India is our neighbor not big brother, did you get that?
Nepal overwhelmingly promulgated a much-anticipated constitution, seventh in its bumbling march towards people’s democracy after 68 years. It was approved by 90 percent of lawmakers in the assembly. The approval of new constitution was celebrated except in the southern part of Nepal. Ethnic Madhesi protested against the demarcation of seven provinces, one of the most contentious issues. Many people lost their lives in the name of protest. The protest choked essential supplies from India.
In addition to that, India enforced a blockade in Nepal after leaders of Nepal ignored India’s inputs in writing constitution. Leaders of Madhes argued that their rights will be diluted with these provinces and New Delhi urged leaders to change the provision. Narendra Modi even sent his special envoy for that purpose.
Just a few years ago, as a part of his policy to engage with his neighborhood, Indian Prime Minister visited Nepal. He was the first Indian prime minister to visit Nepal in 17 years. He addressed the constitutional assembly (even in Nepali), performed a prayer at Pashupatinath, and provided $1billion line of credit. He won the heart of many. Even the stalwart partisan of anti-Indians sentiments were eased. This visit also helped to beat off the confusion and diplomatic faux pass implanted by Indian envoys from several years. But this impression created by him couldn’t long last. Indian reaction to the progressive constitution of Nepal was really shocking. Nepal’s constitution was approved by 90 percent lawmakers in assembly, whereas constitution of America was approved by 52 percent lawmakers and that of India was approved by 65 percent of lawmakers. India urged to alter some of the provisions to incorporate the unsatisfied groups and even there was some news that it told Nepal to make seven changes in the constitution.
As it emphasized for the progressive constitution, Indian constitution of 1950 can learn a lot from Nepal’s new constitution instead. Nepal’s constitution is successful in incorporating social and economic rights for marginalized groups, differently able and the third genders. Moreover, there are significant rights for Nepal with 33 percent reservation in Parliament. In contrary to this, India is struggling hard to append such provisions in their parliament. Many countries congratulated and welcomed new constitution but India, one of the closest neighbors merely noted it. The reason behind the concern shown towards the ethnic Madhesi group is not much about Nepal. Some said that Modi wanted support in upcoming elections in Bihar, from Madhesi who were left out. India always showed its Big brother attitude and Nepal resents that. India was openly rebuffed by Nepali leaders. Prachanda, in one of his speech, said that “Nepal isn’t India’s yes man”. Baburam Bhattarai said that India is important but we can make our own decision, Similarly, KP Oli told Indian envoy to mind his own business. Nepal also ignored BJP’s wish to change Nepal into Hindu state.
Nepalese leaders didn’t obey in the fear of Sikkimization. And New Delhi isn’t happy with the way it has been ignored and how leaders disdained India’s suggestions. The way India is interfering in Nepal, it should be aware of its fate how Kashmir concluded after the Indo- Pakistan war in 1947. First Kashmir war was fought between India and Nepal over the pricey state of Jammu and Kashmir The inconclusive war still persists and creates the tension between two countries. Similarly, it should learn from its interference in Srilanka in the name of peacekeeping between 1987 to 1980. The decision to send Indian Peace Keeping Force in Srilanka was taken by then Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi. The operation in Srilanka initiated by him was one of the factors that led to the ouster of his government. Later, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in a rally by a suicide bomber, who was a member of Srilankan Tamil Nationalist group LTTE.
Nepal is India’s neighbor, not its part. Nepal should be treated in that way. Though Nepal is small but it has been always a sovereign country. If we keep fighting among ourselves, it's natural, there will be foul play by other nations. When a nation is in a fragile state, foul play will be played by other nations in the pursuit of their business. Dialogues should be initiated between leaders of both nations. India should leave out the notion of Big Brother or Bade Vaiye. Nepal is the small nation nestled between India and China. We are a sovereign country. India can suggest their opinion not dictate. It is very disheartening and unfriendly act that India enforced a blockade in Nepal. We are an old and special neighbor; just difference is in our size.
Karki is the Author of two Novels (Mayur Albatross and Osin Fisher)