This week, the Indo-Nepal relationship was brought to media attention when Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Oli headed to China from June 19 to June 24, 2018. In this visit, the Kathmandu has shown greater friendship towards Beijing which could be worrying for New Delhi. Somehow, India’s Nepal policy is failing and Nepal’s dependency on India is reducing with the Himalayan nation leaning more towards China.
India’s interest in Nepal was based on historical, religious and strategic reasons. Nepal’s political instability and economic backwardness have been a serious cause of concern in India. India is a supporter of democracy in Nepal and time is testimony to that. It has always stood for the development of Nepal. India has provided a helping hand to Nepal in the past when difficulties arose. Therefore, the relationship between India and Nepal has been close and sympathetic. But, there have been some irritants in this relationship. As mentioned in an earlier article by me, in September 2015, Indo-Nepal relations hit a hurdle when Nepal adopted its new Constitution that gave less than adequate powers to ethnic groups such as the Madhesis in the country’s Terai region. After that, there were accusations that India had blocked essential supplies to the nation.
According to NDTV, Nepal and China on Wednesday signed eight agreements worth $2.4 billion on the second day of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s visit. These agreements were reached between the two governments and private sectors where Chinese investors will put money on developing hydroelectricity, water resources, cement factories and fruit cultivation and farming. On Thursday, both the nations signed 14 agreements, including construction of a railway network following Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s meetings with the top Chinese leadership, including President Xi Jinping in Beijing. The agreement reached between the two sides also included promoting energy cooperation. Chinese media did not put out any details of the agreements, while Nepal’s daily The Kathmandu Post reported Oli’s visit to Beijing with the headline “PM Oli winds up Beijing visit on High Note“.
The ongoing Oli visit to China should be a cause for concern to India. It is clear that Oli is pro-China and if India doesn’t learn its lesson, it could lose ground in Nepal. As of 2016, India slipped from top 5 aid donor countries of Nepal and China entered into India’s position. In May 2017, Nepal signed the MoU for the OBOR (One Belt – One Road) project with China wish where India refused to join claiming that the road passed through the area India considered as its own territory. This makes smooth connectivity and transport for economic dealing with China and its neighbours. Along with these, the proposal for a $2.5 billion hydropower project in Nepal by China will likely restart in Oli’s tenure, which had stopped earlier allegedly due to Nepal’s close relations with India.
Oli enjoyed a strong mandate in Nepal’s last parliament election. Since coming to power, he has been working to consolidate Nepal’s ties with China. To conclude, India needs to worry about Nepal’s growing ties with China. India must ensure to redefine relations with Nepal.
In my opinion, India needs to change its Nepal Policy and should also ensure trust and friendship among Nepali citizens towards India.