Nepal- India relations
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
The Indians and the Nepalese are one people living in two sovereign nations. Countless Gurkhas have laid down their lives defending India’s sovereignty and integrity. May the two brotherly nations always continue to respect and defend each other’s sovereignty and integrity.
Keshav Pradhan, The Times of India TNN | May 11, 2015
A brief history
Indian politicians and media first extended their activities to Nepal in the 1940s when it was fighting the Ranas. The period marked the flight of King Tribhuvan, who clandestinely supported the anti-Rana forces, to India, and the foundation of Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal in Kolkata.
Some say these developments allowed Indian politicians and media a role in Nepal's internal affairs.
In 1950, India brokered a peace deal between the King, Ranas and political parties. This was perhaps its first post-independence foray into affairs abroad. But in no time India spoilt its goodwill in Nepal, first by setting up a military mission there and then by becoming a party to the internal power tussle.
The Nepalis resented the presence of the Indian army, which was supposed to help them expedite development work.
‘Nehru Didn’t Let Nepal Be A Part Of India’
TIMES NEWS NETWORK Toi 7 Jan 2021
Pranab Mukherjee has written in his memoirs that: Nehru dealt with Nepal very diplomatically, and “rejected” an offer to be made an Indian province. “After the Rana rule was replaced by the monarchy in Nepal, he wished for democracy to take root. Interestingly, Nepal’s king, Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah, had suggested to Nehru that Nepal be made a province of India. But Nehru rejected the offer on the ground that Nepal was an independent nation and must remain so,”
India openly went against King Mahendra when he sacked BP Koirala's ministry in 1960. By then Nepal had spawned a media that projected India as a threat to its sovereignty.
India's tacit support to Nepali Congress when itlaunched an armed struggle against King Mahendra in the 1960s complicated matters for New Delhi.
What baffles the Nepalis is what they call India's China obsession.
In 1988-89 Delhi opposed King Birendra's decision to import weapons from China. A decade later it allowed Nepal to get arms from abroad to fight Maoists.
India's tacit support to Nepali Congress continued till 1990 when Congress and the United Left Front launched a movement for restoration of multiparty democracy in Nepal. The agitation was announced at a Nepali Congress meeting, attended, among others, by former Indian PM Chandra Shekhar in Kathmandu.
Much has happened since then. Nepal is now a vibrant democracy with an influential media. Though the Nepalis are proud they were never under foreign rule, they acknowledge that their economic destiny is tied with India's, their biggest aid giver.
China and other big powers understand this and allow India a bigger role in the Himalayan nation.
This became evident when India brokered a truce between the Maoists and mainstream parties in 2006.
On many occasions, over-zealous Indian politicians and media spoilt whatever goodwill their government had generated in Nepal.
For example, the Gujral government, which graciously allowed Nepali entrepreneurs zero-duty export trade, got Delhi more ridicule than praise after the Indian media wrote extensively in its opposition.
A while later, a leading Indian weekly published "Nepal Game Plan", a collection of unsubstantiated information that associated many top Nepali politicians and entrepreneurs with Pakistan's ISI.
The projection of Nepalis as collaborators in the IC-814 hijack added more to their anger that later culminated into anti-Indian riots over the Hiritik Roshan episode.
The 2015 earthquake: India may have pulled out all stops to help quake-devastated Nepal with 'Operation Maitri', but the friendly neighbour may remember China's silent work in their country more than the Indian effort. The perception, unfortunately, is that the Indians talked too much, making a foe out of a friend
Many in Nepal say the hyper-active Indian media tried to keep their country ahead of China in their earthquake coverage. In contrast, China seemed least interested in publicity.
The Hiritik Roshan riots of Dec 2000
On Christmas night in Dec 2000 a rumour swept through southern Nepalese towns that Indian film star Hrithik Roshan had told an interviewer that he hated Nepal and its people.
None of the demonstrators in Katmandu said they knew anyone who had actually seen the supposed remarks Roshan made.
“We are protesting since the statement hurt the sentiments of the Nepalese and our pride,” said demonstrator Ramesh Shreshta, who conceded he had not seen the alleged interview.
He and others shrugged off Roshan’s denials, shouting “Down with Hrithik, down with Indian elements!”
Indian businesses were vandalized, and windows at The State Bank of India were smashed.
Roshan denied today ever making any comments against Nepal and claimed competitors are trying to ruin his reputation.
“I can name all the interviews I have given. All the tapes are there for anyone to see anytime,” Roshan told STAR NEWS television channel in India. “I have never spoken against Nepal or the Nepalese people, whom I love.”
He said he believed members of the criminal underworld may have been responsible for stirring the trouble.
Pratyoush Onta’s analysis
Two months later Pratyoush Onta would write ‘The Paradox of the Nepali Mindset: Hate India, Love India’ Himal February 2001.
Mr Onta first recounted—with clear disapproval—some of the slogans that the mobs had shouted in Decmber 2000:
You ask for proof that Hrithik actually said it? The people on the streets do not need proof!
Hrithik is India. India is our big brother. Big brother imperialist! Respect our sovereignty! Go home big brother India!
Anti-India means anybody looking Indian must not be spared. Is this the house of Mr so-and-so?
Mr Onta’s extremely balanced analysis of the Hrithik Roshan riots can be summarised thus, in his own words:
It is now clear that the actor Hrithik Roshan did not insult “Nepal and Nepalis” in any of his interviews. It is also clear that the rumour that started the whole trouble in the mid-Tarai Nepali towns was spread by someone who hoped to ignite a conflagration. Clearly, he got his wish, seeing the damage done to the national psyche after the Kathmandu riots of 26-27 December.
In the aftermath of this nerve-racking episode, the ‘anti-Indian’ nature of the rioting has received much play, both in the Nepali and Indian media. But of course it is much more than that, and to relegate it to purely a hostile outpouring against India and Indians would be restrictive and incorrect.
Indeed, there are several corrections to make at the outset. While international media reports suggested that all of Kathmandu Valley was ruled by mobs during those two days, the actual theatre of disturbance was confined to small pockets within Kathmandu town only. Patan and Bhaktapur, the other two cities of the Valley, remained calm. Even within Kathmandu, the demonstrations were restricted to the downtown areas of New Road, Ratna Park, Jamal, Thamel, Baneswar and Kalimati, without spillover to other localities. There were tyre-burnings in some locations along the Ring Road. The whole Valley was not burning.
