Thinking through the Nepal policy (The Hindu)
Mains Paper 2:International Relations
Prelims level: Kalapani issue
Mains level: India and its neighbourhood relations
- On August 15, Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli made a friendly gesture towards India by telephoning Prime Minister Narendra Modi to convey greetings on India’s Independence Day.
- This was followed by a meeting of the India-Nepal Joint Project Monitoring Committee on August 17 chaired by the Indian Ambassador to Nepal and the Nepal Foreign Secretary.
- The committee was set up to review progress in the large number of bilateral cooperation projects.
- An India-Nepal Joint Commission meeting at the level of Foreign Ministers is due later in October but may be held virtually due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
- But will the two sides hold Foreign Secretary-level talks on the vexed boundary issue that is related to Kalapani and Susta?
- The Nepali side has upset the apple cart by taking a series of unilateral actions.
- A relatively minor dispute involving about 35 square kilometres of territory around the Kalapani springs, was expanded to claim a large wedge of Indian territory towards the east, measuring nearly 400 square kilometres.
- The expanded claim was incorporated into Nepal through a constitutional amendment and a revised official map. India has been confronted with a fait accompli though Nepal has conveyed its willingness to negotiate on the issue in Foreign Secretary-level talks.
- India should be willing to engage in talks with Nepal on all aspects of India-Nepal relations. But any talks on the Kalapani issue should be limited to the area which was the original subject for negotiations and Susta.
- To agree to talks which include the unilateral changes will create a very bad precedent not only in India-Nepal relations but in managing India’s borders in general. This is irrespective of Nepal presenting historical documents or maps which support its claims.
- Borders which have been accepted by both sides for more than 100 years and which have also been reflected on their official maps cannot be unilaterally altered by one side coming up with archival material which has surfaced in the meantime.
- This would make national boundaries unstable and shifting, and create avoidable controversies between countries as is the case now between India and Nepal.
Geography and boundaries:
- The Treaty of Sugauli of 1816 sets the Kali river as the boundary between the two countries in the western sector. There was no map attached to the treaty.
- Nepal is now claiming that the main tributary of the Kalapani river rises east of the Lipu Lekh pass from the Limpiyadhura ridgeline and hence should serve as the border.
- Even if the lengthiest tributary may be one principle for a riverine boundary, which is itself debatable, it is not the only one.
- There are many boundaries which do not follow any geographical principle at all but are the result of historical circumstances, mutual agreement and legal recognition.
History and ties:
- Independence Day has meaning for us because we engaged in a long and painful struggle for independence from British colonial rule.
- We also recall that it was the ruler of” independent” Nepal which sent troops to fight alongside the East India Company, mercilessly killing those who were fighting India’s first war of independence.
- The same independent country was happy to receive as reward chunks of Indian territory in the Terai through the treaty of 1861.
- If no agreement has superseded the Sugauli treaty as has been claimed then, perhaps the “Naya Muluk” received after Nepal’s alliance with the Company against Indians fighting for freedom, should be restituted. Or should this brand of “chicanery” be excused since it benefited Nepal?
Q.1)With reference to the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM), consider the following statements:
1. It will be implemented by NITI Aayog.
2. Under NDHM every Indian will get a health ID that will ease access to medical services in the country.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Q.1)What are the recent development in between India-Nepal relations?