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Mains Answer Writing

4-April-2024

Q1) Historical and cultural affinities between India and Nepal create a strong foundation for cooperation in various sectors, but the bilateral ties remain mired in suspicion and mistrust. Elucidate.

(250 Words/15 Marks)

ANS

 

“Ours is a ‘Roti-Beti ka Sambandh’ – a bond of family and kinship.” – Smt. Sushma Swaraj on India- Nepal ties.

India and Nepal share ties of culture, religion, tradition, language, literature, and mythology. The historical and cultural affinities between India and Nepal create a strong foundation for cooperation in the following ways:

  1. Geographical Bond: People in both the countries are nurtured by the same mountains and rivers. The waters of Kosi, Gandak, Sarayu rivers travel to India from Nepal.
  2. India provides land-locked Nepal the connectivity for essential supplies and economic activities.

E.g., India is one of the largest trade partners of Nepal.

  1. Religious Ties: There is religious affinity due to Hinduism being the majority religion in both countries. Nepal is home to Shree Pashupatinath Mandir, one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. There is equal reverence for Kashi and Ganga in both countries.
  2. Cultural heritage: The birthplaces of Buddha (Lumbini) and Seeta (Janakpuri) are in Nepal.
  3. Social Bonds: There are strong people-to-people ties due to shared languages, family ties, open border. Hindi movies and songs are part of popular culture.
  4. Security Linkages: The Gurkha regiments are part of the Indian army, with large recruitment from Nepal nationals (60% of each battalion).

 

However, despite these shared ties, the bilateral relationship between the two countries has often been marked by suspicion and mistrust as discussed below:

  1. Coercive diplomacy creates a perception of big-brother attitude, generating anti-India sentiment.

E.g., allegations of economic blockade and interference in Nepal’s internal politics.

  1. Border disputes exist due to different interpretations of Treaty of Sugauli, resulting in issues such as cartographic aggression.

E.g., Susta and Limpiyadhura dispute.

  1. Madhesi Issue in Nepal is source of political instability in India’s neighbourhood. Nepal discriminates against Indian nationals violating the spirit of 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship.

E.g., gendered inequities in Nepal’s Citizenship Amendment Act 2006.

  1. Security: Nepal is source of arms-smuggling, drug trafficking, money laundering activities. The recruitment of Nepalese in Gurkha regiment has remained suspended for three years due to Nepal’s objection to Agnipath scheme.
  2. China’s five-finger strategy has overshadowed India-Nepal ties.

E.g., Nepal’s negative views on Indo-pacific, increasing Chinese interference in Nepal’s politics etc.

 

Following suggestions can help address the issues of suspicion and mistrust in India-Nepal ties:

  1. Joint management of border to minimize conflicts related to unsettled border as well as security issues like smuggling.
  2. Economic cooperation through infrastructure projects on hydropower, railways, cross-border SEZs
  3. Cultural convergence through cooperation on tourism.

E.g., Ramayana circuit, Buddhist circuit etc.

  1. Track 2 (unofficial) and Track 1.5 (semi-official) diplomacy to improve perception issues and grievances, including on border-disputes.

India-Nepal relationship is unique. The legacy of dependence-dominance relationship must be recast by replacing coercive diplomacy with cooperative diplomacy.

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