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  • 21 December, 2022

  • 7 Min Read

Surya Kiran XVI & India- Nepal Ties

Surya Kiran XVI & India- Nepal Ties

In Saljhandi, Nepal, the 16th edition of the Indo-Nepal joint training exercise "Surya Kiran" between India and Nepal is being held.

About Surya Kiran:

It is an annual military exercise between India and Nepal.

The purpose of this exercise is to:

  • Establish military ties between the soldiers of the two nations in inhospitable mountainous regions;???????
  • Provide Humanitarian aid under disaster management;
  • Receive training in counterterrorism operations; and
  • Develop interoperability and knowledge sharing between the two nations.
  • In India's Uttarakhand region, at Pithoragarh, the 15th Surya Kiran was held.

Significance of Nepal for India:

  • Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Sikkim, and Bihar are the five Indian states with which Nepal shares a border. Consequently, a significant hub for economic and cultural exchange.
  • Nepal, along with Bhutan, serves as a northern "borderland" flank and acts as a buffer state against any potential aggression from China. Nepal is located directly in the middle of India's "Himalayan frontiers."
  • In terms of ecology and potential for hydropower, rivers that originate in Nepal feed the enduring river systems of India.
  • Nepal has numerous Hindu and Buddhist religious sites, making it a popular destination for Indian pilgrims.
  • India is the largest source of foreign investments and Nepal’s largest trading partner, besides providing transit for almost the entire third-country trade of Nepal.
  • Many Indians live in Nepal, these include businessmen, traders, doctors, engineers and laborers (including seasonal/migratory in the construction sector).
  • Indian firms engaged in various economic activities such as in manufacturing, services (banking, insurance, dry port), power sector and tourism industries etc.
  • The Gorkha Regiments of the Indian Army are partly recruited from hill districts of Nepal.
  • India and Nepal are part of many multilateral forums such as BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal), BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation), Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation), etc.

Recent Development between India and Nepal:

Arun-3 Hydro Electric Project:

  • The Arun-3 Hydro Electric project (900 MW) is a run-of-river located on the Arun River in Eastern Nepal, approved by the cabinet in 2019.

International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage:

  • It is constructed in the Lumbini Monastic Zone which will be a world-class facility welcoming pilgrims and tourists from all over the world.
  • The facility is for scholars and Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world who visit Lumbini.

Hydropower Projects:

  • Apart from the development the of 90.2 megawatts Arun-4 hydropower project by the Satluj Jal Nigam Limited, Nepal also invited Indian companies to invest in the West Seti hydropower project of 1200 megawatts in Nepal.
  • India is also helping Nepal with t Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project, which was an important part of the Mahakali Treaty signed between Nepal and India in 1996.

Setting up a IIT Satellite Campus:

  • India has offered to set up a satellite campus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Rupandehi .

Infrastructure Development:

  • The 35 kilometre cross-border rail link from Jayanagar (Bihar) to Kurtha (Nepal) will be further extended to Bijalpura and Bardibas.
  • Also the development of a 90 km long 132 kV double circuit transmission line connecting Tila (Solukhumbu) to Mirchaiya (Siraha) close to the Indian border.
  • Nepal also became part of India’s initiative of the International Solar Alliance.

Challenges Between Indo-Nepal ties:

Territorial Disputes:

  • While 98% of the India-Nepal boundary is demarcated, two areas, Susta and Kalapani boundaries remain the cord of contention.
  • These boundaries were fixed in 1816 by the British, and India inherited these areas over which the British had exercised territorial control in 1947.
  • Nepal in 2019, released a new political map claiming Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh of Uttarakhand and the area of Susta (West Champaran district, Bihar) as part of Nepal’s territory.

Issues with Peace and Friendship Treaty:

  • The Treaty of Peace and Friendship,1950 was sought by the Nepali authorities in 1949 to continue the special links they had with British India and to provide them with an open border and the right to work in India.
  • But today, it is viewed as a sign of an unequal relationship, and an Indian imposition.

The Demonetization Irritant:

  • In November 2016, India withdrew (Rs 1,000 and Rs 500) currency notes.
  • Many Nepali nationals who were legally entitled to hold Rs 25,000 of Indian currency (given that the Nepali rupee is pegged to the Indian rupee) were left high and dry.
  • The Nepal Rashtra Bank (Central Bank of Nepal) holds Rs 7 crore and estimates of public holdings are Rs 500 crore.
  • India’s refusal to accept demonetized bills with the Nepal Rastra Bank is one of the causes of rising mistrust between the countries.

Rising China’s Intervention:

  • In recent years, Nepal has drifted away from India's influence, and China has gradually filled the space with investments, aid, and loans.
  • China considers Nepal a key partner in its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and wants to invest in Nepal's infrastructure as part of its grand plans to boost global trade.

Internal Security Concern:

  • The Indo-Nepal border is virtually open and lightly policed which is exploited by terrorist outfits and insurgent groups from the North Eastern part of India and engaged in supply of trained cadres, human trafficking, and fake Indian currency.

Trust & Ethnic Differences:

  • The trust deficit has widened between the India-Nepal because of the Indian reputation for delaying the implementation of various projects.
  • There is an anti-India feeling among certain ethnic groups in Nepal which emanates from the perception that India indulges too much in Nepal and tinkers with their political sovereignty.

Way Forward

  • India needs to be a sensitive and generous partner for the neighbourhood’s first policy to take root.
  • The territorial dispute shall be negotiated diplomatically under the aegis of International law.
  • In this case, boundary dispute resolution between India and Bangladesh should serve as a model for this.
  • India should engage more proactively with Nepal in terms of people-to-people engagement, bureaucratic engagement as well as political interactions.
  • It should maintain the policy of keeping away from the internal affairs of Nepal, meanwhile, in the spirit of friendship, India should guide the nation towards more inclusive rhetoric.
  • The power trade agreement needs to be such that India can build trust in Nepal.
  • For India, buying power from Nepal would mean managing peak demand and also saving the billions of dollars of investments which would have to be invested in building new power plants, many of which would cause pollution.
  • Investments from India: The Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) signed between India and Nepal needs more attention from Nepal's side.

Source: PIB

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