9 June 2020
By Amb Rakesh Sood
Amb Rakesh Sood had a distinguished career with India's Ministry of External Affairs. He served in crucial positions; he was the Special Envoy of the Prime Minister for Disarmament and Non-proliferation Issues (2013-2014).
CONTEMPORARY INDIA-NEPAL RELATIONS
NIAS Lectures on “The Indian Neighbourhood”
9 June 2020
Amb Rakesh Sood
The diplomatic tiff between India and Nepal over the road construction in the disputed territory has once again raised questions about India’s relations with its neighbours, particularly small countries. Amb Rakesh Sood, while explaining the current situation, highlighted the historical, social, economic, and political fulcrums in the India-Nepal relations.
Nepal has a special status in India’s neighbourhood policy, and has received privileges in terms of an open border, trade relations, recruitment in Indian Armed forces, education, disaster management, so on. India has also intervened in times of crisis during the civil war in Nepal, helping establish political stability in the country. Despite such close relations, Nepal has maintained a firm stance on its sovereignty and has been wary of Indian dominance. The relations between two countries soured when India supported the Madhesi demands during the formulation of the constitution. Consequently, India was blamed for the blockade that crippled Nepal and its population.
The current tiff revolves around the long-standing territorial dispute over Kalapani and the link road to Lipulekh Pass that was being constructed for eleven years. With Nepal tabling the resolution to change the political map, the two countries have failed to hold talks that would resolve the issue peacefully. China stands as an elephant in the room, a card that Nepal would play to juggle between its two big neighbors. In a situation such as this, India should pay attention to the anti-Indian rhetoric brewing in its neighbourhood as well as consider a fundamental reset in its relation with Nepal.