India Nepal relations UPSC
As close neighbours, India and Nepal share a unique relationship of friendship and cooperation characterized by open borders and deep-rooted people-to-people contacts of kinship and culture. There has been a long tradition of free movement of people across the borders. Nepal has an area of 147,181 Sq. Kms. and a population of 29 million. It shares a border of over 1850 Kms to the south with five Indian States – Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and in the north with the Tibet autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China. India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 is the bedrock of the special relations that exist between India and Nepal. Under the provisions of the treaty, Nepalese citizen have enjoyed unparalleled advantages in India, availing the facilities and opportunities at par with Indian citizens. The Treaty has enabled Nepal to overcome the disadvantages of being a land-locked country. Overtime, many regimes in Nepal have raised the issue of revision of the treaty. India has maintained that it is willing to examine all bilateral arrangements with a view to further strengthening our relations. Specific suggestions from the Nepalese side have not been forthcoming. Beginning with the 12-Point Understanding reached between the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and the Maoists in Delhi in November 2005. Government of India welcomed the roadmap laid down by the historic Comprehensive Peace Agreement of November 2006 towards political stabilization in Nepal through peaceful reconciliation and inclusive democratic processes, India has consistently responded with a sense of urgency to the needs of the people and Government of Nepal in ensuring the success of the peace process and institutionalization of multi-party democracy through the framing of a new Constitution by a duly elected Constituent Assembly. India contributes to the development efforts of Government of Nepal (GoN) by undertaking various development projects in the areas of infrastructure, health, rural and community development, education, etc. The grant assistance extended to Nepal during 2009-10 under ‘Aid to Nepal’ budget was ` 161 crores. In addition, GOI has extended considerable economic assistance to the ongoing peace process in Nepal. The overall quantum of India’s assistance to Nepal is approx. ` 3600 crores which includes the Small Development Projects scheme offered by the Embassy of India delivers development assistance at grass-roots level in sectors identified with the local population. It now covers over 370 projects with an outlay of approx. ` 402 crores. As part of India’s effort to assist with capacity building and development of Human Resources in Nepal, over 1500 scholarships are offered annually for Nepalese students to pursue various courses in India and Nepal. India continues to be Nepal’s largest trade partner, source of foreign investment and tourist arrivals. Bilateral trade between India and Nepal has increased substantially since the signing of the Trade Treaty in 1996 and received further impetus after the signing of the revised Trade treaty in 2009 which has provisions that allow Nepal greater access to the Indian market. According to figures for the Nepalese fiscal year 2066 (July 2010), bilateral trade with India accounted stood at ` 16129.7 crores which accounted for for 58.7% of Nepalese total external trade. India and Nepal have a treaty of transit, which confers transit rights through each other’s territory through mutually agreed routes and modalities. The treaty was last renewed for seven years in March 2006. The two countries have concluded a Rail Services Agreement (RSA) and a revised Air Services Agreement (ASA) to enhance bilateral connectivity. A Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) for passenger vehicles is awaiting formal signature. India also remains Nepal’s largest source of foreign investment and Indian investments in Nepal amount to ` 1586 crores with 462 FDI projects. India accounts for 44% of the total foreign investments in Nepal . India had played a leading role in helping the Nepal Army (NA) in its modernization through provision of equipment and training. More than 180 training slots are provided every year for training of NA personnel in various Indian Army training institutions. The Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army is given the honorary rank of a General in the Nepal Army and a reciprocal honour is conferred on the Chief of the Nepal Army. India has always been proud to have Nepalese as soldiers in her Forces and has made every effort to ensure that they are looked after and cared for in their twilight years. As of now, we have over 1.23 Lakh ex-servicemen residing in Nepal. in 2010-11 the payments of pensions to the Indian ex-service men in Nepal amounted to ` 1100 crores. The Government of India has made every effort to ensure that these exservicemen, their families and dependents are looked after in the best possible manner. To ensure this, the Government of India has established “The Indian Ex-Servicemen Welfare Organisation in Nepal (IEWON)”. There is vast potential for cooperation between India and Nepal in the field of water resources. Nepal has 43,000 MWs hydropower potential that is known to be technically feasible and economically viable. However, major projects have not takenoff due to considerations outside the realm of economics. Ironically, India is a net exporter of power to Nepal. Both countries have recognized the importance of cooperation in this field and decided to inject a new dynamism by establishing a threetier bilateral mechanism at the Ministerial (Joint Ministerial Level Commission on Water Resources- JMCWR), Secretary (Joint Committee on Water Resources- JCWR) and technical (Joint Standing Technical Committee- JSTC) levels to oversee the entire gamut of cooperation in water related issues. Cooperation on issues of mutual security concerns relating to the open border has been a hallmark of our relations with Nepal. Nepalese side has assured at various levels that it would not allow its territory to be used for any activity against India There are streamlined bilateral mechanisms to address all issues concerning security, including cross-border crime, and establishing effective communication links between and along the bordering districts to further facilitate the exchange of information. India has repeatedly stressed the need for strengthening the legal framework, in order to counter their common cross border security challenges. India has also provided liberal assistance to the security apparatus in Nepal in development of infrastructure, capacity building, equipment and training of human resources. A Joint Technical Committee (JTC) led by Surveyors General of India and Nepal has jointly prepared and initialed strip maps of 98% of the India-Nepal boundary (December 2007). These strip maps are awaiting authentication at Plenipotentiary level. Recently there were some politically motivated attempts in Nepal to portray the status of the boundary in an unfavorable light alleging instances of Indian encroachment, although the matter has not been formally taken up by the Government of Nepal. India has emphasized the necessity of early signature of the strip maps at plenipotentiary level so that work on installation of boundary pillars where they are missing and repairs where they are damaged could begin. Nepal has conveyed that they are building political consensus for the signing of the strip maps.
