In view of the ongoing four-day visit of Nepalese Prime Minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal to India, it is important to understand the significance of the trip, given the two countries have had some hiccups in their relationships in the recent past, in otherwise long and pleasant bilateral ties. We take a look at the historical Indo-Nepalese ties and how they have developed. India and Nepal, as close neighbours, share a unique relationship built on friendship, cooperation, and deep-rooted cultural ties. With an open border and a long tradition of free movement of people, the two countries have fostered strong people-to-people connections. The India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 serves as the foundation of this special relationship.
Indo-Nepal ties date back several decades
India and Nepal share a deep-rooted and multifaceted relationship that is based on history, culture, tradition, and religion. The diplomatic ties between the two countries were established on June 17, 1947, further strengthening their age-old connection. The open border between the two countries has facilitated the free movement of people and enhanced interactions. High-level exchanges have played a crucial role in promoting goodwill, trust, and cooperation. India has been actively involved in supporting Nepal’s political stabilization and peace process. The article discusses India’s support for political stabilization in Nepal, beginning with the 12-Point Understanding in 2005 and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2006.
Bilateral trade and investments
Bilateral trade between India and Nepal has witnessed significant growth since the revised trade treaty in 1996. The Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) plays a crucial role in addressing trade-related issues between the two countries. India is Nepal’s largest trading partner and the country’s investment in Nepal spans multiple sectors, including manufacturing, services, power, and tourism. Numerous Indian companies have made significant contributions to Nepal’s economy, promoting growth and employment opportunities. India has been assisting the modernization of the Nepal Army through the supply of equipment and training. The cooperation extends to joint military exercises, disaster assistance, and welfare programs for ex-Gorkha soldiers. The honorary rank of General is conferred upon each country’s Army Chief.
Cooperation on water resources
Cooperation in water resources management and hydropower generation is an important aspect of India-Nepal relations. The ongoing bilateral mechanism is based on the treaty established in 2008 to discuss water resources and hydropower cooperation. Additionally, India has provided assistance for embankment construction and flood protection along various rivers in Nepal. Cooperation in water resources management, flood control, and hydropower generation is a key aspect of India-Nepal relations. Joint mechanisms have been established to address issues related to common rivers. Cross-border power transmission, power exchange agreements, and the construction of transmission lines have strengthened energy cooperation between the two countries.
Roti-beti ka rishta
India and Nepal share strong cultural bonds, which in their native language are termed roti-beti ka rishta (relationship among cultures that shares food and inter-wed). It is common to witness marriages between people belonging to parts of the northern Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand that share the border with Nepal, with natives on the other side of the international border.
The cultural ties include the conservation of monuments in the Pashupatinath Temple Complex in Kathmandu and the proposed MOUs between the Nepal Academy of Music and Drama with Sangeet Natak Akademi, and the Nepal Academy of Fine Arts with Lalit Kala Akademi. These initiatives promote cultural understanding and strengthen bilateral ties.
Established in 1991, it aims to foster educational, cultural, scientific, and technical cooperation between the two countries. The BPKF plays a vital role in nurturing the intellectual and cultural ties between India and Nepal. India has contributed to the development of human resources in Nepal through scholarships and educational opportunities. Cultural exchanges, symposia, and events organized have fostered people-to-people contacts and promoted cultural understanding. Media and journalism training programs, as well as initiatives to preserve and promote Indian culture in Nepal, have further strengthened bilateral ties.
Disaster relief and infrastructural development assistance
When a devastating earthquake struck Nepal in 2015, India responded by sending rescue and relief teams along with essential supplies. Indian assistance included financial aid, reconstruction projects, and medical support. The governments of both nations signed agreements to allocate funds and resources for post-earthquake reconstruction. Apart from that, India has been involved in Nepal’s development by providing assistance in infrastructure creation, healthcare, education, and rural development, upgrading roads, establishing cross-border rail links, and constructing integrated check posts. Several lines of credit have also been extended for infrastructure development and post-earthquake reconstruction by India.
As India and Nepal enter a new phase of bilateral relations, it would be interesting to know how the leaders of the two countries plan to address the common issues facing both nations.