Tag Archives: Foreign Affairs

The Spillover Effect: from Bihar to Nepal [and the Maoists]

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

We are waiting for the spillover effect to take hold. China is growing phenomenally. India is following China so very closely. We are tightly sandwiched between them. We are folding our hands and sitting back, hoping that one day the economic progress will spillover from both sides and submerge us. We are hoping to swim. While hoping so we continue to berate both of our neighbors. We call the Chinese the “ex-Maoists who have no idea about democracy and freedom.” We call the Indians “expansionists who have nothing except the Bihari-style democracy.”

spillover effect kathmandu post p6.28nov10
Kathmandu Post 28.11.10

The Bihari-style democracy! Turns out the Bihari-style democracy is much better than what we have been told we have—”great achievement of the great People’s War”. In the past four years since the ‘great People’s War with small help from People’s Movement-II’ gave us republicanism we have gotten nothing but instability and inflation. Life has become harder for the man on the street while leaders are engaged in an endless power struggle. Frustration has surpassed the height of Sagarmatha.

Until recently, Bihar used to represent the worst of India: crime, corruption, insecurity, lack of development and immoral politics. Everything negative. That image of Bihar has changed dramatically in the past five years. And in the meantime, all these negative Bihari traits have crossed over to Nepal. That’s the actual spillover effect taking place. Neither Bihar nor India is to be blamed for that. We are solely responsible for stagnation and the deteriorating situation in our society. What have we done in the past five years when Bihar went through the historic transformation? Okay, we too witnessed historic political changes. We ended a decade long bloody war. We transformed from an autocratic monarchy to a democratic republic. Certainly things to be proud of. But, the question is, is that enough? The answer is a resounding NO. Continue reading The Spillover Effect: from Bihar to Nepal [and the Maoists]

China’s Political and Economic missions in Nepal: Investment- Yes, Interference- No.

More Chinese investments in Nepal is very much welcome because this will help us become self-sustained and independent.

By Prithvi Man Shrestha

The Chinese private sector is looking at Nepal as an investment destination. This was the message Chinese businessmen tried to convey in the 11th meeting of Nepal-China Non-Government Cooperation Forum in Kathmandu on Thursday (16 Sept). With China’s financial muscle getting stronger, Nepal’s hydropower, tourism and agriculture sectors are on its investment radar. Their seriousness can be gauged by the fact that a high-level 40-member team came to Nepal to attend the forum. And most of them, according to Chinese ambassador to Nepal Qiu Guohong, are from reputed companies.

The business delegation led by the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce (ACFIC) first vice-chairman Quan Zhezhu, who is also a vice-minister, had entrepreneurs from established and renowned Chinese private companies in the areas of tourism, aviation, metallurgy, real estate, medicines and mechanical engineering. Addressing the inauguration session, Qiu set the tone by saying that the power shortage in Nepal is an important opportunity for Chinese companies to be involved in hydropower development in Nepal.

China’s interest on hydropower development was evident from the fact that the businesspersons told their Nepali counterparts that they wanted to invest in hydro projects ranging from 10 MW to 500 MW.

“This will pave the way for even the district-based small Nepali entrepreneurs to invest in a joint venture with the Chinese,” said Kush Kumar Joshi, president of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI). The Chinese side also said they discussed hydropower, tourism and agriculture, among others, and expressed willingness to bring in investment in Nepal. “We will bring reputed Chinese companies here to explore the new investment avenues in Nepal,” said ACFIC first vice-chairman Quan. (Continued after the box)

Sept 14: A 47-member team of Chinese entrepreneurs, hydropower experts and power developers arrived in Kathmandu on Tuesday (Sept 14) to attend a high-level conclave organised by the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI). Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal will inaugurate the three-day “brainstorming session,” which Nepal’s top bureaucrats, policy makers and entrepreneurs will attend. “Investment in Hydropower” will be the 11th initiative in the Nepal-China non-Governmental Cooperation series started in 1996 during the visit of then Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to China. Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission Dr Jagadish Chandra Pokhrel, Foreign Secretary Madan Kumar Bhattarai, Energy Secretary Shanker Koirala and entrepreneurs from the Nepali hydro power sector will participate in the conclave. Nepal and India had orgainsed such a conclave for two consecutive years after Jana Andolan II in 2006, with Nepal Electricity Authority and Power Trading Corporation of India as the lead agencies.

