As close neighbours, India and Nepal share unique ties of friendship and cooperation characterized by an open border and deep-rooted people-to-people ties of kinship and culture. There has been a long tradition of free movement of people across India Nepal border. Nepal shares a border of over 1850 km with five Indian states namely Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and UttaUttarakhad.
India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 forms the bedrock of the special relations that exist in-between both nations. Nepalese citizens avail facilities and opportunities on par with Indian citizens in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty. More than 8 million Nepalese citizens live and work in India.
HIGH LEVEL EXCHANGES
There are regular exchanges of high-level visits and interactions between India and Nepal and there have been several bilateral institutional dialogue mechanisms, including the India-Nepal Joint Commission co-chaired by External Affairs Minister of India and Foreign Minister of Nepal. The Fifth Joint Commission Meeting was held in August 2019 in Kathmandu. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had visited Nepal twice in 2014. Nepalese Prime Minister Mr. K.P. Sharma Oli paid a official State visit to India in February 2016. President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee also paid a State visit to Nepal in November 2016, which was the first State visit by an Indian President to Nepal after a gap of 18 years. Then President of Nepal Mrs. Bidya Devi Bhandari paid an official State visit to India in April 2017. Prime Minister of Nepal Mr. Sher Bahadur Deuba paid a State visit to India on 23-27 August 2017. Prime Minister of Nepal Mr. K.P. Sharma Oli paid a State visit to India in April 2018. Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi paid a State visit to Nepal in May 2018. Prime Minister Modi also visited Nepal on August 2018 for the 4th BIMSTEC Summit, which was held in Kathmandu. This was his fourth visit to Nepal since 2014. Prime Minister of Nepal Mr. K.P. Sharma Oli visited India in May 2019 to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and the Union Council of Minister. In May 2019, the Federal Parliament of Nepal formed the ‘Nepal-India Parliamentary Friendship Group’ comprising of nine members from both, the House of Representatives (Lower House) and the National Assembly (Upper House) of the Federal Parliament of Nepal.
India and Nepal has wide range of defense cooperation. India has been assisting the Nepal Army in its modernisation by supplying wide range of equipment and training. As a part of defence cooperation during disasters, joint military exercises, adventure activities and bilateral visits are other aspects of cooperation with Nepal. A number of defence personnel from Nepal Army the training courses in various Indian Army training institutions which is a good symbol of cooperation and trust between the two nations. The ‘Indo-Nepal Battalion-level Joint Military Exercise SURYA KIRAN’ is conducted alternately in India and in Nepal. The 14th Surya Kiran exercise was held inDecember 2019 at Saljhandi, Nepal. Since 1950, both countries have been awarding each other’s Army Chief with the honorary rank of General in recognition of the mutual harmonious relationship. In April 2015,a 7.8 magnitude of earthquake strikes Nepal and in response the Government of India swiftly dispatched National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams and special aircrafts with rescue and relief materials to Nepal. The Gorkha Regiment of the Indian Army is raised partly by recruitment from hill districts of Nepal. Currently about 32000 Gorkha soldiers are serving in the Indian army.
In 2015 Nepal adopted a landmark constitution Which defined Nepal as a secular country. Despite calls to delay voting there were clashes in which more than 40 people were killed in prtotests in Madhesi dominated region. This also saw downturn In Indian Nepal relations based on blockade on the movement of goods from India to Nepal due to violence in the bordering areas dominated by Madhesi. In December 2017 Nepal held parliamentary elections which results into victory of left alliance including the Communist Party of Nepal and Maoist Party ensured swearing of KP Oli as the new Prime Minister. It is apparent that the Mr. Oli has a clear tilt towards China, this perhaps adds to challenges in India Nepal relations.
WATER RESOURCES COOPERATION
Cooperation in water resources primarily crosborder common rivers is one of the most important areas of bilateral relations and has immense potential. It is estimated that around 250 small and large rivets flow from Nepal to India. These rivers have the immense potential to become major sources of irrigation and power for both countries. A three-tier bilateral mechanism was established in 2008, to cater issues relating to cooperation in water resources, flood management, inundation and hydropower between the two countries, has been working well. In November 2014 Nepal and India signs a deal to build a $1 billion hydropower plant in Nepal’s Arun river to counter crippling energy shortages. The commencement of work on the Pancheswar Multipurpose project on Mahakali river in 2017 is expected to provide impetus to water resources cooperation between India and Nepal.
Since 1971 India – Nepal had signed a Power Exchange Agreement for meeting their power requirements in the border areas of the two countries, taking advantage of each other’s transmission infrastructure. To enhance transmission of electricity, the first high-capacity 400 kV(kilo volt) Muzaffarpur (in India) – Dhalkebar (in Nepal) cross-border power transmission line, with GoI Line of credit funding of US$ 13.2 million for Nepal portion of the line, was fully completed in 2016. Morever two additional 132 kV cross-border transmission lines between Kataiya in India)- Kusaha in Nepal and Raxaul in India – Parwanipur in Nepal, built with India’s grant assistance, were completed in 2017. India is currently exporting a total of about 600 MW of power to Nepal. An Agreement on ‘Electric Power Trade, Interconnection , Cross-border Transmission and Grid Connectivity’ between India and Nepal was signed on 21 October 2014. South Asia’s first cross-border petroleum products pipeline, constructed and funded by Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., connecting Motihari in India to Amlekhgunj (Nepal) was remotely inaugurated by the two Prime Ministers on 10 September 2019.
CONNECTIVITY AND DEVELOPMENT PARNERSHIP
India has been assisting Nepal in development of border infrastructure through upgradation of 10 roads in the Terai region; development of cross-border rail links at Jaynagar-Bardibas, Jogbani-Biratnagar; and establishment of Integrated Check Posts at Birgunj, Nepalgunj, Biratnagar and Bhairahawa. The total economic assistance earmarked under ‘Aid to Nepal’ budget in FY 2019-20 was ₹ 1200 crore. In April 2018 during Nepal’s PM , the two prime ministers jointly inaugurated the integrated Check Post at Biratnagar (Nepal) built with GoI assistance. Inauguration of Nepal Bharat Maitri Pashupati Dharmashala in Kathmandu was done jointly by both the prime ministers in August 2018. . On 21 January 2020, the Prime Ministers of India and Nepal inaugurated the Integrated Check Post at Biratnagar in Nepal built with GoI assistance. GoI has also extended Line of Credit of US$ 1.65 billion for undertaking of infrastructure development including post-earthquake reconstruction project. Both the countries are also engaging in ‘India Nepal New Partnership in Agriculture’ signed in 2018.
KALAPANI AND SUSTA – Kalapani is an area of over 35 sq km at the tri junction of Utrakhand, China and Nepal. The area is marked by the river Mahakali. The changing course of river Gandak known as Narayani in Nepal has caused controversy around Susta. Gandak forms the international boundary between India and Nepal. The boundary between India and Nepal is demarcated by the British era agreement known as Treaty of Sugauli (1816). As per the Treaty stated that Nepal ceded to British the whole of the lowlands between the Rivers Kali and Rapti. To resolve the border issue In 1981 a joint Technical Level Nepal India Boundary Committee was setup, which after year of surveying and deliberations delineated about 98% of India Nepal border on 182 step maps. But Susta was not part of this delineation. In 2007, these strip maps were presented to both countries for ratification but Nepal refused to sign the document without resolving kalapani and Susta dispute.
Recently, Nepal government’s decision to pass the constitutional amendment ratifying a change in its maps that include Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura, territories that India controls, marks a decidedly new phase in bilateral relations.
CHALLENGES in India Nepal relations
- Politicle transition in Nepal
- Non-Cooperation in developing water resources- Various hydro power projects have been struck for several years.
- China factor-increasing Chinese influence in Nepal’s foreign policy.