In downtown Kathmandu (around New Road and Indrachowk), shops belonging to Nepalis of all ethnic and caste origins were attacked. Private property—irrespective of ownership demography—was destroyed… [It] was equally an …anti-property riot. A second striking aspect of the events of end-December was that they were opportune for the forces that want to put an end to Nepal’s experiment with political democracy. The violence … very soon became an anti-government protest. Apart from those affiliated to the various party-led student organisations, both the Maoists and royalists were out on the streets in force.
The Maoists were looking for newer ways to disrupt life in Kathmandu after their student wing had successfully forced all schools to close for a week in early December. The royalists who want the king to re-assume active power (so that they may get back to their authoritarian functions, under cover of the crown), for their part, have been using every opportunity to make the multi-party democratic establishment look more inefficient than it really is.
This was also an occasion for the small left parties to demonstrate evidence of their existence through street action.
The Nepali anti-India sentiment
No matter how we read the events of late December 2000, we cannot deny a strain of anti-India sentiments in Nepali society. ... It may surprise some, but the ‘anti-India’ sentiment does not have a permanent place even in the hearts of those who have shouted slogans against India on the streets or participated in supposedly ‘anti-India’ protests.
The Nepali anti-India sentiment is a deeply ambiguous one, and nowhere is this more true than among the leaders of the Nepali left. After all, they learned their Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao, by and large, from Hindi translations of the original German, Russian and Chinese. And I would suppose that comrades Prachanda and Baburam acquire the guns and bullets for their Maoist platoons from the small arms racket in India.
In other words, the anti-India sentiment occupies only a particular (and limited) domain in the lives of the protestors and leaders alike. For, the same “anti-Indian” Nepali consumes Indian products profusely, travels in India on pilgrimage or pleasure as if it were his own backyard, and leaders in particular have no compunction in seeking help from the Indian embassy in getting sons and daughters admitted to Indian colleges and universities.
This paradox manifests itself in oft-visible acts of political opportunism. The need to portray themselves as opponents of Indian interests in Nepal is paramount for the political survival of small left parties, particularly when they do not hold the deciding balance in government coalitions. Take for example the case of Bamdev Gautam, present leader of the Communist Party of Nepal-Marxist-Leninist (CPN-ML), members of whose student wing led the riots in Kathmandu, and who upbraided a BBC interviewer on air for daring to enquire if he had proof of Roshan’s reported anti-Nepal statement.
Today, out of power and somewhat remote from it given his separation from the rump CPN-UML, Gautam tries hard to portray himself as anti-Indian. However, he did not have the diligence to vote against the overwhelmingly pro-India Mahakali Treaty signed some years ago. As someone who was himself some time a worker in India, Gautam may have tried to understand the kind of backlash anti-Indianism within Nepal can have vis-à-vis the hundreds of thousands of Nepali labourers in India.
The spatial distribution of the ‘anti-India’ sentiment within Nepal also deserves attention. This xenophobic attitude perhaps exists strongest in the large pahadi (hill) population that migrated to the Nepal Tarai since the eradication of malaria, and which lives in close proximity to the madhesi plains-people and the Indians close by across the border. The attitude may also survive to a smaller degree in the original inhabitants of the Tarai, the indigenous forest-dwellers who have been squeezed out of their habitats by homesteaders from north and south. However, in the wake of the events of late December , it would seem that the hub of this hateful sentiment is within Kathmandu Valley itself.
The anti-madhesi sensibility of the original inhabitants of Kathmandu Valley was built up over history by rulers with a need to point at an enemy without. This inherited sensibility found occasion to grow in the ‘anti-India’ intellectual discourse of the Nepali left and of the proponents of the Panchayat regime (the nationalist vocabulary of these two strains are almost identical). It is because of this coming together of historical animosity on the one hand with the modern-day dogma of the Panchayat and the left on the other, that an ‘anti-India’ protest can transform so very easily into an “anti-madhesi” one. Although no one seems to quite know the dynamics of this slippage, this was how a protest against Hrithik Roshan quickly snowballed into a targeting of Nepalis of Tarai origin.
The “hate India, love India” Nepali paradox is also, of course, tied to acts of political opportunism in India. While the average Nepali is predisposed to ‘love’ India for the myriad of cultural and social links he has south of the border, his ‘hate’ is, besides the source already mentioned, stoked by the way in which the Indian state and establishment have targeted Nepal for various ills that are mostly India-specific. Take for example, the social currency given to the fiction that the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence is encouraged by the Nepali state itself to do mischief in the neighbouring Indian heartland.
The issues, as in 2020
The map of Nepal issued by the Government of Nepal in May 2020
The map vs map tussle between India and Nepal
Nepal has approved a new political map showing border areas of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as its territory, amidst a border dispute with India. Nepal's ruling Nepal Communist Party lawmakers have also tabled a special resolution in Parliament demanding return of Nepal's territory in the three places.
The China factor: China on Tuesday said "Kalapani is an issue between Nepal and India". Indian Army chief Gen. M M Naravane had last week said that there were reasons to believe that Nepal objected to India's newly-inaugurated road linking Lipulekh Pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand at the behest of "someone else", in an apparent reference to a possible role by China in the matter.
The back story: India and Nepal (they share a 1,800km open border) are at a row after the Indian side issued a new political map following the re-organisation of J&K in October last year incorporating Kalapani and Lipulekh on its side of the border. India said it hasn't revised its boundary with Nepal. The tension further escalated after India inaugurated a road link on May 8 connecting Lipulekh pass with Kailash Mansarovar route in China.
The history: Kalapani is a 372-sq km area at the China-Nepal-India tri-junction. India claims Kalapani as a part of Uttarakhand while Nepal depicts the area in its map. According to the Sugauli treaty signed between Nepal and British India in 1816, the Mahakali river that runs through the Kalapani area is the boundary between the two countries. However, British surveyors subsequently showed the origin of the river, which has many tributaries, at different places. While Nepal claims that the river west of the disputed territory is the main river and so Kalapani falls in its territory, India claims a different origin and includes the area in its territory.
Why it matters: Strategically, Lipulekh Pass in Kalapani serves as an important vantage point for India to keep an eye on Chinese movements. Since 1962, Kalapani has been manned by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.
Why did Nepal change its map?