PM Narendra Modi’s Visit To Nepal (2014) Prime Minister Narendra Modi made every effort to be seen as Nepal’s best friend — a commoner, a pilgrim, the guardian of a Nepali in need, and less of a prime minister of a big country. By the time he left Nepal, he had won the hearts and minds of the Nepalese, imprinting deeply the idea that he alone has the will and ability to transform Nepal into a prosperous country. His repeated emphasis on India’s respect for Nepal’s sovereignty, and the message that missed opportunities of the past and failed promises should not act as speed-breakers in “our future journey to prosperity together”, were perhaps aimed at looking ahead at the future, not harping on the past. Modi knew that all these possibilities he projected would consolidate his image and goodwill in a country where India is perceived as a neighbour with a big gap between promise and delivery — and, of late, a neighbour that involves itself more in Nepal’s internal politics, and pursues a policy of “divide and rule”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to have matched the high expectations in Nepal that he would inaugurate a fresh start in bilateral relations. If Nepal’s elites were chafing under Delhi’s prolonged political neglect, its youthful population had never seen a charismatic Indian leader. By all accounts, many across the border were enthused by the PM’s promise of befriending neighbours. Modi did not disappoint. With a speech to Kathmandu’s parliament and constituent assembly, widely described in Nepal as “magical”, and by wading into welcoming crowds in Kathmandu, Modi may have taken away much of the recently accumulated poison in an old relationship. In the constituent assembly, Modi sought to dispel fears in Nepal that the BJP government might back the restoration of a Hindu monarchy ousted in a bloody democratic struggle in the middle of the last decade. In unambiguously endorsing the idea of an “inclusive, federal, democratic republic”, Modi insisted that it was not India’s business to build the domestic consensus in favour of a new political order. He reminded the legislators of the significance of their work in drafting a constitution. Comparing the writing of the constitution to the compilation of the Upanishads and praising Nepal’s leaders for choosing the path of peace rather than war, India’s PM highlighted the bright future that awaits a Nepal at peace with itself. By emphasising the absolute sovereignty of Kathmandu and affirming that Delhi will not interfere in its internal affairs, Modi tried to address one of the main concerns that animates Nepal’s elites — the deep fear of India. While not uncommon among small countries that live next to a large nation, Delhi had found it hard all these decades to overcome the entrenched suspicion of India in Kathmandu. Modi confronted this central problem head-on by offering to revise the 1950 India-Nepal Friendship Treaty — for many in Kathmandu, the very symbol of an unequal relationship. Modi complemented the new political emphasis on sovereign equality with a persuasive vision for shared economic prosperity through the development of transborder connectivity, agriculture, tourism and hydroelectric power. He also offered a concessional line of credit of $1 billion that Kathmandu will be free to spend on its own priority national projects. Modi’s spell in Kathmandu marks a historic break from an uncomfortable past. The PM, however, should know that magical illusions don’t last long. He needs an effective institutional mechanism at home to turn the new promise of India’s Nepal policy into reality.
UPSC Civil Services(IAS) Exam always concentrate its International Relations Questions on the Indian relations with its neighbours. The questions in the IAS Main Exam are Current Affairs Oriented and they are the blend of current affairs and basic issues. Such questions required the current analysis of the Events of National and International Events.recenty Nepal has cancelled its Prime Ministers visit. lets analysis the reasons behind.
Anti-India rhetoric that seems to be a part and parcel of Nepal’s internal political conflict has been yet again been brought to the fore due to two recent events. First was the cancellation of President Bidhya Devi Bhandari’s maiden visit to India merely 72 hours before her departure. And second is the recall of Nepal’s Envoy to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay.
