Thursday, November 6, 2008

Our Neighbour in the South

A comment I posted on 1st October in the 30th September blog has initiated a lively discussion. It has been felt that my critical remarks on "our neighbour in the South" is unwarranted and is the usual blame game we Nepalis play vis-a-vis India.

Please read the comments on what has now turned out to be an interesting debate...and join in with your views please!


Nohar Malhotra said...

I took umbrage to your comment about your 'neighbours in the south'. I don't think it is in India's interest, politically or economically, to be surrounded by failed or near failed states. I think it is time Nepal got over the 'when in doubt blame the bogeyman in the south' attitude. It needs to urgently take a 180 degree view of the world.

HORATIO said...

Now for your 'bogeyman in the south' views. I agree it is easy to blame others to deflect attention from one's mistakes, and we in Nepal do that often. But please do keep in mind that it would suit India very well to make Nepal a Bhutan or even a Sikkim. Let us not forget history. Bhallavai Patel, in your post-independence period, was keen on 'annexing' Nepal had it not been for the cooler statesmanship of Nehru and others. India is a regional superpower, and hegemonic behaviour comes with that role. Believe me, any political decision here is made only after consulting Delhi. Even the agreement that brought the Maoists together with the other political parties (against the King), was reached in Delhi under the auspices of the Indian government. I'm not complaining. This is reality and Nepal has to pay a price for its geography and weakness. Further, India gets annoyed every time Nepal even talks to the Chinese. When PM Prachanda went to Beijing for the closing ceremony of the Olympics, all the ambassadors were there at the airport (usual protocol) - except Rakesh Sood, the Indian ambassador!

Nohar Malhotra said...

Point taken on the bogeyman in the south but can not understand why is it , that there are no insecurities on the northern frontier? Historically Nepal has paid tribute to China, you now share a common color with them and look what happened in Tibet and in India in 62....and yet there is complete trust there. How come?

The way I see it, because of India's location it has had to play a partial role in Nepal. Historically it is the country that has always offered asylum to Nepals Kings, PM's and politicians and by that very reason involvement has been necessary to an extent.

Do keep in mind that India is a secular democracy. The government in India that brought together the political parties with the Maoist, was supported by the CPM, which could hardly extend support to a constitutional monarch who had taken all powers into his own hands, against the will of the people seemingly, from all the demonstrations and strikes that were happening at the time and one who had a very unstable heir (much like in the time of King Rajendra and CP Surendra when Jung Bahadur took power?). In my view India played the role of an arbitrator at a time of great confusion and violence and helped facilitate an election in Nepal.

The outcome of that election is another story but India can hardly be held responsible for that. And if India is today insecure of Nepal's relations with China, think about it, all there is between India and China is a maoist led govt. in Nepal.

I would be very interested to hear your view and assessment on events, circumstances and policies that has led Nepal to the present stage. I believe that like all democracies in the conceptual stage Nepal too will go through birthing pains but something good will eventually come out of all this. But then, I believe in democracy and the separation of state and faith.

HORATIO said...

The Himalayas is a natural boundary between China and the sub-continent. Should China breach that boundary through Nepal, India will most certainly retaliate. So no worries for us Nepalis from the north. The 'communism' of our Maoists is a far cry from Mao's doctrines or the pseudo-capitalism currently practiced by China - no commonality.

The truth of the matter is that India goaded Koirala and the Nepali Congress mainly as well as the others to negotiate with a terrorist outfit (Maoists). The King's take-over was ill-advised and I agree with your views on the ex-heir. But the institution of Monarchy has stood fast unwaveringly as the sole Nationalist icon in this country. That very fact was/is a thorn in India's side. So the purpose of the Nov 2005 meeting in Delhi was a conscious foreign policy decision taken by South Block to remove the monarchy in Nepal

I too believe in a liberal multi-party democracy, supported by a constitutional or even ceremonial monarchy (no political powers) in the case of Nepal. Separation of state and faith is fine, but for Nepal, where Hindus and Buddhists comprise around 80% of the population, secularism is a neo-colonial phenomenon thrust upon unsuspecting and naive Nepali leaders by pro-Christian European outfits. You should see the massive proselytizing going on here

Nohar Malhotra said...

I really don't think the form of Govt makes a difference to India as long as it is a stable Govt. and let’s face it Nepal had become Casablanca, with all the money laundering, printing of currency, harbouring of all kinds of terrorists, influx of Nepalese nationals into India etc.etc. And as for the Maoists, it was evident to the world that they had come to stay. If you can't make them go away, you have to sit across and talk/negotiate. As we are seeing, even the President of America has had to eat his words and sit across the table with Iran. The fact that Obama is open to dialogue with even Osama, I think, will go a long way in global security. So....whats wrong with India getting all the parties to sit down and negotiate? But again, the outcome of the negotiations is another story.

