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]