This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Rahul Das. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Decoding The Growing Tensions Between India And Nepal: What Lies Ahead?

More from Rahul Das

The new map is going to replace the old map of Nepal. The new map claims that the 335 sq km area of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura is located in Nepal, but the area is still in India. This region has been appearing on the Indian map for ages.

The bill on this issue has been passed in the lower house of the Nepal Parliament. It is evident that the matters are gradually getting out of India’s reach. Once the national emblem of Nepal is placed on this new map, there will be no way to correct it.

Addressing BJP members in Uttarakhand on June 15, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh spoke of the strength of bilateral relations between India and Nepal. He said, “Our army has Gorkha Regiment whose soldiers have displayed valour and courage on numerous times for the country. Its war cry is ‘Jai Mahakali Aayo Re Gorkhali ( Hail Mother Kali, here comes the Gorkha) and Mahakali is also present in Kolkata, Kamakhya and Vindhyachal with devotees all around India. Then how can the ties between the two countries break?”

Singh father added in his speech that “India-Nepal ties are not an ordinary one. We have a relation of ‘Roti and Beti’ which cannot be broken by any power of the world.” He said India’s differences with Nepal over these three places could be resolved through dialogue.

Singh made the remark two days after the bill to amend the constitution was passed in the lower house of Nepal’s Parliament. The bill will now be passed in the upper house of the Nepal Parliament. It will then be sent to the President of Nepal. Once he signs, the new map will be recognised instead of the old one.
Ever since Nepal took the initiative to change the map, India has been saying that this unilateral decision of Nepal is not acceptable.

Ignoring India’s objections, Nepal is moving towards its own goal. On the day the bill was passed in the lower house of Nepal’s Parliament, the old statement of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs was repeated. Later, Rajnath Singh was careful enough in his statement. It is clear that India does not want a repeat of the deteriorating relations with Nepal in the past, especially what happened in September 2015.

How Did Relations Between The Countries Take A New Turn?

According to the 1950 agreement, no passport is required to cross the border between the two countries. Historically, India has a good rapport with Nepal. In fact, there are no fences on the borders of the two countries, people move freely here. The relations between the two countries are smooth except for a few regional issues. In the context of such peaceful relations between the two countries, this border dispute between them is completely undesirable. But history does not follow in one’s own way.

With the end of monarchy in Nepal, the rise of Communists, the disagreement with India over the drafting of a new constitution, relations between the two countries took a new turn. Besides, Nepal’s growing closeness with China has become a headache for India. India-Nepal relations have become more toxic with the controversy over the new map of Nepal. Now the future of the relationship will depend on the prudence of the leadership of these two countries and the generosity of China.

In 1815, the King of Nepal signed the ‘Treaty of Sugauli’
In 1815, the King of Nepal signed the ‘Treaty of Sugauli’ with the East India Company, which was ratified in 1816.

Nepal has never raised the demand for Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura so strongly. Historically, India’s claim to the area has been predominant. In 1815, the King of Nepal signed the ‘Treaty of Sugauli’ with the East India Company, which was ratified in 1816. According to this treaty, Nepal got the right to the east Bank of Mahakali river and India got the right to the west bank. This position has remained unchanged for a long time.

The beginning of the argument centres on the identification of the source of the Mahakali river in the Nepali interpretation. Nepal’s explanation is that the region which India considers to be the source of the Mahakali river is not the actual source of the Mahakali river at all. So, the location of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura is not in Pithoragarh of India but in Dharchula district of Nepal.

It is difficult for India to accede to Nepal’s claim, as it is stated in several documents apart from the Sugauli Agreement that the real owner of the region is India. During China’s invasion of Tibet in 1950s, India set up 17-18 military posts on the Chinese border with Nepal’s permission. In 1969, at the behest of King Mahendra of Nepal, Prime Minister Kirti Nidhi Bista asked Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to remove these Army posts.

