After Narendra Modi's rise to power in India, Nepal-India relations have seen drastic changes. Following his first visit of Nepal in August, Nepal and India have accelerated their bilateral negotiations while intensifying their official engagements.
From inking cooperation in Nepal-India power development to enhancing integration, Nepal and India have been making efforts to take the bilateral relations into a new level.
At a time when Nepal has been passing through a prolonged political instability and disorder, it is not easy for Nepal to implement the agreement with India easily as there are more destructive forces.
With the good neighborly policy, India is accelerating the process of cooperation between Nepal and India. As part of the process, Nepal and India signed ten Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) during Indian Prime minister Modi’s visit to Nepal when he came to participate in eighteenth SAAC Summit.
Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi also used his 2-day visit to sign a number of bilateral agreements with Nepal.
According to a press release issued by Abhay Kumar, First Secretary (PIC) & Secretary, BPKF of Indian Embassy, Nepal and India signed 10 Memoranda of Understanding (MOU). They include Motor Vehicle Agreement and flag off of Kathmandu-Delhi bus service, Pashupatinath Express.
The India-Nepal Bilateral Motor Vehicle Agreement for Passenger Traffic envisages regular bus services between the two countries as per agreed routes, trips and time-table.
Similarly, India signed MOU to construct proposed National Police Academy at Panauti, located approximately 32 km South East of Kathmandu. Indian government will fund the cost of about INR 550 crores towards construction of the Academy. The Academy will cater to training of 410 Nepalese police officers annually.
The Line of Credit of USD 1 billion to Government of Nepal from EXIM Bank will be utilized for hydropower, irrigation and infrastructural development projects. It was announced by PM during his visit to Nepal in August 2014. The LoC will be at a concessional rate of interest of 1 per cent and will, in case of civil works, allow JVs and reduced Indian content requirement of 50%.
Another MoU signed between Nepal and India seeks to strengthen, promote and develop cooperation in the field of traditional systems of medicine and medicinal plants between the two countries on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. Nepal and India signed MOU on cooperation in the field of Tourism.
Besides holiday, adventure and mountaineering tourism, immense scope exists in developing spiritual tourist circuits, such as the Buddhist Circuit (Lumbini-Bodh Gaya-Sarnath-Kushinagar).
An MoU on Twinning arrangements between Kathmandu-Varanasi, Janakpur-Ayodhya and Lumbini-Bodh Gaya as sister cities also got signed, Janakpur-Ayodhya, Lumbini-Bodh Gaya and Kathmandu-Varanasi are proposed to be linked as sister cities owing to their deep cultural and historical linkages.
Varanasi is also known as the favorite city of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva as it has been mentioned in the Rigveda that this city in older times was known as Kashi or “Shiv Ki Nagri”. One of the largest residential universities of Asia, the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), is located there, whereas, Nepal’s most sacred Hindu shrine and one of the greatest Shiva sites, Pashupatinath temple is located in Kathmandu.
Ayodhya, the birth place of Lord Ram, is perfect to be a sister-city with Janakpur, which is famous as the birth place of Sita as per the Hindu epic Ramayan and where the famous Ram-Janaki temple is located.
Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Budha could be a sister-city of Bodh Gaya, where Budhha is said to have attained enlightenment.
Nepal and India also singed MoU on Cooperation for Youth Affairs. The objective is exchange of programs, experiences, skills, techniques, information and knowledge in the areas of youth affairs.
Similarly, SJVN and Nepal government signed PDA for the 900 MW Arun-III Hydropower project. After almost eleven years, India handed over the Emergency and Trauma Centre. The eight floor structure with 200-bed facility was built at an estimated cost of NRs. 160 crores [IRs 100 crores].
India also supplied one Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Mark III to the Nepal Army.
Indian prime minister Modi gifted a sapling from the Bodhi Tree at the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya to be planted near the Ashoka Pillar at the Maya Devi Temple complex at Lumbini.
India also announced the circulation of 500 and 1000 denomination Indian currency In Nepal. Indian prime minister Modi said that Indian government is actively considering lifting of the prohibition on circulation of 500 and 1000 denomination of Indian currency in Nepal and Bhutan that had been in place since May 2000. India also gifted one mobile soil testing van/lab to Nepal.