Though no formal reason has been cited for these events, they are supposed to be indicative of Nepal’s unhappiness over India’s interference in its internal political matters. Rumours are rife that KP Oli Government of Nepal believes that Mr. Upadhyay colluded with India to topple the Oli government. India, on the other hand maintains that this is a matter related to Nepal’s internal political conflict as Mr. Upadhyay is being targeted for he was appointed by former PM Sushil Koirala and is a senior leader in the opposition party Nepalese Congress (NC).
These accusations are being hurled India’s way as PM KP Oli just narrowly saved his government from toppling after Former Prime Minister Prachanda threatened to withdraw support from UML. Prime Minister Oli averted the crisis after a 9 point agreement was reached between UML and Maoist party which included addressing Madhesis concerns and demands, granting clemency to Maoist Cadres and quickening reconstruction work.
Though, Nepal in order to mend fences with India invited United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) for talks on the issue of state boundaries, these events are a reflection of borderline precarious and uneasy relationship between India and Nepal.
Background of Nepal Crisis
After a decade long civil war in Nepal, a comprehensive Peace Accord was signed between the Nepal government and the Maoists in 2006, largely brokered by the Indian Government. As per the accord, and interim constitution was brought in which replaced the 90s constitution. A Constituent Assembly was elected based on the interim constitution. This CA was assigned to deliver a new constitution by May 2010 according to which a democratically elected government of Nepal would be formed. In the elections Maoists also participated but no party got majority and hence began the era of coalition government
But the CA was unable to deliver a new constitution as there were wide differences between the major parties (i.e. Nepalese Congress, UML, Maoists) over issues such as:
1. Form of the Government (Presidential or Parliamentary)
2. Maoists supported Nepal as a federal state demarcated on ethnic lines while other parties did not.
3. Process of appointment of judiciary and should it be autonomous or responsible to the legislature
After being given 4 extensions, CA was finally dissolved in 2012. After the second CA election, NC and UML came in majority. After many deliberations by 2014 and two Constituent Assemblies later a broad consensus was reached over the new constitution.
• Nepal would be a federal state with 8 provinces grouped on ethnic lines
• 165 members of parliament will be elected through direct majority voting while 110 through proportional representation.
• Demarcation of provinces was left for later
• To be decided whether Constitution to be adopted through majority or consensus.
India’s Role and its fallout
India had always been of the view that Constitution of Nepal should be adopted on consensus basis as that would be inclusive of the concerns of ethnic groups such as Madhesis and Tharus. These communities and others wish for provinces demarcated on ethnic lines. These communities believe that there interest have been sacrificed in the new constitution and are deeply dissatisfied with it.
Though the CA tried to achieve consensus, in mid 2015 it passed the new Constitution on the basis of majority instead. This decision led to the massive protests by Madhesis and other communities in the country.
Owing to the Madhesi unrest along India Nepal border, India which is a major oil supplier to Nepal stopped the supply. This led to a massive crisis in the country wherein oil price shot up and black market flourished, adding to the vows of already earthquake battered people; Nepal accused India of coercive tactics while India retorted that Nepal should be more inclusive in its new constitution and handle its internal unrest.Whichever be the case, this alleged embargo has further pushed Nepal into the arms of China with serious implications for India. PM Oli visited Beijing this year in March and signed significant agreements which include:
1. Trade and Transit agreement that will allow Nepal to trade with third country through Tianjin
2. China plans to build airport at Pokhra
3. Proposed 526 Km link between Lhasa and Kathmandu
Nepal has also agreed to be a part of China’s “One BELT, One Road “initiative.
These are not very positive signs for India. Though Nepal’s two-third trade is still with India, its growing closeness to China does not bode well.
India’s stand on the other hand that constitution of Nepal should be based on consensus and not majority is rooted in its own process of nation building where it has learnt that a united country cannot be built by ignoring the concerns of even the smallest minority. Hence, India’s advice to its neighbour is to bring all communities on board.
Having said that, India needs to be mindful about how it communicates its concerns to Nepal. India has to be careful that it does not come across as a big brother to the small Himalayan Nation but as a partner. Putting an oil embargo maybe is not the right approach to the problem of civil unrest. Nepal’s growing closeness to China is also a security concern for India which shares a 1750Km long border with it.
India Nepal relationship is at the moment volatile but not beyond repair. Hence, its in the interest of both the nations to be mindful of each other’s concerns.
Nepal is recently venturing into its experiment with Democracy while India has already proved to be a success. While Nepal can learn a lot from India experience , India needs to position itself more as a partner and less as a Big Brother if it wishes to see itself as a more active collaborator with its small yet significant Himalayan neighbour.
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