India’s move prompted Nepal to change map, says Gyawali
Nepal foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali said Nepal’s step of changing its map in 2021 was linked to India’s decision to issue a new political map in November 2019. The maps were released following the re-organisation of J&K into two UTs of J&K and Ladakh and did not alter the international boundaries, India has said.
2020: 2nd integrated check-post opened
NEW DELHI: India and Nepal opened their second integrated check-post (ICP) on the Jogbani-Biratnagar border on Tuesday, with both Prime Ministers, Narendra Modi and KP Sharma Oli, jointly inaugurating the facility.
The Rs 140 crore ICP built with Indian assistance and spread over 260 acres is the second after the Raxaul-Birgunj one which was opened in 2018. Officials said it can handle over 500 trucks daily. Modi said India is committed to simplifying and smoothening traffic with all friendly countries in the neighbourhood. “India and Nepal are working on several cross-border connectivity projects such as road, rail and transmission lines,” he said.
The two Prime Ministers also reviewed the progress in Indian-assisted post-2015 earthquake housing reconstruction projects in Nepal. Out of India’s commitment to build 50,000 houses in Gorkha and Nuwakot, 45,000 have already been completed.
National security advisor Ajit Doval, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale and Nepal’s ambassador to India Nilambar Acharya attended the event in New Delhi.
In a statement in Kathmandu, the Indian embassy said the ICP has integrated three main border related functions — customs, immigration and border security — to facilitate movement of both passenger and freight traffic between the two countries. For re-building earthquake-resilient 50,000 private houses in Gorkha and Nuwakot districts, India has pledged USD 100 million and USD 50 million soft loan.
China’s relations with Nepal
2017: ‘India made Nepal scale down drill with China’
Nepal has scaled down the size of its first-ever military exercise with China after facing strong opposition from India, state-run Chinese media claimed.
The joint military exercise, `Sagarmatha Friendship 2017', started in Nepal on April 16. “It was said the two countries planned to hold a battalion-scale military exercise. However, facing a strong opposition from India, Nepal had to compress the size of the military exercise and change the venue to a military school,“ an article in the state-run Global Times said.
“For Nepal, the joint military exercise has a deeper significance. It shows that Nepal moves forward in its pursuit of a balanced diplomacy. Since the 1990s, balanced diplomacy has become the basic principle of Nepal's foreign strategy , which is established based on its nationalism and anti-Indian sentiment,“ it said. Chinese media has been expressing its frustration over the fall of pro-China PM K P Sharma Oli.
2018: Nepal starts using Chinese, not Indian, net bandwidth
Move Ends Dependence On India
Nepal will receive internet bandwidth from China from Friday, ending the Himalayan nation’s sole dependence on India for connecting to the cyber space.
State-owned telecom company Nepal Telecom (NT) said all the groundwork has been completed to formally connect Nepal with Chinese bandwidth.
The company, however, did not disclose the actual volume of Chinese internet bandwidth that Nepal will receive. “The details will be made public after a formal inauguration on Friday,” Prativa Baidhya, spokesperson for NT, said.
In December 2016, NT had reached an agreement with China Telecom to acquire internet bandwidth. NT had begun the test transmission of the project from the first week of September last year.
The commercial operation of the Chinese bandwidth project will end Nepal’s sole dependence on India for internet bandwidth. Besides ending India’s monopoly of bandwidth supply, the Chinese internet gateway is also expected to facilitate service providers in Nepal to establish bandwidth connection with other nations via China.
Though NT is purchasing limited volume of Internet from China in the first phase, the company will increase the volume of Chinese internet gradually in the coming days.
Chinese internet will be supplied via Rasuwagadhi gateway, according to sources at NT.
2018: Nepal to take part in China military drill
Nepal’s decision to pull out of the joint the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) military drill in Pune couldn’t have come at a worse time for India with the Nepal army set to participate in a 12-day long military exercise with China later this month Nepal army spokesperson Brig Gen Gokul Bhandaree told TOI that the second such joint exercise with China, ‘Sagarmatha Friendship-2’, was going to take place from September 17 to 28 in Chengdu.
“The main focus of the exercise is going to be on counterterror operations,’’ he said. Nepal’s first such joint exercise with China took place in April last year leading to concerns in India over growing security cooperation between Nepal and China. The second Nepal-China joint exercise will come days after Nepal government directed its military to withdraw from the first joint military drill by Bimstec countries.
Former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal said participating in the Bimstec exercise would have balanced the exercise with China. “By taking such steps, they will alienate Indian opinion more and the cost will be felt when Nepal faces a crisis in the future. They have to nurture the India relationship, not create distrust,’’ he said.
The Nepal government, according to reports from Kathmandu, is not particularly pleased with attempts by India to provide an impetus to security and defence cooperation within Bimstec. Nepal hasn’t scaled up its defence exercise with China from last year. Like in 2017, and as Bhandaree said, not more than 20 soldiers will participate in the Chengdu exercise. India’s own joint exercise with Nepal ‘Surya Kiran’ involves over 300.
It hasn’t helped the Indian government’s cause though that Nepal PM K P Sharma Oli is widely seen in the media as pro-China. Nepal’s decision to pull out from the Pune exercise also came after PM Modi welcomed the “multi-national military field training exercise’’ at the Bimstec summit in Kathmandu last month.
The Modi government has also been under pressure from Nepal to unblock the Saarc summit process. India remains reluctant as the next summit is to be held in Pakistan. A source in Kathmandu said India must stop looking at Bimstec as an alternative to Saarc. “To focus on terrorism is one thing but to participate in a joint military exercise is another. The government and the opposition was unsure if Bimstec was meant for an exercise like that.”
Currency, Indian: usage in Nepal
2018: Nepal bans use of Indian notes above Rs 100
Nepal has banned the use of Indian currency notes over the denomination of Rs 100. Indian visitors planning a trip to Nepal, and Nepalese citizens working in India sending money home, should no longer take with them Indian notes of Rs 200, Rs 500, and Rs 2,000.
Hitherto, Indian currency notes of all denominations were accepted in Nepal but, even earlier, notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 were not easily accepted there. That is, even before PM Narendra Modi demonetized these notes in 2016. “This will affect Indian travellers. Nepalese citizens working in India will now have to send money digitally. Those planning to send money home must do it in notes of up to Rs 100,” sources said.
