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Thursday, 28 September, 2000, 07:49 GMT 08:49 UK
Should Nepal develop closer ties with India?

Nepal remains a poor, underdeveloped country where change seems to happen much more slowly than elsewhere in South Asia.

South Asia
The chances of the domestic economy growing quickly and robustly seem remote as the country is hugely dependent on tourism, and exports very little beyond carpets, some tea and its people.

When they have so much in common including language, culture and religion, should Nepal develop closer and stronger ties with India?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Five million Indians are already in Nepal legally or illegally working. Nepal has to absorb the poor of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and provide them with business opportunities. Furthermore, India despite being a Hindu majority state has never been friendly towards Nepal. It has imposed the problem of Bhutanese refugees, and provided minimal economic assistance that is lower than the proportion of trade surplus it has with Nepal.
Suo Bi, USA

Right from the day India got its independence, it wanted to dominate the whole South Asian region and never wanted to see any of its neighbours prosper in any matter, be it politically or economically. And Nepal is no exception to this Indian policy.
Sadhu, Nepal/ India

Being independent and a first class citizen of a poor country is far better than being controlled by any foreign power

B. Nepal, Nepal
Nepal was, is and always will be a sovereign and independent country. Though we Nepalese are poor and our country is underdeveloped, we are proud of our country and in our view, being independent and a first class citizen of a poor country is far better than being controlled by any foreign power be it India or America.
B. Nepal, Nepal

Without strong ties with India, Nepal cannot prevail on its own.
Manorama Rauniyar, Nepal/ USA

First and foremost, I think these countries should resolve their own problems (not to mention the nuclear chaos). Otherwise, Nepal is a beautiful country with mostly honest people there. It's a sovereign state and does have the right to remain independent.
Raja Dutta, USA

This is the 21st Century. All large countries are breaking up into small ones. Every nation is searching for its own identity. Nepal has had its own sovereignty and history for ages.
Kuber Chalise, Nepal

Closer ties to India is not a solution. India has actually been a hindrance to Nepal's development. While it is important to maintain working ties with India, the solution to the pressing poverty in Nepal will only come from internal reconstruction. The governments need to change, people's attitude needs to change, we need a better education and health system and much more.
Diwakar Thapa, Nepal

Nepal has been a sovereign country and should always remain one

Ganga J. Thapa, Nepal
Nepal has been a sovereign country and should always remain one. While other parts of the Indian sub-continent have reeled under the rule of various colonial powers, Nepal has rebuffed such powers in the past and should do so in the future. It is better to be a first class citizen of a poor country than a second class citizen of a rich country.
Ganga J. Thapa, Nepal

The idea of Nepal being better off under India's umbrella is superficial when there are many Indian states whose economic growth is as bad as Nepal's if not worse. What Nepal badly needs is dedicated politicians or leaders who can offer concrete plans to India for the betterment of both nations. Sadly, even after a decade when democracy returned to the country, we have not seen a single leader who has shown any interest in making this country proud of its history.
Sujeet, Japan

From geographical and cultural view points, Nepal and India should have a stronger co-operative relationship in different fields. But this does not mean the invasion of one's sovereignty by another neighbour. This debate itself is nonsense. There should be honesty in the leadership of Nepal and a co-operative approach by both neighbours. This will definitely enhance economic development and good and stronger ties between these two neighbours.
R. R. Giri, Nepal

Merely unifying with India does not guarantee any economic development

Pawan, India
Merely unifying with India does not guarantee any economic development. In the short term Nepal will simply inherit India's problems. The potential will be in long-term development, and taking advantage of India through intelligent policies. However the Nepalese have to agree if they are ready for such sacrifice. As of now, they are better off independent.
Pawan, India

