As per official Nepali maps, India has encroached a segment of Nepali land on the far western border to facilitate a roadway to connect Indian pilgrims onto Chinese territory. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to internationalize the issue; given how Indian ambitions are solidly backed by their own preparations; Indian maps claiming Nepal’s territory did not appear over-night. Instead the project has been tried and tested for more than fifty years. India has successfully calculated Nepal’s reaction over territorial issues; the distress in Kathmandu is still based on completely inaccurate analysis of how national interest works for its powerful neighbor on the south. The political discourse in Nepal is facilitating justifications of a generous help from the international community; only if Nepal’s friendships would be eager to get into a mess that is only partly to blame on the aggressor. India, more specifically under Modi’s leadership is not going to undo what it perceives as a great achievement. The cause is lost, but not entirely. There is a way out.
Indian diplomacy is succeeding. India succumbed Nepal into an unofficial blockade during the 2015 earthquake. Amidst the corona virus pandemic, the roadway was virtually inaugurated by Rajnath Singh, India’s home minister. Both the events are deliberate; Indian diplomacy is based on national interests whereas the Nepali state still suffers with mundane ideas about existentialism. Nepali foreign policy lacks depth, which can also be illustrated by the absence of agencies that might have altered such disasters.
Geopolitically, the poverty of an advanced national intelligence agency is sickening. Nepal’s foreign minister acknowledged that there were sporadic reports of Indian construction on its border; vital information and time was lost due to the dearth of a security agency in Nepal. Nevertheless, an intelligence framework is a prescription only for the future. Unless Nepal can forget and move on from the incident, the situation is no lesser than a war. Practically, a war would be disproportionate and unfortunate on the Nepali side.
Realistically, a war does not need to be fought by guns or sophisticated drones. As enormous is India’s standing in the world, so it is plagued by national and regional contradictions. For Nepal, now than ever, the rules of diplomacy towards India is straightforward. Like an opposition lawyer, the Nepali effort will have to begin preparations of discovering potential wounds that would force India’s discomfort. For centuries, Nepal has acknowledged India’s security concerns across all platforms; even so, the favor has proven ungenerous. Kathmandu maintains the wild card against India like no other in South Asia. The international community, including China will take notice if the Nepali doctrine as a wishful neighbor fades away.
In such a case, Beijing will be interested. The terms need to be set appropriately for China’s support. Nepal-India relations will need to be based on the terms of reciprocity. Frankly, Nepal will need to design a strategy, wherein Indian losses are guaranteed with its mischiefs. Additionally, a diplomatic trade off shall determine state actions and consequential gains or losses. India has always maintained a Nepal policy based on its shrewd motives of power maximization; likewise, the time is right for Nepal to widely advertise its transformational yet flexible India policy in the coming future.
Regrettably, the age-old relations between India and Nepal is no longer feasible and productive. The Indian side is consumed by neighborly insecurities whereas Nepalis are experiencing a growing feeling of injustice and inequality. Bilateral relations between the two nations is being exercised on a chess board; thankfully for Nepal, the moves are all intact. India has lost the frenzy in Nepal. Kathmandu has not been left with a choice. Inspired by survival instincts and sovereign integrity, it is coming after New Delhi. This is a new low for India but even a greater shift for Nepal.