The history of Nepal and India goes back to several decades. Two lands with shared culture and origin, the nations have been going through a roller coaster ride over the years with its fair share of ups and downs. The bilateral relation between the nations had hit a rock bottom after India’s blockade on Nepal, while the latter was combatting the aftermaths of the horrendous earthquake which hit them in 2015. After the incident, K P Sharma Oli had visited India in 2016, during his short tenure as the Prime Minister. Though, it was his visit to India on April 2018 that marked the complete rejuvenation of the bilateral relations. The trip was soon reciprocated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May. After the visit of Oli to India, both the nations reviewed the existing ties and partnershipagreements, and agreed to expedite the much-delayed Pancheshwar, Terai road and other infrastructure related projectsand alsosigned several MoU’s. During this visit, both Oli and Modi together had inaugurated the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Birgunj, along with the 69-km Amlekhganu-Motihari oil pipeline.The two nations had agreed to conduct feasibility studies regarding construction of Raxaul- Kathmandu railway line and the operation Nepalese steamers to transport goods and people from Nepal to other countries. The other major agreements made were in cooperation in the agriculture and hydropower sectors.
On the reciprocal visit of Modi to Nepal, they jointly inaugurated 900MW Arun III project in Sankhuwasabha generating around 900 MW of power, which is expected to be completed within five years at a cost nearing Rs 6,000 crore. He also pledged 1 billion Indian rupees ($14.8 billion) in aid to develop Janakpur city, from where he started the visit and launched the Janakpur-Ayodhya bus service. He inaugurated a ‘Ramayan Circuit’ to boost tourism on both the sides of the India-Nepal border. They had further discussed on the rail rout and inland waterways and jointly decided on a deadline of September 2018 for its officials to address all the pending issues. The growing trade deficit with India was yet another important topic that was discussed. Both the leaders shared their concern. As of the first five months of the ongoing fiscal, the trade deficit of Nepal with India is Rs 398.76 billion.
After the visit to India, Oli is on a visit to China from 19 June. This is his first visit to China after coming to power. During his short tenure in 2016, he was widely accepted to have a “pro-China” attitude, as he signed the trade and transit treaty with China to reduce its dependence on India. The main areas expected to be focused on this visit would be enhancing the economic ties and better connectivity. Oli said that he would discuss ways to deepen political and economic cooperation as well as cooperation in infrastructure, post-disaster rebuilding, in cultural fields, and how to further elevate bilateral ties.
This time, a wider and deeper discussion on the implementation of the 10-point agreement signed after Oli’s last visit to China on 2016 is also anticipated. Another core area of discussion would be the prospect of increased Chinese investment in Nepal and the development of the agricultural sector. An agreement is said be made to form a permanent government to government mechanism between Nepal and China to look after different projects being constructed under Chinese assistance. Oli said that the focus would also be on reaping optimum benefits from China’s Belt and Road Initiative that promotes multifaceted and multidimensional connectivity with neighbors.
India has always been skeptical about the growing closeness between China and its neighbors. India have always seen this advancement of China and offering help to its neighbors as a master plan of China to contain India and some experts has even give the name “string of pearls” to the ports built in nations around India. They are most worried about the closing distance between China and Nepal as the latter is a buffer State between China India. It sees this relation as a potential threat against India’s national security. India has been one among the first to publicly express their annoyance with the One Belt One Road (OBOR) project, as it considers this project as one of the key moves of the masterplan of China to contain India.In the recent Shanghai Cooperation meeting, India was the only member nation to oppose the One Belt One Road (OBOR) project of China. Nepal had agreed to this initiative. OBOR is expected to reduce Nepal’s dependence on India. It is not at happy as Nepal has signed up for OBOR. India’s infamous ‘big brother’ attitude can be seen all over the place in this matter. India has become more conscious about its neighbors and their relations with China in the recent years.
In this situation, India sees Prime Minister Oli’s visit to China rather uncomfortably. India has been very vocal about its concern on China’s growing dominance in the region. China’s notorious actions in the South China Sea is only cementing India’s growing anxiety. India is very much looking forward to the final outcomes of Oli’s meeting with Chinese premier Xi Jingping to evaluate the “threat” China would possess for India. India has growing insecurities regarding the region. It fears that China would take over Nepal like it did with Tibet in the future, if China starts expanding its influence. India has been cleverly planning to counter all the possible advancement China could make in Nepal. Experts believe the railway project and inland waterways project were given much push for this reason. The growing Indian apprehensions on China are shared by the USA too, as they also look at China’s advancement antagonistically. China has raised to become a global threatening icon due to its aggressiveness. A clear picture of the position of India will only be understood after the Meeting of both the Prime Ministers in China and its results.
(Kumar is an Intern at the Asian Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs- AIDIA)