After living in India, Pakistan and Nepal for about half a decade I am of the view that Nepal with all its similarities to India is a distinctly different country. Nepali culture is a good example of peaceful coexistence which is hard to find in India despite tall claims of secularism and democracy. I am astonished how many of the participants are advocating Nepal's union with India. India has its hands full with so huge problems of her own - with around 25% of the world's poor living in that one country, its leadership has a lot of work to do to improve their lot. Nepal's backwardness is partly due to Indian over-influence on Nepali affairs especially trade. Nepal despite being a small country will be better off independent. Small countries have as much right of being independent as the big ones.
J. Simon, USA

It is stupid to say Nepal shares commonalties with India only. How about with China? Lots of Nepalese share the language and culture of Tibet. Why would these people want to merge with India and not with China? However, Nepal is a sovereign independent country with its own unique culture and heritage and under no circumstances would we want to lose our identity and become a part of another country.
Prasanna, Nepal

Nepal was, is and will always be proud of being a sovereign nation. We have been able to maintain our national integrity, unity and dignity even though we are sandwiched between the two most populous nations in the world. What Nepal needs is the so-called "Gujral Doctrine" from the Indian government. For India, there is nothing to lose if it gives economic concessions to Nepal.
Ashok Regmi, Nepal/ USA

Nepal could benefit substantially in all social and economic spheres if it forms an economic alliance/ union with India. This will enable Nepal to retain its sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as to sustain a quicker pace of development that can be aligned with the enormous growth potential of the resurgent India in the years to come.
S. K. Sarker, Canada

India has enough problems of its own without adding Nepal to the list. Political unification of India and Nepal would be a bad idea, as it would mean simply tagging on one already corrupt system to another without any obvious benefits. On the other hand, more economic co-operation on both sides and an active partnership with India in building up the Nepalese economy could benefit Nepal and India.
Rupa, India

We are certainly close to India when it comes to culture. But sovereignty is a different matter. We Nepalese are proud that we were never colonised by anyone and believe me, all Nepalese will be united to fight against any foreign power trying to dominate us!
Regarding economic co-operation it should be strengthened but it appears India is not willing to help in this matter!
Swatantra, Nepal

If Nepal has to gain anything from India then it has to gain the confidence of India irrespective of anything by directly supporting in any international matters.
Biswaranjan Jena, India

India has enough misery, corruption and mismanagement in its border areas without needing to cast its acquisitive eyes on Nepal

Linda, Italy
With its two powerful neighbours North and South of the border, Nepal must more than ever maintain its individuality. India has enough misery, corruption and mismanagement in its border areas without needing to cast its acquisitive eyes on Nepal. There is too already too much of Indian influence in that country and since Nepal has successfully "survived" into the 21st century it should be allowed to work out its own future.
Linda, Italy

This is the most ancient nation-state in the entire South Asia. Though poor, Nepalese are proud of their independent history and an independent status in the comity of nations. Nepal can never be a security threat to India and wants to maintain close relations with her. But Indian hawks see everything, even the issue of co-operating in the area of water resources with Nepal, from security point of view.
There is immense potential within Nepal to make her a rich, independent country - only if we had good governance. A decade into democracy, Nepalis are capable of designing their future on their own.
Kamal Yogi, Nepal

It is inevitable that Nepal will have to rely heavily on India since we are a landlocked country

Ram Shrestha, Nepal
It is important to realise that India has too many problems of its own that it has failed to deal with. Nepal has always been a sovereign state, and always should be left at that with respect. However, it is inevitable that Nepal will have to rely heavily on India since we are a landlocked country. Therefore, it is indeed a necessity that we stay in good terms with India. The political rat race in Nepal should be dealt with first, then only can we do something about our economy.
Ram Shrestha, Nepal

Having identical culture and language does not mean that the two countries with different historical background should be unified. If that should be the case, most of the Central and South American countries are identical in many aspects, is it possible to unify them? Likewise, many European countries share the same things, then why are they separate?
To think about merging with/or falling under the umbrella of bigger neighbouring country for the independent nation is totally illogic. Nepal is sovereign country throughout its history and hence Nepalese people can't imagine to be merged in India. Nepal has to do everything for its development on its own.
Dinesh, Nepal/Japan

