Indian hegemonic designs in Nepal

Reema Shaukat

Indian claims of ‘world’s largest democracy’ and its malicious drives of ruling South Asian region can never be overlooked. Because of such intentions, time and again India keeps on propagating and infuriating to attain its hegemony in South Asia. India time and again try to coerce Nepal which is a land locked sovereign country in South Asia with China as its northern neighbour and India surrounding it from other three sides. Nepal has been facing irrational and strange sanctions on its economy from India quite long.

India and Nepal began their liaison with the 1950 Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship, with some secret documents of security dealings between two countries, an agreement between their bilateral trade and its transference from Indian Territory. However, there is roughness in both the countries affairs since long. Nepal remains a major target of Indian state-run subterfuge to intimidate the country as client state. Nepal has many times tried to confront the strong-arm of India but due to geographically landlocked position and trade dependence Nepal has to compromise to evade the ire of India. Indian hegemony in Nepalese socio-politico and economic affairs is very clear from the fact that the nation could not adopt a consensus constitution after a decade of political infighting. So one can witness how Nepalese sovereignty remains hostage to India.

The relations between the two states bubbled up, when the Constituent Assembly of Nepal passed the new Constitution defining the Hindu-majority nation of Nepal, as a secular republic and divided it into seven federal provinces. The partition is being opposed by people living in the Terai, an area of low-lying southern plains adjoining India, especially the Madhesis and Tharus. The Madhesis are mostly Brahmin, Bhumihar, Rajput and people of similar clans residing in Nepal’s central Terai. They both are originally from Nepal and migrants from adjoining Indian states like UP and Bihar. They have close social ties and business links with people in Indian states. They believe that these new boundaries will lead to their side-lining in Nepal. Also India sees them as a vocal support group and a shield against any pro-Chinese inclination by the Nepal government. Historically, India has an influential role in Nepali policymaking since the time of the British Raj.

In recent years the southern neighbour played a critical role in controlling and assuring the country’s 10-year peace process, of which the new constitution was a central part. However, after Narendra Modi was elected as prime minister of India in 2014, Delhi walked down from its prior economic plans, largely limiting itself to public statements that the constitution should lodge all sectors of society. It is quite obvious that a number of International laws have been violated by India. Indian backings of political rebels and organizations to use them as tool against the Nepali regime is timeworn. It can be traced from the fact that in late 1960s various powerful rebel Nepali political leaders and their groups were provided shelter in India. India instigated Madhesi and Janjati people living in Terai region of Nepal. These proxies created unrest through protests thus proving a cause to India for enforcing economic blockade of Nepal. Nepal in past faced 15 months imposed blockade by India in 1989, on buying the consignment of Chinese weapons. In 2015 again India adopted a way of blockade because of acknowledgement of new constitution of Nepal.

Indian Border Security Forces blocked Nepal bound goods to enter into Nepali territory by any route, thus non-coastal Nepal which was tremendously dependent upon imports from India, including much of its food, consumer goods, and 100 percent of its fuel – aviation fuel, petrol, diesel and cooking gas remained in darkness. India’s unofficial blockade of Nepal therefore, crippled life in this country of 30 million people. Nepal then turned to UN over this barricade from India to guarantee that landlocked countries’ freedom of transit is not partial.

Recently, a huge crowd of protestors marched in Kathmandu and rest of Nepali cities to protest Indian hegemonic interests in Nepal. They burnt the figurines of Indian PM Modi while chanting slogans like, “Down with Indian expansionism! Down with Modi! Thus, Nepalese nation is breaking the shackles of India and are bravely expressing their demand of sovereignty and it appears that in long run, if they continue their struggle they no longer will remain dependent on Indian imperialism.

Proofs have shown that India has often played a major role behind internal disorder and political turmoil since the unification of the modern Nepal. Nepal’s sovereignty must be acknowledged and esteemed. All must appreciate Nepali leaders’ courage, commitment to their nation and working out Nepal’s right of self-determination. After all, they were elected to serve Nepali national interests, not Indian interests. Nepal being a member of UN, has equal rights to question custom of channels and equal entrée to sea. This whole act is violation of Convention on transit trade of land locked states. The acts done so far breaks to what is coded in United Nations Convention on law of sea 1982. Nepal is entitled to the right of landlocked nations across maritime commands.

World leaders should think twice before considering India as a permanent member to UN, given the situation it has created in Nepal. India has always been adverse and rigid towards its neighbors. Trade and industry, development and stability has declined in Nepal due to this blockade from so-called biggest democracy of the world that is nothing but only autocracy. If India is so concerned of ethnic communities in its neighboring countries, it should take them into India. Interfering in other nation’s helm of affairs ridicules its claim of ‘world’s largest democracy’ to ‘world’s largest dictatorship’.

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