Diplomatic visits, bilateral
2018/ Importance of PM Modi's visit to Nepal
Modi and Oli will lay the foundation stone for the construction of the 900 MW Arun III project in Sankhuwasabha district of eastern Nepal, being developed by India through remote control
The Raxaul (Bihar)-Kathmandu rail link is also on the agenda of PM Modis visit
In a clear sign that relations with Nepal hold importance for India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting the neighbouring country for the third time in four years. It is the first high-level visit from India since the formation of a new government in Nepal this year. The visit is being seen as an attempt by both countries to bring back normalcy in ties after a spell of uneasiness, and is particularly important in the backdrop of Beijing strengthening its political and economic ties with the Himalayan nation.
For Nepal, Modi’s visit shortly after the formation of the strong leftist government led by Nepalese Prime Minister Oli is being seen as India’s endorsement of the Nepalese Constitution that was promulgated two and a half years ago. Oli was among the key leaders who played a major role in drafting the 2015 constitution, which failed to get India’s endorsement, resulting in an official blockade against the neighbouring country.
Earlier, the PM flagged off his visit to Nepal with a visit to Janakpur where he jointly launched the Ramayan circuit along with Oli to promote tourism in Nepal and India. Fifteen destinations in both countries, such as Ayodhya, Nandigram, Shringverpur and Chitrakoot, will be developed to promote religious tourism.
Here are five reasons why PM Modi’s visit to Nepal is crucial for both countries:
1. Modi and Oli will get the ball rolling for the construction of the 900 MW Arun III project in Sankhuwasabha + district of eastern Nepal being developed by India through remote control. The two prime ministers will jointly inaugurate the project, the largest hydropower project to be developed in Nepal, that is expected to be completed within five years at a cost nearing Rs 6,000 crore. The venture will transform the Nepalese economy by generating around 900 MW of power as it aims to provide billions of dollars to the Nepal government in the form of free electricity, royalty and tax. India, too, would benefit through the supply of the electricity generated by the project.
2. Modi’s visit will also give impetus to another key connectivity and infrastructure project -- the Raxaul (Bihar)-Kathmandu rail link + that was announced during Oli’s visit to India in April this year, which will connect Nepal to the Indian railway system. A survey of the area will be completed by the end of this year, according to sources, who added that despite the “challenging terrain, the focus is on “implementation”. The Raxaul-Kathmandu rail line will expand “connectivity” between the two neighbours and “enhance people-to-people linkages and promote economic growth and development”. It is especially important in the backdrop of China also proposing to build its own railway line between Lhasa in the Tibet Autonomous Region and Kathmandu by 20122, with an apparent aim at reducing the Nepalese capital’s dependence on India.
3. In addition, prime ministers of both nations will hold discussions on boosting inland waterways transport. Kalughat in Bihar has been identified as the transhipment point. In the past month, both sides reviewed the the trade and transit treaty, which might have to be amended for the inland waterways transport initiative to take off. Nepal is a landlocked country and a separate river transport system will give the country a much-needed route all the way to the sea, resulting in cost effective and efficient movement of cargo, within the framework of trade and transit arrangements.
4. Development assistance is PM Modi’s visit's agenda, which includes talks on moving forward on an agricultural partnership, under which India will share its experience with organic farming, new initiatives of soil health cards, etc. Initial meetings have been held and pilot projects have already been identified. In addition, power cooperation will be another key area of discussion. India’s power regulator has already solicited responses from Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh to decide the terms of the power trade. Modi will also emphasise that Nepal should also complete its commitments with regard to land acquisition, forest clearances etc, much of which was responsible for delays in earlier projects.
5. Talks on the ambitious Pancheshwar multi-purpose dam project could also be on the cards. Sources have said the detailed project report is complete. This project, which was conceived 22 years ago, besides generating hydro-power to the tune of 4,800 MW, augmenting irrigation potential and controlling floods, also has the potential to address Delhi’s growing water demand through a proposed Sharda-Yamuna inter-linking of rivers.
2017: India outstrips China
India has again emerged as one of the top ODA (official development assistance) donors to Nepal, clawing its way back to the list of top 5 bilateral development partners of the country . India displaced China which was ranked fourth last year as a development partner in terms of ODA disbursement to Nepal.
Nepal's Development Cooperation Report on FY 2015-16 put India at the fifth position behind the US, the UK, Japan and Switzerland in the list of top ODA disbursers. In FY 201415, for the first time in five years, India's name had gone missing from the list of top five development partners as its ODA disbursement had plummeted by over 50% that year.
According to the latest report, India disbursed $35.76 million from July 16, 2015 to July 15, 2016 to claim its place among the top five bilateral development partners of Nepal.This is 3.33% of total ODA received by Nepal in the year. China in the same period accounted for 3.29% of the overall ODA.
In FY 2014-15, India had disbursed a little over $22 million.China that year disbursed $37.95 million. China's ascendancy in the list last year, which came at the expense of India, caused a mini controversy here with MEA going all out to prove that India's figure of $22 mil lion was misleading. MEA said the actual funds released were in the range of $50-$70 million.The discrepancy was attributed to the fact that much of it was not routed through the Nepalese treasury .
China, though, continues to retain its formidable presence in Nepal as it accounted for as much as 68% of all FDI pledged for Nepal in the first half of ongoing fiscal (2016-17). Nepal has officially agreed to become a part of China's One Belt, One Road project.
2018: Modi and Oli reboot ties with infra push
India Will Build Cross-Border Rail Link To Check China
Moving to actively counter China’s infrastructure ‘offensive’, India will build a crucial cross-border rail link between Kathmandu in Nepal and Raxaul in India, connecting the Himalayan nation to the Indian rail system, while separate inland waterways could give the landlocked country a route to the sea.
Announcing the decisions after a meeting between PM Modi and Nepal’s newly elected PM K P Sharma Oli, Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale said the rail link project should be a “game changer” in Indo-Nepal ties. The two nations agreed to speed up three pending cross-border rail links and complete two others this year.
A joint statement said developing waterways was a “landmark” decision that will facilitate movement of cargo, within the framework of trade and transit arrangements, and provide additional access to sea for Nepal. “This new initiative would enable cost effective and efficient movement of cargo,” it said.
The cooperation on waterways is significant in the light of previous political hurdles to cooperation in river projects despite several Nepal rivers draining into India and the potential to exploit hydel power and check environmental damage due to flooding and maintaining ecological flows in the lean season.
