On the 75th year of its independence and glorious journey as the world’s largest democracy and one of the significant economies, India is celebrating “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” which enlivens the spirit of all Indians and also the people of friendly neighbour Nepal that remarkably struggled for India’s independence. Among other positive attributes, the deepness and complementarity of India-Nepal relations come from the linkages of cooperation during India’s freedom struggle and later during its journey with developmental aspirations. On the other hand, India’s commitment to peace and prosperity in Nepal has been unwavering and the most reliable bilateral ties between the two friendliest countries aptly reflect that.
To celebrate India’s 75th year of independence (Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav) and further deepen India-Nepal bilateral ties, the Embassy of Nepal in India (EoNI) and India-Nepal Centre (INC), PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) organised India-Nepal Partnership Summit 2022 on 7th June 2022 at New Delhi.
“Civilizational links and geographical links are the key elements which can help to energize and reinvent the bilateral relations between India and Nepal,” said Amb K V Rajan, Chairman, India-Nepal Centre, PHDCCI & India’s Former Ambassador to Nepal in his opening remarks.
“Tourism is the mainstay of the Nepal economy and religious tourism is one of the key contributors to the Nepalese tourism industry. The relationship between the two countries is very strong but this is the time when we have to think about accommodating the aspirations with changing times and further strengthen it. Our relationship should be nurtured,” said the Chief Guest & Keynote Speaker Amb Dr Shankar Prasad Sharma, Nepal’s Ambassador to India. Amb Dr Sharma shared that the trade deficit between the two countries remains a matter of concern, the energy and agriculture sectors.
“In April 2022, Nepal's PM Sher Bahadur Deuba visited India which generated various opportunities for both the countries and built mutual interests including for infrastructure development and economic partnership, trade, health & power. For post-pandemic economic rebounding in both countries, a positive environment that is created with the Prime Minister's visits from both sides in recent times will be of utmost crucial,” said Ram Prasad Subedi, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Nepal in India. He added, “Nepal has already begun exporting 177 MW of energy to India via the power exchange market. The tourism sector of India plays a significant role in the economic multiplier and becomes critical since India has to grow at rapid rates and create employment opportunities for its fellow citizens.”
“The objective of today’s conference is to foster relationships and deepen the links, boosting the growth and prosperity of both sides. India is Nepal's largest trade partner and the largest source of FDI, besides majorly providing transit for third-country trade of Nepal. There are three key areas where both nations are working right now are Trade Facilitation, Deepening Energy Cooperation and Cross Border Connectivity,” said Anurag Srivastava, Joint Secretary (North), Ministry of External Affairs, and Government of India. He added, “Nepal becomes the 4th Country to use the RUPAY card after UAE, Bhutan and Singapore and the ways are being explored to further support financial connectivity. Also, it is vital to note the progress with the projects like railways (Jayanagar-Bardibas), Terai roads, Integrated Check Posts (ICPs), post-earthquake reconstructions.”
“India has been putting best efforts for fostering bilateral ties with Nepal and with a view that we have aligned objectives. We should prioritize three areas of cooperation: Energy Trade; Bio-agri and connectivity. Also, we have to cooperate on the climate change front,” said Amb Jayant Prasad, India’s former Ambassador to Nepal
“Nepal is facing the challenges with financial liquidity and balance of payment, SBI (through NSBL) is doing its best to support the industry to overcome them. On the other hand, it is also true that SBI's most profitable business outside India is in Nepal and that broadly reflects on the bright possibilities Nepal’s market offers,” Anukool Bhatnagar, Chief General Manager & Head-Nepal Desk, SBI. He added that “SBI is deeply committed to backwards-forward linkages, smooth financial transactions, banking safety, financial inclusion and sustainable development goals. With the Arun-III power project and many others, SBI has been contributing to Nepal’s development and India-Nepal relations at large.”
The key participants, among others, were, Saurabh Sanyal, Secretary-General, PHDCCI; Atul K Thakur, Nodal Coordinator, India-Nepal Centre, PHDCCI; Sandeep Rana, President, Antarrashtriya BP Chintan Pratisthan; Mahesh Kumar Agrawal, State Coordinator, Seema Jagran Manch; Akanshya Shah Rana, Policy Professional & Columnist; Bikas Rauniar, Executive Director, Interstate Multi-Modal Transport (P) Ltd; Maj. Gen. (retd) Ashok K Mehta, Columnist & Commentator; Prof Jay Ranade; Maj. Gen (retd) Dipankar Banerjee, Mentor, IPCS; K Subramaniam, Columnist & Commentator; Rangan Dutta, Columnist.
The global pandemic Coronavirus or Covid-19 is being termed as a ‘one in hundred years’ crisis, therefore it is very well needed to evaluate and study India-Nepal bilateral relations through its lens now. A change in approach is much needed at this point in time, before the fundamentals of the world order go into reset mode, there should be a determination to revive the regional and sub-regional economic cooperation in the South Asian region with enhanced bilateral cooperation between India and Nepal. PHDCCI India-Nepal Centre is working with the stakeholders in the government and industry to foster India-Nepal relations.