Prime Minister's Nepal Visit: After 17 Years A Step Towards Maturity
By Ravi Nitesh
02 August, 2014
The present visit of Indian prime minister to Nepal has many hope in terms of not only bilateral relations, but even in terms of productivity and growth of both nations and also with other neighbor countries as well.
It is a visit of Indian prime minister to Nepal after long gap of 17 years when the then prime minister of India I K Gujral visited there. It is also to note that few days ago when foreign minister of India and Nepal revived the JC (Joint commission), this was happened after 23 years ago. Such progressive steps may pave a strong way for near future.
India and Nepal are two countries with lot of similarity and brotherhood. These countries have similar challenges as well, in terms of poverty, education, energy and environment. Nepal and India both are also countries of South Asian region along with other in the list as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Maldives, Bangladesh and Srilanka. With all these virtues, this visit becomes important in terms of South Asian environment of building relations and framing the outline for collective growth.
Nepal and India forms a unique relationship through their state borders. At a time when in South Asia, countries have some sort of conflict with reference to defining their border lines and making it more rigid, more stringent, more vigilant and less accessible for even normal citizens to cross these borders, there is a Nepal-India border as exception in South Asian Region. There lies a boundary between two countries, which gives the message of love, peace and mutual trust rather than hate, and restrictions.
This border is all about trust between the two countries. In fact, everyone knows that how humanitarian efforts are in progress for a visa free south asia and more accessible borders. It was also told that how such moves of less restriction on people’s movement and visit can help in developing a trust and collective growth for a region. Even example of European Unions have been presented that how they all are connected with each other very well and moving towards development and growth together while here in South Asia, in spite of all our similar challenges, in spite of poverty and hunger as common enemy, we are witnessing lack of trust among our governments and investing too much on border restrictions, vigilance, arms and ammunitions.
Nepal and india also forms a deep cultural bond. We may witness so many marriages across the border mostly of the people who are living in eastern part of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, as it is just adjacent to Nepal. In education, we can witness the bulk of Nepali students who are studying in India. Even the old customs like relations of security personals, existing ‘Gorkha Rifles’ are valid in present days as well. People in India never see Nepal or its people with any kind of hatred, but find them only similar. Such things only add positive and most important contents in paving the way for governmental relations. Though in Nepal, there are some anti-India sentiments due to few reasons (such as of border conflict and reviewing old treaties and all), but with the frequent visit and will to resolve these things, is not too difficult for the two governments as the negotiations (if any) will automatically have support of people in view of the deep cultural bond and frequent movement to each other.
With the concept of free borders, there are also some voice who claims these borders as the main way for human trafficking and smuggling, but in fact these things can be found solutions through being little vigilant without increasing restrictions to cross the border.
There can be few more things required to be done and most of these have been addressed in JC few days back. Few important points include reviewing the 1950 treaty of peace and friendship, to complete formalities bilateral investment protection and promotion agreement (BIPPA), road and rail links, scholarship to students of Nepal, power trade agreement and cooperation for development and conservation of places of historic importance.
Also, it was informed to upper house of Indian Parliament by Dr V. K. Singh in answer to unstarred question 2337 dated 31 July in reply to Dr. Subbarmi Reddy that even integrated check posts, flood control measures, logistic assistance through buses and ambulances, medical assistance programs, 3000 annual scholarships and approx 450 small developmental projects are planned.
We all hope that this visit will improve and strengthen our bilateral relationship as well as its effect will be seen upon SAARC strengthening. Also, with the increased trade and development, basic problems of poverty and energy crisis will be removed in these countries. On political front, Nepal is already in a time of change and witnessed many political changes in recent years. At this time, Nepal may also utilize India’s assistance to strengthen itself in SAARC region as well as making itself more political stable and strong in formulation and implementation of projects and policies for welfare of its citizens. For example, making of CA can get assistance from India and other SAARC countries and it will only improve Nepal’s own strength and will be seen as forward step of diplomacy towards CBMs among SAARC region. On the part of India, it must be noted that it need to work in alignment with other south asian countries as an equal partner with the same privilege and powers as of others.
Ravi Nitesh is a Petroleum Engineer, Founder- Mission Bhartiyam, Core Member- Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign
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