Lines on the Border, Lines in our Mind: India and Nepal

Paradox of 'Open Border'

Team Law Community
July 7, 2020

The previous post “The treaty obligations: Nepal and India”discussed the factual border issue. The current post delves into the reasons thereof.

The special relationship

The “special relationship” between India and Nepal is a portrayal of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the Government of India and the Government of Nepal, 1950. The treaty obliges both the countries to render communication about any serious friction or misunderstanding with any neighboring State, which is likely to cause any breach in the friendly relations subsisting between the two governments.Nepal's former Prime Minister in the 1960s expressed Nepal’s resentment of the term “special relationship” and stressed that “Nepal could not compromise its sovereignty for India's so-called security.” Such resentments and modification shave been witnessed in recent years as well. The millenniums take it to be the reaction of China’s growing proximity to Nepal but can it be true!

India too has failed in its friendship with Nepal. The status was a‘special relationship’ wherein both the countries were bound to never tolerate any threat to the security of the other by a foreign aggressor. To deal with any such threat, the two governments shall consult with each other and advise effective counter-measures. However, India always took Nepal for granted. Its tarted with the 1962 Sino-Indian armed conflict followed by the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War, the commitments about mutual security based on the 1950 Treaty had fallen into disuse as India never consulted Nepal on the matter when Nepal was indeed a sovereign territory between the two nations at war. Before this, Kathmandu during the 1950s heard every political opinion of India as an authoritative command and this driving influence overpowered India into taking Nepal lightly.

Does this mean that India has failed in its Neighborhood first policy?

No, not necessarily. It is quite a failure of India’s regional strategy. Particularly, with Nepal India has established a political and personal link that was at a bleak since the 1980s. India has placed an investment in upgrading its cross-border infrastructure and economic assistance: there are now new rail and road links, an electronic cargo system for Nepali goods to transit via Indian ports, inland waterway navigation plans, and a new cross-border pipeline for petroleum products, to name a few.


The missing dialogue in Nepal-India Bilateral relationship

India’s silence is the greatest cause for concern for the future of bilateral relations and is creating natural uneasiness in Kathmandu. Sources claim that Prime Minister of India could not get time to talk to Nepal concerning rising protests on the border issue. On the other hand, Prime Minister of Nepal is unlikely to just get on a call with India without any significant assurance that he can present as a political victory at home, even if only to save face. This busy schedule of India has loosened the gaps between the bilateral order and has prompted Nepal for the amendment.

Caving in or Saying out

The Constitutional amendment by Nepal does not form a compulsion or coercion on India before the United Nations. The countries were required to have a diplomatic dialogue and Nepal blew the precondition. However, the Nepali government is still emphasizing the dialogue as it is known of the fact that an amendment to its constitution unilaterally would not settle the borderline.

The ‘cartographic war’* can only be compromised. According to the political analysts both the countries hold evidence in favor of their claims on the territory, the fight can go on for years but what can be done for now is to compromise and settle. It will be a win-win for both the countries, as India has developed a border infrastructure to take leverage on China if the tension persists on this border it would be a challenge to reach the next border with China. The ‘open border’ will facilitate this movement and any threat from China's growing presence in Nepal could be checked.

India and Nepal have trusted each other with their border; it would be a win over the historical friendship, the security concerns, and a devastating future if we settle.

What do you THINK!


 *Cartographic propaganda can be used to mislead the enemy and its military by distorting maps and the information they contain which is used in military strategic planning.

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