India is always blackmailing and arm-twisting Nepal to serve its own vested interests. To counter that, Nepal needs to develop special relations with other countries too. And further enhancing diplomatic ties with China would be a brilliant way to fight Indian hegemony. We can start this by importing our essentials from China while gradually reducing our dependency on imports and supply of essential commodities like fuel and medicine from India.
India is focusing its interest not only in Terai at the moment, but the whole country, and its eyes are fixed, as always, on Nepal’s water resources. Unfortunately, India is getting all necessary support in this regard from some people in Terai. India is using their complexion and language, which are similar to that of the Indian people, as an excuse to further their interest in Nepal’s Terai region and the whole of Nepal.
India’s weapon of choice at the moment is to incite protest over Nepal’s federal system and demarcation of provincial boundaries. I have been against federalism right from the beginning because India wants to ensure demarcation of federal units in Nepal in a way that will only serve its interests.
It is our misfortune that Nepal’s main political parties, including the Maoists, have defined the federal system as being the outcome of their revolutionary agenda. However, it is not only a regressive agenda, but an Indian agenda that intertwines with the interests of the West.
India exerted all its influence to make Nepal adopt federalism, but this will only be counter-productive for India. The West wants a federal system in Nepal so that it can have leverage on both India and China. India has not looked at the issue in this light. The adoption of federalism and secularism in Nepal was a strategic victory for the West.
I have great respect for Madhesi people and support the movement they are organizing in Terai, but some of the issues they have raised neither promotes their rights nor benefits Nepal. Infact, it is only weakening Nepal’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and helping India to promote its vested interests in Nepal. As I have already mentioned, the issue of federalism has already been high hijacked by the West, and will be equally counter-productive for India and China as well.
Federalism was never our need. The whole argument that Nepal needs federalism to achieve its development goals and aspirations was a mere propaganda. I am certain that in the near future federalism will become a reason for unrest in the whole of South Asia and will only invite political instability and turmoil. Nepal does not need restructuring; it rather needs re-managing. Federalism cannot help the downtrodden people, and it is a complete antithesis to inclusiveness.
Talking about the current fuel crisis and shortage of essentials in Nepal, I am pretty convinced that China can help Nepal solve the current fuel crisis. The latest Nepal-China petro deal, which has been very much welcomed by the Nepali people, will go a long way in resolving this recurring problem.
I take this opportunity to also ask China to stop staying silent and start being proactive to help Nepal. China should show its presence by helping Nepal develop its poor infrastructure, investing in Nepal’s hydropower and other industrial sectors to reduce the country’s overdependence on India. The best part about China-Nepal relation is that the Nepali people welcome Chinese support openheartedly.
However, Chinese investors face problems while opening industries and carrying out trade activities in the Terai. Some Indians and India-influenced people tag them as Chinese spies. As a result, we have bitter experience of seeing some good Chinese trade and business projects being shut down in Nepal. This is happening because India wants to continue its trade monopoly in Nepal, something that is not acceptable. The Nepal government should arrest and punish those people who are engaged in such activities and shouting anti-China slogans in the Terai region.
India should not be afraid of Nepal’s partnership with China. Because a developed and affluent Nepal will always be in the interest of India.
Acharya is a leading constitutional lawyer practicing with the Supreme Court of Nepal.
(Source : Asia Pacific Daily, Kathmandu bureau)