not be compatible with the democratic profile of Nepal. 
      • India’s also fears that the Maoists were inclined to and capable of changing Nepal’s domestic power equations. 
        • The recent decision of Nepal Prime Minister dissolving the lower house has created  a new political crisis altogether.  
  • Secondly, China’s closeness with Nepal and the Influence of China in India-Nepal relations is a cause of concern.  
    • Nepal is a landlocked state that has relied much on India for major supplies, transit and transport. 
    • The Nepal earthquake in 2015 was the perfect time for China to make massive investments in infrastructure like Tibet Railway, many highway projects, access to Chinese ports etc. 
      • By the end of 2016, China became the major assistance provider of Nepal. 
    • Hydel co-operation, Fuel and Humanitarian assistance from China has increased many folds. 
      • For example, China pledged to provide 1.4 million liters of fuel 
      • and planned to construct 750 MW West–Seti Dam project.  
    • Nepal also supports China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the China-Nepal relations so far is stable to some extent. 
  • Thirdly, the boundary dispute between India-Nepal: 
    • About 1850 km boundary line between India-Nepal faces two major boundary disputes.  
    • Kalapani dispute: 
      • Kalapani is the disputed territory in the Uttarakhand state of India. 
      • The British government has set the origin of River Kali as the western border of Nepal. 
      • But the origin of the river Kali is disputed between India-Nepal. 
      • While India uses the newer British survey, Nepal wants the area to be demarcated based on the older British survey.
      • New map of Nepal was notified in June 2020 with Kalapani in Nepal 
    • Susta Dispute: Susta is another disputed territory located in the Terai regions of India.
  • Fourthly, the challenges relating to the open border. 
    • The border is notoriously porous. 
    • Being provided special status to Nepal, India’s internal security faced many challenges such as 
      • The Pakistani militants using Nepalese territory as a hideout and base for infiltration into India. 
        • The Ministry of Home Affairs in its Annual Report 1999–2000 highlighted this Pakistani involvement in Nepal and its security implications in India. 
    • The Nepalese Maoists have extended support and cooperation to the Indian Maoists and carving out a Compact Revolutionary Zone
      • a ‘Revolutionary Corridor’ spreading from Nepal through Bihar and up to Andhra Pradesh. 
    • Apart from these the open borders have also created challenges such as pumping fake Indian currency notes, human trafficking especially young girls and women, cattle smuggling, etc. 
    • Thus, India’s external and internal challenges converge, and make ties with Nepal of extreme importance and swung between extremes. 

Way Forward/Solutions 

  • Focus based approach is necessary not only in India-Nepal relations but also for other countries in the region by giving more focus towards Neighbourhood first policy.  
    • India should leverage the strategic influence, faster and effective implementation of infrastructure and development projects in Nepal.
    • For Ex. Finalising the projects such as Pancheshwar multipurpose project and faster completion of cross-border rail projects such as Jayanagar-Bijalpur–Bardibas, Jogbani-Biratnagar
    • In 2018 Indian PM asked to shift focus on 5T’s (Tradition, Trade, Tourism, Technology and Transport) to boost the relations. 
  • India can focus on “aid diplomacy” 
    • to reduce the trust deficit 
    • to continue with post-earthquake reconstruction assistance. 
    • Later deepening co-operation in areas like trade, water resources, energy co-operation, etc. 
  • Regarding China’s influence
    • Nepal’s nearest ports will always be in India and the Gangetic plain will remain its largest market. 
    • This is because,  
      • The economic feasibility of Chinese trans-Himalayan trade and the infrastructure projects are low, 
      • especially when the Himalayan state Bhutan supports India and Nepal is the only other Himalayan state. 
    • Though China provides access to Nepal for its seaports, they are situated more than 3,000 km away. 
      • “China can replace India as Nepal’s main provider of essential supplies only by moving the Himalayas southward”. 
      • But the ability of the Chinese in project implementation and financial assistance cannot be underestimated. 
  • Establishing a permanent mechanism to reduce the disasters caused by floods in the regions of India-Nepal. 
  • Mutual respect is the key: 
    • The Nepal government has to move away from narrow terms and shift focus towards broadening and inclusion of demands from all sections of society in the Constitution.
    •  Nepal also has to stop the rhetoric on territorial nationalism and pulling out China card whenever they negotiate with India. 

Conclusion         

India-Nepal relations have all the potential to move ahead and become mutually reliable commercial and economic ties, and extensive people-to-people ties only when India and Nepal forget the avoid past mistakes and move ahead to become sustainable.

Leave a Reply

Join UNBEATABLES -PMI Batch 2022

Lead by IAS,IPS,IPoS Officers

Join UNBEATABLES

PMI Batch 2022

Lead by IAS, IPS, IPoS Officers

%d bloggers like this: