Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Indo-Nepal relationship and Modi


Insurgency in northeast also owes its support base to South Asian neighbours. Narendra Modi’s recent Nepal visit appears as a typical synthesis of Nehurvian vision and Atal Behari Vajpayee’s confident sparkle in the Indian Prime Minister, and thus could a go a long way in helping curb insurgency.  

India’s huge size has truly able to secure for itself the respect and attention of global powers like the US or whether it was the Soviet Union or even smaller neighbours like Nepal. On its part for Nepal, the relationship with India has remained a pillar of its foreign policy. Thus, the love-hate relationship between two not misgotten neighbours has withstood the test of time. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Nepal visit sought to achieve a few multi-dimensional goals for New Delhi. One primary aspect would be to regain some of the ground lost by India in recent years in pursuing the Indian diplomatic path especially in neighbourhood and guiding the national security policy. 
The favourable press that Modi got both within India and in the Himalayan nation has even left his detractors amused.

The Congress lawmaker in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury from West Bengal admitted in the floor of the House that Indian Prime Minister is ‘expert in mustering appreciation’. But as the Congress MP too asked, is the laudatory comments about his two-day visit all that well deserved?

In other words, it is time a real time and objective stock taking is done about
Modi’s two-day visit to a country that makes it a point to maintain equally cordial relationship with China.
Checkmating China need be his agenda, but, Modi is already being described as a visionary. He is also being compared with Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru, the father of foreign policy for post-1947 India.

One enthusiastic observer in Nepal wrote in no unambiguous words, “Modi’s dreams are big, centred around the idea of bringing back the Asian dominance of the 16th-17th centuries”.
This is little far-fetched and just being going overboard.

However, Modi’s focused South Asian approach is deservedly creditable.
The policy of ‘development and friendship offensive’ undertaken by the Modi regime in South Asia is seen as a game-changer and aimed at building a new emerging block.

Prime Minister Modi has made his intentions clear about working together with BRICS and also Japan and other Asian countries to redefine how the global economy will be shaped over the next 20 years. 
So what has Modi’s visit achieved?

The mere goodwill generated being seen on the face value is no mean achievement. Moreover, putting aside recent past skirmishes, even established anti-India players in Nepal like the Maoist leaders Pushpa Kamal Dahal, alias Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai had lauded Modi’s visit and his address to the constituent assembly.  
In fact, Baburam Bhattarai, Maoist ideologue and former PM, tweeted Modi had won the ‘hearts and minds’ with his ‘magical address’. 
With Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda
Indian diplomats also said that Modi has appealed to both the hearts and minds, this is something that Nepalis would remember for a long time.
Besides the series of agreements reached between two sides about cooperation in power sector, granting of
one billion dollar line of credit by India to Nepal and construction of a motorable bridge over the Mahakali River, is Modi’s ability to fire the imagination of Nepali population that they too can dream about a change and that change will come with their own efforts.

Modi creditably lived up to his reputation of doing plain speaking and made it absolutely clear that New Delhi would prefer a friendly tie but ‘would not interfere in internal matters’ of Nepal. This would bring in a salutary impact as over the years the alleged ‘big brother’ approach had made India very unpopular with Nepali civil population and also the political class.

When Leaders of Madhesi parties, outfits of Indian origin people, asked Modi if he would support their proposals to create separate electorates based on ethnicity Prime Minister’s Modi categorical assertion that Nepal’s Constitution should bind Nepal’s people together was a masterstroke. 

It strongly hinted that India would favour electorates (in Nepal and India) divided by geography, not ethnicity.

Despite suggestions, Modi declined to meet up King Gyanendra – implying that the world’s largest democracy true to the sentiments of common Nepalis was not in favour of Nepal returning to monarchy either.
Nepal, importantly, also offered assistance in security measures and also assured Indian side Nepali soil will not be used for anything inimicable to Indian interests. This is a win-win pointer.

But the taste of the cake is in its eating. Therefore, Modi and his government in New Delhi will have to walk the talk. On the other hand, on its part, Nepal is to synchronise well with Modi’s vision of friendship and development.

For a change, Modi as Indian Prime Minister did not play a benevolent elder brother. The absence of tone of patronage would help build mutual trust particularly with a valiant community like Nepalis (or Gorkhalis) who are honorable people in their own rights.

The Nepal sojourn of Indian Prime Minister, in the ultimate analysis, is thus only a proof that Narendra Modi is very ambitious person. He has displayed much of an assertive touch. Thus, we find there is a typical synthesis of Nehurvian vision and Atal Behari Vajpayee’s confident sparkle in Modi. Like Nehru, he has set a big agenda before his eyes trying to draw a long term plan about India in the comity of nations and like Vajpayee, he is disinclined to compromise. Well beginning.
The dialogue that Narendra Modi has pursued with Nepali leadership and the road map he crafted, therefore, could be a reward as both a means and an end. Any takers?

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