Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Mending ties


If two latest publications from Indian foreign ministry are anything to go by, Indian government is eager to repair broken relationship with Nepal. One of the publications contains Indian Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi's remarks that Nepal-India ties are as ancient as the Himalayas and Ganges. Right from the time of his ascent to the seat of power, Modi has adopted the policy of 'neighbourhood first'.  And he came to Nepal within weeks of swearing-in. None of the Indian PMs had come to Nepal on a state visit for 17 years. Modi himself was uncomfortable with such a long gap in visiting a country that shares close social-cultural ties with India. Modi came to Nepal during SAARC summit as well.

But things turned worse all of a sudden and Nepal had to face economic blockade despite New Delhi's claim that it had no enmity against Nepal. Nepalis had to face extreme difficulties as imports of even essential goods halted. Five months after the promulgation of constitution, Nepalis had to undergo harsh conditions due to the blockade. Nepal's new constitution, a domestic matter, was the cause behind India's unfriendly stance towards Nepal. Constitution promulgated in a hurry had been generating many discussions and controversies but that was Nepal's internal challenge. Dissatisfaction against the statute was not limited to Tarai-Madhes. But New Delhi chose to ignore Nepal's ground reality and India overstepped in internationalising Nepal's internal affairs.

But it is history now. Famous publications mentioned above seem to have clarified that New Delhi has corrected its views on Nepal. It now takes Nepal's new constitution as relevant in developing constitutional democratic process. Having accepted that issues to be resolved are Nepal's internal matters, India has hoped that they will meet a logical conclusion soon. Thus, these new developments are positive. Only it needs to be seen how quickly and how heartily does this new thought get implemented. Efforts in normalising relationship will depend on it.

For now, our Ministry of Foreign Affairs needs to take this change of heart shown by New Delhi as an effort towards building favourable environment in bilateral ties. Future meetings of bilateral mechanisms will be guided by New Delhi's stance in the meeting of ministerial level Nepal-India Joint Commission that is expected to start within few weeks. Conclusions of discussions among eminent persons from each country will provide initial hints towards this direction.