With Oli’s pre-visit comments about Nepal having “two neighbours” clearly indicating he is ready to do business with China, the Indian infrastructure outreach seems intended to more closely enmesh Nepalese and Indian economies and ease and expand movement of people and goods at the borders. The Modi-Oli meeting could succeed in erasing some of the bitterness in ties since the border blockade of 2015 due to the Madhesi agitation when Oli was previously PM.
The two countries agreed to speed up implementation of projects in Nepal, a fact borne out by the 2018 Budget in which India raised its outlay for Nepal by 73%. The statement said Modi “assured Oli that India remains committed to strengthening its partnership with Nepal as per the priorities of the government of Nepal”.
Oli said, “We want to erect a strong edifice of trust-based relationship between the two close neighbours that we are.” Modi reminded Oli that he should include all sections of Nepalese society. The two PMs inaugurated an integrated check post (ICP) at Birgunj in Nepal and a petroleum product pipeline between Motihari and Amlekhgunj.
Modi accepted an invitation to visit Nepal, and Gokhale said it would happen this year. Modi is expected to inaugurate a couple of Indian hydro-electric power projects there, which have been hanging fire for years.
Interestingly, though China remains in the background in all discussions between or about India and Nepal, foreign secretary Gokhale stressed that China did not feature in discussions between Modi and Oli and neither did the OBOR/BRI (Belt and Road Initiative).
On the Kathmandu-Raxaul rail link, India has committed to completing a survey within a year and an implementation time-line and funding modalities soon after. This is important as China has promised to complete the Xigatse-Keirung-Kathmandu rail link by 2022.
2019/ South Asia’s first cross-border pipeline
NEW DELHI: India and Nepal on Tuesday opened South Asia’s first cross-border oil product pipeline, helping Kathmandu to cut fuel prices by Rs 2 per litre on account of reduced transportation cost.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Nepalese counterpart K P Sharma Oli jointly inaugurated through video-conference the 69km pipeline from state-run Indian Oil’s terminal in Motihari in north Bihar to Nepal Oil Corporation’s Amlekhgunj depot in Narayani zone of southern Nepal.
“Sharing the fruits of progress with friendly nations. Motihari-Amlekhgunj pipeline will provide cleaner petroleum products at affordable costs to the people of Nepal. I am glad that India and Nepal cooperation is scaling new heights for the mutual benefit of our people,” Modi tweeted.
Oli described the pipeline as the “best example of connectivity in the field of trade and transit... between Nepal and India” and invited Modi to visit Nepal, which the Indian PM accepted. He noted the pipeline was completed 15 months ahead of schedule, which counters the perception in Nepal about the lethargic pace of India-funded projects. Modi and Oli had conducted the ground-breaking ceremony for the pipeline in April 2017. The Rs 324-crore pipeline is part of New Delhi’s efforts to deepen engagement with Kathmandu as part of its “neighbourhood first” policy. It has a capacity to transport two million tonnes of petroproducts annually and gives Nepal a cost-effective mode of uninterrupted fuel supply, secure from pilferage or adulteration as is the case in transportation by tankers. India and Nepal have had a fuel supply agreement since 1974 and the pipeline was first proposed in 1996. But it remained stuck in the shifting sands of bilateral relations till Modi’s 2014 visit to Kathmandu, which led to an agreement to execute the project. The project stumbled again because of the blockade by Terai Nepalis agitating against the new constitution, which led to fuel shortages in Nepal and bitterness in its ties with New Delhi. The pipeline was finally cleared in March 2017 at a meeting between oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Nepal’s then supply minister Deepak Bohara in Delhi. “Supplying fuel to Nepal is not a business proposition for India. It is our responsibility... so that you can provide every household, there is fuel for growth in industry and tourism, so that more vehicles (ply) and you can build more roads,” Pradhan had then told Bohara before IndianOil and Nepal Oil Corporation renewed their fuel supply agreement for five years. India currently supplies 1.3 million tonnes per annum of petroproducts to Nepal. This is expected to double by 2020. The pipeline will transport fuel from IndianOil’s Barauni refinery and replace the costly, time-taking option of moving products in tankers that is vulnerable to pilferage, adulteration and disruptions due to agitations or floods.
2014-15: India not among top five donors
The Times of India, May 09 2016
China pips India in aid to Nepal; Delhi out of top five donors' list
Sachin Parashar If it is Nepal's growing proximity with China that is making PM K P Sharma Oli act in a cavalier fashion, some of the resultant damage for India could be selfinflicted. While India denies that it was responsible for the blockade which threatened to cripple Nepal's economy , the fact is that the recent strain in Indo-Nepal relations has coincided with China surpassing India in the list of top aid donors to Kathmandu.
The report by the Nepal government on official development assistance (ODA) shows that in fiscal 2014-2015, India's ODA disbursement to Nepal plummeted by over 50% in the first year of the NDA government, allowing Beijing to overtake India in the list of top assistance providers.
While China's disbursement of ODA stood at $37.95 million, India accounted for a little over $22 million. This is the first time in the past five years that India is not in the list of top five ODA providers (in terms of disbursement) among Nepal's bilateral development partners. China is now in fourth position, after the UK, the US and Japan, and followed by Switzerland.
Nepal's latest Development Cooperation Report acknowledges that India and China have also provided technical assistance to it through scholarships, training and study tours, which is not fully reflected in the to tal volume of assistance. India has also committed $1,400 million for Nepal's earthquake reconstruction work as against China's $766 million.
The problem for India though, not unlike what it faced in Sri Lanka when Mahinda Rajapaksa was president, is China's increasing involvement in landmark infrastructure projects in the Himalayan nation, including the construction of Nepal's second international airport in Pokhara, which is helping it win the battle of perception.
India contests figures; $50-70 million disbursed
The Times of India, May 13 2016
Govt denies India's aid to Nepal has come down
The government has strongly contested Nepal government's report that disbursement of official development assistance (ODA) by India to Nepal dipped by over 50% in its fiscal year (2014-15), allowing China to overtake India as an aid donor to the Himalayan nation.
Nepal counted the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, China and Switzerland as its top five bilateral DPs (development partners) on the basis of disbursement, leaving out India from the list for the first time in 2011-16.
