Nepal, India, & The Blockade
All nations, no matter how big or small, are equal. Every nation must respect the national sovereignty and independence of every other nation. To do so otherwise is to follow “Might is right” and violate the very founding principles of the UN. Unfortunately, the recent events show that India is following this path, which is a great shame on its democracy. It’s sad to see a country founded on democratic principles by great people like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru walking the wrong path, thanks to Narendra Modi and his band of BJP hardliners who are grossly misusing Indian people’s mandate to impose its radical agendas inside and outside.
The Great Attack
The current blockade, almost 3 months old, is a direct brutal attack on 3 things – sovereignty, democracy, and humanity. Nepal has been a sovereign and independent nation since beginning. It’s true that Nepalese rulers have been influenced by the British Empire and since 1950, by India but it has never been under a colonial rule, a fact every Nepalese prides on. Nepalese people had been resenting foreign interference, especially India’s, for long but it came to boiling point when the Modi government blatantly blockaded Nepal when its wishes were not fulfilled by Nepalese leaders. Modi government has nothing real to justify this great blockade. Every nation has its own problems. India itself has problems in Kashmir. Has Nepal said anything about that? If India sees its interest in Nepal’s Terai, why shouldn’t Nepal see its interest in much demanded ‘Gorkhaland’? If India thinks int’l law and principles apply only to small nations, then it’s making a great mistake. No nation is too powerful to suffer defeat. America learnt this lesson in Vietnam. If you are in the wrong side, you will eventually meet defeat. India had better not forget this. For our part, we, the Nepalese people won’t forget this direct attack on our sovereignty by India for generations to come.
Next, Modi blew up any remaining hope of respect for democratic principles by trying to impose a will on another sovereign nation’s elected Constituent Assembly (CA). In an unprecedented show of raw threat and utter disregard for any diplomatic norms and friendly ties, he gave a devastating blow to decades old India-Nepal relations. When a neighboring nation identifying itself as the largest democracy in the world disrespects the constitution voted by 85% of the people’s representatives with just a “note” in its official message, what could be greater mockery of democracy than this? What could be a greater hypocrisy than this? Things definitely are not going to be same between Nepal and India.
Finally, this is a brutal attack on humanity. Such inhuman sanctions were enforced only on dictatorships, terrorist regimes, and authoritarian regimes like wartime Germany, erstwhile Iran, Libya, and current North Korea. Nepal is neither at war with India nor is Nepal a dictatorship or terrorist regime or authoritarian regime. Nepal is a democracy. How could Indian government justify blockading everything from fuel to basic medicines? The unrest in Terai certainly is just a pretext and can in no way be justified for such harsh measures.
Modi government and his BJP are essentially founded on radical Hindu ideology. Unfortunately, championing economic agenda, Modi and BJP swept to power and are now using every means to enforce their radical agendas rather than their much promised economic reforms. Sadly, we have some radical leaders in Terai who are hell bent on fulfilling their political interests under the guise of Madheshi people’s agenda. Those leaders who had been demanding one Madhesh are themselves divided into half a dozen parties. Aren’t they anything than hypocrites? What they really want is to secure all their supposed voters in one state so that one day they can become Chief Minister and rule the state? It reminds me of George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’. What could be better opportunity than this for the radical parties in Terai to climb on the back of the radical government in neighboring nation and blackmail their own nation?
Fortunately, we have a real leader like KP Oli, the current Prime Minister of Nepal, who has the guts to face this onslaught. He has been more decisive and bolder than anyone in matters of national interests. So far, he hasn’t bowed to Indian pressures. And, the Nepalese people are behind him. China has come forward as a good neighbor and really helped Nepal at this moment of life and death. Nepalese people won’t forget this. With signing of multiple trade agreements with China, Nepal is finally stepping out of its dependence on India. Unfortunately the response of so called champions of democracy and human rights, the UN and countries like the UK, has also been unforgettable in another way. At least, now it’s clear that when it comes to relations among nations, what dominates – geopolitics or principles. Nepal is learning the lesson hard way. Every nation sees its national interest first. Principles are matters of convenience for most nations including the so called champions of democracy.
For India, it’s losing trust of Nepal like never seen before. Nepalese people had been skeptical of India’s interest before but now it’s at a whole different level. Indian leaders may not have fathomed the damage to the trust and goodwill between the two age-old nations done by the foolish and brash actions of Modi and his band of radicals. This is not just another blockade like India did during the authoritarian rule of then King Birendra. Nepal is now a full-fledged democracy. This will remain an unforgettable scar in Nepalese psyche. For Nepal, this is an eye-opener. As long as Nepal is dependent on India for over 60% of its trade, it’s doomed to such fate. This is an opportunity to diversify trade and expand it with other countries, specifically China. The key to national sovereignty is economic independence. A debtor can never dictate the term. We have may have to dig the great Himalayas and build tunnels, but we must do it and never surrender. It’s time to think about national sovereignty for the long-term. It’s time to look north and balance the books.
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