On Indian intentions in Nepal

Democracy in Nepal is in India’s self-interest

Blogdai contends that ‘India had always wanted a somewhat unstable Nepal; it reinforced Nepal’s dependence on big brother India’.

I am reproducing some comments I made in the discussion on that post.

India’s move is not surprising at all. Considering what King Gyanendra is doing in Nepal, ostensibly to fight the Maoists, there is little reason to believe that an absolute monarchy will be any better than a Maoist haven; both for the people of Nepal, and strategically for India.

The good news is that India has declared firmly that it will not allow the king to become its Musharraf.

It is rather unfortunate that India’s move in favour of democracy is being interpreted as part of a grand design of making Nepal a satellite state.

While Nepal’s Maoists have connections with their Indian Naxalite and Leftist counterparts, their emergence can hardly be said to be favourable to India. It is like having your own Himalayan Cuba.

While India would certainly want Nepal to remain friendly, sympathetic and pro-India, this does not involve destabilising it just for this sake. India, of all people, would not want a failed state on its borders.

Look back in history — India intervened in the 50s to liberate King Tribhuvan and the royal family. In 89-90 to bring about democracy. As you may note from current history, the easiest way for a country to influence another is to support a dictator there. The more autocratic it is, the easier it is to control. Witness the tinpot dictators the United States supported in the Cold War, witness its reliance on Musharraf. If influence was all India desired, the best way would be to bolster King Gyanendra and make a deal with him.

Therein lies the rub — India’s policy is Nepal recognises that the real endgame in Nepal will be decided by the Nepali people themselves. And democracy is the best way to do it. Even if it means having lousy politicians. [@ Blogdai]

Not for a moment do I think India’s motives are altruistic. On the contrary, self-interest dominates foreign policy.

But how you define self-interest is important. You can, for example, cozy up to autocratic regimes and achieve your objective. But that comes at the cost of alienating the people. So while the Bush administration had Musharraf firmly by its side, ordinary Pakistanis, both moderate and extremists do not like the US very much.

Remember Myanmar: India continued its policy of supporting the democratic leaders there even at the cost of losing influence to China. Things changed a bit recently, when India had no choice but to talk to the dictators there.

I think there is a fundamental belief in India, among people, politicians and policymakers, that a democratic Nepal is in India’s best interests.[@ Blogdai]

I’m tempted to believe, especially after reading blogdai’s post, that all this was thought of beforehand.

When Shaukat Aziz was in Nepal, they talked about military assistance. So it is quite possible that the king had some guarantees before he made this move.

My own opinion is that now that India has signalled what it will not blink, it must resume military assistance to Nepal; after it has established that these will be used in the war against Maoists, rather than on ordinary people and politicians.

You are right: the stakes have become higher. That is good. It should wake up concerned people on both sides and make them realise the importance of good India-Nepal relations. [@ Blogdai]

10 thoughts on “On Indian intentions in Nepal”

  1. India’s move is not surprising at all. Considering what King Gyanendra is doing in Nepal, ostensibly to fight the Maoists, there is little reason to believe that an absolute monarchy will be any better than a Maoist haven; both for the people of Nepal, and strategically for India.

    A Maoist haven would be a catastrophe. Besides the democides that follow Maoist governments, a Maoist Nepal would seek to export its revolution to North-East India and perhaps China. A weak dictatorship in Nepal is dangerous, but not nearly so as a ruthless, violent, and revolutionary dictatorship there.

  2. Dan,

    I agree. The point is that while a Maoist Nepal is still some distance away, a dictatorship — albeit a weak one — is already in place. The strengthening of the dictatorship or the installation of a Maoist regime are equally undesirable. After a while you can’t tell which is which.

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  4. Nepali niether care or think of Indian intention. ALL OF NEPAL HATE INDIA. They think it is county of bagers. Only the corrupt politician who got to power clianing the back of Indian and trying to frighten the King, but now as Nepal has good friend in CHINA they do not care. The corrupt politican have to sent to jail for their corruption.

