“Let’s stay away from Nepal”  

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015


From the Nepali Press

Annapurna Post, 18 November

An influential member of the Indian parliament has cautioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi about growing anti-India sentiment in Nepal. In a letter to Modi, MP Tathagata Satpathy has said that India’s ‘unofficial’ embargo against Nepal, which has caused shortages of fuel, medicines and food in a land-locked country wrecked by a devastating earthquake just six months ago, is an infringement of basic human rights.

Satpathy, a Biju Janata Dal leader from the Indian state of Odisha, was on a family holiday in Nepal two weeks ago. He has already returned to New Delhi but said he has yet to receive a response from Modi. Some main points in the letter:

– You have yourself visited Nepal not long ago and must have got a sense of our shared history. At the moment, I am saddened to say that our long-standing good relations with the country are in peril.

– If you are getting reports from the Ministry of External Affairs officials that project a peaceful and happy situation in Nepal, I must tell you that it is not so. I have a strong suspicion that bureaucrats seem to have their own biases and interests in mind. I judge the situation based on what I have seen and after interacting with the local people. For instance, a waiter in the hotel in Pokhara where I was staying told me: “I don’t feel like serving Indians anymore.”

– Nepal, a nation emerging from a devastating earthquake, deserved kid glove handling by India. Instead, we have, for reasons completely unknown, beaten them black and blue, whereby the populace today has turned totally anti-Indian. The plight of the average Nepali citizen is comprehensible to anyone who has seen the unending queues for gasoline, the collapse of public transport, unavailability of medicines and closure of medical services.

– Since Nepal is a landlocked country, it does not mean we will behave like big brother and choke supply of essential goods to get our way. Responsible and senior officials in your government, when I asked them about Nepal, expressed dismay and displeasure as to why that country dared to change fundamentals of their constitution without discussing with India. I wonder if our MEA pundits can dare to speak in similar fashion, say, about Bangladesh and Burma. Not to mention Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

– The excuse of Madhesis opposing something that is exclusively and obviously internal for a free nation should not guide our short term policy that will damage India in the long term. We have to realise that, as with every Constitution in the world, it will be amended and changed over a period of time as and when the people will it.

–  Madhesis also have a say in the Nepal administration and they should be the ones to push for the rights, while India should be seen and felt as staying away and respecting the handling of the internal affairs of this sovereign nation and its democracy.

– We need to give our neighbour time to evolve and mature, to sort out its issues democratically. India, seen through history as being non-aligned and non-aggressive, should not take steps which would make the world think otherwise.

– I hope you make history merely by ensuring that India stops interfering with Nepal’s internal affairs.