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Unparalleled Nepal-India ties

Ishwar Dev Khanal

May 16, 2022

5 MIN READ

Unparalleled Nepal-India ties

KATHMANDU: Let me begin this piece by quoting Nepal’s ambassador to India, Dr. Shankar Sharma in the Indian Express: “For Nepal, it is a blessing to have the world’s fastest-growing economy (India) with a massive middle-class population as an immediate neighbor with an open border.”

This scribe wouldn’t disagree with it. Yes, India is the world’s fastest-growing economy, and Nepal should reap the benefits of it.

Now, let me quote Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who said, “We will continue to build on our shared understanding to expand cooperation in multiple areas, including in hydropower, development and connectivity.”

PM Modi, who is visiting Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha today (May 16) on the occasion of Buddha Purnima, believes India’s ties with Nepal are “unparalleled”.

This is PM Modi’s fifth visit to Nepal and first-ever to Lumbini as he had promised eight years ago during the 18th SAARC Summit in Kathmandu that he would visit Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha.

The two leaders will also focus on “expanding bilateral ties and a special focus on connectivity”, the entire domain of Development Partnership and hydropower.

As a world leader, PM Modi’s visit to Lumbini will spread a loud and clear message to the world that Nepal’s Lumbini is Gautam Buddha’s birthplace, and simultaneously dispel the misconception about Buddha’s birthplace.

Hence, Nepal should take this visit as an opportunity since this can help increase the number of Buddhist tourists to Lumbini.

Therefore, Lumbini’s shared promotion and development will bring both cultural as well as economic benefits.

Moreover, Modi’s Lumbini visit on the occasion of Buddha Jayanti will further highlight the significance of the relationship between Nepal’s Buddhist heritage and India’s Buddhist heritage.

Therefore, his talks with his Nepali counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba in Lumbini will focus on a “comprehensive agenda” that would further expand cooperation between the two neighbors.

Before flying to Lumbini, PM Modi said he was looking forward to meeting Nepalese Prime Minister Deuba again after their “productive” discussions during his (Deuba’s) visit to India last month.

Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Deuba will have a “comprehensive agenda to further expand cooperation in multiple areas, including hydropower and connectivity,” says Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra.

It’s been said that the talks between the two prime ministers will resume from where they were left last month in New Delhi.

Consider what Sharma wrote: “Nepal is trying to reduce the external sector vulnerability in the medium and long term by exporting a higher volume of electricity to India and Bangladesh, attracting developers and investors…”

During the one-day visit, PM Modi will also participate in prayer at the Mayadevi Temple in Lumbini — indisputably a part of the Buddhist religious circuit.

In order to improve connectivity between Lumbini and other Buddhist destinations in the transnational circuit, it is equally important that the proposed Lumbini-Kushinagar rail link be expedited.

To note, India is investing in infrastructure to implement the religious circuit to address the lack of accommodation and hotels, issues of safety and cleanliness, and creating amenities along the stretch of the circuit.

The hope: PM Modi’s visit and his tete-a-tete with Prime Minister Deuba would further “deepen the economic partnership and long-standing friendship” between the two countries.

Therefore, it is important that the two leaders discussed setting common tourism standards, greater cooperation focusing on joint marketing and promotion of tourism sectors, and branding as well as the development of religious tourism.

This would help drive the country’s economic growth besides enhancing bilateral relations.

The two leaders will also focus on “expanding bilateral ties and a special focus on connectivity”, the entire domain of Development Partnership and hydropower.

One of the major areas where there could be deeper cooperation between Nepal and India is connectivity, which helps people to people connect, and improve trade and economic relations.

During today’s visit, PM Modi will also pay his reverence at the Mayadevi temple.

PM Modi had undertaken similar cultural and religious visits when he visited Muktinath and Janakpur in May 2018.

The hope: PM Modi’s visit and his tete-a-tete with Prime Minister Deuba would further “deepen the economic partnership and long-standing friendship” between the two countries.

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