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News Analysis: Billion-dollar gift not enough for India-Nepal thaw

English.news.cn   2014-08-06 20:24:25

by Zhou Shengping

KATHMANDU, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- A billion-U.S. dollar soft loan to be used to develop infrastructure and energy projects and aid to curb goiter in rural districts are among benefits came to Nepal as gift from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his two- day official visit from August 3.

Without inking two key agreements, the Power Trade Agreement ( PTA) and the Power Development Agreement (PDA) with Nepal abundant water resources, the 64-year-old Modi on Monday ended his whirlwind trip and returned to India facing increasing power scarcity.

In view of the second setback about the pact signing, which can serves as a salutary reminder that entrenched mutual mistrust and suspicion between India and Nepal can't be overcome on a single day, it is too early to say that a new chapter has already been opened in Nepal-India relations.

In the past two decades, India was apt to be absent to develop its ties with Nepal in a way that an arrogant old brother with deep pockets deals with a small and insignificant younger brother.

There are two examples to show Nepal's long-standing grievance. One is the third meeting of the Nepal-India Joint Commission which was held during Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's July 25 to 27 visit to Kathmandu.

For this high-level forum that oversees the gamut of bilateral relations, India is late for 23 years.

Another is India's inconceivable neglect of its neighbor Nepal.

No any Indian prime minister paid official visit to Kathmandu that witnessed nine prime ministerial delegations from its side to New Dehli since 1997.

For Modi's much-anticipated visit, India is late for 17 years.

However, times has changed now.

Carrying with heavy political symbolism from the new Indian government, External Affairs Minister Swaraj came, followed by Modi in less than 100 days after assuming office, who reiterated that he would come again to attend the 18th SAARC South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit in November.

Modi is smart.

His diplomatic efforts to widen and intensify India's ties with Nepal proved partly successful, especially his speech made in the Constitution Assembly/Parliament on August 3 that opened a floodgate of comments on social media.

By conveying his unwillingness to interfere in Nepal's internal affairs and his willingness to sort out all issues between both sides in a friendly way, Modi demonstrated a kind of future of India-Nepal ties towards equal footing.

By expressing his congratulations on Nepal for choosing ballot over bullet and his respect for Nepal as a federal, democratic Republic, Modi showed his interest to unite all political parties to redefine traditional bilateral relations.

By saying that Nepal can become a leading exporter of herbal medicines and this beautiful country can become a developed nation and Nepal can achieve its dreams, Modi tried to ignite Nepalese people's enthusiasm to struggle for a better future.

"It made me feel as though I had come home," Modi said in a statement after returning to India on Monday, but just as he put it, he can't impose India's will.

The speed, depth and breadth of the improvement and development of bilateral ties also depend on Nepal that is still mired in the murky political swamp without thorough-going reform.

Secondly, the postponement of the hydro-power agreements hampers India's dream of being the dominant investor of water resources and the only buyer of hydropower in Nepal.

India needs to do more homework to realize true win-win cooperation with Nepal.

Otherwise, the chance is slim to ultimately get over the long- existing anti-India sentiments in Nepal.

It is lucky that Modi, who is considered as a man of action by Indian media, has at least four years to satisfy his ambition with the good beginning to open a new chapter in Nepal-India relations.

In this sense, the value of his maiden Nepal trip as a prime minister is worth more than one billion U.S dollar.

Editor: xuxin
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