The India Nepal relationship is bound by history, geography, economic cooperation, socio-cultural ties and people-to-people relations. However the Madhesi crisis and the economic blockade at the India-Nepal border in 2015 created some strains but the strain in relations could not have been sustained for long which is visible in the recent visit by Nepal’s PM to India.
(i) Growing proximity of China-Nepal relations:
As per the recent transit treaty with China, Nepal has now secured transit rights for trade with third countries through the Chinese territory.
China’s activities have been steadily expanding in Nepal after Kathmandu’s support for OBOR materialized.
(ii) India was inevitably sucked into the internal affairs of its neighbors, including Nepal. The most recent case was India’s involvement in Nepal’s constitution-making.
(iii) Nepal and India have an open border where trade and business is prominent. No other
country in the region can allow free and unrestricted movement of people across their border as India and Nepal have done even after delineating the border more than 200 years ago.
- To enhance people-to-people relations, Nepal and India must resolve contentious issues relating to the border, including the two major areas of dispute at Susta and Kalpani.
- India must respect Nepal’s sovereignty as mutual respect is a key in bilateral relations and India should not meddle in the internal political affairs of Nepal or panic over China’s growing investment in Nepal.
- India needs to finish the infrastructure projects on time for instance Pancheshwar project has been pending for over 20 years now.
- India will have to focus on connectivity as a leverage to increase its strategic influence in the neighbourhood.
- By reviving the Gujral doctrine and India’s willingness to provide non-reciprocal, unilateral, and preferential benefits to its smaller neighbours, the government has signalled intent to position India as a credible and leading power across the region.
With the status of Asia rising day by day in the international arena India needs to strengthen its neighbourhood policy.