“Just as a man would not cherish living in a body other than his own, so do nations not like to live under other nations, however noble and great the latter may be.” – Mohandas Gandhi
Mr. Prime Minister Modi, it is a fact that your election to the highest office of the Prime Minister of India has brought great hope and admiration not only among the people of India but also among the people of Nepal. Nepalese people genuinely feel that there is finally a prime minister of India who cares about the neighboring countries, especially Nepal. It seems that it took sixty years for India to take the real roots of democracy and a true son of India has now been elected as the ruler of India. We the people of Nepal congratulate you and wish you success in taking India to a higher platform in the community of nations during your tenure as Prime Minister.
Even more exciting for us is the fact that finally after seventeen years, the Prime Minister of India is visiting Nepal. It is proof that you care about the smaller countries surrounding India. It must, however, be pointed out that even though Nepal is not huge like India, it is ranked the 44th largest country in the world in terms of population. It also happens to be the oldest country in South Asia.
How Has the Relationship Been So Far?
Mr. Prime Minister, the following are some of the issues we the people of Nepal have experienced in the past. We have been very badly treated by Sonya Gandhi and her puppet Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh using RAW and other actors such as S D Muni, Shyam Saran and others.
On March 3-6, 2011, the Public Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of External Affairs of India arranged a meeting, supposedly to discuss and exchange views on bilateral issues in Indo-Nepal relations. The meeting was attended by members of Nepal’s legislative body, political analysts, bureaucrats, journalists, retired army generals, and others. All the costs including travel and accommodation of the Nepalese participants were paid by the Government of India. One of the objectives for the meeting was for India to find out why there was so much anti-India feeling in the minds of average Nepalese people.
India’s political leaders should understand the fact that the following factors come into consideration when it comes to the feelings of an average Nepalese person about India:
1. It is never about the people to people relationship. Indians and Nepalese people get along fine since we have been neighbors forever. Moreover, we each have relatives on both sides of the border.
2. One cannot deny our cultural, religious and historical relationship. Buddha was born in Nepal but achieved enlightenment in India. Nepalese people do not appreciate it when India blatantly claims that Buddha was born in India.
3. India’s building of dams close to the Nepalese border without Nepal’s permission and in clear violation of international norms and regulations is unbearable to Nepalese people, no matter where they live, especially keeping in mind the fact that the farmers living in Nepal lose their crops due to flooding caused by the dam. It shows India’s insensitivity and arrogance towards Nepal and her people no matter where they come from – Terai, mountains or the valleys.
4. The treatment poor Nepalese people receive in India especially right at border crossings is very inhuman. Every year, many of our people are looted of their meager savings which they earned after working hard as a laborer in India. They are ripped off at the border just when they are about to reach their home to see their loved ones after more than a year of absence. Just imagine how it would feel if you were one of those who has been cheated of a year’s savings. One cannot even think about the immense pain both mentally and physically it causes to the victims.
5. By far the most disturbing part in Nepal-India relations is the Indian encroachment on Nepalese territory in numerous areas including Susta and Kalapani. According to reports prepared by Buddhi Narayan Shrestha, a well-known border expert and former Surveyor General of Nepal, India has encroached about 59,970 hectares of Nepali territory at 54 points in 21 districts adjoining India in the East, West and South.
As stated above, India has encroached Nepalese territory in numerous areas. However, the encroachment by India in the Kalapani-Limpiyadhura area with 372 sq km (37,800 hectares) is the largest chunk of Nepalese territory. All these cases are well documented, but India has not shown any sign of taking responsibility for its excesses in a foreign land. In May of 2009, the Indian Border Security Force ( IBSF ) encroached into Nepalese lands and committed atrocities along the border villages of the western district of Dang. Two separate delegations of the Constituent Assembly and parliament legislature investigated and reached that conclusion unanimously. These actions resulted in the displacement of more than 6000 people from their homes. Cases of rape by Indian security personnel and disappearances were also reported. This is not an isolated event. It is an undeniable fact that IBSF has encroached on Nepalese territory and committed atrocities from Illam and Jhapa in the East all the way to Dhangadi, Baitadi, and Darchula in the West.
Nepal’s border with India is over 1,808 kilometers and disputes exist in at least 54 different places. Boundary markers at numerous points have disappeared. In addition, the 10-yard wide strip of no man’s land between the two countries is getting blurred (often times occupied by Indians).
6. The protection and assistance given to groups such as Madhise terrorists and criminals right now and the Maoist insurgents in the past are not the kind of acts a neighbor expects. How would India react if another neighbor were to provide shelter to Kashmiris, Nagalanders, Khalistanis, and many more insurgents of India?
