Next Door Nepal — China is welcome, India is not

Delhi’s Nepal script, written in 2006, has now gone completely wrong

Written by Yubaraj Ghimire | Published: April 25, 2016 12:26 am
Nepal, China, Nepal China train, Nepal China transit deal, Nepal China rail link, Nepal China railway, Nepal China transit agreement, Nepal China rail link deal, Asia news, International news Prime Minister of Nepal KP Sharma Oli

Last week, Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli laid the foundation of Pokhara international airport, Nepal’s second, being built with Chinese assistance and soft loan. Oli was joined by Maoist chief Prachanda and all major party leaders in a show of appreciation for the Chinese initiative likely to be completed in four years. And in a strange coincidence, this happened during a phase when Nepal-India relations have nosedived like never before.

Nothing would illustrate it more clearly than the “serves-you-right” response so visible in Nepal’s power corridor and intelligentsia when the Organisation of Islamic Countries’ resolution on Jammu and Kashmir was challenged by India with a warning not to “interfere in its internal matters in future”. Nepal authorities had made a similar protest when India and the European Union had jointly asked Nepal to address inadequacies in its constitution at the end of last month.

China making much inroads into Nepal is something even the Indian authorities have come to acknowledge. But what divides the Indian response is whether it’s at the cost of India’s image, influence and interest in its crucially important neighbourhood. Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar sarcastically “congratulated” Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for having successfully “pushed Nepal towards China”. In a piece with many “dos and don’ts”, Prem Shankar Jha suggested that India shouldn’t be treating Nepal like a “protectorate”. But the senior babus (some retired by now), who authored and literally dictated the course and agenda of Nepali politics since 2005 — with UPA political bosses visibly indifferent — continue to harp that “anti-Indianism” in Nepal is the doing of only a small group of “hill elites” confined to Kathmandu. That only shows the gap between perception and reality as anti-Indianism is visibly widespread from the hills to plains.

Oli and the ruling coalition dominated by the Left are getting positive responses from the people across the country for having stood up to India, mainly for what it has “done without accountability in Nepal’s internal politics”. Although this doesn’t guarantee Oli’s survival in power for long, he’s praised by many for his efforts to oppose the “outside role” (that is, India’s) in Nepal’s politics and constitution-making. In fact, Nepal’s ruling coalition — which had continued to give some benefit of doubt, particularly to Modi, till recently — didn’t take kindly to the EU-India resolution on Nepal’s constitution in Brussels at Modi’s initiative.

The foundation laying of the Pokhara airport — a project that was agreed upon at the prime ministerial level during Oli’s visit to Beijing in March — was formalised with a rare show of solidarity among Nepal’s political parties. Nepal is already considering waving the visa fee for the Chinese.

Indian immigration, on the other hand, has already started “stamping” Nepali passports at airports, diluting the spirit of open boarders and hassle-free movement for all these years. The relation is clearly losing the much talked about “special” component. The two sides have hardly begun any exercise to address the misunderstandings and the visible fallouts.

Yet, Nepal’s leaders are more confused about how to go about this, since they have been the biggest beneficiaries of the “India-dictated changes”. They have been able to exercise absolute power without accountability — more than the king(s) did in the past.

When India led the initiative for international support for the political movement in Nepal in April 2006, it had two ostensible concerns: First, since King Gyanendra was playing the China card, the Maoists and other key parties, minus the monarchy, would be a more favourable experiment. Second, India would for a long time have the lead role, if not a monopoly, in directing Nepal’s politics. Both have proven wrong.

yubaraj.ghimire@expressindia.com

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  1. D
    DELHIBUFF
    Apr 25, 2016 at 12:23 am
    WHAT HAPPENS WHEN NEPAL CHINA RELATIONS SOUR IN FEW YEARS---???? THEY ARE GOING TO DO LOTS OF THINGS FOR YOU. JUST DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH !!!!
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      Arvind
      Apr 27, 2016 at 1:41 pm
      I think the Nepalese must speak to the Tibetans in exile in India and the plight of Tibet. India on the other hand must treat Nepalese sovereignty with respect. Its an independent Hindu country. We must ist them in every way we can. China merely has its own interests not Nepal's interests. It feels for nobody. Nepal may get bitten when hugging the dragon.
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        biju
        May 20, 2016 at 7:35 am
        NEPAL Will see the real face of china. china has spoiled many african countries. china will very soon capture nepal under his debth.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;wait and watch of nepal.
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          blogger3110
          Apr 25, 2016 at 7:05 am
          India should treat Nepal as any other country no travel without pport, remove the use of Indian currency in Nepal this will counterfeit Indian currency there. If Nepal is moving closer to China so be it,those who forget history are condemned to see it repeated.
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            Chandra Bahadur
            May 9, 2016 at 5:12 am
            Pokhara valley is 200km west and second largest city after Kathmandu. Buses and Micro buses runs 24 hours various destination from this valley. The road has been linked from Pokhara to Kathmandu and terai's Narayanghat to Mugling is constructed by Chinese aid. At Majuwa Khaireni on the way to Gorkha district headquarters (sadarmukam) Gorkhakali rubber and tyre industry was also built by the Chinese istant. However, this industry is now completely had been collapsed because of Mahesh Acharya and Ramsaran Mahat's privatisation policy to please India. Due to these Finance Minister's initiation all the agro based industries were collapsed because in order to make completely dependent with India. It was a g design to make Nepal like Sikkim. Even this time we Nepalese also not easily access to visit Paro and Thimpu. The Nepali speaking 90,000 Bhutanese refugees were sent abroad to control Bhutan. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;The sport stadium in Pokhara, some portion have been constructed by the Indian aid. If some one ask why the parameter of the football ground is not constructed. The simple answer is India is intended to aid on this project. But the one days never comes. This is the paradox of Indian policy. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;I asked a most prominent business man, who is interested to construct the cricket field at the premises. He said that the Indian neither construct from their own behalf nor gives us way to initiate from our part. I asked him then if it is so, why you did not initiate to build on your behalf or calling interested party. He replied that they had already initiated to do this way also, but the Indian authorities is saying that they would release budget very soon.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;The Indian pension camp is very near from the stadium. And in this way dela all the time. The Chinese authorities had initiated to construct the field, but India is preventing. The Nepalese official's mentality is so poor that they could not talk face to face on such issue. The reason is that Nepali politicians are seeking advice from South Block New Delhi. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;In 1972, the then Prime Minister of India Indira visited Pokhara and she was distributing blankets and sewing machines to the mothers and widows whose sons and husbands were killed in Indio-stan and China war. The program was so moving that everyone's eyes were filled with tears.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;By the name of Gorkha/Gurkhas our Nepalese citizens being known as Indian army Gorkha soldiers had fired on the Chinese. We have killed Chinese. Today the same Chinese is guarding the sovereign of Nepal, providing so much economic istant that this beyond the expression. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Nepal is landlocked but should not be India locked. All the nakas should be open to develop the northern Himalayan and high alude mountains of Nepal. Our roads must link facing north. The pilligramages can visit Manosarobar from Humla Karnali the Nepal China border. We can develope w of our isolated northern border.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;The leaders who are seeking personal vested interest and political help visiting India, they are the traitors of Nepal. If you want to be sovereign, decide your self not seek permission. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Now people of Nepal must unite for the cause of sovereignty. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;This is the message of time.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;If you would like to contact me, mail id:
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