Modi needs to introspect on Nepal policy: Ex-envoy SoodNew Delhi should introspect its relations with Nepal if the Indian prime minister wants to make his “neighbourhood first” policy a success, a former Indian diplomat said on Thursday.
New Delhi should introspect its relations with Nepal if the Indian prime minister wants to make his “neighbourhood first” policy a success, a former Indian diplomat said on Thursday.
“For [Narendra] Modi’s ‘neighbourhood first’ policy to succeed, India needs to introspect and Prime Minister Modi needs to find a Nepal policy that can resurrect the image of India that he had successfully presented—of a friendly and caring India, sensitive to Nepal’s concerns, and generous in seeking mutually beneficial partnerships,” said Rakesh Sood, a former Indian ambassador to Nepal, in Kathmandu.
Sood was presenting a paper at the International Conference on Key Trends in Nepal-India-China Relations and New Development Strategy for Nepal jointly organised by South Asian Institute of Management (SAIM), Institute for Integrated Development Studies and Nanyang Technological University of Singapore, in the Capital.
Sood served as Indian ambassador in Kathmandu during the tenure of the first Constituent Assembly (2008-2012) and is an expert on foreign affairs and keeps a close eye on developments in Nepal from New Delhi.
But while calling on India to “introspect”, Sood also blamed Nepal’s dysfunctional politics for the sluggish development in the last 25 years.
“The new constitution which should have been an occasion for celebration has been overshadowed with a regression into polarised politics,” said Sood, in an apparent reference to agitation launched by a section of the society, including Madhesis and Janajatis, who have been protesting against the constitution promulgated in September last year.
“If Nepal can overcome its domestic challenges, it will find that the ‘bridge diplomacy’ can serve its interest better,” said Sood, referring to the proposed Nepal-India-China trilateral partnership.
“China can certainly play a significant role in Nepal’s economic development by supporting infrastructure growth, but Nepal’s geography ties it to the Saarc markets,” he added. “Just as China’s ‘peaceful rise’ requires that it maintains a cooperative relationship with India, Saarc can only move forward with India taking the lead.”
During the programme, Sood faced several questions from participants on
various aspects of Nepal-India ties.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Bijaya Gachhadar said it was high time Nepal reviewed its past, understood the present and charted a suitable strategic path for its development. Gachhadar also emphasised on the need to learn from development of China and India.
“Inaction will lead us nowhere,” he said, “It is time for us to revisit our past strategies, learn from our failures and mistakes and march ahead with new zeal and gusto.”
Former foreign minister Prakash Chandra Lohani, who is also the chairman of SAIM, said China and India are both well-wishers of Nepal. “But there is more interaction with India because of open border and cultural and religious ties,” he said. “India and China are fast growing economies, and we need to tap the opportunity we get from these two countries.”