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7th Nepal-India Joint Commission Meeting  |

7th Nepal-India Joint Commission Meeting 

Context

∙ External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Nepal counterpart NP Saud co-chaired the seventh meeting of the Nepal-India Joint Commission.

About

∙ Established in 1987, the India-Nepal Joint Commission provides a platform to review all aspects of the bilateral partnership.

∙ India and Nepal have signed five key agreements. They are:

∙ An agreement to export 10,000 megawatts of electricity to India in the next decade.

∙ Fifth tranche of Indian assistance for people affected by an earthquake in Jajarkot area of Nepal in November 2023.

∙ Launch of Nepali space satellite,

∙ Cooperation in renewable energy development,

∙ Implementation of high-impact community development projects,

∙ They Inaugurated three 132-kV cross-border transmission lines, including the second circuits of the Raxaul-Parwanipur line and the Kataiya-Kusaha line, and the New Nautanwa-Mainhiya line.

India-Nepal Relations

∙ Nepal is important for India in the context of its overall strategic interests in the region, and the leaders of the two countries have often noted the age-old ‘roti beti’ relationship, which refers to cross-border marriages between people of the two countries.

∙ Shared Border: The country shares a border of over 1,850 km with five Indian states – Sikkim, West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Land-locked Nepal relies heavily on India for the transportation of goods and services and access to the sea is through India.

∙ The India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship: Signed in 1950, it forms the bedrock of the special relations that exist between India and Nepal.

∙ Nepalese citizens avail facilities and opportunities on par with Indian citizens in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty. Nearly 8 million Nepalese citizens live and work in India.

ο Defense Cooperation: India has been assisting the Nepal Army (NA) in its modernisation by supplying equipment and providing training.

∙ Assistance during disasters, joint military exercises, adventure activities and bilateral visits are other aspects.

∙ The ‘Indo-Nepal Battalion-level Joint Military Exercise SURYA KIRAN’ is conducted alternately in India and in Nepal.

∙ Since 1950, India and Nepal have been awarding each other’s Army Chief with the honorary rank of General in recognition of the mutual harmonious relationship between the two armies.

∙ The Gorkha regiments of the Indian Army are raised partly by recruitment from hill districts of Nepal.

∙ Connectivity and Development Partnership: India has been assisting Nepal in development of border infrastructure through upgradation of 10 roads in the Terai area; development of cross-border rail links at Jogbani-Biratnagar, Jaynagar-Bardibas; and establishment of Integrated Check Posts at Birgunj, Biratnagar, Bhairahawa, and Nepalgunj.

∙ Water Resources Cooperation: Cooperation in water resources primarily concerning the common rivers is one of the most important areas of bilateral relations.

∙ A three-tier bilateral mechanism established in 2008, to discuss issues relating to cooperation in water resources, flood management, inundation and hydropower between the two countries, has been working well.

∙ Energy Cooperation: India and Nepal have had a Power Exchange Agreement since 1971 for meeting the power requirements in the border areas of the two countries, taking advantage of each other’s transmission infrastructure.

∙ India is currently supplying a total of about 600 MW of power to Nepal. An Agreement on ‘Electric Power Trade, Cross-border Transmission Interconnection and Grid Connectivity’ between India and Nepal was signed in 2014.

∙ Trade and Economic: India remains Nepal’s largest trade partner, with bilateral trade crossing US$ 7 billion in FY 2019-20. India provides transit for almost the entire third-country trade of Nepal.

∙ India’s export to Nepal has grown over 8 times in the past 10 years while exports from Nepal have almost doubled. Despite the difficulties due to the pandemic, India ensured uninterrupted flow of trade and supplies to Nepal.

∙ Nepal is India’s 11th largest export destination, up from 28th position in 2014.

∙ In FY 2021-22, it constituted 2.34% of India’s exports. Infact exports from India constitute almost 22% of Nepal’s GDP.

ο The ‘New Partnership in Agriculture’: It was announced in April 2018, which focuses on collaborative projects in Agriculture, Education and R&D.

ο Mahakali River bridge: Recently, a MoU was signed between India and Nepal for the construction of a motorable bridge across the Mahakali River connecting Dharchula (India) with Darchula (Nepal), under Indian grant assistance.

ο Operation Maitri & post-earthquake reconstruction assistance: In the wake of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, GoI was the first responder and carried out its largest disaster relief operation abroad (Operation Maitri).

∙ India extended US$ 1 billion to Nepal as part of  its long-term assistance for post-earthquake reconstruction in housing, education, health and culture heritage sectors.

Issues between India & Nepal

∙ Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950: On 31 July 1950, India and Nepal signed a treaty of peace and friendship in an effort to “strengthen and develop these ties and to perpetuate peace between the two countries”.

∙ As time passed, Nepal believed the treaty was “incompatible with national self-respect”.

∙ Madhesi Issue: India’s entrenched interests in Nepal suffered a setback in 2015, when a blockade at the borders ensued following protests by Madhesis and some other ethnic groups against marginalization of their interests in the newly-passed Nepalese Constitution.

∙ Kalapani dispute: The area is in India’s control but Nepal claims the region because of historical and cartographic reasons. The area is the largest territorial dispute between Nepal and India consisting of at least 37,000 hectares of land in the High Himalayas.

∙ Susta Border dispute: Susta is a disputed territory between Nepal and India. It is administered by India as part of West Champaran district of Bihar.

∙ Nepal claims the area a part of West Nawalparasi District under Susta rural municipality, alleging that over 14,860 hectares of Nepali land in Susta has been encroached upon by India.

Way ahead

∙ Maharashtra is home to Dharavi that has close to 1 million people living in just over 2 square kilometres.

∙ Lack of Facilities: Of the 63% of

∙ There are several irritants that have developed, straining this relationship, and for now there seems to be a concerted attempt by both governments to return to bonhomie, with the Indian government seeking to utilize “religious diplomacy” as a means to emphasize the special relationship.

∙ India-Nepal relations need to graduate to a more meaningful partnership on economic and geopolitical issues, with the Indian government continuing to retain a substantial role in partnering the Nepali regime in development projects.

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