During the three-day segment, entrepreneurs and experts from both sides will give their perspectives on Nepal’s policy and investment opportunities on hydropower, and more importantly, how China can help the hydro power sector in Nepal. Quan Zhezhu, vice-minister of the United Front Work of CPC Central Committee (UFW) and party secretary of All China Federation of Industries and Commerce (AFIC) will lead the Chinese delegation. epresentatives from Snap Power Company, Sino Hydro and Dtang Company are interested in investing in the hydro sector in Nepal, said a government official. Kumin and Xian provinces that have extensive experience in developing hydropower and grid extension are also in the Chinese delegation.

“China wants to engage its state owned companies in Nepal’s hydro power sector, utilizing its huge foreign currency reserve. This is a clear indication that China wants to extend its quick growth to Nepal to tap our hydro power potential,” a senior Foreign Ministry Official said. Export and Import Bank of China (EXIM), Gezhouba Company, the builder of Three Gorges Dam are also interested in investing in Nepal, said sources.

Currently, Sunkoshi (10MW) hydro project has been completed with Chinese grant assistance, while the northern neighbour has offered a soft loan for the Trishuli-3A (61MW) project. Chinese aid for Nalsyaugad (400MW) is under consideration, according to the Ministry of Energy. Continue reading China’s Political and Economic missions in Nepal: Investment- Yes, Interference- No.

Proof: India Asked for Passport Contract from Nepal

indian ambassador letter to nepali foreign minister 1
first page of the indian letter to nepali foreign minister

It has been revealed that Indian government wanted machine readable passport printing contract from Nepal. A confidential letter (above, page 1 and below, page 2) written by the Indian ambassador in Kathmandu to the Nepali foreign minister was disclosed today which clearly indicates it was the Indian government that had sought to get the contract for printing nearly 4 million Nepali passports. It was not clear who leaked the letter to the Maoists- the Indian Embassy or the Nepali Foreign Ministry.

Written by India’s ambassador to Nepal Rakesh Sood to Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sujata Koirala, the letter, sent in December, pointed out that “India and Nepal share an open border regime under which Nepali citizens do not require a visa to travel to India and vice-a-versa. In recent times, the open border has also been a source of certain security concerns which have been shared with the Nepali leaders at the highest level.” Continue reading Proof: India Asked for Passport Contract from Nepal

Shyam Saran, Nepal expert, Quits Indian PMO

Saran’s exit marks the departure of the last Indian player in the Indian establishment who was behind the ground-breaking 12-point agreement that initiated the process of ending conflict in Nepal

By Dinesh Wagle in New Delhi
The Wagle Notes

shyam saran with nepali officials
Shyam Saran as India's ambassador to Nepal with Nepali officials in Kathmandu in 2004. Pic by Bikas Rauniar

Shyam Saran, former ambassador to Nepal and the man who once played a crucial role in Nepali peace process has on Friday (yesterday) announced resignation from the post of Indian Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on the India-U.S. nuclear deal and climate change. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) accepted the resignation to be effective from March 14.

Despite holding a position that has little to do with Nepali politics Saran is said to be providing his inputs on India’s Nepal policy informally because of his deep understanding of the Nepali politics. He hasn’t publicized the reason for resignation but news reports have speculated that he fell out with India’s pro-active Environment minister over India’s approach to international climate change negotiations. Some reports say he was unhappy with the latest development at the PMO that saw Shiv Shankar Menon, a former foreign secretary three years junior to him, elevated to the post of National Security Adviser to the PM with Minister of State status. Whatever the reason, Saran’s exit marks the departure of the last Indian player in the Indian establishment who was behind the ground-breaking 12-point agreement that initiated the process of ending conflict in Nepal. Continue reading Shyam Saran, Nepal expert, Quits Indian PMO

Analysis: Nepal President’s India Visit

president yadav returns home
President Yadav arrives at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu

The president wasn’t accorded similar levels of hospitality on all fronts: India rejected his request to supply more sugar to Nepal.

By Dinesh Wagle
The Wagle Notes

President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav returned home on Thursday (yesterday) completing his four-day visit to India. It was a mixed bag. To his supporters, New Delhi not only expressed solidarity with the budding Nepali republic but also demonstrated strong support for the president for his hardline position against the Maoist-led government. His detractors, especially the Maoists, could argue that it was but natural for Delhi to accord the president a warm welcome. Delhi, to this group, gave him a ‘thank you’ for doing what he was asked to do: revoke the Maoist-led government’s decision to sack the then-Army chief Rookmangud Katawal.

