Jaynagar-Kurtha Cross-border Rail Section

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    In News 

    • Recently, India handed over a 34.9 km long cross-border rail link to the Nepal government.

    About Jaynagar-Kurtha Cross-border Rail Section 

    • It is connecting Jayanagar in Bihar to Kurtha in Nepal
    • It is part of the 68.7 km Jaynagar – Bijalpura- Bardidas rail link built under the Government of India’s grant assistance programme of NPR 8.77 billion.
    • Benefits 
      • The cross-border rail link is expected to enhance trade and commerce activities as well as people to people linkage between the two countries.

    India- Nepal Relations

    • India and Nepal share a very cordial relation spanning across different fields.
    • Economic Cooperation: India has been a key development partner of Nepal.
      • Following the massive earthquakes in Nepal in April and May 2015, India promptly offered to help.
    • About 150 Indian ventures operate in Nepal in manufacturing, services (banking, insurance, dry port, education and telecom), power sector and tourism industries. 
    • Multilateral and Regional Fora: 
      • Both Nepal and India have a common approach to regional and multilateral institutions and hence, 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 for greater economic integration by harnessing collectively the potentials and complementarities available in the region.
    • Trade and Transit: 
      • The partnership with India in the areas of trade and transit is a matter of utmost importance to Nepal. 
      • India is Nepal’s largest trading partner. India has provided a transit facility to Nepal for the third country trade. Both the public and private sectors of India have invested in Nepal.
      • Nepal and India have concluded bilateral Treaty of Transit, Treaty of Trade and the Agreement of Cooperation to Control Unauthorized Trade
    • Cultural linkage:
      • Hinduism is the major religion in Nepal.
      • The Terai Belt of Nepal shares the relationship of shelter and marriage (Roti Beti ka Sambandh) with the Indian states of UP and Bihar.
      • Both nations promote people-to-people contacts, organize cultural programmes, and conferences and seminars. 
      • They have also signed three sister-city agreements for the twinning of KathmanduVaranasi, Lumbini-Bodhgaya and Janakpur-Ayodhya.

    Challenges /Issues

    • 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.
    • Entry of China:
      • The Chinese Propaganda and debt diplomacy is luring Nepal.
      • Nepal too is using China Card to negotiate with India
    • Anti-Indian Sentiment post alleged Blockade by India after Constitutional crisis in Nepal:
      • India has been alleged to apply blockade after the Nepalese Constituent Assembly failed to acknowledge the demands of the Terai region Madhesis.

    Conclusion and Way Forward

    • It is one of the great opportunities for India to win back Nepal and ensure an integrated and united South Asia.
    • In accordance with Gujral Doctrine, India must keep on strengthening such ties.

    Source: AIR