India Nepal relations and China’s challenge : Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Nepal after an informal summit in India. It is noteworthy that he is the first Chinese President to visit Nepal in the last 23 years. Earlier in 1996, Jiang Zamin visited Nepal. During this visit, President Xi Jinping signed 20 agreements between the two countries and at the same time the Chinese President also announced a grant of 56 billion Nepalese rupees for Nepal’s development programs. In addition, the Chinese President also promised to repair the Arnico highway connecting Kathmandu with the Tatopani transit point. It is important that this highway is closed since the 2015 earthquake. The visit of President Xi Jinping to Nepal has been described by the Foreign Minister of Nepal as a ‘historic significance’ visit. It is worth mentioning that this visit of Xi Jinping is also important for India from the geopolitical point of view, because Nepal’s attitude towards India has changed a lot in the last few years.
India Nepal Historical Relationship
- Nepal is an important neighbor of India and due to the geographical, historical, cultural and economic relations that have been going on for centuries, it also has special importance in our foreign policy.
- India and Nepal share a similar relationship in terms of Hinduism and Buddhism, it is notable that Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, is in Nepal and his Nirvana place is located in Kushinagar India.
- The Indo-Nepal Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950 is the basis of the special relationship that exists between the two countries.
Indo-Nepal Peace and Friendship Treaty
It is a bilateral treaty between India and Nepal that aims to establish close strategic relations between the two South Asian neighbors.
The treaty allows free movement of people and goods between the two countries and closer ties and cooperation between defense and foreign affairs.
It also allows Nepal to purchase weapons from India.
Nepal’s importance to India
- Nepal shares a border with five states of India – Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Sikkim and Bihar and is therefore an important center of cultural and economic exchange for India.
- Nepal shares an open border with India and if relations between the two countries are not good, then issues such as illegal migrant, fake currency, drugs and human trafficking will become a matter of concern for India.
- India has played an important role in democratic change in Nepal against Nepal King Gyanendra.
- Many Nepali citizens are also posted in the Indian Defense Forces.
- Many Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage centers exist in Nepal, due to which Nepal is also very important culturally for India.
- The southern region of Nepal is adjacent to the northern border of India. The bread-daughter relationship is believed to be between India and Nepal. The Madhesi community of Nepal has a cultural and ethnic relationship with Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh.
- There has never been any special traffic restrictions on the borders of the two countries. Social and economic exchange goes on without any deadlock. The Indo-Nepal border is open and no passport or visa is required for transportation. This example in many ways reflects the proximity of Indo-Nepal.
Indo-Nepal Cooperation Zone
Business and economy
- India is Nepal’s largest trading partner as well as the largest source of foreign investment.
- Indian industries are engaged in manufacturing, services (banking and insurance), power sector and tourism etc. with Nepali industries.
- Nepal is a landlocked country surrounded by India on three sides and Tibet on one side.
- India-Nepal have initiated various connectivity programs to increase connectivity among its citizens and to promote economic growth and development.
- Recently an agreement was signed between the two governments to lay electric rail tracks to connect Raxaul in India to Kathmandu.
- The Government of India provides development assistance from time to time, with a focus on building infrastructure at the ground level in Nepal.
- This includes infrastructure, health, water resources, education, rural and community development, etc.
- Bilateral defense cooperation includes the modernization of Nepal’s military through equipment and training.
- The Gurkha regiments of the Indian Army also recruit youth from the mountainous regions of Nepal.
- India conducts joint military exercises with Nepal under the name Surya Kiran every year since 2011.
- A large number of Indians live in Nepal, including businessmen, entrepreneurs, doctors, engineers and laborers etc.
Chinese influence is increasing in Nepal
- Significantly, China’s influence is steadily increasing in South Asia. China’s presence has increased everywhere in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan or Bangladesh. All these countries have joined the Belt Road Project of China. But India is not in favor of this project.
- Nepal is dependent on India for its many needs, but it is constantly trying to reduce its dependence on India.
- It has also been made compulsory to read Chinese language Mandarin in many schools in Nepal. The government of China is also ready to bear the expenses of the salary of teachers teaching this language in Nepal.
- Of the 20 documents signed in Kathmandu, 4 are related to law enforcement.
2. Border protection equipment supply
3. Mutual legal aid and
4. Collaboration between the Attorney General of Nepal and the ‘Supreme People’s Procurator’ of China.
- At the same time China promised to enhance the capabilities of Nepal’s law enforcement agencies and Nepal did not allow ‘anti-China activities on its soil’.
Indo-Nepal relations deteriorating
- In recent years, differences between India and Nepal have been noticed. It is noteworthy that in 2015, when the Madhesi communities settled in the Terai of Nepal blocked the movement on the Indo-Nepal border for several days due to non-acceptance of some of their demands, the then Prime Minister of Nepal K.P. Sharma Oli accused India of blocking some important routes along the Nepal border, calling it an economic blockade.
- It is important to note that the reason for the growing differences between India and Nepal is not unilateral. The bitterness in the relations between the two countries also came to light when the Nepali Constitution came into existence in September 2015. Because, the Nepali Constitution was not welcomed by India in the way Nepal had hoped.
Is concern for India?
- It is noteworthy that Nepal was involved in China’s One Belt, One Road project in the year 2017, but India has not yet joined this project of China. Analysts believe that Nepal’s move will cause a major setback to India’s trade balance with China.
- Since Nepal serves as an intermediate region for India, it would not be in India’s strategic interest to see China’s inclination.
- If we talk about the internal politics of Nepal, it has been very unstable in the last few years. Obviously, Nepal’s political instability is not allowing its foreign policy to be sustained. There is a dire need for a strong and strong leader who can improve relations with neighboring countries.
- At the same time India also needs to review its foreign policy. India has to make its policy towards Nepal visionary. As China’s influence in Nepal is increasing, India will have to consider strategic profit and loss before demonstrating economic power in its neighborhood.
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