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Special Content

Volume-4, 28 April-4 May, 2018


Visit of Nepal Prime Minister to India

 Shantesh Kumar Singh

Prime Minister of Nepal Shri K.P. Oli recently visited India from April 6-9, 2018. According to the Nepali members of the Eminent Persons Group on Nepal India relations, this visit has helped resolve longstanding bilateral issues. As per PM Oli, the intention of his visit was to take relations between India and Nepal to a higher lavel, which are 'commensurate with the realities of the 21st Century'.

The present leadership took the positive step of not trying to negate India's role in the development process of Nepal, and took the step of choosing India as his first foreign destination after becoming Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Oli had extensive and positive talks with the Indian business community during the visit, both from the private as well as public sector. He sought major investments in harnessing Nepal's vast hydropower potential. He stressed that both India and Nepal had many things to offer each other, and the principles of interdependence should be based on equality and justice. `He inaugurated the Integrated Check Post at Birgunj which is a very important aspect of connectivity and the other was the groundbreaking ceremony for the Motihari-Amlekhgunj cross border petroleum products pipeline along with Prime Minister Modi.

It was reiterated strongly that India Nepal relations will grow on the basis of equality, mutual trust, respect and benefit. The mottos 'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas' (Together with all, development for all) and 'Samriddha Nepal Sukhi Nepali' (Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepal) got reflected even in the 12 point Joint Statement that was issued during the visit, reiterating the nature of discussion that took place in between the two leaderships.

Three agreements were signed during the visit: 'India-Nepal: New Partnership in Agriculture', 'Expanding Rail Linkages: Connecting Raxaul in India to Kathmandu in Nepal' (which would connect Raxaul and Kathmandu with a new electrified rail line, with India's financial support), 'New Connectivity between India and Nepal through Inland Waterways'. In these three agreements, the stress was on the completion of the ongoing projects between India and Nepal. The leadership of both the countries  while appreciating the progress that has been made in these projects also stressed on their speedy completion. Through the agreement on inland waterways, Nepal will get an extra connectivity to the sea, making landlocked Nepal 'water-linked' as well. In the agreement for strengthening partnership in agriculture, stress has been given            on organic farming, animal husbandry, soil testing, agricultural research and agricultural education. On the agreement regarding construction of rail lines, it was decided that a preparatory feasibility study would be carried out within  one year, after which funding modalities would be set up on the basis of the detailed project. These agreements laid the ground to find ways in making these visions possible in reality. Oli informed the Nepali press that he has also conveyed to PM Modi about Nepal's desire to see an early realisation of the open market provision of the bilateral power trade agreement, which was concluded between the two sides in 2014.

Construction of railway lines from Jayanagar to Janakpur and from Jogbani to Biratnagar are already underway and there are three more proposed rail routes to be laid, namely New Jalpaiguri-Kakarbhitta, Nautanwa-Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj Road-Nepalgunj.

Prime Minister Modi congratulated PM Oli on his electoral victory and hailed the people of Nepal for reposing their faith in the democratic process at the provincial and central levels. PM Oli also invited PM Modi to visit Nepal at the earliest.

The visit turned out to be significant. Both the leaderships stressed on building on their civilizational and religious linkages when they vowed to develop their Ramayana and Buddhist circuits. They also stressed on increasing cooperation in the areas of education, health and skill development. Discussions were also held on matters of energy banking and new transmission lines. In a press statement after returning to Nepal, PM Oli stated that he had raised Nepal's rising concerns about the alarming scale of trade deficit and stressed the need for implementing measures to expand Nepal's export.

Through this visit, India and Nepal tried exploring ways to boost economic and investment partnership, including in the areas of connectivity and capacity building. The visiting leadership stressed on trust building and respect for sovereign decisions taken by Nepal to work with all its neighbours.

It needs to be kept in mind that Nepal continues to go through political evolution. The India factor will remain to be one of the main issues in Nepal's domestic as well as foreign policy matters.

The Author is Postdoctoral Fellow, International Institute for Global Health, United Nations University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. e-mail: shanteshjnu@gmail.com (Views expressed are personal)