UPSC Civil Services(IAS) Exam always concentrate its International Relations Questions on the Indian relations with its neighbours. The questions in the IAS Main Exam are Current Affairs Oriented and they are the blend of current affairs and basic issues. Such questions required the current analysis of the Events of National and International Events.recenty Nepal has cancelled its Prime Ministers visit. lets analysis the reasons behind.
Anti-India rhetoric that seems to be a part and parcel of Nepal’s internal political conflict has been yet again been brought to the fore due to two recent events. First was the cancellation of President Bidhya Devi Bhandari’s maiden visit to India merely 72 hours before her departure. And second is the recall of Nepal’s Envoy to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay.
Though no formal reason has been cited for these events, they are supposed to be indicative of Nepal’s unhappiness over India’s interference in its internal political matters. Rumours are rife that KP Oli Government of Nepal believes that Mr. Upadhyay colluded with India to topple the Oli government. India, on the other hand maintains that this is a matter related to Nepal’s internal political conflict as Mr. Upadhyay is being targeted for he was appointed by former PM Sushil Koirala and is a senior leader in the opposition party Nepalese Congress (NC).
These accusations are being hurled India’s way as PM KP Oli just narrowly saved his government from toppling after Former Prime Minister Prachanda threatened to withdraw support from UML. Prime Minister Oli averted the crisis after a 9 point agreement was reached between UML and Maoist party which included addressing Madhesis concerns and demands, granting clemency to Maoist Cadres and quickening reconstruction work.
Though, Nepal in order to mend fences with India invited United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) for talks on the issue of state boundaries, these events are a reflection of borderline precarious and uneasy relationship between India and Nepal.
Background of Nepal Crisis
After a decade long civil war in Nepal, a comprehensive Peace Accord was signed between the Nepal government and the Maoists in 2006, largely brokered by the Indian Government. As per the accord, and interim constitution was brought in which replaced the 90s constitution. A Constituent Assembly was elected based on the interim constitution. This CA was assigned to deliver a new constitution by May 2010 according to which a democratically elected government of Nepal would be formed. In the elections Maoists also participated but no party got majority and hence began the era of coalition government
But the CA was unable to deliver a new constitution as there were wide differences between the major parties (i.e. Nepalese Congress, UML, Maoists) over issues such as:
1. Form of the Government (Presidential or Parliamentary)
2. Maoists supported Nepal as a federal state demarcated on ethnic lines while other parties did not.
3. Process of appointment of judiciary and should it be autonomous or responsible to the legislature
After being given 4 extensions, CA was finally dissolved in 2012. After the second CA election, NC and UML came in majority. After many deliberations by 2014 and two Constituent Assemblies later a broad consensus was reached over the new constitution.
• Nepal would be a federal state with 8 provinces grouped on ethnic lines
• 165 members of parliament will be elected through direct majority voting while 110 through proportional representation.
• Demarcation of provinces was left for later
• To be decided whether Constitution to be adopted through majority or consensus.
India’s Role and its fallout
India had always been of the view that Constitution of Nepal should be adopted on consensus basis as that would be inclusive of the concerns of ethnic groups such as Madhesis and Tharus. These communities and others wish for provinces demarcated on ethnic lines. These communities believe that there interest have been sacrificed in the new constitution and are deeply dissatisfied with it.
Though the CA tried to achieve consensus, in mid 2015 it passed the new Constitution on the basis of majority instead. This decision led to the massive protests by Madhesis and other communities in the country.
Owing to the Madhesi unrest along India Nepal border, India which is a major oil supplier to Nepal stopped the supply. This led to a massive crisis in the country wherein oil price shot up and black market flourished, adding to the vows of already earthquake battered people; Nepal accused India of coercive tactics while India retorted that Nepal should be more inclusive in its new constitution and handle its internal unrest.Whichever be the case, this alleged embargo has further pushed Nepal into the arms of China with serious implications for India. PM Oli visited Beijing this year in March and signed significant agreements which include:
1. Trade and Transit agreement that will allow Nepal to trade with third country through Tianjin
2. China plans to build airport at Pokhra
3. Proposed 526 Km link between Lhasa and Kathmandu
Nepal has also agreed to be a part of China’s “One BELT, One Road “initiative.
These are not very positive signs for India. Though Nepal’s two-third trade is still with India, its growing closeness to China does not bode well.
India’s stand on the other hand that constitution of Nepal should be based on consensus and not majority is rooted in its own process of nation building where it has learnt that a united country cannot be built by ignoring the concerns of even the smallest minority. Hence, India’s advice to its neighbour is to bring all communities on board.
Having said that, India needs to be mindful about how it communicates its concerns to Nepal. India has to be careful that it does not come across as a big brother to the small Himalayan Nation but as a partner. Putting an oil embargo maybe is not the right approach to the problem of civil unrest. Nepal’s growing closeness to China is also a security concern for India which shares a 1750Km long border with it.
India Nepal relationship is at the moment volatile but not beyond repair. Hence, its in the interest of both the nations to be mindful of each other’s concerns.
Nepal is recently venturing into its experiment with Democracy while India has already proved to be a success. While Nepal can learn a lot from India experience , India needs to position itself more as a partner and less as a Big Brother if it wishes to see itself as a more active collaborator with its small yet significant Himalayan neighbour.