Since he came to office in December 2022, Prachanda has emphasized that the new government will maintain ‘balanced and trustworthy’ relations with India, and that there will be no dramatic alteration in the approach taken toward these relations.
The Prime Minister of Nepal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda,’ began a four-day visit to New Delhi on May 31, marking a big diplomatic stride. The visit is scheduled to end on June 2.
In December of 2022, the Prime Minister of Nepal took office. It is a shift from his past attitude that he has chosen to make India his first trip outside of the country. This move highlights the historical ties that have existed between the two countries. Prachanda is widely regarded as a pro-China person by many people; nonetheless, his visit to India contains a significant message, highlighting the unbreakable tie that exists between Nepal and its closest and most powerful partner.
Since Prachanda came to office in December 2022, he has been emphasizing that the new administration will maintain ‘balanced and trustworthy’ relations with India without making any significant policy changes toward any of the two countries.
PM Narendra Modi was one of the first people to offer his congratulations to Prime Minister Pushpa Kumar Dahal on the formation of the new government and to express his delight in the cordial relations that exist between India and Nepal. Both countries voiced their delight about the prospect of working together, pointing to the natural affinity that exists between their nations as well as the exceptionally good bilateral relations that exist between them.
The purpose of Nepalese Prime Minister Dahal’s visit to India is to strengthen the age-old and multifaceted connections between the two countries, with a particular emphasis on the commitment to mutual respect, cooperation, and sovereign equality. India and Nepal have had close relations in the areas of religion, culture, economy, and politics for many centuries.
Not only do the two countries have open borders between them, but also citizens from both countries who are married to each other or have other close familial ties are able to freely roam around in each other’s country without any restrictions. India has never regarded its relations with Nepal through such a limited prism, despite the great strategic importance that Nepal bears in India’s geopolitical and security calculus.
Instead, India’s involvement in Nepal has been guided by the principle of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” and the idea of “Neighborhood First,” both of which are important to the Indian political system. In this regard, India’s primary focus has been on nurturing Nepal’s development by providing financial assistance and grants for the construction of infrastructure, fostering cultural linkages, and improving human development indicators, as well as providing support for Nepal amid adversities such as the earthquake that occurred in 2015.
Nepal and India are already working together on a number of different joint development projects. the effort to establish the Ramayana Circuit, which has already linked several locations across the two countries that are next to one another. During his most recent trip, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi successfully finished laying the foundation stone for a new monastery in India.
Additionally, the infrastructure and various other collaborations are coming into their own at this point. India was given the opportunity to assume responsibility for Nepal’s stalled hydropower project in the West Seti region. In the realm of education, a partnership between the Indian Institute of Technology Madras and Kathmandu University has resulted in the creation of a combined degree program. Additionally, the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Lumbini Buddhist University have agreed to create a Dr. Ambedkar Chair for Buddhist Studies.
The hydropower industry has developed into a significant pillar of cooperation between India and Nepal and is regarded as a catalyst for the expansion of bilateral ties between the two countries. India has, over the course of the past several years, started placing a greater emphasis on development in this area.
A subsidiary of Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN), which is in charge of developing the 900 MW Arun III project, is making quicker progress. India has also come to Nepal’s assistance by signing a deal between Nepal and India’s National Hydro Electric Power Corporation Private Limited (NHPC Ltd) to build both the 750 MW West Seti project, a project that was abandoned by a Chinese company alleging financial unviability. This agreement was between Nepal and India’s National Hydro Electric Power Corporation Private Limited (NHPC Ltd). GMR, an Indian corporation, has also agreed to build the 900 MW Upper Karnali Project. This endeavor is currently in the planning stages.
Since the beginning of this week, Nepal has once again started exporting electricity to India. This is due to the fact that Nepal typically achieves a surplus of power just as the monsoon season begins in the country. Since Saturday of the previous week, Nepal has been sending approximately 600 megawatt hours of electricity to India via export.
Notably, Nepal gained a total of NPR 11 billion alone from India’s purchase of hydropower from June 2022 all the way through December 2022. In addition to this, Nepal has suggested a bilateral agreement for the trade of power that would last for 25 years. This would replace the existing system of annual renewal, which is inefficient and brings about uncertainty in trade prospects.
As a means of addressing the issue of Nepal’s widening trade deficit with India, Nepal’s Prime Minister Prachanda made a request for simpler Rules of Origin for other items as well as non-reciprocal market access for Nepal’s agricultural exports.
The two heads of state had a conversation about the setting up of testing facilities as well as the formalization of procedures for the mutual recognition of test certificates. Pushpa Kamal Dehal also called for the removal of the anti-dumping tariff that was placed on items made in Nepal from jute, highlighting the significance of fostering an environment that is friendly to trade.
Before making his way to India, Dahal gave his approval to the Draft Project Development Agreement. This agreement would pave the way for the Arun River to host a third hydroelectricity project, which would come after the 900 MW Arun-III and 695 MW Arun-IV hydroelectricity projects. In the Sankhuwasabha district, these three projects are going to create roughly 2,300 megawatts of electrical power from the river.
India and Nepal’s relationship extends well beyond that of simple diplomatic ties; it is founded not just on sovereign equality but also on mutual respect, a shared history, and powerful cultural ties. The unwavering dedication of India to a policy of non-reciprocity with Nepal is further evidence of the profoundly ingrained cultural and historical ties that exist between the two countries. These ties date back centuries.
The fact that India’s Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra just returned from a trip to Nepal serves as another evidence that India places the utmost importance on cultivating and enhancing the strength of its relationship with that country. India and Nepal stand set to navigate the future hand in hand as the journey of collaboration and cooperation continues. This will build a link that is not only based on strategic interests but also on the shared values and ambitions of their people-to-people connection.
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