Nepal’s India Yatra: Great Expectations

An editorial in the Kathmandu Post titled Koirala’s visit.

It has become a tradition. India is the first official destination for every successive prime minister. China is the second one. Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has also decided not to break the practice. Postponing his medical visit to Bangkok, Koirala is embarking on a three day visit to India seeking economic and political support for the newly established democratic government. Reportedly, Koirala is formally requesting for a special economic assistance package. Apart from this, Koirala would also seek India’s blessing for the success of the peace talks with the Maoists. Kathmandu wants Delhi to back the UN role in disarming the Maoists, if the need be. Koirala must be in an upbeat mood because Indian newspapers have already announced that India is planning a “mega economic” package for Nepal. The visit of the prime minister is, therefore, expected to garner support for the economic development and political stability.

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Nepali Skepticism
Meanwhile, people who are following the Prime Minister’s India visit are skeptical about the trip and any possible agreements. They are tired of seeing Nepal lose to India in such agreements. India promises attractive packages of help and cooperation on paper but always exploits our compulsions (‘India-lockedness’) in practice.

Take a survey among Nepalis about their impression of India. The result will be that an overwhelming majority of respondents will dislike the Establishment India if not hate outright. Yes, people to people relationship is good between Nepal and India. There is a huge fan following of Bollywood stars in Nepali cities and Hindi films are popular among the mass of all ages. The influence of cricketing icons can also be felt very strongly in the pitches of Kathmandu and other parts of Nepal. Yes the rhetorical talk of cultural ties never ceases to exist. But Nepali people also do not forget the obstacles India creates every now and then on our borders, in their customs points and in many other fields. One day India talks about helping Nepal economically and the next it announces additional customs duties to Nepali exports. Such has been the Indian behavior towards Nepal all the time in the past.

It might be because of our inefficiency to deal with the issues but has Nepal always found itself losing something precious to Indians during bilateral talks. No one has forgotten the Tanakpur scandal that happened while Koirala was in power in the 90s. That is exactly why Members of Parliament yesterday warned PM Koirala not to make any controversial deal with the government of India during the visit, Himalayan Times reports. They suggested that the PM sought Indian support for the proclamation of the House of Representatives and achievements of the people’s movement.

-Wagle

Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat has drafted a special proposal, which will point out the areas of support for Nepal. However, it seems that India has already assessed Nepal’s needs, and has made up its mind on how to go ahead with it. The Times of India (April 27) mentioned that India wanted to support Nepal to prevent it from becoming a failed state due to fiscal turmoil. India is reportedly considering huge cash and credit infusion to check balance of payment situation, rescheduling of loans, concessionary rates in oil supplies and support on communication equipment. The Indian assessment of Nepal’s needs is definitely valid and praiseworthy. However, there are many other issues in which Nepal should seek India’s cooperation.

There is no dispute that Nepal needs a good rapport with India to progress economically, and maintain peace. Koirala should also thank India for helping to bring the Maoists to the peace-talk-table, and exert formidable pressure on the king to bow down to the public demand. However, Koirala should not forget the issues of construction of dams in the bordering areas that inundate thousands of hectares of arable land every year on the Nepali side and displace hundreds of thousands. The quarantine check posts at the Indian borders have been causing serious problems to Nepali farmers who export agricultural produce. The four percent duty on imports, which has badly hurt Nepali exports, should be annulled. Similarly, Koirala should seek India’s support to control cross-border criminal activities and smuggling. There are also issues such as aviation, tourism, hydropower, transit road to China which need to be addressed. Harnessing these sectors would benefit both the countries.

Published by UWB

Pioneering blog from Nepal...since 2004.

60 thoughts on “Nepal’s India Yatra: Great Expectations

  1. I am of the opinion that Maoists are determined to have not a say in government but their government 100%. If you remember the beginning days of maoists, these guys were selecting and killing nepali congress activists… later they destroyed what was a local grassroot governance (local democracy) by selectively attacking VDCs and destroying power base of SPA.
    Its good to have strong support of India lest Maoist can think of taking over Nepal by pure miliatary force. I am skeptical to talks as Maoists have lists of unmeetable demands and they want election with people forced to vote under their guns.

