Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Kathmandu on 3 August 2014 for a 2-day official visit to Nepal. There was a lot of speculation going around then. The newspapers were full of possible benefits that Prime Minister Modi might bestow on Nepal. They were critical about the ill preparation of the Government of Nepal in such an opportune moment to seal any deal. Powerful Indian PM Modi, with the reputation of having developed Gujarat during his tenure as the Chief Minister, was in town and the people expected the Government of Nepal should do all it could to take the benefit of his visit.
This article focuses on the legitimate demands that we ought to make with India. India's per capita income is 72,920 Indian Rupees ($1167 approximately). The economy of India is worth $ 1.7 trillion. To develop a hydro project of 1000 Megawatt in Nepal, it costs $10 billion at the rate of $1000 per Kilowatt. Is it realistic on our part to expect a gift of a hydro power project then? Doesn't the amount we are expecting come from the toil of taxpayers of India? Do the Indian citizens not keep count of the money that their government spends? On what ground will India gift Nepal a hydro power project or anything of similar economic cost? Isn't India struggling with development herself? India does not have surplus to bestow lavishly on Nepal just because Nepal is India's neighbor and we share the same cultural heritage. Such expectations we have from India are ill-grounded.
Except the glamour of a few major cities, India is a developing nation herself. Traveling through India gives any observant person an idea of how difficult the ordinary life is in India. She needs tons of money herself and is looking for foreign direct investment. It cannot be denied that it has achieved an economic boom but she has no money to spare owing to her own reasons.
The judgment we have made of India lies on a faulty line. She cannot offer and afford to spend much money on Nepal. If she does, it is out of her benevolence. The expectation of Nepalese from India has to shift to other richer countries.
Of course India has the technical knowhow and can help Nepal develop its natural resources for synergic output. To demand and expect from Government of India any gift is not a legitimate demand and expectation. It is based on a faulty knowledge about India's struggle towards development and it trivializes the toil of Indian taxpayers.
Instead of economic gift from India, Nepal should harness the deep rooted cultural ties between India and explore the possibility of religious tourism as PM Modi rightly said during his address to the Constituent Assembly. Nepal, the land of temples, should cater to the religious Indians. PM Modi has appreciated holy Nepal and Nepali should expect him to pass on the message to his fellow country men and women to find peace, love and meditative bliss in Nepal.
The Nepal Government should realize the limitations of the help our neighbor can pledge with us. Having ambitious expectations will only lead to frustration and friction. This will expose our ignorance about India's reality. No one's hard work should be taken for granted especially, that of Indian citizens, who are burning the midnight oil to make their lives better.
If Nepal needs money, it would do well to look towards richer countries which are willing to invest in Nepal. Nepal is rich in natural resources and the wealthy countries can invest here. Let there be an economic deal enriching both parties involved. Nepal should earn its development. Of course it is no crime to take alms from the richest if they are willing to bestow. It won't be superfluous to say that any investment made in Nepal wouldn't go unrewarded. The land is a virgin land for any developmental project. Like they say in Nepali even the soil of Nepal promises gold.
Nepal's rich hydro, the diverse flora and fauna, the snow peaked mighty Himalayas, the warmth of the people, the hardworking nature of the Nepalese all cry out for exploration and development. Nepal just needs a will to achieve development. Government of Nepal needs to be more organized and the political parties and the government should have the same voice with respect to development of Nepal and be able to guide its citizens to the promised paradise. It has to have concrete plans so that the universe conspires to make it a better place for everyone to live in. Once the agenda are set, the international community will definitely come to Nepal's assistance. Nepal has been good at cultivating friendships. She only needs to understand and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of her friends. A misguided knowledge about them will always be far from reality. No one can act better on something which is not based on reality. Nepal needs to make a realistic expectations of her friends to enrich herself.