Nepal needs to remain an independent nation. India has nothing to give that Nepal doesn't have already. Nepal is full of vibrant friendly people who are in need of a better educational system and non-tourism related industries to prosper.
Chris Callison, USA

Two poor neighbours joining do not make a rich man

Vikram Chopra, India
Nepal is in more or less a similar situation as India. Namely, poverty, illiteracy, poor infrastructure, medically backward.
Two poor neighbours joining do not make a rich man. Therefore it shall be better for both to develop themselves before they commit themselves to anything. Strong partners can contribute to a relationship. What can two politically weak, economically poor, corruptly managed countries produce ?
Vikram Chopra, India

There are quite a few states in North East of India which were merged into India, and a lot of them want to be independent again. If merging into India has not benefitted these nations/states, I wonder how it will benefit Nepal. I am sure Nepalese wouldn't want to be ones like the Nagalanders, Sikkimese or those from Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, etc. and lose their identity.
H.K. Khatri, UAE

Nepal is a country with rich cultural heritage and pride of its own. Nepal and India have common heritage and are natural allies. I think the two governments should work together like the US and Canada, and find out what works economically for the benefit of both.
Girish Kshirsagar, USA

There is no doubt that an Indian state of Nepal has a much brighter future than the nation of Nepal

Satya Ramiah, India/USA
Nepal has always enjoyed good relations with India, and the limited development that Nepal exhibits today is in no small part due to Indian assistance. Imagine the growth that Nepal could attain under the multicultural umbrella that is India.
There is no doubt that Nepal's land would also be of great strategic importance to India in regard to national and border security. India is in a key growth stage at this point in its history regarding information technology and the new economy, and Nepal would be wise to join in because such opportunities are rare and must be seized. Although it is unlikely that such a change in political structure will happen fast, I believe that there is no doubt that an Indian state of Nepal has a much brighter future than the nation of Nepal.
Satya Ramiah, India/USA

Bold decisions by strong leaders are required to achieve this unity

Srinivas, UK
I agree that not only Nepal but other South Asian countries should come under one roof, like the EU. This will lead to an end to conflict and poverty. Bold decisions by strong leaders are required to achieve this unity. This can only increase security and prosperity in the region.
Srinivas, UK

Of course, Nepal can survive on its own. It is a sovereign country with good relations with India.
Rajesh, USA/ India

Perhaps Nepal would be better off as part of India - but how would India benefit from such an arrangement? We Indians are tired of the smaller South Asian nations like Nepal and Sri Lanka requesting our help and money when they need it and then insulting India and cosying up to China. My message to all Nepalese: solve your own problems.
Rajan Koshy, India

Canada and Nepal seem to have more in common than we thought. Because we both have a "similar" culture, language and religion to our bigger republican neighbours in the south, it is suggested that somehow we will be better off if we are simply swallowed up by them. Most loyal Canadians would argue we would only be assimilated and forgotten, and I think most Nepalese would agree. Our sovereignty was established long ago and we should retain and preserve it.
Pete D, Canada

Nepal and India share a lot of things in common but we are quite apart on many issues. The majority of Nepalese people seek a due place under the sun but do not want the Indian umbrella over their head.
Dhruba Kuwar, Nepal

Nepal has always been a friendly neighbour and we should keep it that way. Anyway Indians can go there freely and trade today as there are no visa problems or anything else of that sort.
Sandeep, USA

As a nation we stand on our own

Ajay, Nepal/ USA
Nepal definitely has a lot in common with India, and we as Nepalese cherish our friendly relationship with the country. However, as a nation we stand on our own and have always taken pride in the fact that we've maintained our sovereignty to this day, even when India was under British rule.
Ajay, Nepal/ USA

