By N. P. Upadhyaya
The secret ballot vote reversals in Nepal have visibly jolted many a brains, both academic and some erratic ones, in New Delhi.
The official establishment though has taken a conciliatory tone and has vowed to work with Nepal in a friendly manner which appears remote though.
The Indian media, usually hostile towards Nepal and supposedly speaking on the lines briefed and dictated by the South Block babus have begun penning articles on Nepal in a fashion that hints of Delhi’s “course correction” instead of what it used to be otherwise-the coercive policy on this Himalayan nation beginning of the Nehruvian era.
The Indian media of late appear to be in unison in saying that in the recent years India frittered away from its friendly “neighborhood policy” policy on Nepal and thus advise their own regime to begin cultivating intimate ties with a new Nepal that has virtually turned RED after the just concluded polls.
Even the fools in Nepal could well understand that the past Indian follies have boomeranged and thus India prefers now to extend cordial relations with the blockade inflicted pain of Nepal. But how long this cordiality remains in place is any body’s guess.
Can such an Indian policy shift be taken as course correction? Or should it be taken as seduction route?
Blockade pains still haunting Nepali minds which perhaps were amply exemplified in the election result reversals of the Indo-pendent Nepali leaders, more so of the Nepali Congress stalwarts who were presumably pointed as the men of India and had tentatively applauded the torturous blockade that was in place for almost six months or so. Very difficult to forget to those who went through this Modi made ordeal.
The course correction if it were any means that India in doing so would be calculatedly distancing China which has already made great in-roads though in a subtle manner in Nepali politics, among other South Asian nations.
Inferences could be drawn as suits to one’s needs or tastes.
The conclusion of their story being penned in these days hint that India should do all she can in helping Nepal practically in all the Sectors where the Chinese investment are either in place already or were approaching.
India thus wants to pocket the rest of Nepal waters for her use.
SD Muni, the mentor of the Nepal Maoists though in a fresh article has advised his government to refrain from doing any such act that may cause split in the Left Alliances. He has suddenly become sober. Unbelievable though.
He expects though the split may erupt automatically as the two partners in the alliances differ sharply on ideological counts.
The Chinese investment in Nepal will certainly increase which only awaits the formation of the RED government taking a formal shape any time prior to the approaching Christmas.
“As a good neighbor China will continue to help Nepal to carry out reconstruction after the devastating quake of 2015 and infrastructure construction like power stations, roads, bridges and airports. To ensure the legitimate rights of the Chinese companies remain intact, the Chinese government has the right to ask that the Nepalese government guarantees signed agreements between it and the Chinese entities”, so writes Mr. Zhang Shubin, who is a research fellow with the Charhar Institute and the director of the Nepal Study Center at the Hebei University of Economics and Business. (See People’s Review last issue).
Perhaps these expressions of the Chinese scholar very much explain the official Chinese mood. Mr. Shubin further writes that China pursues a regional diplomacy of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness and wants to forge a community of shared future under the framework of the Belt and Road.
Coincidently, the Nepalese willingness to extract shared benefits from various Chinese initiatives too has come to the fore.
The incumbent Nepali Ambassador to China, Mr. Leela Mani Poudyal speaking at a symposium on Nepal-China Cooperation and Peace and Prosperity of South Asia held in Beijing on November 14, 2017, opined that “Nepal and China should pursue an innovative approach to tackling development problems. In the light of contemporary development experience across the world, it is imperative to pursue a more robust and sustainable alternative method of economic development cooperation while providing development assistance. Under the Belt and Road initiative principle, development methods and cooperation projects are selected by the host country independently, ensuring joint development of projects and sharing benefits by both sides. (See Beijing Review vol. 60 no. 49 December 7, 2017).
In the same vein Ambassador Poudyal also explains that “Nepal is poised to transform the trans-national connectivity between South Asia and China in the near future and geographically Nepal falls on the shortest commercial route from China to South Asia, mainly through Rasuwagadhi, Tatopani, and Kimathanka corridors”.
Summing up, the Nepali envoy says, “China is truly a global power house, which gives it an important role to play in promoting world peace, development and stability. Nepal will be happy to work together with China in promoting peace, development and stability in the trans-Himalayan region and beyond”.
This also explains in abundance the Nepali determination to join the OBOR initiative but would also prefer to provide a comfortable link for the shortest passage to join China with South Asian region and much beyond.
Some unstable brains in Nepal, who have had intimate ties with the Southern neighbor in the recent decades, may create problems for the incumbent government in realizing these ambitious plans. Some elements have already begun playing games to frustrate China, local media included.
Such unstable minds could well be seen also inside the Left camp.
Much now depends on how the commander of the new government takes the lead in achieving goals that largely benefit Nepal in becoming a self reliant nation in the years ahead.
Former Ambassador Ranjeet Rae beamingly claims that KPS Oli is not hostile towards India. He says that to counter Chinese influence in Nepal, India should complete all the projects it has undertaken in the recent years and decades. Act fast he so suggests India.
Rae is the one who was here during the great quake and the most inhumane blockade imposed on Nepal by his country. He was beaming then.
Rae bluntly claims that Oli is friendly to India since decades. This may send chilling waves in the spines of China.
