India’s Nepal policy needs to change for ensuring long-lasting friendship

Synopsis: There is widespread disbelief against India in Nepal. But that needs to be addressed by winning back the people’s trust. This will strengthen India’s Nepal policy

Background
  • As of now, Nepal’s parliament has been dissolved once again and dates for fresh elections are announced. The current dissolution has been challenged in the court by five political parties.
  • It has to be remembered that the earlier dissolution of parliament was overruled by the Supreme Court as Unconstitutional.
  • In this context, we will discuss the prevailing Nepali’s scepticism about India and India’s Nepal policy measures to ensure long-lasting friendship between the two countries.
Prevailing Nepali’s scepticism on India
  • So far, India’s credentials have always been under Nepali’s suspect. Currently, political and public opinion in Nepal is convinced that Mr Oli is now India’s favourite.
  • Further, there are rumours spreading in Nepal that Mr Oli will promote the return of Nepal to its Hindu Rashtra status under the monarchy and keep the Chinese at distance.
  • Some rumours even claim that India is working to bring back the monarchy to Nepal.
  • The Indian government has maintained silence on the current political developments in Nepal. It now needs to assess the political situation in Nepal to serve the interests of India best.
Suggestions to improve India’s Nepal policy
  • First, the monarchy in Nepal has always been against the interest of India. The monarchy has always tried to distance Nepal from India. It has further promoted a nationalism that takes hostility to India as its main driver.
    • So, to win the Nepali’s people trust and also for its own interest, India should declare its unconditional support to Nepal’s republican democracy.
  • Second, India should remain fully engaged with Nepal at all levels and across the political spectrum. Through engagement, India should advocate policies rather than persons.
    • The absence of India’s engagement will provide space for China’s intervention. Further, India should avoid advocating support for individuals as it will create false apprehension over India’s credential.
  • Third, India’s engagement with Nepal must find an important place for Nepali citizens, especially the Madhesi population.
    • Currently, through a presidential ordinance, the Nepal government had reversed a constitutional provision that denied citizenship to children born of Nepali mothers who had foreign husbands. The Madhesi population became a direct target of this.
    • Though this provision stands removed, it might be reintroduced after the political uncertainty is over. India should proactively support the demands of Madhesi population.
  • Finally, India needs to facilitate the people-to-people links including long-standing religious and cultural links, between our two countries.
    • The future of India’s Nepal policy lies in leveraging people-to-people links. No other country other than India has such an advantage.

Source: The Indian Express

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