Nepal-India relations are ‘unique’ for reasons ranging from geographical contiguity to close cultural ties, and extensive institutional and social relationships. Cultural, economic and geographical factors along with the common bond of a shared religion have had a great influence on bilateral relations. As two sovereign nations, both India and Nepal are naturally guided by their national interests. These interests are related to cultural, economic and security areas. Despite some turbulence in the past, India-Nepal relations have remained close, stable and mutually beneficial.
Cultural bond provides moral strength to the relationship, while respect for each others political identity as independent, sovereign countries provides the political base for meaningful interaction. Nepal recognizes and admires India’s position as the largest democracy and an emerging economic and strategic power which is striving to find its rightful place in the comity of nations. It appreciates the support accorded to Nepal in the spirit of Panchsheel. There exist vast areas of complimentarily and mutuality of benefits between the two countries. Economic reforms in both countries have opened up new avenues of cooperation in trade and commerce, investment and joint collaboration projects. Nepal can benefit tremendously from such bilateral interaction. Greater creativity is required, however, to take full advantage of the complimentarily of economies between the two countries.
After a string of political and diplomatic altercations leading to the 2015 economic blockade episode, Nepal’s relations with India have gradually improved in recent months. The bilateral visits of the prime ministers and their personal chemistry have helped bring the relationship to higher levels.
Nepal has attained political stability after decades of problems and a strong government with a broad mandate has been formed. Moves to destabilize the government to serve personal interests cannot be accepted by the people. If the government starts acting against the wishes of the people, then it will surely meet its deserved fate in the next elections.
A stable Nepal will work out well for India’s own security interests. India has often been accused of interfering in the internal affairs of Nepal, but that is less of a problem now that Indian PM Narendra Modi is trying to rebuild India’s image in Nepal. It would be in the best interests of both nations if India works in close coordination with the incumbent prime minister and government of Nepal rather than putting out feelers for someone else.
Although the above-mentioned events appear minor, they could very well lead to a gradual decline in mutual trust. Therefore, diplomatic irritants should be nipped in the bud so that the bilateral relationship between Nepal and India, which has been flourishing recently, can reach its full potential.
Nepal neither used the China card against India nor the India card against China. It wants to develop good relations with its neighbours on the basis of self-respect and sovereignty, a former Nepalese prime minister has said here.
It is not possible that Nepal’s relations are good with one neighbouring country and bad with another.