Nepal-India needs meaningful partnership
KAROBAR CORRESPONDENT
Wednesday, Mar 06, 2019
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Nepal and India need to work together to further their efforts towards a meaningful partnership to ensure mutually beneficial outcomes, according to foreign minister.
Addressing a seminar on 'Nepal-India Relations: Issues, Emerging Trends and Boosting Cooperation', organized by Asian Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs (AIDIA) in Kathmandu, Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nepal – the Chief Guest of the seminar – stressed that Nepal and India need to work together to further their efforts towards a meaningful partnership to ensure mutually beneficial outcomes.
Stating that the government’s focus was on materializing its ‘Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali’ campaign, Gyawali said that the government is making its all effort like inviting Indian investments through Nepal Investment Summit. He also hoped on establishing a vivid and wide-range production, supply and value chains in the interest of both side.
Underscoring the need for enhanced bilateral cooperation in the fields of tourism, technology, infrastructure and trade and transit, Gyawali said that Nepal was looking forward to a strong partnership with India for the country’s economic development. "Complementing on India’s achievements in economic. "Nepal has abounding opportunity to benefit."
He also said that Nepal wanted more trade facilities including all barriers to control the burgeoning trade deficit with India. Minister Gyawali also showed his concern over growing issues of terrorism saying that terrorism still poses a serious challenge against the humanity, and its black shadows is still roaming in this region. It too warrants the common and coordinating resolve. "In the nutshell, our relation requires a higher level of collaboration and partnership."
He added Nepal aims at further deepening its cooperation with its immediate neighbor- India with particular focus on advancing economic partnership.
Addressing the seminar, Manjeev Singh Puri, Ambassador of India to Nepal, proceeded with the optimism and reflection on the uniqueness of India and Nepal friendship. "Some 75 percent of Nepal's trade is with India and the large scale Arun III hydro power project would have a huge economic dynamic," he said, adding that it would also serve to balance the trade between India and Nepal. "But beyond these statistics, what was remarkable that on the event of 14th February Pulwama terror attack, Foreign Minister of Nepal called immediately to show his grief about the incident which was ghastly and terrifying."
The expression of solidarity does not depend on any economic largesse, it is simply an acknowledgement of the cordiality between the two countries which has been established by our forefathers and we need to take it forward, he added.
Ambassador Puri also stressed that as India will be in the position of the top three economies of the world in 10-15 years, a prosperous Nepal would an invested interest of India. "It is true that Nepal imports a lot from India but that is not dumping by any means, it is surely a result of the increased consumption of the Nepalese people and the shortage of production in Nepal because most of the people have chosen to go outside Nepal to labour," he said, highlighting the importance of religious tourism which can only be expanded by smooth infrastructure.
"If India-Nepal relation has to achieve its optimum then there has to be mutual respect," according to Dr. Dattesh B. Parulekar, Assistant Professor from Goa University. The issue of security is something that cannot be divorced from either of the country and the best framework to bring security is in a common operative framework, he emphasized, giving a presentation that explained 5S of the BJP government’s foreign policy. "Those are: samvad, samman, suraksha, samriddhi, Savyata/Sanskriti."
Launching of SAARC satellite was an important gesture towards that end, Dr. Parulekar said, stressing that the Chinese bugbear cannot bog down Nepal-India relationship and Nepal should rationally think about the Chinese infrastructure projects in Nepal may lead to debt indicating that Nepal has not studied the recent developments in Maldives and Sri Lanka with regards to the Chinese arm-twisting in the vital infrastructure projects taking place there. He also advised that Nepal-India need not be scared of the roller coaster nature of the relationships because that was a natural phenomenon given the emotional nature of our relations. "Every situation gives us something to learn," he added. "There was hope that Tourism cities like Janakpur, Pokhara and Chitwan would be earners for Nepal but a caution has to be maintained with huge hydropower projects so that it does not become albatross in our neck."
Likewise, Dr. Manish Thapa, Professor of Research, Institute of International Relations at University of Warsaw, stressed on the significance of sane voice sans any emotional plea or jingoism when we talk about how the relations between the people of India and Nepal are strong and unique. But he emphasized how that relationship is complicated by media, academia, and bureaucrats out of proportion. He recalled how Europeans look in disbelief when he mentions that Nepal's chief of army is also India's chief of army.
Dr. Thapa emphasized about the much talked about EPG report which is supposed to clear the complexities of Nepal India treaty of friendship signed many years ago and how that was not being received by Modi due to the pressure exerted by Military and Security experts. The aftermath of Demonetization in India has been lopsided for Nepal vis-a-vis Bhutan which has got much better terms for the Indian currency money stuck in that country. He also said that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China is a necessary infrastructure project which builds on the ambition of a country about to finish the 100 year marathon of becoming a superpower and nevertheless has benefits of country like Nepal but the success of this mammoth project depends on whether India chooses China-led world order or prefers Western umbrella.
Former Education Minister Chitra Lekha Yadav, on the occasion, said that Nepal and India bilateral ties are marked by old connection of history, culture, tradition and religion nourished by sages, leaders, traders and people. "Nepal’s participation on international and regional forums can enhance greater economic integration by harnessing collectively the potential and complementary available in the region and beyond," the former minister said, adding that the formal and informal exchange visits of leaders of Nepal and India has infused with confidence, understanding and cooperation between two nations. "The two countries have new partnership in agriculture, rail linkages and inland waterway for the movement of cargo proving additional access to sea for the landlocked Nepal."
Yadav also highlighted some security concerns between Nepal and India like cross-border terrorism, circulation of fake Indian currency, smuggling of goods and women trafficking which need to be dealt seriously.
Concluding the seminar, Sunil KC, CEO and Founder of AIDIA stressed on enormous bilateral engagements including development cooperation, trade, connectivity, infrastructure between two countries and the tremendous support Nepal receiving from India, AIDIA is mostly focused on furthering the relationship between Nepal and India for mutual benefits. "The intense and multi-dimensional relationship demands continuous rational discourse to avoid any sorts of misperception and to boost the cooperation based on trust," he said, adding that AIDIA is constantly contributing towards this end.
The seminar was supported by Samanantar Nirman Sewa and AB Group and, Karobar National Economic Daily was the Media Partner.