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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : A pragmatic approach, for better India-Nepal ties

 

 

Source: The Hindu

  • Prelims: Current events of international importance(India-Nepal ties, India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship, Seti River (SR6) projects etc
  • Mains GS Paper II: Bilateral, regional and global grouping involving India, Significance of Indo-Pacific for India etc

 

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Prime Minister of Nepal made a first bilateral visit to India since assuming office in the current term.
  • India and Nepal reviewed the entire spectrum of the bilateral agenda covering political, economic, trade, energy, security and developmental cooperation.

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

India-Nepal ties:

  • Nepal occupies a special significance in India’s foreign policy because of the geographic, historical, cultural and economic linkages/ties that span centuries.
  • India and Nepal share similar ties in terms of Hinduism and Buddhism with Buddha’s birthplace Lumbini located in present day Nepal.
  • The two countries have close bonds through marriages and familial ties, popularly known as Roti-Beti ka Rishta.
  • The India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 forms the bedrock of the special relations that exist between India and Nepal.

 

India Nepal Border dispute:

 

What is the Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950?

  • The treaty talks about the reciprocal treatment of Indian and Nepali citizens in the two countries, in residence, property, business and movement.
  • It establishes national treatment for both Indian and Nepalese businesses (i.e., once imported, foreign goods would be treated no differently than domestic goods).
  • Weaponry access: It also gives Nepal access to weaponry from India.

 

Political developments in Nepal:

  • Prachanda was sworn in as Prime Minister and revived his earlier alliance with former Prime Minister P. Sharma Oli, who heads the CPN (Unified Marxist–Leninist).

 

The stand of PM Prachanda:

  • Prachanda has shown political courage to extract solutions to irritants such as:
    • The 1950 Treaty
    • Border differences
    • India’s reluctance to receive the report of the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) set up by the two governments.
  • Focus: He listened to the few voices of reason and moderation, and to focus on opportunities to build a better future.
  • He gave India a few rude shocks, crossing red lines by insisting on visiting China first, or dismissing the Army chief, considered to be a palace loyalist.
  • India reaction: Sending a Prime Ministerial special envoy to urge Madheshi parties not to support Prachanda in order to save his government.
    • The Prime Minister reassured Prachanda that differences on the border issue would be resolved to mutual satisfaction.

 

Developments during Visit of Nepal PM:

  • Hydropower projects to supply energy to India (and eventually to Bangladesh)
  • Infrastructure
  • Access to Indian river transport
  • Innovative tourism circuits
  • Better connectivity.

 

Steps already taken:

  • Renewed high-level commitment to bilateral cooperation on multiple fronts, with improved deliveries, was necessary.
  • Unprecedented cross-party consensus for:
    • Mahàkali Treaty
    • Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP)
    • Power stations of equal capacity on both banks of the river.
  • The finalized Detailed Project Report (DPR) will be submitted to both governments expeditiously, finances arranged and modalities of implementation concluded within one year after their approval of the DPR.

 

Potential areas:

  • Cooperation in the power sector with the transmission passage (trilateral power transaction) from Nepal to Bangladesh through India.
  • Cooperation for payment, technologg: The MoU between the National Payments Corporation of India and the Nepal Clearing House Ltd. for facilitating cross-border digital payments
  • Indian offer to create a ground station and supply 300 user terminals to offer the services of the South Asia Satellite to Nepal under grant assistance.
    • It will promote:
      • Regional cooperation in the space sector
      • Space technology applications in:
        • telecommunication and broadcasting
        • tele-medicine
        • tele-education
        • e-governance
        • banking and ATM services
        • meteorological data transmission
        • disaster response
        • networking of academic and research institutions.

 

India-Nepal Projects:

  • Mahakali Treaty (6,480 MW)
  • Upper Karnali Project (900 MW)
  • Arun Three projects (900 MW)
  • Seti River (SR6) project

 

Way Forward

  • The real challenge for Nepal is to depoliticise cooperation with India, especially in water resources cooperation, improve the quality of democracy and governance at home, and check unbridled corruption, which is alarming even by South Asian standards.
  • For India, it is necessary to address the perception in Nepal that it is no longer a foreign policy priority,
  • India should give a sense of ownership, equality and credit for major forward movement in sectors such as hydropower to parties across the political spectrum, rather than only to the government of the day.
  • India and Nepal are uniquely positioned, because of the breadth and depth of ties between them, to jointly rethink economic governance with a view to enhancing human welfare.

 

QUESTION FOR PRACTICE

Project ‘Mausam’ is considered a unique foreign policy initiative of the Indian Government to improve relationships with its neighbors. Does the project have a strategic dimension? Discuss. (UPSC 2015) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)