How India influenced Nepal’s constitution: Lessons for Sri Lanka

unnamed-340x160By Shenali D Waduge–

India punishes any country that doesn’t take orders from India. Nepal experienced this in 2015. Nepal is a landlocked nation. Its petroleum supplies come from India (300 fuel trucks per day). When Nepal didn’t listen to India, India blocked all imports to Nepal and created a crisis when petroleum, medicines, earthquake relief material and even food were stopped from reaching Nepal. Some 2000 factories had to shut down. The blockade was because India wanted Nepal to make specific changes to Nepal’s constitution. India did the same in 1989 when it closed 19 of the 21 border crossing over a dispute regarding renegotiation of lapsed trade and transit treaties primarily due to Nepal’s increasing cooperation with China.  The question is with India going to such extremes is it really safe for Sri Lanka’s leaders to pass all key requirements of the Sri Lankan public into the hands of India knowing what India is capable of doing and that India will not think twice about even denying humanitarian aid if India’s demands are not met?

It was the Indian Express that published the connection in the blockade and the constitution and despite the Indian government denying, the reporter stood by his original report stating that ‘these amendments/changes were communicated by New Delhi to Kathmandu’. The Economic Times ‘confirmed that at least till the third week of September they had orders from above to intercept fuel shipments to Nepal’. Nepali social media vehemently protested. There were even talk that Nepal was infiltrated with Indian protestors posing as Nepalis (a most likely scenario in Sri Lanka as well with Tamil Nadu Tamils posing as Tamils of Sri Lanka).

Nepal passed its new constitution on 20 September 2015 after 7 years working on it.

The supposed India-Nepal open border treaty means that citizens of both countries can move freely, work and live across borders without passports. It would be exactly the same if ETCA is signed leaving a flood of Indians crossing to Sri Lanka.

If India influences the Madheshis of Nepal is it not the same thing India is doing with the Sri Lankan Tamils and the Estate Tamils? If Nepal says the Madhesi movements have been backed by India, isnt what India did in creating armed militancy in Sri Lanka the same? When Nepali’s feel the Indian plan is to ultimately attempt to absorb Nepal into India in whole or in part citing the case of Nepali-dominated Sikkim, isnt the same happening to Sri Lanka?

Nepal’s old constitution did not allow children of Nepali women to obtain Nepali citizenship in order to stop trafficking of Nepali women as brides (both parents had to be Nepali for children to gain citizenship).  However Indians made sure this clause was removed. (“every child found in Nepal wherabouts of whose paternity and maternity is not known, shall until the mother or father is traced, be deemed a citizen of Nepal descent). (a very slow but definite demographic change of Nepal by India” / “a person born to a Nepali citizen mother whose father is not traced shall be Nepali citizen by descent” ) You can bet that India will do the same if Sri Lanka addresses Indian illegal immigration to Sri Lanka in the new constitution.

Nepal borders Bihar and Uttar Pradesh which have a combined population of over 300million against Nepal’s population of just 28million. This again is no different to 76million Tamil Nadu Tamils against 20million Sri Lankans.

The overwhelming presence of Indian Oil in Sri Lanka should make people now think about how Nepal fell into trouble during the Indian blockade in 2015. Nepal Oil Corporation like Sri Lanka’s CPC was the only state owned company which distributed petroleum in Nepal. With India not allowing petrol, diesel, cooking gas, kerosene into Nepal it was the innocent Nepalese people who suffered. It will be the innocent Sri Lankan public who will end up suffering when India does the same in time to come because our leaders have simply sold us out. The price of petrol per litre was Rs.104 before the blockade, thereafter Nepalis had to buy it for Rs.300-450 per litre. The Nepali government had to even sell firewood to meet the shortage of cooking gas. This was in 2015 all sectors were hit – economy, tourism, transport, agriculture! India did not even care that 3m children under 5 years were at the risk of death/disease during the winter due to shortage of fuel, food, medicines and vaccines. Do we need any more lessons for Sri Lankans to open their eyes? In October 2015 the Nepali Oil Corporation and PetroChina signed an agreement to import fuel from China.

Madhesi movement in Nepal is said to be supported by India which again calls to mind how India clandestinely trained, armed and financially supported 35 militant groups from Sri Lanka including the LTTE to destabalize Sri Lanka. India’s support for the Madhesi’s and Tharus is because both form bulk of population of Terai, and Terai region constitutes 1/5 of Nepal’s landmass but accounts for over half of Nepal’s population. Link this to Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka’s North and East and India has a greater eelam extending from India to Sri Lanka. It is based on this that India is pushing for the rail, road bridge, the ETCA allowing Indians to live and work in Sri Lanka and Indians to own land in Sri Lanka as well.

The Madhesi’s have opposed the new constitution and this is a clear sign of the scenario likely to prevail in the LTTE-TNA camp. Madhesi’s in Nepal and the LTTE-TNA have been demanding the fulfillment of their ‘aspirations’.

If Madhesi’s have opposed the clause in the new constitution “religious and cultural freedom, with the protection of religion and culture practiced since ancient times” it is most likely that the foremost place to Buddhism in Sri Lanka’s constitution and the 2600 civilizational heritage and history will also be in for changes unless the public begin opposing.

Both movements in Nepal & Sri Lanka have sought Indian support. Isnt that a coincidence!

