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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.
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.
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.
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.
B. Nepal, Nepal
Without strong ties with India, Nepal cannot prevail on its own.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
Of course, Nepal can survive on its own.
It is a sovereign country with good relations
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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