While Nepal's finance ministry had said in its latest Development Cooperation Report that ODA disbursement by India plummeted from over $47 million to $22 million in 2014-15, MEA said that India continued to disburse aid worth over $50-70 million every year to Nepal.
The ministry said that the figure of $22.2 million (India's disbursement to Nepal in 2014-15) was a misleading figure “which totally distorted the picture“.
“Actual funds released to assist Nepal from MEA's Aid-to-Nepal budget are in the range of Rs 300-400 crores annually , or over US $50$70 million. The discrepancy could be because a good part of our Aid-to-Nepal is not necessarily routed through the Nepalese treasury ,“ said spokesperson Vikas Swarup, adding India remained fully committed to Nepal's socio-economic development and that there was no cut in aid.
A Nepalese finance ministry report had said that “it is clear“ that disbursement from World Bank, India, EU, Japan and India had declined from the level of FY 2010-11.
It acknowledged though that both India and China have also provided technical assistance to it through scholarships, training and study tours, which is not fully reflected in the total volume of assistance. India has also committed $1,400 million for Nepal's earthquake reconstruction work as against China's $766 million. The government said that what was also not being counted was payment of pension to former Gorkha soldiers, which is about Rs 1800 crore per year, or US $300 million.
“In addition, our `Operation Maitri' after the earthquake in Nepal last year cost Rs 400 crore, or US $70 million,“ said Swarup, adding that at the very minimum, India was spending US $50 million to $60 million to assist Nepal every year.
“Moreover, our initial allocations for foreign aid including Nepal and other neighbouring countries, are based on actual expenditure levels in the preceding years, and take into account absorption capacity of our valued partners.So more can and will be provided, if and when required,“ he added.
2019 map: Nepal objects to Kalapani inclusion
The Nepal government on Wednesday made it clear that the Kalapani area situated in the country’s far-West lies within the Nepalese boundary, days after India issued new political maps reportedly showing the region as part of its territory. India on Saturday released fresh maps of the newly created Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir, and Ladakh and the map of India depicting these UTs. In the maps, Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir is part of the Union Territory of J&K, while Gilgit-Baltistan is in the Union Territory of Ladakh. The Nepal government is clear that the Kalapani area lies within Nepalese territory. “During foreign secretary level joint meetings, responsibility has been assigned to the foreign secretaries of both the countries to resolve the remaining border related issues between Nepal and India in consultation with concerned technicians,” the Nepalese foreign ministry said in a statement. PTI
Nepalese Gorkhas in India
They are not illegal migrants
Following a representation from All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union to home minister Rajnath Singh, the MHA has issued a clarification to the Assam government on the citizenship status of members of the Gorkha community living in the state as per the Foreigners Act, 1946.
The home ministry has emphasised that any member of the Gorkha community holding Nepalese nationality and who has arrived in India by land or air over the Nepal border even without a passport or visa and staying in India for any length of time shall not be treated as an illegal migrant if he/ she is in possession of any of the identity documents namely the Nepalese passport, Nepalese citizenship certificate, voter Identification card issued by the Election Commission of Nepal, limited validity photoidentity certificate issued by Nepalese Mission in India when deemed necessary and for children between age group of 10-18 years, photo ID issued by the principal of the school, if accompanied by parents having valid travel documents.
Links of religion drive Nepal bus route
From Sita’s ‘maika’ (maternal home) in Janakpur — now in Nepal — to her ‘sasural’ (in-laws’ home) in Ayodhya, the route for the bus flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Nepal on Friday is replete with mythological significance.
The bus will reach Ayodhya on Saturday morning, tracing the 450km ‘Ram-Janaki Marg’, the route taken by Lord Ram’s wedding procession.
While the ‘Ram-Janaki Marg’ is said to have passed through several districts — including Ayodhya, Basti, Azamgarh, Mau, Ghazipur, Balia, parts of Gorakhpur, Bastar, Patna, Vaishali, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Sitamarhi and Janankpur — the bus route has some minor variations. The bus will navigate through Janakpur, Sitamarhi, Motihari, Gorakhpur, Basti and then reach Ayodhya.
“Sitaji was found in an earthen pot in the Mithila region of Bihar, now Sitamarhi. King Janak took her to Janakpur, where she grew up. Both these places bear mythological significance,” said vice-chancellor of Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University, Faizabad, professor Manoj Dixit. “So the route is between the ‘maika’ and ‘sasural’ of Sitaji,” he added.
Meanwhile, the direct bus service evoked much interest among locals, seers and pilgrims in Ayodhya. Residents hailed the service saying it would further promote religious tourism and create jobs.
The chief mahant of Gopal Mandir, Jagatguru Ram Dineshacharya, said the bus service was perhaps one of the best decisions by the government.
Local tour operators hoped the bus service would boost their business. One of them said he now expected more offers of special packages for NRIs.
2020/ Birthplace of Lord Buddha controversy
India reassures Nepal after Jaishankar’s Buddha remark
‘Greatest Indian’ Comment Riles Kathmandu
India moved to quell a new controversy over the birthplace of Gautama Buddha after the Nepalese government took exception to foreign minister S Jaishankar claiming Buddha was Indian. Addressing a CII event on Saturday, Jaishankar had said, “Who are the greatest Indians ever that you can remember? I would say one is Gautam Buddha and the other is Mahatma Gandhi.”
To the Nepalese, already touchy since bilateral relations went into a tailspin after they issued a new map showing Indian territory as their own, this was added insult. Nepal’s foreign ministry issued a sharply worded riposte: “It is a well-established and undeniable fact proven by historical and archaeological evidence that Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini, Nepal. Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha and the fountain of Buddhism, is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites.” On Sunday, the MEA said reassuringly, “EAM’s remarks yesterday at the CII event referred to our shared Buddhist heritage. There is no doubt that Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini, which is in Nepal.” Nepal’s foreign ministry statement added that Prime Minister Modi had, during his visit to Nepal in 2014, said that “Nepal is the country where the apostle of peace in the world, Buddha, was born.” “It is true that Buddhism spread from Nepal to other parts of the world in the subsequent period. The matter remains beyond doubt and controversy and thus cannot be a subject of debate,” the Nepal statement added.
The new controversy, ironically, comes on the day when the Indian Army donated 10 ICU ventilators to the Nepal army. Even the Nepali Congress, perceived to be closer to India, was upset.
