India and Nepal Relationship IAS Target

Recent Development in India and Nepal Relations UPSC

10 Sep 2019

Category : International Relations

Topic: Recent Development in India and Nepal Relations UPSC

The signed pact of India-Nepal friendship in 1950 forms the bedrock of the special relations that exist b/w India and Nepal. Under the provisions of this pact, the Nepalese citizens have enjoyed supreme advantages in India, availing opportunities and facilities at par with Indian citizens. Around 6 million Nepali citizens live and work in India. The pact also granted Nepalese, the same educational and economic opportunities as Indian citizens in India.

India- Nepal relationship after Independence

The foundation of friendship b/w Nepal and India was laid with the Indo-Nepalese friendship pact in 1950. As the number of Indians working and living in Nepal's Terai region increased and the involvement of India in Nepal's politics deepened in the 1960s. India's influence over Nepal increased throughout the 1950s. The Nepalese Citizenship Act of 1952 permitted Indians to immigrate to Nepal and get Nepalese citizenship with ease—a source of huge resentment in Nepal.
In 1969 relations b/w India and Nepal became stressful as Nepal challenged the existing mutual security arrangement and asked that the Indian liaison group and security checkposts be withdrawn. India withdrew its liaison group and military check-posts in 1970 from Nepal. Tensions came to a head in the mid-1970s, when Nepal pressed for considerable changes in the trade and transit pact and openly criticized Sikkim's 1975 occupation by India.

1970–1980 In 1978 India agreed to split trade and transit treaties, satisfying a long-term Nepalese demand. After two extensions, the two treaties expired on 23 March 1989, resulting in a virtual Indian economic barrier of Nepal that lasted until late April 1990. The relationship with India was again strained in 1989 when Nepal decoupled its rupee from the Indian rupee which formerly had circulated freely in Nepal.

However, economic issues were a major factor in the two countries' confrontation. Indian disappointment with Nepal's decision to impose work permits over Indians living in Nepal and Nepal government's attempt to obtain Chinese weaponry in 1988 played a vital role. After failing to get support from the wider international community, the Nepalese government backed down from its position to avoid the worsening economic conditions. Nepalese opposition parties operating from India managed to bring a change in Nepal's political system, to establish a parliamentary democracy.
1990s The special security relationship b/w Kathmandu and New Delhi was re-established during the June 1990 New Delhi meeting of Nepal's prime minister.
2000s In 2005, after King Gyanendra took over, Nepalese relations with India soured. The Prime Minister of Nepal visited India, only after visiting China, breaching the long-held tradition of Nepalese PM making India as their first port-of-call. In 2008, Indo-Nepal ties boosted with a pact to resume water talks after a 4-year hiatus. The Nepal-India Joint Committee on Water Resources meets decided to begin the reconstruction of the breached Koshi embankment after the water level went down.
2010s In 2010, India extended a Line of credit worth US$50 million & 80,000 tonnes of foodgrains. India promised Nepal that it would "extend all possible help for peace and development." However, in recent years, the increasing dominance of Maoism in Nepal's domestic politics, along with the strengthening economic and political influence of the People's Republic of China has caused the Nepalese government to steadily distance its ties with India.

A continuous issue for many people of Nepali origin; the birthplace of Gautama Buddha has long been a social and cultural issue devoid of the political landscape of both Nepal and India. Nepali Prime Minister told the media, however, since the souring of relations b/w the two countries, the issue has been used to weaken relations b/w that the Buddha was born in Nepal and that Buddhist philosophy is the product of Nepal".

India’s development support to Nepal

GoI provides financial and technical development help to Nepal, which is a broad-based programme focusing on the creation of infrastructure at the grass-root level, under which various projects have been implemented in the fields of health, water resources, infrastructure, education, and rural & community development. Today, India assists Nepal in the development of border infrastructure through the development of cross-border rail links and up-gradation of roads in the Terai areas.
During the FY 2016–17, around 18 intermediate and large projects are under various stages of implementation in Nepal. Apart from our grant support, GoI has also extended three Lines of Credit of USD 100 million, USD 250 million and USD 1 billion to Government of Nepal in 2011-12, 2006-2007and 2013-14, respectively, for undertaking infrastructure development projects.