7. Another area where India displays its shameless interference in the domestic affairs of Nepal is its constant involvement in manipulating the moronic, unpatriotic, and greedy semi-literate leaders of Nepal. The twelve point agreement engineered by India and signed by the seven political parties and the Maoists was a road map for blatant interference, subversion, with intent to disintegrate, annihilate Nepal and Nepalese people. As a direct result of this agreement, Nepal lost its international identity and a mark of distinction as the only Hindu country in the world. Nepal used to be a highly religiously tolerant country. Unlike in India, there had never been any kind of inter-religious disputes or violence in Nepal. There are more than 100 countries in the world which identify themselves as Christian countries and there are 86 Muslim countries and there is only one Jewish state. So, what was wrong with Nepal retaining its sole characteristics as a Hindu Kingdom? Many people in India do not support turning Nepal into a secular state when more than 86% of its people are Hindus.
8. Because Nepal is not only a land-locked country, but also India locked, she has to face more economic problems than any other landlocked country in the world. It is not an exaggeration to state that India has complete control of the economy of Nepal. In addition, India has turned Nepal into its dumping ground for poor quality goods that it cannot sell to other countries and even her own citizens would not buy them. But poor Nepalese people have no choice but to buy the substandard products because they have no access to any other similar products.
9. Nepalese people have seen in the past how Nepal’s leaders as well as journalists, and the type of people invited to the seminar accept favors from India such as free education for their children including medical science, engineering and all other disciplines. Various reports published in Nepalese newspapers also point at the fact that India’s intelligence agency RAW spends a lot of money paying off the politicians of Nepal.
It is immoral, unethical, and it constitutes a conflict of interest to accept favors from a neighboring country with which these individuals have to settle many issues of great interest to Nepalese people including treaties related to trade, transit, and river waters such as the Tanakpur Treaty relating to the use of the Mahakali River. How would Indian people react if India’s leaders accepted favors from China when they are responsible to negotiate a treaty related to border issues?
It is unfortunate on our part because one Indian diplomat frankly admitted that other than B P Koirala and Man Mohan Adhikari none of the Prime Ministers of Nepal have strongly advocated the case of Nepal and her people. Often times, our politicians and diplomats do not do their homework and end up with a bad deal.
10. Average Nepalese people feel that they have been cheated by India as far as the treaties related to the Koshi River Dam, Gandaki River and Mahakali River are concerned. All these treaties were very unfavorable to Nepal. In fact, when the Koshi treaty was signed, The Times of India commented that Nepal signed a treaty with India about the Koshi River that was so badly biased against Nepal that no state of India would have signed such an unequal and unfair treaty.
11. Former King Birendra of Nepal declared Nepal “A Zone of Peace” in February 1975. The people of Nepal supported the idea and were thrilled to note that proposal was supported by 118 of the 129 nations of the world. India, however, refused to support it. When the political change took place in Nepal in 1990 with the active support of India, the so called democratic leaders of Nepal would not talk about it for fear that their Indian Masters (brown Sahibs) in Delhi would be angered.
12. The Bhutanese King, also known as the Idi Amin of Asia, drove his own people out of Bhutan by force. Nepalese people truly believe that he did so at the encouragement of RAW and rulers in Delhi. There were over 105,000 citizens of Bhutan living in Nepal as refugees. Bhutan and Nepal do not have a common border. Refugees go to a bordering country. How did these people end up in Nepal? It is because RAW and the Delhi rulers would not let them stay in India. These refugees actually tried to go back to Bhutan but the Indian Security Forces would not let them enter India once they were in refugee camps in Nepal. Their repeated attempts were foiled by Indian Security forces and they were turned back to Nepal. Thanks to the USA, Australia, New Zealand and some European countries, the problem of 75% of those Bhutanese refugees has been settled.
13. Nepalese people very strongly feel that articles 4, 5, 6, and 7 of the Nepal-India treaty imposed by Nehru on the weak Hereditary Rana Rulers back in 1950 was unfair and needs to be abrogated and a new treaty signed.
14. In 2007, Nepal provided citizenship to about four million Indians (mostly Biharis) who were living in Nepal prior to the first election of the Constituent Assembly. There are roughly the same number of Nepalese people who have been living in India in several States mostly in North East India. It would be a reciprocal gesture on the part of India to provide them Indian Citizenship just like we did to the Indians living in Nepal.
Improving Our Relationship
The rulers and policy makers of India should keep in mind the facts set out above, that indicate the true nature of our relationship. We want to be good neighbors and want to live peacefully. We take pride in your success. Nepalese people earnestly request India and her rulers to improve on the above fourteen points to have a very mutually beneficial relationship so that we can respect each other and help each other as good neighbors. Naturally, there has to be reciprocity from our side too. A pancake cannot be cooked on one side, otherwise it will burn.
Of course, the paid guests who participated in the seminar were not likely to tell their Indian hosts the truth. They may have been ignorant, unaware or blinded by India’s hospitality and gifts.
Being pro-Nepal does not mean against India
The People of Nepal are all for the friendship and lasting peace between Nepalese and Indian people. The fact is that we have many relatives and friends who are Indians and we also have Indian coworkers and neighbors.
Please do not be confused by our being pro-Nepal as being against India. That is not the case.
Long Live the Nepal-India Friendship!
Khagendra Thapa is Professor and President of the Academic Senate of Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan, USA.