Some Nepal-watchers here say New Delhi has no illusion about the ceremonial status of Nepal’s president. “After all, it is the political parties, including the Maoists, who have to come together to complete the work on the constitution,” said an Indian analyst insisting anonymity. “Indians know they can back the president only so far. If they push more than what is seen as undermining the democratic process in Nepal, they will be facing the wrath of the Nepali people as it happened in the 2006 movement.” New Delhi changed tack as Nepalis continued with the movement ignoring Delhi’s initial efforts to bring together monarchy and political parties and restore democracy. Continue reading Analysis: Nepal President’s India Visit

From Nepal to India: Busy Day for a President

Nepal President visits India
President Yadav holds meeting with chief of India's ruling alliance Sonia Gandhi. Pic by Dinesh. Rest of the pics by Chandrakishore

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

In the most important and busiest day of his four-day maiden visit to India, President Ram Baran Yadav on Tuesday (today) met several top Indian leaders including counterpart Prativa Patil, Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh and Indian National Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Gandhi, unarguably the most important leader of present day India, went to the Taj Palace hotel to meet the visiting president in the evening.

Before Gandhi, several key cabinet ministers and vice president Hamid Ansari called on the Nepali leader in the hotel. Foreign minister SM Krishna, Finance minister Pranab Mukharjee, Home minister P Chidambaram met the president separately. A new appointment was added in the schedule in which India’s new national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon paid a courtesy call on the president. Commerce minister Anand Sharma and chief of the Congress party’s international department Dr. Karan Singh accompanied Gandhi.

In all of the meetings, UWB has learned, the Indian leaders expressed their concerns on the progress being made in drafting a new constitution in Nepal. They asked whether the constitution writing process would be completed on time, according to President Yadav’s press adviser Rajendra Dahal. Likewise the Indian leaders also keenly inquired about other aspects of the peace process including the governing alliance’s efforts in bringing the UCPN Maoist into confidence. The President is learned to have said that all 22 political parties who supported his controversial move to revoke the then PM’s decision to sack the then Army chief are still undivided and all the political parties in the CA including the Maoists might come together in future as the agenda of change belongs to them. [The Indian side, as it happens in all such occasions, tried to seek assurances from the Nepali side that Nepali land would not be used for anti-India activities.]

Indian media may have ignored the Nepali presidential visit but the warm and high-level welcome that the President got from the Indian political leadership was noteworthy. Some may interpret it as India’s strong approval of the President’s anti-Maoist stand back home.

Prior to the marathon meetings in the hotel the Indian president formally welcomed the Nepali guest in a ceremony in the presidential palace with a 21-gun salute. National anthems of both countries were played during the colorful ceremony. Later in the day, the Prime Minister had lunch with President Yadav in Hyderabad House that is near to the Prime Minister’s office. All key members of the Indian cabinet were present. Nepal and India signed on a new air service agreement and three memorandums of understanding related to development of railway infrastructure in five bordering points and construction of polytechnic institute in Hetauda and a city hall in Birganj. None of the issues are new though.

The Indian press, busy in covering the aftermath of Pune blast, the Maoist attack in West Bengal and impending India-Pakistan talks, didn’t care much about the Nepali presidential visit but the warm and high-level welcome that the president got from the Indian political leadership was noteworthy. This will be interpreted in some quarters in Nepal as India’s strong support to the new Republic in Nepal especially in the context of recent visit by ex-king Gyanendra during which he met some top leaders including Sonia Gandhi. Or, in some other quarters, it could be interpreted as India’s strong approval of the President’s first year in office in which he angered the UCPN Maoist, the largest party in the constituent assembly, that resulting in the former rebel’s exit from the government and the political chaos that exists in Nepal now.

Meanwhile, the President seemed to portray his visit as one far from controversy and one of the regular trips that every Head of State of Nepal is supposed to make. “Nepal-India relations are confluence of political, economic, and unique ties at people-to-people level,” said the president while addressing the dinner party hosted by his Indian counterpart. “It cannot be defined by only one element, let alone be confined to one dimension. These multifaceted and multidimensional relations have been nurtured by frequent contacts and interactions at various levels. I am confident that my first visit to India as the head of state of a new Republic of Nepal will contribute to further consolidating our mutually beneficial close relations.”

First President of Republic of Nepal Arrives in India

First foreign trip of the First President of the Himalayan Republic

President Yadav with LK Advani
With Advani

Dr Ram Baran Yadav has started his first foreign trip (to India) as the first head of the state of the republic of Nepal on Monday (today). President Yadav, who landed in Delhi’s IG International Airport this afternoon, started discussions with Indian leaders at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel where he is staying. Top opposition leaders Lal Krishna Advani and Sharad Yadav paid courtesy call on the president.

“I asked the President his assessment of the situation where writing constitution is not completed in time,” said Advani who is a towering personality in the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party. “The president will be meeting the Prime Minister of India, Foreign Minister and possibly chairperson of the Congress party. I am sure that they would like democracy to be strengthen in Nepal. So is our party and NDA’s (National Democratic Alliance) interest.”

