As filmmakers from India who have gathered to share our work at the Film South Asia in Kathmandu this week, we would like to place on record our solidarity with the people of Nepal who are presently reeling from a grave humanitarian crisis, arising from what is tantamount to an economic blockade.
The unconscionable support of the Indian government for the extended blockade – now entering its second month – has crippled the economy of Nepal, and disrupted vital social services. In Kathmandu we can see that endemic shortages have had a visible effect on the daily life of people. We are also aware that hospitals are running out of essential drugs and supplies, and more than a million and a half children are currently unable to attend school. The disruption to everyday life is huge.
Coming on the back of the devastating earthquake of six months ago, as well as the political unrest in the Tarai plains, the blockade has hit industries and small businesses, and hampered development activities including the rebuilding of vital infrastructure. It has also affected the tourism industry, a vital part of the local economy. It is now estimated that the cumulative loss from the blockade may significantly exceed the costs of the earlier earthquake.
As Indian citizens we call upon the Indian government – as well as the international community – to take note of this crisis and take steps to bring it to an immediate end. Nepal is a country with historical ties with India, and that rare phenomenon of an open international border. We believe that as a sovereign nation-state Nepal has a commitment to deal with the real internal challenges it faces, and to reconcile the needs of its people through political negotiation and democratic constitutional process. We believe they are capable of managing their internal relationships without the involvement of external actors.
We demand the immediate lifting of the blockade against Nepal and the restoration of good neighbourly relations in place of what appears as near imperial meddling. We call upon the international community to take all necessary measures to end the humanitarian crisis that Nepal and its people are facing.
Nakul Singh Sawhney
Endorsed in absentia:
Kavita Bahl & Nandan Saxena
Samreen Farooqui & Shabani Hassanwalia