– Bhesh Bahadur Thapa, former Ambassador of Nepal to India
How do you explain the fact of Nepal-India relations?
India is Nepal’s closest geographical, social, cultural and economic neighbor. India is the first friendly country for Nepal due to communication, trade, air circulation etc. Therefore, this relationship is deeper not only due to geographical reasons but also due to social reasons.
But in spite of this, in the history of Nepal, the relationship between the two was getting stronger after Prithvinarayan Shah left Gorkha and reached Kathmandu in the process of unification. The custom at that time was the same, the British had set up an arena in India. It was during the colonization at that time, the size of Nepal was larger as the state expanded to reach Kangda fort. Not only the geography of Nepal but also our way of life and our cultural values were the same as it was after the Sugauli Treaty and the Sepoy Agreement with India signed by Jung Bahadur.
Due to the mountains to the north and open borders to the south, Nepal’s relationship with India is even closer due to its social affiliation and economic activities from history to date.
When talking about the relations between India and Nepal, the empire was expanded or sustained whether it was by bending or lying. After the rise of Jung Bahadur in Nepal, for a long time as long as his family ruled, the diplomacy of that time was to fight for the border or to fight. After the independence of India and the advent of democracy in Nepal in 2007, the seriousness of cooperation seems to have increased.
Nepal’s modern relations begin only after the end of the Rana period. After that, Nepal became a member of the United Nations and gradually established relations with various countries. After that, cooperation and participation increased not only with India but also with other countries. At present, Nepal’s relations with other countries are also increasing.
However, the close, interdependent and incomparable relationship between Nepal and India has not been and cannot be compared with any other country. Thus, Nepal-India relations are unique in the world, we should be able to take advantages of it.
What are the dimensions due to which Nepal-India relations are unique?
The most important is the geographical relationship. As Nepal is a landlocked nation and is openly, geographically connected to India in the east, west and south, Nepal is very close to India. Social, cultural, economic and other various dimensions have connected Nepal and India with each other. Due to the open border, people are moving around for employment. Even in economic transactions, other countries have not been able to become as easy a market as India. Nepal-India relations are also close due to natural rivers. As a result, Nepal-India relations have become closer in all respects due to mobility, social structure, open borders, etc.
Our relationship with India is multifaceted.
Are we able to make good use of this relationship?
Earlier, the border was open and there was no restriction. With the end of the Rana period, Nepal seems to have entered the system of modern administration. Since then, India-Nepal relations have been based on treaties, agreements and consensus, so they have been more systematic and practical.
Due to its geographical integrity and universal ownership of natural resources within its territory, there are many areas of potential to use these relationships for assistance. As far as India is concerned in terms of area, population and economic prosperity, it has its own strength, capacity and ambition. India is emerging as a powerhouse in the world, we have to show goodwill in its ambitions and Nepal should think in terms of benefiting from all the assistance that India is providing. If we move forward with which diplomacy, cooperation with India will be beneficial for Nepal.
This is an ongoing practice. Nepal should continue to strive to maintain the heights of relations with India in a multifaceted manner. It is the responsibility of Nepalis, not foreigners, to protect, promote and protect their national interests. In the case of Nepal and India, the efforts that should have been made for universal equality among the nations are not lacking.
In a very close relationship, sometimes it is natural to feel down. The dignity of the relationship must be preserved by resolving such issues through bilateral diplomatic solutions.
What is the impact of the negative issues spread in Nepal regarding India on the relations between the two countries?
Usually there are ups and downs in the relationship. This is nothing new. Not only in Nepal and India, Nepal and China, Nepal and USA, but also in other countries worldwide. That is a different matter. When it comes to people and faith, some people like it.
National interest means that no group’s rebellion has a negative impact. The sentiments of the people and the natural resources are a matter of our constitutional rights. In a way, there are many ups and downs in the relations between India and Nepal due to the open borders created by the streams and open gates.
China cannot take the place of relations with India. There are great geographical difficulties for cooperation, economic and social cooperation with our northern neighbor, which is covered by mountains. But unequal perceptions between the two countries are a thing of the past, not just now. This is not unnatural. It needs to be continuously improved, and efforts are being made. Despite the occasional dissatisfaction, Nepal has put forward its views, not hidden them. Whether through various talks or high-level visits, Nepal has been keeping its side. India is also committed to resolving its issues from the heights of relations between the two countries. The relationship must be accelerated by moving forward on the basis of dialogue, consensus and agreement, removing negative sentiments regarding the two countries.
How do you view the allegation that India has a deep interest in Nepal? It is not uncommon for India to express that desire. It is not bad for any country to try to maintain its influence by being stronger.
The more multidimensional the relationship, the more the ups and downs of Nepal will affect India. But it is Nepal’s responsibility not to get caught up in the problem and get out of it. Nepal is not behind in that.
Various governments have come since 2007. But the thinking towards India does not seem to have changed. Because there is a public opinion behind it. If intervention seems to be on the rise, Nepal itself must be vigilant. If there are problems in a diplomatic way, they should be solved. But both countries must move forward, respecting each other’s self-esteem, free from unnecessary propaganda and negative thinking.
What do you say at the end?
Until now, Nepal’s relations with India have been seen as flexible, sympathetic and reciprocal. India and Nepal have good relations with each other for their own benefit. The problems that exist should be solved diplomatically.
Diplomacy is not just about foreign bodies. It can be done by the media and the intellectual sector as well as the citizens by stepping out of the government machinery. Everyone has a responsibility to move forward for their goals by giving up diplomatic dignity without giving up. The current political parties and the government have responsibilities to do so. We have to move forward accordingly.