  2. Sradha:
    You crack me up. Expore minerals and oil in Nepal? Are you being serious?

  3. This paraliament is re-instate for the peace not for the killings and bloodshed. Otherwise what is the difference between autocratic rule and this re-instate parliament. If it cannot achieve the goal then it should be disolved. What is the reason for bring the same old foxes back.

  4. What I feel is that Nepal has the best chance of having a peaceful and stable condition. It is desperately needed for the Nepalese economy and I hope that this time every one can get some united for the people.

  5. Frends, today Nepal is at a critical crossroad; we are all living under the threat of yet another tyrannical regime of the Maoists. We are all aware what will happen to the Nepalese and the country should such a probability become a reality. This is a time when we should discard all inhibitions towards our SPA leadership and our friendly foreign friends. Without their support, we as a people will have to pay a very heavy price even if we succeed in launching yet another Jana Andolan. The repression of the Maoist government, should we come to that, will be brutal and much pain will be infliced on us the people.

  6. Face it guys, Nepal has nothing in the way of resources except a little water. ( Which is not a great source of energy. Certainly not worth $800 bn.)

    But look at South Korea. Thirty years ago, it wasn’t much better than Nepal. Look at it now. And it has no physical resources either.

  7. India’s engagement in Nepal is in full blossom. After years of tillage, cultivation, planting, and making the best use of costly fertilizers, India has finally reached the stage wherefrom it can harvest the returns of its investment the way it wants.

    There is finally a regime change in Nepal, albeit with the call up of the ten-year old primordial insurgency. The courtesy of the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and the generosity of the Maoists have finally enabled India to achieve what was never possible otherwise. China kept watching India’s strategic offensive with caution, the US joined it in keeping with the larger American interests, and the UK kept itself hesitatingly apart.

    The ailing Prime Minister, G P Koirala, who was scheduled to go to Bangkok to check up his fast deteriorating lung disease, has been forced to go to New Delhi, and respond to India’s demands first.

    The democracy that has been restored is above the clutches of constitutionality. The famous House Proclamation has quickly paralyzed the basic structure of the 1990 Constitution without creating a new structure for the new regime. The Constitution does not constrain anybody anymore. The power that the SPA government has been exercising belittles everything; put behind the immense dictatorial power of the king after February 2004.

    Certainly, creditors have a golden opportunity to get both their principal and interest paid without further delaying the transaction. After all, Koirala is a “ripe mango” who can fall down anytime.

    A government which need not prove its worth to anybody within the country has now been installed. It neither needs the vote of the people, nor the faith of the constitutional authorities. The courts are rendered useless, because now decrees of the liberated state come from the mandate of the mass movement (or of the ‘bewildered mass’?), not from bicameral legislature, or any other suitable heir of its authority.

    The erratic king who wanted to return to democratic process, but only under his own terms and conditions, has been finally pushed to a corner of the Narayanhity Palace in abject conditions. The Royal Nepalese Army, the last professional bastion of Nepali state has been demoralized by the so-called revolutionaries to such an extent that it is not able to see people “eye to eye” for no fault of its own. It has become a “Nepal Army” overnight keeping however the same old Chief of Staff, whose definition of loyalty to the new regime has at once become surprisingly profound.

    An 84-year old Prime Minister is the showcase of the democratic change that hardly exists. A life-long advocate of the doctrine of national reconciliation, Koirala has been chosen as the safest guy to demolish the history of monarchy, and as a corollary, the history of democracy. His decisions no longer have to test the opinion of the electorates.

