Guest Blogger Tim I Gurung of ISSLCare has graciously provided the following article for the Washington Outsider. Although the post has been edited by Washington Outsider editor, the ideas and views expressed are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Washington Outsider or its staff, unless otherwise stated.
Facing an Indian blockage and an unfolding humanitarian crisis amid dramatic political shifts, it seems the ordeals of Nepal will just not end. As Nepal continues to recover from the devastating earthquake it experienced in April, the unofficial Indian blockade is grinding the entire nation to a screeching halt as it gradually cripples the already impoverished country.
Implementing its new constitution in an effort to become a federal democracy, Nepal angered India. The reason behind their so-called dissatisfaction is said to be the unfair treatment of the Madhesi People of Indian descent from the flat plain land of Terai, which has stronger connections with India’s Northern states than the hilly capital of Nepal back in Kathmandu. In reality, that is just an excuse. There is a lot more going on behind the scenes. India is actually punishing Nepal for not falling in line with Indian interests.
(Editor’s Note from The Washington Outsider: This might be considered analogous to Russian’s political subjugation of Ukraine, which ultimately sparked when the Ukraine Crisis when the US and the West intervened.)
Why Nepal is so shamefully dependent upon India?
Nepal is not only connected to India in terms of tradition, culture, and religion, it geographically borders India. For this reason, it gets most of its imports from and through India. In fact, all of its fuel and energy comes from India. Consequently, Nepal and India have long had an open border policy, which has allowed people from the two countries to move freely between both nations.
Unfortunately, the lopsided relationship is to India’s advantage. Most of the Nepali People go to India for study, medical treatment, business dealings, and better jobs. They mostly end up working in low paying positions as drivers, security guards, servants, cleaners, porters and so on. Large numbers of Indians, however, come to Nepal where they are able to find work in almost every profession, which they eventually monopolize. There is hardly an industry or profession that has not been dominated by Indian workers while almost everything sold in Nepal is imported from India. The whole of Nepal is, needless to say, always at the mercy of its big brother India.
How India has been monopolizing Nepal’s natural resources for so long?
One of Nepal’s most abundant natural sources is hydroelectric power, yet the nation persistently faces a dire shortage of electricity to the point the Nepali People are burdened with permanent “loadshedding,” which is in full effect for more than two-thirds of any given day.
According to a recent newspaper article published in Nepal, all the hydropower projects in Nepal are awarded to Indian companies and they are in no hurry to complete the projects. The reason is said to be a simple one. The Northern parts of India, which are not only joined with Nepal but also happen to be one of the driest places within India, need Nepal’s water to keep their lands arable and livable.
If India will not allow Nepal to use its own water to provide for its own needs, it cannot expect India to respect Nepal’s other interests and cooperate with Nepal on sharing the other natural resources of the region.
(Editor’s Note from The Washington Outsider: A failure of heavily populated regional powers Pakistan, India, and China to balance the interests of all neighbors in their sharing of natural resources will result in greater instabililty as the effects of climate change become more apparent.)
Why India always takes Nepal for granted and treats it as its own backyard?
Nepal is said to be infiltrated and roamed by India’s security personnel. India has always treated Nepal as a suzerain state while it has influenced Nepal in order to cater to its own interests for ages. Whenever Nepal tries to act as an independent, sovereign nation, India never hesitates to clip its wing.
That is precisely what is happening now. Nepal has no fuel or gas. The whole nation is being forced to a grinding halt and the Peoples lives have been thoroughly devastated by the Indian embargo. Nevertheless, nobody seems care if the People of Nepal live or die. No one in the world is even willing to confront India.
(Editor’s Note from The Washington Outsider: This might be considered analogous to Israel’s treatment of the Gaza Strip and West Bank.)
Simply because Nepal is poor, it carries no significance whatsoever to the outside world. The earlier Nepali people understand that.
(Editor’s Note from The Washington Outsider: the lack of focus on the current situation in Nepal is also the result of geopolitical disinterest. Until public attention shifted to the plight of Ukrainians, the governments of Western-dominated International Community had no interest in supporting efforts to confront Russia. The same is true when it comes to confronting India; whereas, the West is interested in Chinese aggression, so there is an effort to confront the Chinese government.)
How come India’s relationship with its neighbors has always been so low?
India is a bully. It is in a never-ending war with Pakistan and its relation with the other nations within its periphery are anything but good. Respect is a two-way street that cannot be coerced through force. It needs to be earned. India lacks respect for its neighbors.
No nation can be great just by wanting or saying it. It must work very hard to earn the respect and cooperation of its peers. By simply bullying smaller, poorer, and weaker nation like Nepal, India is undermining its own ability to become a great nation.
Why India is not the only one to be blamed for Nepal’s ongoing woes?
The blame for Napel’s problems cannot entirely be placed on India. Nepal and its leaders are as much at fault as is India for creating such an unfortunate situation that keeps its People poor. If they don’t learn from this current crisis, they never will.
This is already for the second time India has imposed such embargo against Nepal. The first one was in 1989. Nepal and its leaders should have learned well from that past experience. Needless to say, they did not. They should have better prepared the nation for such event again and found alternatives means of importing goods before it could happen again.
One of the options they had was to play the China card against India. In fact, it is probably the one and only option Nepal ever has had. It is surely a very dangerous game to play. Only a very smart, experienced, and charismatic leader from Nepal could have done it. Unfortunately, Nepal has never been blessed with such a good, brave, and smart son.
What it has are leaders, who are greedy and cowardly thieves. The beautiful nation of Nepal is mostly run by kleptocrats, who plunder the nation with both hands as though it is the national hobby.
(Editor’s Note from The Washington Outsider: China’s own growing aggression over the South China Sea and East China Sea complicate this situation. Although the West and the majority of China’s neighbors have a great interest in strengthening ties with India, it is necessary to confront India over its counterproductive treatments of its neighbors. Unless the International Community makes Nepal a priority, which has in regards to Ukraine and the Palestinian People, the mistreatment of Nepali People will only perpetuate the dysfunctional dynamic surrounding India and China.)
Will Nepal ever learn from the ongoing Indian blockade?
I do not think they will. If you can prove me wrong, I will personally apologize to each and every soul from the entire nation. For the sake of our homeland, I pray from the bottom of my heart that I am wrong. The future of Nepal is hanging on the balance now.
TIM I GURUNG/AUTHOR AT ISSLCARE – http://www.timigurung
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