Nepal PM Visit to India

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    • Recently, the Prime Minister of India and his Nepali counterpart launched multiple projects to boost connectivity between the two countries.

    Key Highlights 

    • Focus Areas:
      • Developmental cooperation, 
      • Power cooperation for projects and transmission infrastructure.
    • Connectivity: 
      • First broad gauge Passenger Rail link:
        • A 35-km cross-border railway line is launched.
        • Linking Jaynagar in Bihar to Kurtha in Nepal.
        • It will be extended to Bardibas in Nepal
        • Indian grant: ?548 crore. 
      • MoU in Railway Sector: 
        • A memorandum of understanding (MoU) on enhancing technical cooperation in the railways sector.
    • Power Cooperation:
      • The joint vision statement for joint development of power generation projects in Nepal.
      • Development of cross-border transmission infrastructure.
      • Bi-directional power trade based on market demand and coordinated operation of national grids. 
      • Nepal invited Indian firms to invest in development, construction and operation of renewable and hydropower projects.
    • Power Transmission Line: 
      • The Indian side handed over the Solu Corridor, a 90-km, 132 kV power transmission line built at a cost of ?200 crore under an Indian line of credit. 
      • The line will help bring electricity to several remote districts in northeastern Nepal by connecting them to the country’s national grid.
    • Easing Payment Mechanism:
      • India’s RuPay card was launched in Nepal. 
      • Nepal is the fourth country, after Bhutan, Singapore and the UAE, where RuPay is live.
      • The domestic variant of the RuPay card will now work at 1,400 point-of-sale machines in Nepal.
      • It is expected to facilitate bilateral tourist flows. 
    • Nepal Joined ISA:
      • Nepal signed a framework agreement to join the India-led International Solar Alliance (ISA)

    India-Nepal Relations

    • Friendship and Cultural Connection: 
      • India and Nepal share a unique relationship of friendship and cooperation characterised by open borders and deep-rooted people-to-people contacts of kinship and culture. (Treaty of Peace and Friendship, 1950)
    • Economic Cooperation: 
      • India has been a key development partner of Nepal. About 150 Indian ventures operate in Nepal in manufacturing, services (banking, insurance, dry port, education and telecom), power sector and tourism industries.
      • Both the public and private sectors of India have invested in Nepal.
    • Trade and Transit: 
      • India is Nepal’s largest trading partner. 
      • India has provided a transit facility to Nepal for the third country trade. 
    • Cultural Relations: 
      • Both nations promote people-to-people contacts, organise cultural programmes, and conferences and seminars. 
      • India and Nepal have also signed three sister-city agreements for the twinning of Kathmandu-Varanasi, Lumbini-Bodhgaya and Janakpur-Ayodhya.
      • The Terai Belt of Nepal shares the relationship of shelter and marriage (Roti Beti ka Sambandh) with the Indian states of UP and Bihar.
      • Hinduism is the major religion in Nepal.
    • Education & Employment: 
      • Several scholarships are provided to the Nepali nationals annually.
      • Nepalese are given jobs in the Indian Government and Army.
    • Defence Cooperation: 
      • India has assisted the Nepalese Army (NA) in its modernization through the provision of equipment and training and cooperation in areas of disaster management.
    • Integrated Check-posts (ICPs)
      • ICPs have been proposed at four points on the Indo-Nepal border namely (i) Raxaul-Birganj, (completed and operationalised from April 2018) (ii) Sunauli-Bhairahawa, (iii) Jogbani-Biratnagar and (iv) Nepalganj Road-Nepalgunj. 
    • Multilateral Engagements: 
      • Both Nepal and India work in tandem in the United Nations, Non-aligned Movement and other international fora on most of the important international issues.
      • Both the countries have been deeply engaged in the regional and sub-regional frameworks of SAARC, BIMSTEC and BBIN for enhancing cooperation in the region.

    Irritants in the Indo-Nepalese Relations

    • Entry of China:
      • The Chinese Propaganda and debt diplomacy is luring Nepal.
      • Nepal too is using the China Card to negotiate with India.
    • Anti-Indian Sentiment post alleged Blockade by India:
      • India has been alleged to apply blockade after the Nepalese Constituent Assembly failed to acknowledge the demands of the Terai region Madhesis.
    • Kalapani Boundary Dispute:
      • The place is located in the easternmost corner of Pithoragarh and shares a border on the north with the Tibet Autonomous Region of China and Nepal in the east and south.
      • The area resembles a slice of cake wedged in between Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani and is the largest territorial dispute between Nepal and India consisting of at least 37,000 hectares of land in the High Himalayas.
      • The area is in India’s control but Nepal claims the region because of historical and cartographic reasons.

    Way Ahead

    • Discussion and Dialogue: 
      • Both sides need to address boundary issues in a responsible manner through discussion and dialogue in the spirit of close and friendly relations.
    • Balancing the Trade: 
      • Since Nepal’s dependence on India is more than India’s dependence on Nepal, it is all the more necessary to balance such relations. 
    • Enhancing Connectivity: 
      • The focus should be given to more air, road, train, and waterways connectivity.
    • Cultural Connect: 
      • Considering India’s economic and strategic importance for Nepal, Kathmandu needs to enhance cultural ties and people-to-people contact with India. 
    • Maintaining Trust: 
      • There is a need to build an environment of trust between the political leadership of the two countries. 
      • Nepal also needs to create a congenial environment in the country to enable India to complete its projects in Nepal on time. 
    • Better Government to Government Relations: 
      • The importance of government-to-government relations can no longer be underestimated. 
      • Also, politicisation of issues needs to be avoided.
    • Strive for Common Interests:
      • Need to play an active role in several important multilateral forums such as BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal), BIMSTEC, NAM, and SAARC to serve their common interests.

    Source: HT