Flag-Pins-India-Nepal_1Neighbors need to rework their positions.Ã Implementing the provisions of the Constitution very difficult.Nepal PM says documentÃ progressive without discrimination.Madhesis claim Oli’s visit to India not successful.India and Nepal must have cordial relations with each other.Impartial observers believe Oli government unlikely to last long.Efforts are onÃ to overcome the trust deficit between India andÃ Nepal which had hit rock bottomÃ followingÃ the economic blockade as the Madhesis or plains peopleÃ demanded a more federal framework in the Himalayan nation’s new Constitution. Irritated by the economic blockade for nearly five monthsÃ Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli contemplated visiting China ratherÃ than sticking to theÃ tradition of coming toÃ New Delhi first.At the end of it allÃ Oli’s first sojourn overseas for a week after beingÃ four months in officeÃ was to this country. He madeÃ it clear that he had come to mend the ties and remove misunderstandings.Ã In an interface with intellectuals and think tanks,Ã Oli said the Constitution promulgated by Nepal is inclusive and that the document is progressive without any kind of discrimination.
He admitted the Constitution might not satisfy everyone since it was a compromise reached between divergent people and groups.His Indian counterpart and host Narendra Modi affirmed that India desires a strong,Ã stable and prosperous Nepal for itself andÃ the betterment of South Asia. Similarly, when external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj called on Oli she made it clear that India considersÃ itself Nepal’s elder brotherÃ and certainly not its “”big brother”” which isÃ resented by the neighboring country.
No less than nine bilateralÃ agreements were signed.Ã Oli concludedÃ his week long visit to IndiaÃ on a high in the third week of February.Ã He speciallyÃ acquainted himself withÃ the reconstruction work connected with the massiveÃ earthquake in Gujarat and met captains of industry in Mumbai impressing uponÃ them to invest in Nepal which will be mutually beneficial.Ã After resisting the amendments to the Constitution, Oli relented to incorporateÃ some of the demands of the Madhesis. This led to the easing of the blockade after the protesters backed by India called off the stir.
The standoff had an adverse effectÃ on India’sÃ goodwill which had rendered promptÃ assistance to Nepal in the wake ofÃ the devastating earthquake in 2015.Nevertheless, the Madhesis insist that Oli’s visit to India was notÃ a success. The amendments to the Constitution leaves muchÃ to be desired in ensuring the rights of the Madhesis.Ã On the other hand RJD’s vice president Raghuvansh Prasad Singh stressed that the Nepal government is trying to “”blackmail India”” by playing the China card. Kathmandu reactedÃ promptly calling it a “”brazen interference in Nepal’s internal affaris.”” Most political parties including those critical of Oli ended up criticizing the Madhesi Front for taking their politics beyond the border.Impartial observers believe that the Oli government is unlikely to last long with New Delhi continuing to be seen as a destabilizing factor.
This has necessitated the two neighbors to re-calibrate their positions.Ã Being a landlocked country Nepal’s economic dependence needs no elaboration. This stood out starkly during the economic blockade as 70 per cent of the supplies came from India.Ã Ã Kathmandu looked towardsÃ China whichÃ expressedÃ its inabilityÃ to bridge the gap because of the extremely difficult terrain by the land route to Nepal.Ã Given the exigencies of the situation,Ã Kathmandu and New Delhi must haveÃ cordial relations with each other which is in their own interest. In case of political instability in Nepal, the spillover effect is bound to haveÃ an adverse impact in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh having an open border with that country.Ã At the same time India and Nepal have to reset theirÃ priorities encompassingÃ the direly needed reconstruction assistance assured by India.
On his part Modi acknowledged that the conclusion of the Constitution writing process is an important achievement. At the same time New Delhi underlined the need for consensus through dialogue with dissenting Madhesis aboutÃ their concerns on Federalism. The onus is clearly on Oli and his Communist party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) without alluding to any brinkmanship which which can have an adverseÃ impact in the long run.Ã New DelhiÃ should learnÃ lessons from theÃ recent deterioration inÃ bilateral relations. Tension between the two neighbours also reverberated in the United Nations.Ã New Delhi should be well aware that Beijing will tryÃ to capitalize on every friction it has with Kathmandu to wean awayÃ theÃ southern neighbor from India. Considering the deep historic and cultural ties, Kathmandu remains a more convenient neighbor economically and politically.Ã Nepal and Oli have to come to terms with a Federal structure by taking India into confidence. Even as heÃ had refused to visit India without the blockade being lifted, Nepal watchers assert that the Constitution is a problematic document in many ways even though it wasÃ voted in favor by 85 per cent in the Constituent Assembly which amounted toÃ 78Ã per cent of the electorate being in favour.Ã Ã As the rights based Constitution has been drafted by politicians rather than a committee of jurists, it will be aÃ difficult document to implement because of the promises it makes including expanding the scope of fundamental rights to cover a whole slew of economic, social and cultural rights. Any number of outstanding issues remain including the citizenship for foreign husbands of Nepali women. It was adopted onÃ September 20Ã last year.Fortunately, the blockade ended before the much feared possibility of a hill-versus-plains communal flareup proving once again that the people have more sagacity than the overlords.
Mr. T R Ramachandran is a senior journalist and commentator. Views expressed are personal.”