Defence partnership

India has played a significant role in helping the Nepalese Army (NA) in its modernization through the provision of equipment and training. About 250+ training slots are provided every year for training of NA personnel in various Indian Army Training institutions. The 11th Indo-Nepal Army Battalion level Joint Exercise was conducted at Pithoragarh (India) in March 2017. The 10th Indo-Nepal Army Battalion level Joint Exercise was conducted at Saljhandi (Nepal) in 2016.
India and Nepal have a Power Exchange pact since 1971 for meeting the power requirements in the border areas of the two countries, taking advantage of each other's transmission infrastructure. Transmission interconnections are used both for power trade and power exchange in the bordering areas. The construction of a 400 KV Muzzafarpur–Dhalkebar transmission line is in progress. On completion, the Muzzafarpur–Dhalkebar transmission line would permit the import of up to 1000 MW of power by Nepal from India and also export from Nepal to India. Currently, the total supply of electricity to Nepal from India is about 400 MW.
A pact on ‘Electric Power Trade, Cross-border Transmission Interconnection and Grid Connectivity’ b/w India and Nepal was signed on 21 October 2014. The agreement is aimed at facilitating strengthening and cross-border electricity transmission, grid connectivity and power trade b/w India and Nepal.

India-Nepal educational relationship

Over the years, India’s contribution to the development of human resources in Nepal has been one of the key aspects of bilateral cooperation. The government of India provides around 3000 scholarships annually to Nepali nationals for various courses at the Bachelors, Masters, and +2 levels in India and Nepal. These scholarships cover several subjects like engineering, medicine, agriculture, pharmacology, veterinary sciences, etc.

Culture aspects of India-Nepal

Government of India initiatives to promote people-to-people contacts in the field of academics, art & culture and media include cultural programmes, symposia, and events organized in partnership with different local bodies of Nepal, as well as seminars and conferences in Hindi. Familiarization visits to India by Nepalese journalists and short-term training in India for Nepalese editors/officials/ journalists/ experts/ in the field of archaeology &electronic media print are also arranged. An MoU b/w the Nepal Academy and the Sahitya Kala Akademi (India) are already in operation.

Four MoUs have been signed b/w India and Nepal

  • Nepal and Doordarshan TV
  • Press Council of Nepal and Press Council of India
  • Lalit Kala Akademi, Nepal and India Academy of Fine Arts
  • An MoU on Youth Exchange b/w the Governments of Nepal and India

GoI and Nepal have signed three sister-city treaties for twinning of:
  • Janakpur-Ayodhya
  • Kathmandu-Varanasi
  • Lumbini-Bodhgaya

India is setting up an E-library system across Nepal. The Archaeological Survey of India is involved in the renovation of the Pashupatinath Temple Complex in Kathmandu. An Indian Cultural Centre was established in Nepal in August 2007 to showcase the best of Indian culture not only in the capital city but also in the areas outside Kathmandu. The Indian Cultural Centre in Kathmandu has generated considerable goodwill through the various cultural events it has undertaken in the past. The Nepal–Bharat Library was founded in 1951 in Kathmandu. It is regarded as the first foreign library in Nepal. Its purpose is to enhance cultural relations and information exchange b/w India and Nepal.

Diplomatic Missions

Besides the Embassy of India which is situated in Kathmandu, Representative Office is also situated in Biratnagar (South-Eastern part of Nepal) and a Consulate General Office is situated in Birgunj (South-Central part of Nepal). The government of Nepal has its Embassy in New Delhi and it also has a Consulate General Office in Kolkata.

Human trafficking

Human trafficking in Nepal is a serious concern. Around 100,000–200,000 Nepalese in India are considered to have been trafficked. Sex trafficking is rampant within Nepal and India, with as many as 5,000–10,000 women and girls trafficked to India alone every year. The seriousness of the trafficking of Nepalese girls to India was spotted by CNN Freedom Project's documentary: Nepal's Stolen Children. Maiti Nepal has rescued around 12,000 stolen Nepalese children from sex trafficking since 1993.

Necessary steps that India needs to take

  • India should focus on fructifying the potential of hydropower cooperation, which has remained unexploited largely due to differing perceptions.
  • India needs to maintain the policy of keeping away from the internal affairs of Nepal, meanwhile, in the spirit of friendship, India should direct the nation towards more inclusive rhetoric.
  • With its immense strategic importance in the Indian context as an Indian security concern, stable and secure, Nepal is one requisite which India may afford to overlook
  • Both the countries' influence due to the misuse of the open border by external and internal forces, the responsibility of border regulation and management depends on both.