Anti-India songs beamed at Uttarakhand
DEHRADUN/PITHORAGARH: Residents of Uttarakhand villages bordering Nepal that can catch the frequency of radio stations in the neighbouring country are being treated to a sudden surfeit of anti-India songs that call for return of areas in Uttarakhand like Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura that have been included in Kathmandu’s new map. These songs, mostly played on FM channels between news bulletins and other shows, don’t fail to taunt Nepalese politicians for “not doing enough to get back the land that belongs to Nepal.”
Babita Sanwal, a school teacher in Dharchula in Pithoragarh district who was till some time back a regular listener of Darchula FM of Nepal, said she generally opted to listen to news on radio while walking back home from school. “I have now stopped listening to Nepalese FM after they started playing a lot of anti-India songs on FM,” she said. “These songs are being played multiple rounds, every hour.”
Sanwal said she remember the lyrics of one of the songs: “Hamrai ho tyo Kalapani, Lipulekha, Limpiyadhura... Utha, jaga, veer Nepali (Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura are ours… Wake up, brave people).” She tuned out after a local kid asked her if what is being said in the song is true.
There are other songs that say “Lipulekh and Kalapani should be ours, it’s our land that has been stolen”. While some of these songs are between a year and six months old and have resurfaced now with a vengeance, quite a few premièred recently on platforms like YouTube between March and June this year.
According to locals, among the Nepalese FM channels whose broadcasts are accessible across the border in towns like Dharchula and Jhoolaghat in Pithoragarh are Naya Nepal, Kalapani Radio, Darchula Radio, Lok Darpan, Radio Sarthi and Mallikarjun Radio.
Krishna Garbiyal, a local trader from Dharchula, who used to listen to news on these radio stations told TOI that he has stopped doing so of late since “the news bulletins are totally one-sided and show India in a bad light.”
He said, “I stopped (listening) when I heard songs that said even Shillong and Darjeeling were part of Nepal and they will not just take away Kalapani but also drink water in Nalapani (a seasonal river in Dehradun),” he added.
Manju Tinkari, a radio jockey with a Nepalese radio station, told TOI: “We neither exaggerate nor under-play things. We just read out the news bulletins as they have happened. Also, the choice of songs is mostly dictated by listeners’ requests.”
N S Napalchyal, former chief secretary of Uttarakhand who hails from Dharchula area of Pithoragarh, said the Nepalese propaganda needs to be strongly countered. “The state government and even the central government should start its own community radios in the area to give a clear picture to locals about the present scenario.”
Madan Kaushik, state government spokesperson, said that the issue is “a genuine one and the government, which is already focusing on setting up community radios, will definitely give a thought to start local radio stations in Pithoragarh too”.
A senior Nepalese official from an intergovernmental organisation in Kathmandu told TOI that “such nationalist and anti-India songs are not prevalent across Nepal and, in my view, would be prevalent only in areas along the border.”
NEW DELHI: As Nepal responded with alarm and anger to India building a Link Road up to Lipulekh, which was inaugurated by Rajnath Singh, India said the road “lies completely within the territory of India. The road follows the pre-existing route used by the pilgrims of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. Under the present project, the same road has been made pliable for the ease and convenience of pilgrims, locals and traders," said MEA in a statement on Saturday evening.
In a strongly worded statement, the Nepal government asked India to “refrain from carrying out any activity inside the territory of Nepal.” According to Nepali media reports, the Nepal foreign secretary, Shankar Das Bairagi complained to the Indian ambassador Vinay Kwatra, while the foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali told journalists in Kathmandu he would respond. India said it would schedule foreign secretary talks with Nepal after the COVID emergency was over.
“This unilateral act runs against the understanding reached between the two countries including at the level of Prime Ministers that a solution to boundary issues would be sought through negotiation” said a statement from Nepal’s foreign ministry. This is the second time Nepal has protested, the first being in November, when India’s political map reflected a change showing Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura inside Indian territory.
Nepal said that according to the Sugauli Treaty of 1816, “all the territories east of Kali (Mahakali) River, including Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipu Lekh, belong to Nepal. This was reiterated by the Government of Nepal several times in the past and most recently through a diplomatic note addressed to the Government of India dated 20 November 2019 in response to the new political map issued by the latter.”
The road inaugurated by Rajnath Singh connects the Indian security post at Indo-China border in Vyans valley of Pithoragarh district with the rest of the country via a 75.54-km long road from Ghatibagar in Dharchula to Lipulekh near the border with China.
MEA, which responded to Nepal’s statement late in the evening, tried to assuage heightened sentiments in Nepal. “India and Nepal have established mechanism to deal with all boundary matters. The boundary delineation exercise with Nepal is ongoing. India is committed to resolving outstanding boundary issues through diplomatic dialogue and in the spirit of our close and friendly bilateral relations with Nepal.”
The statement said Nepal had protested to both India and China in 2015 when both countries had decided to use the Lipulekh Pass “as a bilateral trade route without Nepal’s consent in the Joint Statement issued on 15 May 2015 during the official visit of the Prime Minister of India to China.”
Lipulekh is seen by India as a tri-junction between India, Nepal and China. Lying at the northwestern edge of Nepal, the Himalayan country though has not accepted it as such and claims the southern end of the pass. India has been very wary of keeping tri-juntion points unprotected or unclaimed after the Doklam crisis with China in 2017.
The controversy has erupted at a time when the political turbulence in Kathmandu is still simmering despite a patch-up effort by the Chinese ambassador, intended to keep the Communists together and KP Sharma Oli in power. The tensions and pressures of dealing with the Covid pandemic is also weighing heavy on the Oli government.
This development could become a pressure point on the Oli government as well. This government came in on a nationalist platform, but despite saying that Nepal would insist on having a seat at discussions on the tri-junction, Kathmandu has done little on the ground. According to reports, Nepali officials have surveyed the India-Nepal part of the tri-junction, but there has been no movement since then.
The Nepal foreign ministry statement said Nepal was ready to receive the report by the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on India-Nepal relations and “believes that it will be in the interest of the two countries to implement its recommendations which will also help address the outstanding issues left by history.”
Nepal blocks anti-erosion projects
Nepal is obstructing anti-erosion projects by Bihar in shared river systems critical to the safety of millions during monsoon flooding, state government officials said on Monday, raising the spectre of further escalation in border friction between the neighbours.