  5. Blog Dai,

    Nepal is passing through her most testing time…I am bit skeptic when people call for “democracy” above anything else…If a nation does not survive at all where a question of democracy comes? Nepal already proved to be a failed state and is the democracy going to provide anchor? I wish it could, but so-called leaders of democratic alliance are not themselves democrats…their party apparatus itself are undemocratic and how can we expect them to safeguard democracy. As far as I remember, any armed conflict anywhere has not subsided by following democratic ideals such as negotiations. It has proved failure in whole of Africa and even Western world has resorted to arms and ammuniation to control the menace (recent examples are Afganistan and Iraq). Therefore, propoganda about democracy in these situation is futile. India, the champion of democracy, is not democratic within its own nation…look at Bihar where they dissolved the assembly, or look at states like Assam, Kashmir where guns speak. I am bit concerned about prominent tendency that letting political parties take reins and it will bring the solution…where were they during last ten years when Maoists problem escalated?

  6. Avash,

    I think you’ve exhausted very much everything you have to say. You’ve made that point several times in your comments on this blog. Perhaps you could think of something else the next time.

  7. Well India has interfered everywhere possible. Whether it be Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives or Nepal. Indians are probably the most disliked race on earth. They are selfish, arrogant and paranoid. They live in their history and forever chant their dillusional phrase, ” Mera Bharat Mahan”. As a matter of fact,India has ceased to be Mahan since the death of Gandhi.

    India’s politics of interference will come back to haunt herself. If india has her own concerns over the Maoist problem, why does she arrange meetings between the political parties and the terrorists under government security. To think that India could at any point help Nepal with good intentions is like asking a thief to guard your house

  8. INDIA has helped Nepal in many ways. More than a million Nepalese live in India, including me. This is the kind of overzealous misguided patriotism that weakened the country and has left it with no friends.

    I am a Nepali.I live in India.I know how it is. “All Nepalis hate india” is a over simplistic and follish statement. We all like India…it gave us what we are today..our bread and butter.
    ANNADATHA SUKHIBAWA.Thats all I have to say.

  9. Just Imagine Nepal with out India’s help for 1 second. Remember the days in the 90’s when India stopped helping Nepal as nepal was secretly taking China’s help? Nepal HAD to come on its knees in a short amount of time.

    Where do you think the aid for building roads, bridges, power and irrigation, hospitals, and telephone exchanges is mostly coming from? U.S? Japan?China?Pakistan? Australia??? INDIA provided port facilities to Nepal at Calcutta and a rail route to Bangladesh via India, which is the source of whatever foreign exchange nepal gets through Exports(the little it can) besides ofcourse the money sent by readers of this Xenophobic crap sending money to families back home.INDIA is helping Nepal in the field of tourism, infrastructure, education, garment exports, and water resources development. You want to know about the Principal exports to Nepal from India??? whatever transport equipment everyone uses in kathmandu and entire nepal, drugs and pharmaceuticals that keep Nepalese healthy and save their lives, machinery and instruments that make nepalese life easier, glassware and ceramics that your parents back home use every single day, coal that keeps whatever industries Nepal has, yarn fabric madeups which keep your parents and nepalese villagers warm throughout the year, tobacco, paper and wood products which you use to write and propogate Antiindia stand, processed items that you eat everyday including Milk(YES-COW MILK INCLUDED), manufactures of metals, cosmetics and spices among many.
    India imports pulses, medicinal and pharma, essential oil, raw jute, raw hides and skins, edible vegetable oils, cereal preparations and oil seeds from Nepal, and YES India is the lone country that can buy these from nepal as nepal can NOT export these stuff to other countries due to its position and transportation costs.

    And yes, since you guys are in the U.S or U.K doesnt mean that everyone from nepal is not dependent on India. More than 11 million nepalse are in India for livelihood as India helped nepal by allowing its citizens move freely without any restrictions.

    India taking advantage of Nepal? India helped Nepal more than it gained from Nepal. The youth of India are reading everything, just like you are reading stuff here. One day they will be in power, in a stage where they make decisions…just like you and me…do you think they will just keep quiet and take your anti India crap?

    Wake up and get over your misguided xenophobic hysteria. I know india Bashing is a cottage Industry in Nepal. But when everything else fails, just blame everyone to the south for every misery, huh?!

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