    India has been so kind to get things done without being told. As much as Koirala remembers, the draft of the 12-point pact was brought to him by Krishna Prasad Sitaula and the draft of the House Proclamation by another ‘guy’ from the UML. It is amazing for aging Koirala who developed these magic formulas to make democracy fully sustainable for all time to come with the inexorable backing of the firebrand class emancipators. The ‘sovereign’ House neither discussed the May 18 House Declaration, nor the Code of Conduct and most of the other measures, nor brought them in public discussion. After all, the popular mandate of the government will continue to be reminded by the Maoist showdown of June 2 and young Maoists testing the patience of the people on the streets of Kathmandu on everyday basis.

    The 40-point demands with which the Maoists started the “people’s war” has never been the issue in the ‘sovereign’ House. The talk about socio-economic and political empowerment of the deprived people, and abrogation of the 1950 treaty with India, scrapping of the Mahakali Treaty, regulation of the international border, introduction of work permit system in Nepal, and end of India’s imperialistic hegemony has disappeared from the agenda.

    Rather, the challenge was to hastily strip off the king of his powers (as he had developed a contagious disease called national independence), defunct the Constitution which posed difficulties in offering Nepali citizenship to all interested Indians, and eliminate constitutional safeguards in the international treaties or agreements in the exploitation of Nepal’s natural resources.

    The issue also was to kick off the legal constitutional irritants that resisted the Indian design of internal colonization of Nepal by establishing its social-economic and business ‘forts’ throughout Nepal. This can, of course, be best facilitated by the present ‘sovereign’ government. The ethnic tensions have already started in Siraha and Saptari. They have to go a long way and scatter all around this ancient land, to do the remaining job for the hegemonic expansion.

    Thanks to India’s sprawling embassy at Lainchaur, one of its biggest worldwide, and the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) in its premises, which left no stone unturned to shake the chassis of Nepal cultivating ‘friendly’ politicians, pliant journalists and elements within the police, army and the palace.

    No Nepali wants money or the ‘economic package’ from India. What Nepalis want is India’s goodwill, a sense of non-interference, justice and co-existence, which India is never capable of by virtue of hypocrisy that runs through its establishment. By forcing the ailing Prime Minister to come over and concede to its written or unwritten demands again, India has simply demonstrated that it does not want democracy (and therefore nationalism) in Nepal at all; all it wants is an unconditional submission, which is never going to happen, even if Nepal is thrown into a frying pan.

    The unfortunate thing is that the joint communiqué to be issued tomorrow at the end of Koirala’s visit to Delhi will not be enough to tell the people of Nepal what price the SPA government and their Maoist partners in the dialogue process are going to pay to their benefactors for the favors that have been received.

  8. A question for all of you India baiters-put yourself in their shoes. If you were a big powerful country and had a neighbour like Nepal-a country full of corrupt politicians, bungling bureaucrats, an incompetent, half brained king and a Maoist revolution that was gaining in strength day by day-with all of this bunch looking to you for support and sustenance-what would you do? An Indian by definition will always look to serve India’s interests. A Nepali by defintion should too always look to act for Nepals interests. But does that hold true for us Nepalis? Have our Nepali politicians, Nepali Maoists, Nepali bureacrats and Nepali King kept Nepal’s interest as the main priority? The simple answer is no. So stop blaming others-look at our own shortcomings, acknowledge our mistakes so that we can change and correct it. Blaming India for all our ills is just plain stupid-India will always act in Indias interest, what do you expect? It’s us Nepalis who haven’t been acting in our country’s best interest.

  9. Please do not let Maoist tyrrant gain any foot hold in Nepal. Please do not repeat the history of Stalin, Kim Il Jong, & Mao-Ze Dong of cultural revolution in Nepal. Prachanda is what Stalin was in former USSR. He is a Satan, a great Stan actually like Iran says to a greatest country in the world. Mr. Prachanda has destroyed Nepal’s image so badly in the international world by his decapitating and maiming the poor Nepalese that he deserves the execution more than the king G in Nepal. “Death to Prachanda, Death to Maoists in Nepal”. Long live people like Girija, Deuba, or Gagan Thapa who hold freedom dear and near to their hearts. Prachanda and his cronies need to be obliterated like Peruvian Sendeneros.

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