Interview

‘Piecemeal strategy is no future of India-Nepal relations’ – Professor

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Nepal’s decision to pull out of the joint BIMSTEC military drill in Pune couldn’t have come at a worse time for India with the Nepali Army set to participate in a 12-day-long joint military exercise with China from September 17 in Chengdu.

Nepal has thwarted India’s strategy to form a regional alliance excluding China and Pakistan by holding a joint exercise with China snubbing the BIMSTEC joint military drill. It is considered a major diplomatic setback for India.

Sputnik talked to Geeta Kochhar, professor of Chinese Studies in JNU and visiting scholar at Fudan University, China, on India-Nepal ties.

Sputnik: How do you view China’s latest overtures in Nepal?

Geeta Kochhar: China has a long history of military ties with Nepal. In fact, during the civil war, China helped King Gyanendra with military supplies. It is not new, just that now it is more open…. Recently, China has also helped Nepal build an academy to keep surveillance on people.

Sputnik: How will Nepal-China military ties impact India?  

Geeta Kochhar: I think India should not worry too much about these ties, but concentrate more on protecting its own borders from the illegal inflow of Nepalese in Indian territory that pose challenges to the stability of India and rise in human trafficking using India also a transit route.

In fact, we should follow China’s model of making stringent checkpoints on the India-Nepal border.

China has its own imperative to protect its investments and citizens in Nepal, while Nepal wants to take advantage of China to increase its capabilities.

Sputnik: What should be India’s strategy to counter China’s increasing influence in Nepal?

Geeta Kochhar: India cannot stop Nepal’s deeper engagement with China, but can limit its influence on India-Nepal relations.

As a sovereign nation, Nepal may want to engage with China, but India needs to build its own capabilities and think what it wants from Nepal and what can be offered to Nepal in a more holistic manner. A piece-meal strategy is no future of India-Nepal relations.

First published on Sputnik News on 14 September 2018

Published on Lokantar on 16 September 2018 

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