“On June 15, Basudeo Ghimire, the chief district officer of Rautahat bordering East Champaran district, turned up with a police team to stop us from working on the right embankment of the Lalbakeya river,” Ranbir Prasad, executive engineer of the state water resources department’s drainage division, said.
The site is located between pillars 346 and 347 that demarcate the India-Nepal border in Guabari village of East Champaran. “Ghimre and his team had obstructed work near Guabari last year, too, following which both sides agreed to measure the no-man’s-land near pillar 347 to end the impasse,” Prasad said.
Nepalese officials again claimed that the embankment was being constructed on no-man’s-land. Ghimre said his primary concern was the safety of a village named Banjarawa on the Nepal side. “Bihar should not raise the embankment height towards the Nepal side. We haven’t done so either. A channel was to be built by India, but it hasn’t been done. This is the bone of contention.”
The obstruction came within three days of Bihar water resources minister Sanjay Jha flagging “unprecedented difficulties” in repairing or bolstering embankments in the Kosi, Kamla and Lalbakeya rivers, which flow into Bihar from Nepal. “We are facing challenges posed by a rather uncooperative situation on the Nepal side of the international border with Bihar,” he had told TOI on June 12.
Nepal puts armed police at border, a first
Days after Nepal lodged a protest against India for inaugurating an almost 80-km link-road near Lipulekh Pass, saying it passed through its territory, Kathmandu has set up an armed police force border outpost near Kalapani at Chhangru, on the Nepalese side of the border. The post has been set up almost 18km from the Lipulekh Pass, a source told.
“It is for the first time that Nepal armed police has been deployed at the border,” the source said. Pithoragarh DM Vijay Kumar Jogdande said, “I have not received any official communication as of now.”
Dec: The parliament is dissolved
Faced with growing discontent against his leadership and factional feuds within the ruling party, Nepal’s prime minister K P Sharma Oli effected a constitutional “coup” on Sunday by suddenly dissolving the House of Representatives. President Bidya Bhandari announced the dissolution, setting the stage for fresh elections in May 2021.
Oli faces a determined challenge from Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, who is also the executive chair of the ruling Nepal Communist Party and a former PM. Seven ministers who are close to Prachanda and another former PM, Madhav Nepal, resigned protesting Oli’s move, which may face a legal test.
India has maintained silence over the development with top-level government sources saying it is Nepal’s internal matter, but it is watching the unfolding events closely, given the testy relations with Nepal in the past year. The turn of events may not please China either as its ambassador in Kathmandu has been labouring to keep the NCP united.
Oli doesn’t have meaningful political oppn; SC likely to rule in his favour
In fact, it might be in Oli’s interests to keep ties with India on an even keel when he is dealing with inhouse opponents. Oli has asked for security forces to stay on alert, after protests broke out in Kathmandu against the move. As of now, however, he may have an advantage as the president has announced poll dates.
According to Indian observers, Oli is not in any political danger unless the Supreme Court rejects his move. Nepal’s 2015 constitution doesn’t actually have a provision for dissolution of parliament – which has a fixed term – but there may be a way to get around that, sources here said.
That would give Oli a free hand for the next six months, and he could extend it for another six months. The Kathmandu Post said in its editorial comment: “Oli had, for quite some time, been facing a legitimacy crisis within the ruling Nepal Communist Party since he had lost the majority, as the faction led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhala Nath Khanal had been asking for his resignation owing to his poor governance and authoritarian impulses.”
The matter could be contested and moved to the Supreme Court. But observers in Kathmandu said the court would likely rule in Oli’s favour. Oli enjoys an over twothirds majority in the parliamentary party, so he is not under any real threat. Besides, some members of the Prachanda group — industry minister Lekha Raj Bhatta and home minister Ram Bahadur Thapa — have refused to resign.
The principal opposition party, Nepali Congress, remains in a state of disarray, with leadership and organisational troubles. Janata Samajbadi Party, the Madhesi party newly formed from the merger of Samajbadi Party Nepal and Rastriya Janata Party, is also fighting leadership battles and is unlikely to take on Oli.
Politically, therefore, Oli doesn’t have any meaningful opposition. India and Nepal have been at odds since the map-making controversy last year, as the Oli government moved to amend the Nepalese constitution to show Indian territories as Nepalese. This led to several months of frosty ties between India and Nepal, at a time when Kathmandu was actively courting China, and India and China were in a stand-off in eastern Ladakh.
It took a phone conversation between Oli and Narendra Modi to break the ice on August 15 this year. Since then, India has separately sent RAW chief Samant Goel, Army chief Gen M M Naravane and foreign secretary Harsh Shringla to Kathmandu.
PM Modi’s visit
New Delhi: PM Narendra Modi held a bilateral meeting with his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba in Lumbini to discuss specific initiatives to further strengthen cooperation in various sectors, including culture, economy, trade, connectivity, energy and development partnership, said the government in a statement. The two countries also signed six agreements in areas like education, culture and energy including one for development of a 695 MW hydroelectric power plant called Arun 4. Nepal will get 152MW of free electricity from the plant for its consumption and the rest will be split between the two on a 51%-49% basis. “Cost of the project is being worked out and whatever it comes will be shared as per the above ratio,” a senior Nepal official was quoted as saying on the pact signed for the plant.
The two PMs expressed satisfaction at the progress made inpower sector cooperation in recent months, including in power transmission infrastructure and power trade. According to a statement issued by India, Deuba invited Indian companies to undertake the development of West Seti hydropower project in Nepal.
“PM Modi assured India’s support in the development of Nepal’s hydropower sector and in encouraging interested Indian developers to ex- peditiously explore new projects in this regard. Both PMs agreed to further expand educational and cultural exchanges to bring the people of the two countries closer,” said the statement.
Modi was welcomed in Lumbini by Deuba who was accompanied by many other ministers including home minister Bal Krishna Khand and foreign minister Narayan Khadka. The two sides agreed in principle to establish sister city relations between Lumbini and Kushinagar, that are among the holiest sites of Buddhism and reflect the shared Buddhist heritage between the two countries.
Both PMs visited the Mayadevi temple, within which lies the birth place of Lord Buddha. “At the temple, the PMs attended prayers conducted as per Buddhist rituals and made offerings. The PMs lit lamps and visited the historical Ashoka Pillar,” said the government.