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Territorial Dispute between India and Nepal is…

Territorial Dispute between India and Nepal is merely a symptom of structural changes unfolding in the internal and external context of bilateral relationships. Discuss.

  • Recently, India-Nepal relations save a downturn, due to ongoing border dispute at Lipulekh, Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Susta. Present dispute was triggered by road construction at Lipulekh pass by India.
  • Timeline of Border-dispute between India and Nepal –
    • 1816 – Sanguali Treaty – Demarcation of Borders
    • 1981 – Joint Boundary Committee Discussions
    • 2008 – 98% of Border Issues resolved
    • 2009 – Lipulekh Road Construction by India started
    • 2020 – Present Ongoing dispute

Structural Changes in India – Nepal Relations –

  • Internal Context –
    • Anti-India sentiment rising in Nepal, due to perceived interference by India in constitution making of Nepal.
    • Nepal using China card to balance its relations with India.
    • Rising demand in Nepal to restructure 1950 India-Nepal Friendship Treaty.
    • Delays by India in various projects like Pancheshwar dam Project, has triggered Nepal’s search for investments by other regional players.
  • External Context –
    • Backdoor Diplomacy – China’s is using backdoor diplomacy to change the equation of India-Nepal relation.
    • Globalisation has opened options for Nepal to look beyond India, both for investment and Infrastructural needs. Thus reducing Nepal’s dependence on India.

In such scenario various experts like Rakesh Sood, C.Raja Mohan have following solutions –

  • India should let go its fear of loosing “special” relation with Nepal and redesign Friendship Treaty on basis of current dynamics.
  • Gear-up diplomatic engagements with Nepal, to resolve disputes without further escalation.
  • India and Nepal should avoid looking relation from Chinese lens and strengthen bilateral ties.
  • Keeping aside certain border issues, India-Nepal are working closely on other domains like renovation of Pashupatinath temple, Biodiversity conservation across borders etc. It is in best interest of both nations to iron-out differences and maintain a united front specially during the phase of rising aggression in the region.