To blunt the emerging Nepal-China ties both overt and covert actions were being manufactured in some dark corners to bring in a sort of split in the Left alliances so that the government of the REDs could not see its formation or even if takes a formal shape then it is ridden with intra and inter party feuds calculatedly being manufactured by some sick brains here and there.
The Left though remains undeterred so far though cracks have surfaced.
Now again on India.
To some in the Indian capital, let us say some former diplomats stationed in Nepal in the seventies or in the first half of the eighties prefer to warn the Indian establishment not to adopt the neighborhood first policy ( in fact it is a fake notion) because ultimately these neighbors, this set of erratic brains contemplate, slip to Chinese laps so caringly nurtured by the Indian regime.
Why Bhutan, Nepal, B’desh and very freshly Sri Lanka and the Maldives preferred to slip from Indian hands is an issue that demands deep evaluation by the Indian establishment as to what causes or prompts these neighbors to come out from the clutches of the Indian hegemony?
The answer lay in Delhi but not in Dhaka, Colombo, Male or in Kathmandu.
Islamabad is an altogether different case though. Pakistan is happy with the CPEC arrangement with China.
One such diplomat who served in Kathmandu long time back, Kanwal Sibbal, unhesitatingly suggests Delhi to adopt a policy that takes care of India first like the Americans have now for them under President Trump.
Mr. Sibbal was the first secretary at the Indian embassy and also he is one among the panel in a recent TV interview together with SD Muni and Bharat Bhusan, who categorically had stated that India should do all she can in order to block the elevation of Khadga Prasad Oli as the next Nepal Prime Minister after the polls. Oli emerged with flying colors.
The otherwise modest Sibbal, as I had observed him then, says that India’s neighborhood policy first is irrelevant and has little meaning now.
He laments that this Indian policy has failed to work and thus advises his country, born 1947, to get it replaced by India first policy.
He does not stop here and continues, “Nepal has long played the China card against India. The latest election results in Nepal, with KPS Oli emerging as the country’s Prime Minister, is likely to increase Indian’s headaches. Nepal supports China’s Belt and Road Initiative, BRI, and is backing China’s connectivity projects with it in full awareness of India’s security concerns.
Whether his opinion gets heard by the nervous Delhi regime or not will have to be watched.
An inference could be thus drawn from Mr. Sibbal’s explanations that should the neighbors go erratic or do not comply with the Indian dictates, blockades should be imposed on them to correct their follies.
To recall, India is taken in Nepal as blockade expert these days. And she is by all accounts.
What other former diplomats say remains yet unclear, yet Shyam Saran for example has admitted that India in the past committed several mistakes which demanded correction now.
Mr. Saran who himself served in Nepal as Indian envoy in a subtle manner hints that Delhi should now opt for a course correction.
Sau Chuhe khakey Billi Chali Haj Ko….
To recall, Mr. Saran is the one who damaged Nepal-India ties and brought to this low level that Nepal has been compelled to seek helps from its northern neighbor. Those who replaced him later too did their best to spoil our bilateral bonds. SS Mukherjee too had contributed a lot in hurting our bilateral ties.
Obviously, the present day Indian loss in Nepal is china’s gains. This is the fact and the fact remains a fact.
Let us see how the former Indian diplomat substantiates his claims for self satisfaction.
“The conclusion to be drawn from this is not that India is necessarily mismanaging its relations with neighbors, but that they too, enticed by China, are mishandling their ties with India”.
He further writes that, in his own words, while a bigger country may not seek strict reciprocity, it cannot sacrifice national interest simply for sake of generosity. Our neighbors cultivate China at India’s cost even though generosity is by no means the guiding principle of Beijing’s foreign policy”….
A cursory glance at Sibbal’s observation brings us to a single conclusion and that being there should be “no attachment with the neighbors” and that India still has not forgotten the 1962 debacle and hence the hatred for China continues. In addition, Sibbal also dislikes Nepal joining the Chinese initiatives. Sibbal is too late to express his feelings.
His distastes apart, the ground reality has been that Nepal has already taken several steps in these regards much to the chagrin of Sibbal and his regime he so faithfully perhaps served.
Sibbal appears to be in a retiring mood and has begun speaking irrelevant things yet it is his personal discretion. Nothing to disagree with his love for his motherland but for Nepal we would advise him to allow us all to go our own charted way that benefits our Nepal.
Let others speak on Nepal to which analysts here were ready to retort in a befitting language even if have to face yet another economic blockade.
To conclude, some tips for China if she really wants to help India tortured Nepal.
First, locate some areas in Nepal where wind mills could be installed. In doing so, Nepal can generate electric power which later could be joined in national grid. The European technology could be acquired.
Second, China should support Nepal for internal Road connectivity so that the country gets connected through roads.
Third, construction of airports at places where bigger aircrafts could be landed which in turn would increase air connectivity with the outside world including China itself.
Fourth, the roads connecting Nepal with China’s Tibet should be accorded top priority so that even if India imposes yet another blockade, essential goods could be imported to Nepal easily.
Fifth, China should also help Nepal in the construction of Oil storage tanks of greater capacity at different zones to face the challenges, if any, posed by India. The last experience is too hard to forget.
Summing up, it is now time to test the depth of the Chinese goodwill towards Nepal. Words and deeds must not differ. Nepal also has to exhibit adequate reciprocity towards China which must be taken in to account honestly.
Delhi’s seduction course; time to test China’s goodwill
By N. P. Upadhyaya