The proselytizing, I can relate to! It is happening in India too and with such tragic results. But then there is obviously a rot in our system that it is happening at all and that too enmasse. Maybe organisations like the HMS and RSS should concentrate more on the uplifting of their ilk and less on politics! As regards the King, somewhere along the line I think the common man has lost faith in him personally and thereby in the institution. I love talking with any and every Nepali I meet....cooks, chowkidars, students in my son's school at the United World College in Pune...and for some strange reason they feel the present King is responsible for the royal massacre. Why is that, I wonder? Then initially when he took on non constitutional powers, I think he really had the support of the people, but he blew it. Personally, he would definitely make a more impressive head of state than the present incumbent. But the question would again be, who after him? Which maybe is a reason for doing away with the institution altogether.

HORATIO said...

The woes heaped on Nepal are unfair. It does not harbour any terrorists - the way India provided a safe haven to the Maoists when they were officially called terrorists by the Indian government itself.
I doubt that there are machines here sophisticated enough to print believable counterfeit currencies.
The money laundering is an international racket.

How was it evident to the world that the Maoists had "come to stay"? Their philosophy has been proven unworkable globally. They were on the run, after the then Royal Nepal Army went after them seriously. But then they were coddled and brought to meet the other political parties - in Delhi.

Yes a lot of Nepalis, especially living abroad who don't have a clue to what's going on here, believe that the ex-King was involved in the Palace Massacre. This phenomenon was very apparent in NY too. All the facts indicate otherwise. There are living eye-witnesses who have testified otherwise. So these rumour-mongers had better come up with some hard facts.

Finally, doing away with the institution of monarchy because of individuals is like throwing the baby out with the bath water. The ex-King happens to have a grandson.

Nohar said...

Remember the hijacking of the IA plane that ended up in Kandhahar?
Why are we not allowed to bring in high currency notes into Nepal? It is an international racket based in Nepal!
The Maoists have been 'there' for over a decade and getting stronger by fair means or foul. A safe haven was not provided for them in India, they crossed over as many before them. India supports democracy not necc a communist Govt. in a land that lies between her and China.
I def don't beleive the King was responsible for the massacre but that is the general perception which must have effected his popularity rating. And as for his grandson, would it have been acceptable to his son?

Nohar said...

And btw even the Vallabhai Patel wanting to annexe Nepal in 1947 I don't beleive is correct. I have studied and continue to read history and this is a first for me.

Anonymous said...

The comments immediately above are typically half-baked: well composed but not sufficiently grounded in historical reality. They do not accept some hard facts, including Patel's recommendation to move against Nepal as he did against the 500 plus Indian Princely States. This is a documented fact and referred to even by Indian academics/politicians of note. That the commentator is not aware of it does not mean that was not the case.

China's actions here have not given us reasons for concern: they don't interfere in the formation of governments, the choice of the PM etc, etc. Tibet has been a part of China through historical times - Tibet broke off links with Beijing for a short period when the Chinese Emperor was weak and civil war and invasion by Japan kept Beijing preoccupied. Even then Tibet did not make any effort for international recognition.
Thus, even today no country in the world has recognised Tibet's independence. Tibet is NOT an issue in the UN Security Council, as for example Kashmir still is. Hence Tibet is not to China what Nepal is to India!

Subodh Rana said...

All these breathtaking comments and counter-comments have left me breathless! The raison d'etre of a Sovereign Nepal was its monarchy, and now with it gone, us 36 tribes can easily join up with 360 tribes in India. Perhaps our Madhesi president can be the president of India one day!

I wear bullet-proof vests!

HORATIO said...

I hope you have caught your breath by now. No need for bullet-proof vests...we shall be doing the shooting now. :)

Govind said...

Reality is that all powers,good or bad, keep a close eye on their neighbours. And the latent hostility between India and Nepal means we`ll never free from their meddling-overt or covert.

HORATIO said...

But Govind, why the need for this "latent hostility"?? If India only recognizes (not by just saying it) that Nepal is a sovereign, independent nation, most of this hostility would be dispersed. We Nepalis are pragmatic and docile, yes docile, enough to recognize India as a regional power who has us by the proverbial balls due to our geography.

Anonymous said...