India had even officially conveyed to Nepal of 7 amendments India wished Nepal to make in its constitution!  Look at the extent of interference by India

The proposed amendments are:

  • Article 63 (3) of the Interim Constitution provided electoral constituencies based on population, geography and special characteristics, “and in the case of Madhes on the basis of percentage of population”. Under this provision, Madhes, with more than 50 per cent of the population, got 50 per cent of seats in Parliament. The latter phrase has been omitted in Article 84 of the new Constitution. “It needs to be re-inserted so that Madhes continues to have electoral constituencies in proportion to its population,” a government source told The Indian Express.
  • In Article 21 of the Interim Constitution, it was mentioned that various groups would have “the right to participate in state structures on the basis of principles of proportional inclusion”. In the new Constitution (Article 42), the word “proportional” has been dropped — Delhi wants it re-inserted.
  • Article 283 of the Constitution states that only citizens by descent will be entitled to hold the posts of President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice, Speaker of Parliament, Chairperson of National Assembly, Head of Province, Chief Minister, Speaker of Provincial Assembly and Chief of Security Bodies. This clause is seen as discriminatory for the large number of Madhesis who have acquired citizenship by birth or naturalisation. Delhi says this should be amended to include citizenship by birth or naturalisation.
  • Article 86 of the new Constitution states that National Assembly will comprise 8 members from each of 7 States and 3 nominated members. Madhesi parties want representation in National Assembly to be based on population of the Provinces. This, Delhi says, should be done to address concerns.
  • Five disputed districts of Kanchanpur, Kailali, Sunsari, Jhapa and Morang: Based on the majority of the population, these districts or parts of them may be included in the neighbouring Madhes Provinces.
  • Article 154 of the Interim Constitution provided for delineation of electoral constituencies every 10 years. This has been increased to 20 years in Article 281 of the new Constitution. Echoing the Madhesi parties, India wants this restored to 10 years.
  • Article 11(6) states that a foreign woman married to a Nepali citizen may acquire naturalised citizenship of Nepal as provided for in a federal law. Madhesi parties want acquisition of naturalised citizenship to be automatic on application. This also finds favour with Delhi.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs denied the report as incorrect. However the Indian Express reporter stood by the report claiming that India did demand the changes.

Has India violated UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/25/2625 declaring the principles on international law concerning friendly relations and cooperation among States?

  • Has India violated clause that stipulates all States to refrain from using threat or force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State? Such a threat or use of force constitutes a violation of international law and the Charter of the UN. A war of aggression constitutes a crime against the peace, for which there is responsibility under international law. India’s neighbors will certainly have a long list of woes on India’s bullying
  • “Duty not to intervene in matters within the domestic jurisdiction of any State”
  • “Every state has the duty to refrain from organizing or encouraging the organization of irregular forces or armed bands including mercenaries for incursion into the territory of another State” (India did clandestinely train and arm Tamil militancy in Sri Lanka. Jain Commission report is evidence of this)
  • “Every State has the duty to refrain from organizing, instigating, assisting or participating in acts of civil strife or terrorist acts in another State or acquiescing in organized activities within its territory directed towards the commission of such acts, when the acts referred to involve a threat or use of force”.  Tamil Nadu used as a logistics hub for Sri Lankan militants and Tamil Nadu politicos encouraging & supporting eelam in Sri Lanka.
  • “No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly for any reason, whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements are in violation of international law”
  • “No State may use or encourage the use of economic political or any other type of measures to coerce another State in order to obtain from it the subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights and to secure from it advantages of any kind. Also, no State shall organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist or armed activities directed towards the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State”
  • “Every State has an inalienable right to choose its political, economic, social and cultural systems, without interference in any form by another State”
  • Sovereign equality including in the above Resolution
  1. States are judicially equal;
  2. Each State enjoys the rights inherent in full sovereignty;
  3. Each State has the duty to respect the personality of other States;
  4. The territorial integrity and political independence of the State are inviolable;
  5. Each State has the right freely to choose and develop its political, social, economic and cultural systems;
  6. Each State has the duty to comply fully and in good faith with its international obligations and to live in peace with other States.

The extent of violations committed by India upon its neighbors can be drawn by listing the manner India has violated the UN Charter and international laws by interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign nations.

It would be a good time to present all violations committed by India upon its neighbours to the UN though we can but wonder whether anything constructive would come out of it because India is behaving no different to the manner the US, West and NATO functions in bulldozing their way forward.

Nepal’s constitution was definitely not of their own making. USAID and numerous other NGOs played a key role no different to how foreign-funded organizations are playing the same role in Sri Lanka. The monarchy rule of Nepal was changed into a secular state. The Hindu identity was also changed. In the meanwhile the British High Commissioner in Nepal has been accused of supporting Christian missionaries. He has even promoted the inclusion of the right to convert in the new constitution. /

USAID too played a key role in Nepal Bar Association just like in Sri Lanka (strengthening rule of law). The changes to Nepal came having tapped its media, legal structure, youth, professional bodies, local NGOs under a US-Indian plan. If we cannot pick the similarities taking place in Sri Lanka we really are doomed.

None of what Nepal went through should surprise us as these developments are identical to what is now taking place in Sri Lanka. If we do not learn from these lessons and take appropriate counter measures/actions we deserve what we are likely to be dished out.

(This article was originally published in the Sri Lanka Web on April 11, 2016)


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