Be careful Nepal, India is occupying the land... see the infamous Chinese  bullying in the usurpation

India has an open border with only Nepal, and that should explain how close these two countries, bound by kinship, culture, and economic relations, are.

Nepal is predominantly Hindu by religion, and so is India, and the Pashupatinath Temple in Katmandu is one of the most venerated shrines for Indians. Citizens of the two countries can travel across the border with no passport or visa, only a document of identification is sufficient. India is the vast hinterland of opportunities for poverty-stricken Nepal, with eight million Nepalis living, working or studying in India.

But often, nationalistic sentiments burst out in Nepal, understandably natural for a small country with a big neighbour. Nepali politicians have also been using anti-India sentiments to expand their voter base. There is also the China card. Nepal’s lack of interest in the recruitment of Gorkhas under the new Agnipath scheme is due to these various factors.

What guides India-Nepal ties

The India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 forms the foundation of the special relations between India and Nepal, enabling the latter to overcome the disadvantage of being a landlocked country. The treaty has enabled Nepalese citizens to enjoy unparalleled advantages in India, availing all facilities and opportunities Indian citizens are entitled to. India has executed development and infrastructure projects in Nepal, building roads, dams and hydel power generation stations. India is one of the biggest donors of development assistance to Nepal.

India has had also close military relations with Nepal, which include arming the Nepalese armed forces and training Nepali officers at Indian military institutions. The 1950 treaty accords the chief of the armed forces of both the countries the rank of honorary generals in the other country.

How Nepal benefits from India

Roughly about 1,27,000 retired Nepali soldiers, 90,000 of the Indian Army, and 37,000 who served in the paramilitary organisations, get pensions from India. As many as 30,000 get the pensions transferred to their bank accounts, and the rest, for lack of banking infrastructure in the areas they live in, draw the pension in cash. Currently, the Nepali pension burden on the Indian army is in excess of Rs 3,000 crores or Rs 4,600 Nepali rupees and rising. The currently serving 30,000 Nepali soldiers remit home about Rs 1,000 crores in Indian currency every year.

Millions of Nepalis residing in India have Aadhaar cards that are issued to only Indian citizens. Nepal, which has no industry worth mentioning, imports virtually all its basic necessity goods from India. It imposes a two per cent tax on Indian imports, while no import tax is levied by India on Nepali goods that come to India.

In April 2015, Nepal was devastated by a strong earthquake, and India was the first responder and later also helped Nepal rebuild its ruined infrastructure. But What led to souring of relations

Of late, many regimes in Nepal have raised the issue of revision of the 1950 treaty. India has expressed its willingness to examine all bilateral arrangements, with the objective of further strengthening relations. However, political instability in Nepal has led to relations with India being used for scoring points between rivals. China has often discreetly encouraged anti-Indian sentiments through some political parties.

After the fall of the Shah dynasty in Nepal in 2008, India helped Nepal draft a constitution. But the country failed to arrive at a consensus. India’s suggestions to accommodate the demands of the Madhesi community in Nepal’s constitution were not well received and resulted in the seven-month blockade beginning in September 2015. That led to the souring of relations between the two countries.

The polarised polity of Nepal has also used relations with India as a political issue, and in recent years, governments in Kathmandu have indulged in anti-Indian rhetoric, on the question of drawing new maps.

China has often fished in troubled waters and has built a 800-kilometre-long highway from Kashgar to the Nepal-China border at Zhangmu-Kodari, which is set to be extended to Nepal’s interiors. China hopes to take a chunk off from Indian exports to Nepal, which so far is heavily dependent on India.

What’s next

The Agnipath scheme has become yet another issue between the two countries, but considering the security angles, the governments in both countries are sure to resolve the issue to mutual satisfaction soon.

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