The "latent hostility" in reality could be the Nepalese sense of double think. I am not so sure if the issue is India not recognizing that Nepal is an independent state. I would rather say that it is the leaders in Nepal - whoever of whatever colour or state of mind - not recognising that Nepal is an independent state. On the one hand the leaders and so called "nationalists" complain about India. On the other, they send their children to school there, visit the hospitals there and request - nay demand - that the Neps be charged at the same rates as for Indians (paid by Indian tax-payers mind you). The Nepali big shots (or may be I should replace the "o" with an "i") then buy land and settle in Gurgaon, invest in the Sensex etc. - not as bona fide investors but through fake names and companies to hide their ill gotton gains. Politicans camp outside Lainchour durbar for an audience and the only complain when they do not get donoations or an invitation from the embassy. Lets not pretend anymore and acknowledge what Nepal is: - a Bhutan without a king, forests, hydropower dams or political stability but an ego higher than everest. Does the 21st century still have room for this this funny shaped flag?

HORATIO said...

I like your eloquence Anon 8:40. Unfortunately it is way misplaced. Lainchaur Durbar indeed...that's your Indian perspective. I thought "durbars" went out with the British raj, which did NOT cover Nepal.

It is not only Nepalis who should be accused of "double think". Nepalis fought in the World Wars to keep the Japs from taking over your country (still British India then). Nepali Gurkhas are still at the forefront of your army. Most homes and businesses in your capital and other cities are guarded by Nepalis. Hey, you owe your security to folks from this country with the "funny shaped" flag.

We are not yet a Bhutan. BTW, why did your President "grace" the coronation of the new king there a few days ago? Because she was trying to show the world that Bhutan is independent and deserving of a seat in the UN - where it can vote with India every time. Without a doubt, Indian hegemonists want to make Nepal a Bhutan, or better yet a Sikkim. They may even succeed in the long run...but not quite yet.

Incidentally, the leaders of Nepal you talk about are mostly in India's pocket. Stop corrupting them and give RAW a rest in this country. You will see the difference.

Anonymous said...

A few obersvations with the Nep "nationalist" correction to the views of anon 08:40.

Security: again lets recognise the Goorkhas for what they are. A historical development which has turned into a valve to release the pressures of unemployment in Nepal while at the same time promoting goodwill between the 2 countries. To say that Indian security (national or household)depends on them is quite a statement.

On Bhutan: It is an independent country - no question. As for its voting record on international fora like SAARC it has displayed a grasp of realpolitik which has allowed it to protect its national interest (hydropower, political legitimacy and running circles around Nepal on the refugee issue)

On India wishing to make Nepal a Bhutan or Sikkim: Why should it? doesn't it have enough problems of its own. And as in any murder story - what's the motive? If it is control on security, economy etc. the short sighted politicos have already handed this on a platter.

Nepali leaders: agreed that they are - and like to be - in the pockets of foreign powers. So if it is not India's then it is someone else's pocket. If they are still our leaders then that means the public agrees to this state of affairs.

Finally, please name me one major politican from any party who has not a) taken a donation from the Indian embassy b) invested in India, and most importantly of all c) can convincingly disclose the source of his/her wealth in Nepal.

It is the duty of India to look after its national interset. Nepal neglecting its duty to look after its national interset cannot be blamed on India

Anonymous said...

The law of the jungle applies to international relations in S Asia especially.Each country looks after its interest and security and if someone`s toes are stepped on so much the better!
What do you say to that Anon?

Horton said...

Anon: 7th Nov, 6.13...Actually "they" will accept hard facts so would appreciate it if you could be specific re Patel's intentions to absorb Nepal into the Indian union in 47....which publications?

Anonymous said...

Nice discussion going on !

Anonymous said...

indian are being threat to nepal haveing done indo-us deal+ latest miltary toy .u thnk india is only super power in asia .my dear friend don't forget china.
about increasing potitical inter ventin of sonia 's gandi's govt .don't talk about tibet . this is mater of chinese .leave it to them .u take care of nepal india land issue+ treaty . nepal will be super power'nt penetare nepali skin u don't have shaperest to pentrate.nepal will react to ongiong political +malitary threat by ur general.Don't flow with west
remember u are in east not in west.u have lots of ur RAW agent in govt that is causing political torbluance in nepal.
let ur eye hear and ear see

Anonymous said...

remember what rajiv gandi had imposed on nepal .the wound is no healed . there is prove don't try to spread chily pepper on the wound.cia+raw is using moist as info means like yank used german against ussr.history repeat it self .ur are repaeating it .think before u perform

HORATIO said...

Anon 7:28 and 7:36, thanks for your comments and I think I get the gist of what you are saying; but you seem to have been in a real hurry when you posted your comments. Care to clarify them?

Horton, in all sincerity, I have done some research on your query. Patel was overruled by Nehru, not only with respect to integrating Nepal but also to Sikkim (vide Nari Rustomjee's "Sikkim: A Himalayan Blunder"). I realize that this is a sensitive issue for Indians and most versions of this bit of history have been sanitized.

horton said...

we'll have to agree to disagree.

HORATIO said...

You bet, Horton!