India- Nepal Relationship: Nehruvian Era

Ambassador Rakesh Sood said,

India-Nepal relations are too close and this closeness brings complexities too and hence needed to be handled with extra care.

In the previous post, we have discussed India-Bhutan Relationship. Now, in this post, we shall discuss our relationship with Nepal. We are going to read this topic in various parts. India-Nepal shares common cultural links bound by language, (Bhojpuri and Maithili) religion, civilisation and mythology (as Sita mata was from Vaideha or Videh in Nepal).

India-Nepal Relationship
India-Nepal Relationship

Civilisation link runs from Lumbini to Bodhgaya (cities related to Gautam Buddha) and Pashupati Nath to Kashi Vishwanath (Pilgrimage place). There is hardly any example in the world where people share so intimate relationship.

India-Nepal: During Nehruvian Era

Our first Prime-Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had done experiments like giving national treatment to Nepali citizens in India. He did friendship treaty of 1950. But in Nepal, India is projected as bullying big brother. The three pillars of Nepali politics,

Three Pillar Policy between India-Nepal
Three Pillar Policy between India-Nepal

During Nehruvian era, India entered into Treaty of Peace and Friendship (TPF) with the Rana of Nepal. The provisions of this treaty were,

  • Everlasting peace and friendship, acknowledge sovereignty, territorial integrity etc. (Article 1)
  • The government of Nepal is free to import arms and ammunition or warlike material from India only. (Article 5)
  • National treatment to citizens of each other. (Article 6)
  • Privileges with respect to ownership of property, participation in trade and commerce. (Article 7)

Nehru did this treaty with the Nepali Rana. But Rana was not popular in Nepal. So people of Nepal did not accept the Treaty of Peace and Friendship.

But later, Nepali King Tribhuwan came to India and India supported his claims in Nepal. So, India played a key role in Nepalese Politics. As we have helped Nepali government to shift from Monarchy to Constitutional Monarchy. But it seems our policies during Nehruvian Era, towards Nepal were ambiguous.

So, our relationship with Nepal was not so good during the Nehruvian era. So, after Nehruvian Era. India went for policies change.

India-Nepal Relations: 1960-1970

King Mahendra succeeded King Tribhuwan. King Mahendra was not satisfied with the Constitutional Monarchy. He played China Card against India. King Mahendra ended Parliamentary Democracy and accumulated powers in his hand only.

King Mahendra of Nepal
King Mahendra of Nepal

During this phase, India supported the Nepali Congress, which was not supporting the autocratic rule of King Mahendra. So, Mahendra started propaganda against Nepali Congress. Basically, Nepali leaders usually play China Card against India. China Card can be seen as follows,

China Card played by King Mahendra
China Card played by King Mahendra

India-Nepal Relationship: 1970-1980

Now during the 1970s, Nepal asked for a separate trade and transport agreement with India. But India instead stayed for the single Treaty of Peace and Friendship. So Nepal accused India of using transit as a bargaining chip to get undue advantage.

Soon in 1978, Janta Government accepted this demand of Nepal. But this issue again got spoiled at the time of Rajiv Gandhi. As Rajiv Gandhi decided not to renew the transit treaty, which had expired in 1989 to teach Nepal a lesson.

But here Nepal argued that under UN charter, “Transit privileges were fundamental and permanent right of a landlocked country”. All these stuff gave a negative image to India in Nepal and our relations were under stress.

We will continue our discussion in the next coming post.

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