1. Major Irritants:
There remains certain area where strain in relationship was clearly visible. For instance
i. Nepal’s insistence on changes in Indo-Nepal Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950.
ii. Use of Indian land by terrorists from Nepal for their activities in Nepal.
iii. Problem faced by Nepalese in Assam and Darjeeling district of West Bengal.
iv. Treatment meted out to the Indian citizens in Nepal in recent times.
v. Nepal’s tilt in favour of China to get economic and military support from China.
vi. Strong Maoist base in Nepal fostering anti-India sentiments.
vii. Use of Nepal’s territory by Pakistani terrorist as evident in IC-814 hijacking and smuggling of weapons and narcotics through Bihar and U.P.
A significant step towards improvement of ties between the two neighbours was taken up by National Front Government in India. With the emergence of multi party democracy in Nepal, this trend got a philip.
A number of political and economic interactions were envisaged and the two countries agreed to respect principle of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, national independence, non-interference etc.
India granted concessions to exports from Nepal. The two countries sought to prepare project reports for Karnali, Pancheshwar, Sapta Koshi, Burhi Gandak, Kamla and Bagmati rivers and to install flood forecasting and warning system. Pancheshwar project was another cooperative venture.
In 1996, a joint working group to tackle the menace of terrorism was set up. India, under the Prime Minister ship of I.K. Gujarat helped Nepal by giving several unilateral trade and other concessions. In 1999, India has concessions to transport of Nepal’s cargo from Calcutta port.
The growing ISI activities, drug smuggling, illegal trade, circulation of fake Indian currency, illegal arms supply, the hijacking of IC-814 are disturbing factors in the Indo-Nepalese relations.
Hrithik Roshan’s incident was an explicit articulation of the growing anti-India feeling in Nepal. This deterioration is alarming. The growing unemployment in Nepal along with the failure of Indian diplomacy can be seen as the possible causes of this incessant deterioration.
2. Recent Development:
There emerged a new twist in India’s relationship with Nepal following the assassination of king Birendra in 2001.
The new king Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah is seen to be unfavourable towards India. Adding to it, is the problem of Maoist elements who have not only organized subversive activities in Bihar, Andhra and West Bengal but also threatened the joint ventures in power generation.
Nepal’s political instability and economic backwardness have been a serious cause of concern in India. Frequent suspension of government, silencing of democratic norms, authoritarian tendencies in the institution of monarchy have further complicated Indian woes.
Declaration of emergency to deal with Maoist insurgency has been seen with scepticism by Indian leadership. For, China’s involvement has become evident. King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah’s attempt to garner support from China is likely to endanger India’s interest in the region.
India is supporter of democracy in Nepal and time is testimony to that. It has always stood for the development of Nepal because its own security needs could be better met by a prosperous and stable country, not the one plagued by instability and chaos.
The relations between India and Nepal have been close and sympathetic. But, there have been some irritants in this relationship. These differences can be amicably resolved by commitment to treaties and projects entered by the two countries.
As far as India is concerned, it needs to watch out for China’s involvement in Nepal and be more proactive in expanding the interaction under the auspices of SAARC or otherwise.
Nepal, on the other hand can hope to benefit from India by imbibing the spirit of democracy and development. For, India is genuinely sensitive to Nepal’s plight without major reciprocal commitments.