August 6, 2014


[In the last several years, all sorts of communist and ethnic insurgencies against the state of Nepal have been engineered from the RoI soil. In Nepal, insurgencies were imported from the “democratic” RoI, and not from the “communist” People’s Republic of ChinaNepal’s northern neighbor. The RoI has been the breeding ground for traditional and non-traditional security threats (armed intrusion, fake currency transaction, arms and drug smuggling, terror connection, human trafficking etc.) against Nepal.  In the name of the “open border,” the territories along the borderline have become very vulnerable to criminal elements. The ordinary people on both sides of the border suffer at the hands of the criminals on a daily basis and regularly become victim of clandestine crime-authority informal nexus.]

By Upendra Gautam PhD*
The May 2014 General Election in the Republic of India (RoI) made  Narendra Damodardas Modi the prime minister. Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), in the name of Modi, straight away won a simple majority in the Lower House of the Parliament.  The vote indeed was for Modi.   

Sinning Instrument

Previous RoI governments did not treat neighbor Nepal in an equal footing. The treatment was more unequal in the last 25 years since multi-party democratic scheme was restored in Nepal. They made utmost attempts to dilute and weaken Nepal’s independence and its national institutional capability. The instruments they used for this nefarious purpose may be summarized in the following.

The so-called open border

The RoI governments unilaterally imposed an “open border” on Nepal. Financial resources were kept being used to lure Nepali scholarship, media and politicians to propagate this agenda on the absolutely incorrect ground that India’s fossilized 1950 treaty with Nepal had provisioned such a border between the two countries. There are no provisions in 1950 treaty that provide a legal basis for the so-called open border. Nepal’s prevailing immigration law does not provide any exception to the RoI citizens to cross the border at will. It stipulates that any foreigners visiting Nepal must carry a valid passport and visa. The so-called open border has been the source of insecurity, corruption and political, demographic and economic interferences. In the last several years, all sorts of communist and ethnic insurgencies against the state of Nepal have been engineered from the RoI soil. In Nepal, insurgencies were imported from the “democratic” RoI, and not from the “communist” People’s Republic of China, Nepal’s northern neighbor. The RoI has been the breeding ground for traditional and non-traditional security threats (armed intrusion, fake currency transaction, arms and drug smuggling, terror connection, human trafficking etc.) against Nepal.  In the name of the “open border,” the territories along the borderline have become very vulnerable to criminal elements. The ordinary people on both sides of the border suffer at the hands of the criminals on a daily basis and regularly become victim of clandestine crime-authority informal nexus.

This “open border”, which for all practical purposes means the absolute absence of a border administration and deregulation for the good people on both sides of the border, was used to push hundreds of thousands of Bhutanese refugees into Nepal from the RoI. It was used to bring Bangla and Tamil rebels to Nepal (Nepal does not share border either with Bhutan, Bangladesh/ East Pakistan before 1971, or Sri Lanka). This border is also used by agents to bring Tibetans from the RoI into Nepal for organizing anti-China activities from the Nepalese soil.

Because of the unregulated and unmanaged border, Nepal has been put more under the RoI’s home ministry purview than the RoI’s Ministry of External Affairs. This is why, instead of decent diplomacy; threat, intimidation manipulation, and blatant interference have become major tools at the hand of the RoI in its Nepal affairs. As a result, Nepal’s home ministry and organs under it have perpetually remained in hot pursuit for the RoI government agents. To say the least, this “open border” has been the easiest excuse for the RoI intelligence, security services and its embassy in Kathmandu to cover up their all failures in nurturing good relations with Nepal and to justify their interferences, extra-territorial deals and demand for more and more financial resources “to effectively serve the Indian interest” in Nepal. The RoI agents have been active to using the “open border” to systematically promote “double citizenship” for the RoI citizens. Under the strict provisions of RoI constitution and law, and also the safeguards provided by the RoI’s Supreme Court, it is impossible for a Nepali citizen to get entitled for a RoI citizenship. Besides, Nepal and the RoI are incomparable in terms of their size of the population. This way, the indigenous Nepali population in Tarai will soon be rendered a minority in comparison to the influx of migrants from/through the RoI whose first political priority is to procure a copy of Nepali citizenship. As a matter of fact, liberal citizenship distribution policy in Nepal Tarai has always been an agenda of every induced-political change in Nepal.  In 1975, King Birendra made a proposal to declare Nepal a zone of peace to maintain Nepal’s neutrality, peace and unity within endorsed borders. In a civil way, his proposal opposed marginalization of Nepali society through liberal distribution of Nepali citizenship to the numerous illegal migrants. The RoI did not recognize his proposal. In mid 1990s, he successfully blocked the passing of a liberal distribution-oriented citizenship bill. He was targeted and ultimately eliminated in a royal palace shootout in June 2001.


The “open border” is imposed on Nepal also to easily treat Nepal as a “reservoir of manpower” for the RoI security forces. The Nepali segment in RoI army has killed and/or is supposed to kill military persons and people from all RoI neighbors including China, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Under the UN Charter, how can the citizens of a UN member state (Nepal) under a November, 1947 “Memorandum of Agreement among the Government of the United Kingdom, the Government of the Dominion of India and the Government of Nepal regarding Gurkha Soldiers”, could be recruited in the UK and the RoI armies to kill army personnel and people of fellow UN member state (China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka etc.)? If they can, then China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka must be enemies of Nepal too. The Nepali people are serving in the US, French armies. But they are in these armies either on an individual recruitment basis or their legal status in these countries allows them for this sort of recruitment.