Asked if his party still had reservations about Maoists coming to power in Nepal, Advani replied: “That’s the feeling of many democrats even in Nepal.”

Asked if he raised the issue of Maoist’s ‘anti-India’ agitation in Nepal, Advani said: ” I didn’t raise the issue as that’s not what I am supposed to do. But I said that we would like Nepal’s religious, cultural and political relation with India as farm and strong as they have always been.”

In his meeting with the President, Sharad Yadav, leader of Janata Dal United, asked if the constitution would be written on time in Nepal. He also inquired about the challenges for the completion of drafting a constitution on time.

“The president said that the work is on right track,” said Rajendra Dahal, press adviser to the president. “But it’s slow, he said. The problem is political and the president said Nepal expects best wishes from India reminding India’s role during the time of conflict by helping to bring the Maoists into mainstream.”

Leader of ruling Nationalist Congress Party, D P Tripathi, also paid a courtesy called on the President. Similarly Indian foreign secretary Nirapuma Rao also met the President in the evening.

The president is scheduled to meet his counterpart Prativa Patil, Prime Minister Manmonah Singh, Foreign Minister SM Krishna and other leaders including United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday.

Air Service Agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding with India on constructing Railway infrastructure will be signed at the ministerial level on Tuesday. Similarly two other Memorandums of Understanding on constructing a Polytechnic institute in Hatuda and a Friendship Building in Birganj will also be signed at the secretary level. The railway infrastructure MOU is about extending Indian railway links to five border points with Nepal.

President will go to Haridwar on Wednesday. State Minister for External Affairs Praneet Kaur had received the president at the airport. The president attended a dinner party hosted by the Nepali ambassador to India Rukma Shumser Rana at the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi in the evening.

Maoists Intensify Anti-India Agitation as General Lands in Kathmandu

Deepak Kapoor in Kathmandu
Indian army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor is received by Nepali army second-in-command Gen. Toran Jang Singh at Kathmandu airport

Two days after their leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal hugged ‘interventionist’ India’s foreign minister SM Krishna in Kathmandu, the Maoists today ghearoed Indian embassy in the Nepali capital and showed black flags to the visiting Indian army chief. Yesterday the volatile comrades had boycotted Legislature-Parliament session demanding that the Nepalese government clarify its position on General Deepak Kapoor’s views opposing bulk integration of Maoist combatants into Nepal Army last month. After intense protests by the Maoists for more than three weeks, the Indian government had distanced itself from Kapoor’s views. Continue reading Maoists Intensify Anti-India Agitation as General Lands in Kathmandu

Maoists and Nepal-India Relations

Will they do it? A day after burning copies of some Nepal-India treaties they term unequal including the Sugauli Treaty, the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty and the Mahakali treaty in Kathmandu and other parts of the country the Maoists today said that they will take up the issue of border encroachment during their leaders meeting with visiting Indian foreign minister SM Krishna, who reached Kathmandu today on his first official visit to Nepal. During a meeting with Indian Minister Krishna scheduled for tomorrow, Maoist leaders including Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal will insist on scrapping the 1950 Peace and Friendship treaty between Nepal and India, resolving the encroachment of border problems, publicising secret treaties signed between the two nations and redefining the ties between the two countries on the basis of equality. “We will discuss by focusing mainly on four or five issues including the scrap of unequal treaties, border disputes, improve relations between the people of the two counties and review treaties in the interest of both the counties,” said Maoist Spokesperson Dinanath Sharma, talking to Radio Kantipur today.

Continue reading Maoists and Nepal-India Relations

India and Indians: Friends of Two Different Kinds

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal
This article appeared in today’s Op-Ed of The Kathmandu Post. Here is PDF of the page

Sometimes, I wonder why the official Nepal-India relationship doesn’t become as friendly and earthy as the down-to-earth friendship I enjoy with some Indians here in Delhi. Why doesn’t the bond between the two countries become as affectionate and emotional as the bond itself? The bond being that of roti aur beti (bread and daughter) that has brought families across the open border closer together.

[Somehow related: Indian parties spat over Nepal crisis (PDF)]

It seems friendship between the two nationals is not the same as the relationship between their respective countries. The diplomacy is ruthless, heartless and, in the words of a former Indian diplomat who was talking about Indo-Nepali relationship in Delhi a few weeks ago, immoral. Otherwise, a prime minister, in a nationally televised address, wouldn’t have complained about foreign intervention albeit without naming the country (but who doesn’t know the name!). And his finance minister wouldn’t have angrily told an Indian channel the story, in his own words, of the intervention of Delhi’s bureaucracy in Nepali affairs. Continue reading India and Indians: Friends of Two Different Kinds