India and Nepal are historical neighbors. But the recent geopolitical moves have brought a strain in their relationship. However, both the nations are in favour of resolving problems through dialogue with a view to take the friendly relations to new heights. It is important to respect each other’s sensitivities and focus on the positives of the wide-ranging relationship.
- Brief history of Indo- Nepal relations
- What needs to be done for a strong relationship?
- In news
- Background of the visit
- Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla held talks with his Nepalese counterpart Bharat Raj Paudyal and other top leaders and discussed wide ranging areas of bilateral cooperation.
- He visited Nepal at the invitation of its foreign secretary, amid a strain in bilateral ties following a bitter border row between the two countries.
- Discussions took place on specific measures that could be taken to finalise key projects such as Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project, as well as launch of new economic initiatives.
- The need to resume people to people contacts, including commencement of an air travel bubble between India and Nepal was discussed.
- Shringla conveyed India’s interest in expanding the development partnership and strengthening people-to-people contacts, particularly among the youth.
- He invited Nepal to take advantage of India’s market and economic growth.
- Shringla handed over 2,000 vials of anti-virus drug Remdesivir to Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali as part of India’s continuing assistance to Nepal to help it contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Both sides shared their perspectives on boundary matters and discussed ways to take it forward under the appropriate bilateral mechanisms.
- They discussed specific meetings that could be scheduled to maintain high level engagement and address issues of mutual interest.
Background of the visit:
- The ties between the two countries came under strain after Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated an 80-km-long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8, 2020.
- Nepal protested the inauguration of the road claiming that it passed through its territory.
- Later Nepal came out with the new map showing Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as its territories.
- India reacted sharply by calling it a “unilateral act” and cautioned Kathmandu that such “artificial enlargement” of territorial claims will not be acceptable to it.
- It said that Nepal’s action violates an understanding reached between the two countries to resolve the boundary issues through talks.
- Earlier in November, Indian Army chief Gen. M M Naravane travelled to Nepal and the visit was largely aimed at resetting bilateral ties that came under severe strain following the bitter border row.
Brief history of Indo- Nepal relations:
- The India–Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 forms the bedrock of the special relations that exist between India and Nepal.
- Under the provisions of this Treaty, the Nepalese citizens have enjoyed unparalleled advantages in India, availing facilities and opportunities at par with the Indian citizens.
- 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.
- When the Interim Election Government (IEG) in cooperation with the political parties and the Election Commission, conducted the 2nd Constituent Assembly cum Parliament Elections in Nepal in 2013, India provided 764 vehicles and other logistical support besides providing two helicopters on loan basis, for election purposes.
- India has also welcomed the Constitution of Nepal, 2015 which is the present governing document of Nepal’s political affairs.
What needs to be done for a strong relationship?
India still enjoys great leverage with Nepal. It is Nepal’s largest trading partner and the two countries are culturally intertwined. In the past, India has played a considerable role in maintaining stability and development in Nepal.
India has often spoken of the “neighbourhood first” policy. But the reality is that India has ignored the changing political narrative in Nepal for far too long. India has displayed quiet diplomacy even when Nepali leaders publicly adopted anti-Indian postures with more importance given to the China factor.
Since the free movement of people is permitted across the border, Nepal enjoys immense strategic relevance from India’s national security point of view. Therefore, stable and friendly relations with Nepal is one of prerequisites which India can’t afford to overlook.
It is imperative today to resolve the boundary issue by peaceful negotiations which will be a win-win situation for both the countries. A normal relationship where India can be a generous partner will be a better foundation for “neighbourhood first” in the 21st century.
- Though India and Nepal are historic partners, the recent geo-political changes have strained their relationship. What needs to be done to bring this relation in the correct trajectory?
Approach to the answer:
- Brief about Indo-Nepal history
- Write the reason for recent visit of India’s foreign secretary to Nepal.
- Brief about discussions done
- Conclude with what needs to be done by stating grey areas ( boundary dispute, Relation with China)