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3.2 India Nepal Relations

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// China factor is always important in South Asia.

Historical background

1950 treaty
1_Monarchy, King was Tribhuvana. But essentially powerless. Ranas were unelected leaders and had real power. King was under captivity of Ranas.
2_But king was relatively more popular than Ranas.
3_India and Nepal both are concerned about Chinese expansion and thus sign Friendship Treaty in 1950.

Under Treaty
// India had open borders with Nepal even before 1950s.
1_National Citizen to each others citizens. (Citizens can settle in each others country).
2_Tariff free movements of goods and people.
3_Gorkhas will also be inducted in Army as it used to happen in British India. 6-8 millions gorkhas live in India.
4_Secret letters associated with treaty – Nepal will buy arms from India primarily, but if India cannot meet its demands, Nepal would purchase it from 3rd countries after informing India.

Treaty was signed between Ranas and India’s foreign ambassador to Nepal. They are having issues with this aspect also. That it was not signed by Indian PM but ambassador.

1951
Tribhuvana was brought to India. He along with Nepali Congress headed by Koirala brothers. (Nepali Congress had good relations with INC and also helped in independent struggle).
Nepali Congress wanted Constitutional monarchy and Parliamentary democracy.
Const. was drafted.

1955
Tribhuvana becomes head of Nepal. National Congress govt. was established.

1958 – they settled borders with China.
1962 – Mahendra becomes King after death of Tribhuvana.
He deposed Nepali Congress, abolished constitution, reasserted control.

1962 Indo China war, India cannot oppose Mahendra. He also starts playing China card against India. Talked about maintaining equidistance with India and China.
He also whipped nationalist sentiments portraying India as big brother and enemy. To win support of people.

Nepal is not landlocked but ‘India locked.’

King Mahendra of Nepal

1972 – King Birendra.
Continues China card against India.
There were protests against monarch. King Birendra said that ‘we’ll use army to crush revolt’.
1987 – India refused to supply arms to Nepal.
Nepal, in violation of treaty purchased arms from China without involving India.
Unlike Bhutan monarchy Nepalese monarchy was not so much in favour of India. King Birendra also received Nishan-e-Pakistan, highest civilian award of Pakistan.

It is better to surrender to the people rather than surrender to India.

King Birendra


1990 – Jan Andolana I
Led by Nepali Congress, It demanded constitutional monarchy along with parliamentary democracy.
King accepted demand, but again dissolved after 3-4 years.

// India has largely contributed to Nepal economy by providing employment etc. but political leaders are creating negative environment against India.
// Pandit Nehru did this big contribution of establishing this institution and culture of democracy in India.

1996
1_India proposed Pancheshwar Dam on Kali/Sharada river with 5000 MW capacity.
2_India proposed equitable cost sharing and benefits of project. India will purchase electricity.
3_Irrigation on Indian side will be 10 times more than Nepal.
4_Still not implemented. // It has started now.
5_Ganga river system – Gandak, Kosi comes from Nepal and creates floods very often. Lot of barrages can be created.
6_Barrage can divert floodwater and help in providing irrigation in Nepal.
7_Hydropower will generate electricity also.
8_Nepal has potential of 80,000 MW hydroelectricity.
9_Displacement?
10_It shows unutilized potential of India Nepal economic opportunity.

2001
Palace massacre. Deependra assassinates whole royal family including King Birendra. Some days later Deependra dies of his wound incurred during massacre.
Gyanendra was not in palace then, he comes to power then.

Maoist uprising
India was also concerned about armed uprising and Maoist capturing power in Nepal.
India tries to intervene, RAW meeting with Maoist is organized. India mediated the settlement where Nepali political parties + Monarchy + Maoist are trying to have settlement.

Gyanendra agrees for constitutional monarchy but people’s protests continued.
India supported for the resolution that supported parliamentary democracy + constitutional monarchy.

Following Jan Andolan II
India gave up its approach to support twin demands.
2008 Monarchy is abolished,Constituent Assembly elected, was given 2 yrs.
2013 another CA was elected.
Constituent Assembly created The Constitution of Nepal 2015
2015 earthquake and no stable govt. in Nepal, massive mishandling of situation. India extended timely support.

Nepali Congress : Koirala
UML: K P Oli
CPN: Prachanda
In 25 yrs since 1990, there have been 27 PMs.

Issues wrt new constitution
1_Under representation for Madhesis (ethnic communities in Nepal along border regions with India).
2_Issues with respect to the federal structure.
3_Nepal have diversity. Bahun-Chatris (Hill elites), Madhesis and Janjatis are poor class living in Terai.
4_Issues wrt rights of naturalized citizens.

In 2015 violence erupted over constitution.
1_India sent its foreign secretary to Nepal. India’s stand was ‘Madhesi concerns must be addressed’.
2_It can create refugee problem for India, violence may spill to India also.
3_Nepali political parties saw it as interference in sovereignty of Nepali.
4_India was criticized that it could have interfered while constitution was getting framed, not afterwards. It should have adopted proactive approach and not reactive.

Madhesi Blockade:
1_Oil import from India declined drastically, including Kerosene, LPG.
2_India said that we are not enforcing blockade but private players are not willing to go through violent Terai region.
3_But Nepal saw it as doing of Indian govt. on backdrop of statements issued by govt.

2016
1_Nepal looked towards transit agreement with China.
2_During blockade China airlifted oil and gas supply to Nepal. But it can serve symbolic purpose only. It cannot substantially help due to its uneconomic nature.
3_They’ve signed transit agreement. Though it appears impractical.