Nepal, sandwiched between India and Pakistan has been very vulnerable to infiltrators and foreign emissaries. It would be wise for the country to come directly under India's umbrella to contain this effect. They share the same culture, language and food. Even the people of both countries are in perfect harmony with each other. It would also be mutually beneficial to the security concerns of both countries to contain the current cross border terrorism that is brewing in the heads of certain radicals.
Guru Shenoy, USA

Culture and religion are becoming less important as the deciding factors for integration. The main consideration for Nepal would be economic and given the fact that the country is so dependent on India for almost everything, it is already under a de facto Indian umbrella. It is for the Nepalese people to decide whether political integration with India would benefit them. I am sure that with the increasing tendency for forming 'blocs' across the world it would only be to the benefit of Nepal if such an integration were to occur.
Laksh Nukala, USA

It makes sense for Nepal to enter into a more strategic alliance with India. It will be a win-win situation for India as well as Nepal.
Amit Taneja, France

Goa was once under Portuguese rule with a predominantly Christian population. They decided to become part of India and now, the state has the highest per capita income, the majority of it coming from tourism. Nepal has the twin benefit of a Hindu population and established tourism industry.
Manish Sawhney, USA

All Nepal has is its pride. Who cares about pride nowadays? The country is poor and is ruled by a King and his so-called wife and brothers who are useless for the country. I am sick and tried of these people who only talk about pride, history and culture. The country should be left as it is so that 2000 years from now everyone will be able to see how the world looked 4000 years ago.
Ram Sharma, Nepal

Nepalese are known to be very hardworking and honest people. If they can conquer Everest, I have no doubt that they can build an independent and robust economy. For that they need to strengthen their education system and develop industries other than tourism.
Satish Chandra Gupta, India/ USA

If Nepal improves its ties with India in the future, it's only for both countries' benefit. Nepal will have better access to the Indian and international market while India will benefit by curbing the infiltration from the Nepali border.
Anubhav, India/ USA

Nepalis would rather die a rather horrible death than become part of India

Amar Singh Thapa, Nepal
Nepal can and will survive on her own as she has done for centuries. Let us not forget that Nepal is a much older nation than all other nations in South Asia and was among the few in the non-European nations that was never colonised.
India is only 50 years old. In fact in her zenith Nepal's borders extended from Simla (presently in Himachal Pradesh, India) to what is now Bhutan. We Nepalis have always had a great sense of independence as well as a feeling of patriotic pride usually unseen in the rest of South Asia as we have never been ruled by a foreign power. For such a diverse nation being a Nepali has always come first, rather than being a member of particular religion or race. Nepalis would rather die a rather horrible death than become part of India.
Amar Singh Thapa, Nepal

India has its own 500 million living below the line of poverty.(UNDP). How can it help Nepal? Nepal will have to educate its people.
Mo Akhtar, Canada

Nepal is a natural friend and partner of India and it should work towards increasing ties with them

Shardool Vyas, USA
Nepal is a country with its own religion, people and culture. It should try and be more closer politically to democratic country like India and try to stay away from communist ideology. Nepal is a natural friend and partner of India and it should work towards increasing ties with them; just like USA and Canada.
Shardool Vyas, USA

As a sovereign and more or less democratic nation, Nepal has the right to decide its own future. If closer ties with India including Customs Union and, even further, confederation with India, is to the benefit of the Nepalese citizen, why not?
Prasenjit Medhi, India

The recent hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane from Kathmandu is merely one of the many cases in which India's hostile neighbors have used Nepal's open border with India to undermine India's security. Since many Nepalis already work in India (legally and illegally) and India has a large number of Gorkha soldiers in its ranks, a confederation between the two countries is a good idea.
Vish, India/USA

Nepal has to concentrate on economic development. But at the same time its different cultural identity must be mentioned. The closer economic ties with India will boost its own economy.
Nitin Nerkar, India

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See also:

21 Sep 00 | South Asia
Strike brings Nepal to a halt
04 May 99 | South Asia
Nepal: Politics and pessimism
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