Off-The Record Tea-Time: Modi Factor In Nation Building

Narendra Modi is the first prime minister to have been born after India's independence in 1947 and the second prime minister not belonging to the Indian National Congress to have won two consecutive elections, as well as to have a majority in both terms in the Indian lower house of parliament.

Dec. 29, 2021, 4:19 p.m.

Canada and Mexico cannot afford to have bad relation with USA; Pakistan cannot afford to have bad relation with China; India cannot afford to have bad relation with USA and/or Russia. The story is same all over the world. Big Brother Syndrome is there everywhere in the world. Nepal cannot be an exception. Nepal cannot afford to have bad relation with India, it is a matter of common sense. Bad relation with China and America will not be that much detrimental to Nepal in comparison to bad relation with India. Moreover, all major political events during and after 2007BS have proven that India was always playing a dominant role in Nepalese politics. Hence, wasting time in political squabble with India makes no sense. It is high time our leaders focus more on national economy, especially to increase per capita income and job creation, instead of spending time and energy in foreign policy matters by jibber-jabbering high sounding words like nationalism, national pride, sovereignty, self-esteem etc.

Narendra Modi is the first prime minister to have been born after India's independence in 1947 and the second prime minister not belonging to the Indian National Congress to have won two consecutive elections, as well as to have a majority in both terms in the Indian lower house of parliament. His policies as chief minister in Gujarat, credited with encouraging economic growth, have received praise. Following his party's victory in the 2019 general election, his administration revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. His administration also introduced the Citizenship Amendment Act, which resulted in widespread protests across the country. Described as engineering a political realignment towards right-wing politics, Modi remains a figure of dominant personality in domestic as well as in international arena.

Obviously, if Prime Minister of Nepal can manage to have good rapport with Prime Minister Modi at personal level, it is certain that PM Modi will sincerely and vehemently help Nepal in all kinds of nation building activities. Opinion of few Nepalese intellectuals that getting Big Brotherly help from India shall not be in the interest of the nation is a totally absurd viewpoint. If it is in the interest of people at large, what is wrong with seeking help from friendly countries to achieve high growth? There is no place for ego in this endeavor of attaining superordinate goal of making Nepal a prosperous country. Ego is negative pride. Hence, ego should never come as a thorn in relation between Nepal and India. Jung Bahadur and many successive rulers of Nepal including present leaders of half a dozen big parties, took help from India putting aside ego. In spite of those so-called “interference in domestic affair of Nepal” from British India and present Southern Big Brother, Nepal’s sovereignty is still intact and Nepal is still a fully independent sovereign country never colonized by any foreign power in her entire history.

Immediately after becoming Prime Minister, the foreign policy revealed by Modi gave priority in improving relation with immediate neighbors. But it is a foregone conclusion that the then Nepalese leaders cold shouldered Modi’s offer of olive branch, thereby souring relation between Nepal and Modi government. Modi has repeatedly said that peace and tranquility in South Asia is essential for development of the region and he is aware that his foreign policy will be tested by regional stability around India. Hence, we should be able to cash from India’s compulsion to maintain good relation with neighbors.

The ground reality is that for Nepal to prosper consistently in the long run, active help and whole-hearted support from India is a must. So-called ‘China card’ makes no sense at all. Ironically this fact is known to Chinese government officials as well, but unfortunately many Nepalese intellectuals and politicians are having this totally nonsense fancy/utopian idea of distancing from India and ‘romancing’ with China. Hence, for the sake of bringing up living standard of 30 million population, it is almost compulsory or mandatory that Nepal need to have more friendly relation with India than that with China. The character and personality of PM Modi clearly shows that once Nepalese government goes out of way to hold out an olive branch promising him of all-the-time cordial relation with India even at the cost of some kind of displeasure from China side, he may help more than what we are expecting. It is a matter of give and take in all kinds of bilateral relation all over the world. Bitter truth is that in economy, Nepal is still far behind many countries like India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos etc. So, for the sake of prosperity of 30 million population, Nepal should not waste time on so-called foreign policy theories and principles, especially China-card, India-card nonsenses.

We must face harsh truth that India will have interest in water resources of Nepal, as 100% water in all 6000 rivers and rivulets goes to India. On this issue, Government of Nepal can assure PM Modi that water resources issue with India shall be strictly taken as a pure business deal between two countries. Best solution will be to hire an internationally reputed consulting company by Government of Nepal to settle all water resource related issue with India. It may be a matter of just spending few million dollars over a period of two or three years. With the help of consultants, Nepal government can negotiate with India covering technical, legal, and commercial aspects with due consideration of international laws, if any. The presence of highly qualified internationally reputed consultants in negotiation with India will ensure to clear any doubt that the Big Brother may cheat in those business deals. If needed, an open live press conference with participation of local experts, intellectuals, civil society and general public should be arranged, so that all possible doubts and questions shall be answered by the consultant team and concerned government personalities.

Once issues related with water resources are settled between Nepal and India, we can request market access to nearby states of India for Nepalese products. It is likely that a happy New Delhi may help Nepal in many ways, especially in trade between two countries to narrow down huge trade deficit. There can be many trade and industrial activities, where India can support Nepal. We should clearly give message to New Delhi without mincing word that they must help Nepal to uplift economy as compensation for tilting towards India at the cost of relation with China.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of New Spotlight.

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