2016 elections
1_K P Oli (UML) came to power with Prachanda’s CPN (Communist Party of Nepal).
2_CPN withdrew support. Oli accused India for it.
3_Oli signs 10 point action plan with China.
4_Tibetian rail network will be extended to Nepal from Lhasa.
5_However it is difficult from engineering point of view.

2018 elections
1_UML (Unified Marxist Leninist) won. Oli became PM again with support of CPN.
2_Indian foreign minister visited Oli even before oath taking ceremony.
3_Oli – India must speedily implement outstanding commitments, pending projects.

Miscellaneous Issues.
1_2014 Visit by PM Modi. He emphasized on HIT [Highways (roads and rails), IT, Trade].
2_2018 – Janakpur Ayodhya bus started.
3_Rail connectivity projects are pending from 2 decades.
4_Buddhist circuit. Lumbini – Bodhgaya.
5_Pancheshwar Dam is pending. Hydroelectricity will receive boost.
6_Oil pipeline project (180km) is also pending since long. It will make it cheaper to transport and also will remove possibility of instances like Madhesi blockade.
7_Integrated check posts – ICPs need to be increased.
8_Open borders are misused for illegal purposes. Fake currency, Narco trafficking, human trafficking, terror groups establishing their base as it was revealed from Wikileaks documents in 2012. (ISI wants to establish terrorist base in Nepal).
9_SSB mans Indo Nepal border currently and only one Check Post is operational currently. These ICPs will scan all the products passing through. Border need not be closed but needs to be regulated.
10_India Nepal treaty also need to be revised.

India promises, China delivers

A saying in Nepal

Issues wrt India Nepal 1950 treaty.

1_Treaty was signed between unequal representatives. It was signed between head of the state of Nepal with Indian Ambassador to Nepal.
// It still hurts to Nepalese people says Nepal PM.
2_It was signed between Ranas and India. Ranas were not democratically elected.

Open border
1_6-8 mn Nepalese find employment in India and good no. of Indians also find employment in Nepal.
2_Acc to Nepal, it has affected employment in Nepal however it has not been studied and claims are not substantial.
3_Acc to India, rather in reality Nepal has taken away settlement, property,employment setting rights of Indians.
4_India – Open border poses security challenges to India. (Fake currency, Human trafficking, Narco trafficking, Terrorists backed by ISI/Pak).

If Nepal wishes to import arms from 3rd country, it needs to inform India, but does it imply India’s nod is necessary? Acc to Nepal it affects their sovereignty. And acc. to India, Nepal has violated provisions of treaty in past e.g. In 1987.

Although many Nepalese heads have pitched for revision in past. It has never been specified formally. India is ready for revision but expects Nepal to come up with proposal. It appears that issue has just been used by Nepalese leaders to influence votes.

China factor in Nepal
1_Nepal has often raised the issue of allowing entry of China into SAARC.
2_2015 Madhesi blockade, China airlifting supplies of essential items.
3_Nepal signed 10 point agreement with China in 2016, eventually to explore transit rights through China.
4_China has extended support to upgradation of infrastructure.
5_There are plans to Extending railway connectivity, primarily from Lhasa to Kathmandu.
6_Constructing road networks as well as hydropower projects. Nepal has shown willingness to join BRI.
7_2018 China has provided transit rights through its 4 ports (2 dry and 2 wet) to Nepal.
8_Nepal didn’t participated in BIMSTEC military exercise while they participated with exercise in China. Nepal reasoned that India’s request was sudden while that of China was quiet pre-planned and pending since long.
9_Oli’s visit to China, he talked about 2+1 framework, Nepal shall become bridge, connecting India and China.
10_India cannot prevent it. But need not be overly concerned about it as geography favours India and trade through China is highly uneconomic to Nepal.
11_Also p2p relations and employment opportunities Nepalese find in India.

Excerpts from Interview of PM K P Oli by Ms. Suhasini Haidar in April 2018
K P Oli expressed desire to have friendship with India but still remains upset with Indian interference in past. Wish to maintain sovereignty of Nepal and good relations with both the giant neighbour and he dreams to have access to sea through both – Pacific and Indian ocean.

Views of Scholars on Nepal.

Shyam Saran (Ex Diplomat)
P2P contacts, economic ties, cultural links, marital relations – there is proximity in countries. Paradox is G2G relations have lacked behind.
What can be done? Be open to any treaty Nepal wishes to negotiate, as India have not much to loose.
There is large number of ex-army Gorkha soldiers of India in Nepal. India needs to explore that option.
Terai region has lacked in infrastructure and needs more focus from India.

S D Muni (Ex Diplomat)
India needs to speedily implement its outstanding commitments in Nepal. e.g. construction of railway lines, hydroelectric dams, oil pipeline agreement.  An undue delay from India’s side is unwarranted and leaves space for China.
Geography and P2P relations favour India Nepal relations.

C Raja Mohan (Journalist, ORF, South Asian Studies)
On China factor – India must adopt Nepal 1st approach. There must be urgent focus on India’s neighbourhood. Geography and P2P is in India’s favour but we cannot take it for granted.
Avoid mistakes of past ( interfering in domestic issues ) and provide reassurance to Nepal through continuous political engagement.

Harsh V Pant (ORF head of strategic studies.)
India has failed to consolidate its hold in south Asia primarily because of structural asymmetry, poor pace of implementation, inward looking approach till 1990s, focus mainly on USSR and now USA has ensured neglect of S Asia.

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Bhavishya

May I know one thing: In your solns to PYQs you don’t substantiate your answers with scholar names in 2B, I’d like to know how big of a problem this is.
I can remember static scholars but do I have to remember scholars from current too. This becomes name searching and an eventual waste of time and I cannot even reproduce them in mains.
Thanks

Last edited 6 months ago by Bhavishya