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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Looking Nepal through Chinese Prism

Dawn in New Nepal
Dr. Shreesh Pathak

It's almost clear that the first elected democratic government is going to be formed in the leadership of left coalition parties in Nepal. A country which waited so long for its first full-fledged democratic republic federal constitution on the name of proper representation of three major identities i.e. Himal, Pahad and Terai; its first elected government would be a stable governemnt which would last for next five years and enjoys favorable coordination from its state governments because many of them would be led by again the left coalition parties. It can be better hoped that Nepal would follow its natural course of development which is badly affected for almost last thirty years and the country now deserves to have a peaceful and stable governance experience. As Nepal has adopted a federal structure, this certainly would help to address the several identity concerns of the people. A strong government at the centre would be decisive to take essential steps which eventually would strengthen the integrity of the country.

New government in Nepal would have many challenges waiting to address sooner or later. Elections are contested mainly on the issue of development and undoubtedly, this should be the foremost agenda of the government. Development requires investments, resources and prowesses. In order to have all these things Nepal needs to maintain relations with the actors of world system in general and with India and China in particular. As a landlocked country Nepal is bordered with India from three sides and with China from one side. Nepal also does not have any direct access with sea routes for trade exchanges. India whereas enjoys a traditional relationship with the country, China has tried  more ambitiously and cautiously to build a sturdy connectedness through its vast investment programme under its OBOR policy. Situated in the lap of Himalayas, Nepal would be promising source of hydro-power and it can develop itself as a central point for trade interactions connecting India, China, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

As a most important neighbour, India is keenly watching the progresses of Nepal as democratic country. In the long run of democracy, nobody can refuse the role of India in Nepal and the kind of rapport the both country enjoy and it cannot be compared with anybody. But, India should not come in any complacency and keeping in view the Chinese policy of pearls of strings and BRI, India needs to be more engaged with Nepal than ever before. India must understand the need of a new nation which aspires to adopt ambitious developmental path and has to be ready with generous offers at times which Nepal could not refuse keeping China at its back. India needs to correct its traditional diplomatic approach towards Nepal and does not need to react in haste over any China-Nepal cooperation. Nepal with a new constitution and a new elected government needs India and China both as per economics and geography suggest. Obviously as a sovereign state, Nepal would try to utilise its geopolitical location in order to beat the constraints of its geography. India cannot approach Nepal any longer as mere a buffer state but should see as a credible neighbour which is willing to go forward hand in hand. Definitely; a left government at the centre makes India a little bit uncomfortable dealing Nepal especially when already China is investing huge in the country, but India should go forward on its traditional legacy of interconnections, its outstanding democratic credibility and the mutual reverence arising from people to people connect.