The “extra-territoriality” of the so-called open border for the RoI in Nepal has made a majority of Nepali people in Tarai, with whom the RoI claims to have a very special relationship, to suffer extremely during floods. Tarai region running east to west along the Nepal-RoI border consists of only 17 percent of total land mass of Nepal. In agricultural and industrial sense, this is the most fertile, productive and accessible area in Nepal. The RoI construction of east-west highway in the name of “bolstering border security” on its side, forcefully encroaching landmass on the Nepal side of the border and obstructing the natural flow of the north-south flowing rivers, has significantly contributed in prolonging duration of inundation in Nepal side. Inundation destroys the source of livelihood of the local people, dislocates them and puts them into the vicious circle of poverty.

The “extra-territoriality” of the so-called open border impacts adversely on the economy of Nepal. The patronized deflection in trade through massive smuggling of commodities into Nepal, according to one informed estimate, are to the tune of three times more than what appears on the official paper (the official figure of import from the RoI to Nepal in 2012 put it at NRs.367 billion).  As a consequence, the smugglers control the Nepali economy, and command the Nepali politics with their unhindered flow of black money.

It is not that Nepali side did not attempt an economic plan to workout the logistics for effective border administration. This plan was considered an effective border administration to be feasible as it will substantially increase in revenue collection and make the border administration financially viable. This initiative was not compatible with the RoI’s design and intention on Nepal.

Practice till the immediate past

Till the recent past, it was the established system that anyone entering Nepal, the Kathmandu Valley in particular and other places in the Tarai in general, had to have entry permission. This system was relaxed during the festival of Shivaraatri. After the festival a combing operation was launched to expel those visitors who had overstayed in the country. This system continued even after the installation of democracy in 1951 and until the opening of the RoI built Tribhuvan Highway in late 1950s.

Sanctity of the border

Perpetually maintaining the sanctity of international border between Nepal and the RoI would be the greatest guarantee for security and stability in both the countries. The writer of this piece is very much aware that in the barrage of loose and loaded words that are used by many government and non-governmental agents to describe the “specialness” of the RoI-Nepal relations, his case may be easily dismissed as anti-RoI. But the sane sections of population, conscious of their history, both in the RoI and Nepal, know that good neighbors cannot be big or small, powerful or weak, enemy or friend. But unfortunately in most of the RoI’s past life, the standard of treatment for Nepal has not been in keeping with the principle of the peaceful co-existence. The operating RoI standard always represented a colonial mindset and value.   Prime Minister Modi, in this crucial juncture of history, if is determined and honest, can first liberate the RoI administration from the colonial mindset and value. This liberation will have great remedial impact on the RoI’s unequal relations with neighboring Nepal.

Mr. Modi must understand and appreciate that the root cause of the RoI’s concerns, be it security or international new cold war politics in the Trans-Himalayan region, primarily lies in Delhi, and not Kathmandu. Delhi power corridor has been too much concerned for its own security and did not care for the neighbor’s security and stability. They wrongly presumed weak and unstable neighbor as something more usable asset for the RoI and went all out in destroying the neighbor’s national institutional capability in the name of democratization and trade efficiency. Abolition of Ministry of Water Resources in Nepal is a case in point. In order not to attract the constitutional provisions and the legal regime that have been so tenaciously developed in Nepal all these years on its water resource endowment, the resource ministry was abolished by two water use ministries to simply pave the way for dealing with water  as only a trade commodity, that is, energy.

Strategic View

This is part of reader’s freedom whether to dismiss my note as an India bashing tool. I too would like to add a rider that out of its sheer faked enthusiasm of being heir-apparent of the departing British Empire from the region, the RoI created so many agents in Nepal, many of whom are Nepali citizens. These Nepali citizens must be charged with treason. Nonetheless, on the part of the RoI and for its planning, a satellite state in Nepal, an ancient nation of independent and glorious Himalayan civilization, is in the interest of Delhi.

History is a perfect guide for today, and shape of tomorrow will be determined by today. Today’s RoI certainly belongs to Prime Minister Modi. He can make a difference by helping Nepal in i) regulating and managing international border with the RoI, ii) replacing the so-called trilateral memorandum of agreement of 1947 by a bilateral agreement on recruiting Nepalese human resources in the RoI army in selected ROI locations on an individual basis, and iii) harnessing Nepal’s cultural and natural resources on a level playing field that in turn support the RoI’s own north-south unity and east-west equilibrium.


•    Nepali citizens and the Nepalese Indians are the people who carry the highest level of trust of most nationalities, ethnic and religious groups in the RoI. They are the people who do not provoke any communal, ethnic or religious ill wills.

•    Nepal Rivers, if harnessed for equitable and multiple benefits, can provide better water and energy security, improved livelihood to millions and promote accelerated industrialization in Nepal, the heartland of the RoI, neighboring Bangladesh and Pakistan.

•    Lord Ram does not unite north and south RoI. Lord Pashupati Nath in Nepal does.

•    Nepal offers express transport corridor to the RoI that more efficiently links its north-east with the north-west.

If the RoI new leadership is honest to itself, it must not play with Nepal’s unity, security and choice of socio-economic and governance alternative. The RoI rather should be constructive enough to secure its own unity and security. It should completely stop working for a satellite state in Nepal.

The author is a professor, freelance writer and one of the founding members and senior functionaries of Jalshrot Vikas Sanstha (Water Resources Development Board) in Nepal. He is interested in institutional aspect of water resources management and has experience in farmer community led irrigation management works in China, India, Nepal, the Philippines and Guyana. He is a member, editorial/ review board of the Journal of South Asian Studies.