Kalapani was not among the list of Army posts that Nepal gave to India at that time. Now the question is why Kalapani was not in this list? Nepal’s explanation for this question is that King Mahendra was aware of India’s security concerns, so at India’s request, he allowed the Indian Army to maintain an Army post at Kalapani. Incidentally, Kalapani is the entrance to the Lipulekh pass.

Is this interpretation of Nepal acceptable at all? China did not pay attention to this area in 1969. Also, the cultural revolution in China was at its peak at that time. It was not clear why Indira Gandhi would request Raja Mahendra to let India’s army post stay at Kalapani. And there is no historical document of Nepal’s claim. The baselessness of Nepal’s claim proves that India had set up an army post in Kalapani as per the previous treaty. There was no question of seeking permission from the king separately.

Why is Nepal Suddenly So Eager To Occupy This Region?

The reason for this to be found in the incompetence of India’s foreign policy and China’s incitement against India. Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, known as a staunch anti-Indian, became the Prime Minister of Nepal after the two communist parties merged at the initiative of China. Maoist leaders Prachanda and Madhav Kumar Nepal gradually became his challengers. Oli was rapidly losing popularity among the people of Nepal due to administrative failure. Although Oli was in post, the people were repeatedly demanding a change of Prime Minister. During this turmoil, India released a new map of Jammu and Kashmir in November 2019. The inclusion of Kalapani in this map gives Oli a new impetus to oppose India.

On May 8, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the Mansarovar Link Road, in which Oli got another weapon to criticise India. In 2005, India decided to build an 80 km long road to ease the difficult and inaccessible road to Mansarovar. The cost was estimated at 80 crores. The road, which was supposed to be completed in 2013, was inaugurated in May 2020.

By then, the cost has gone up to 440 crores. After the inauguration, Oli raised his voice against India. He adopted well-known anti-India tactics to handle mass protest in his own country. He stated that “those who are coming from India through illegal channels are spreading the virus in the country. Indian virus looks more lethal than Chinese and Italian now.” Immediately after his statement, a new map of Nepal was released. Leaving Prachanda and Madhav behind by cunning political tactics, Oli will be relieved for a while now.

What Should India Do Now In This Situation?

Modi with Nepal Prime Minister
In the last six years, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have brought the world leadership closer, but India’s distance from its neighbours is widening.

Experts think that India has to proceed very carefully this time. It would be foolish for India to take the kind of action it took at the time of the Madheshi problem. In other words, India should not take any decision like a blockade. If a hasty decision like blockade is taken, the result will be fatal. But, India has to be adamant in its demand for Kalapani, as the historical documents are in India’s favour. Moreover, Nepal has not closed the door for talks yet.

Nepal has formed a nine-member expert team whose job is to present evidence in support of Nepal’s claim. India has no choice but to resolve the issue politically and diplomatically without hurting the Nepali national sentiment.

In the last six years, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have brought the world leadership closer, but India’s distance from its neighbours is widening. The farther India moves away from its neighbours, the closer China becomes to them. Nepal is the biggest example of this. India’s proximity with its closest and most trusted neighbour Bangladesh is also waning. At present, it is necessary for the Indian leadership to think openly about this issue.

It is important to remember that Oli has followed the path shown by Modi. Oli played the nationalist card in this case, which Modi played during the surgical strikes on Pakistan. With this single weapon, Oli silenced the opposition, charmed the masses and blunted the ‘big brotherly’ arrogance of India. India has no choice but to remain flexible at the moment. As much as this move has brought Oli’s success as a politician, it has also exposed India’s diplomatic failure.

Nepal created a Kashmir-like situation for India with the Kalapani region. Kashmir is fragmented on India’s map to Pakistan and China. The new map of Nepal will also be a cause for concern for India. Because in this new map, even if it is small, a crack will be found in the Uttarakhand region. The issue is being handled very carefully by Indian leadership but it is still difficult to heal this would.

The article was first published here.

You must be to comment.

More from Rahul Das

Similar Posts

By Ritwik Trivedi

By Bidisha Bhatacharya

By Raj Iyre

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below