Nepal | November 27, 2020

Visit of Indian dignitaries: Open sesame for talks

JIBA RAJ POKHAREL
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The restoration of an ornamental Hindu king and Hindu kingdom thus resonates now as it did then in the Nepali political arena. Many temples in India are opened by Hindu kings, and they have been deprived of this historic as well as religious privilege after the annulment of the kingship in Nepal

Dashain, the national festival of Nepal, has been celebrated with pomp and pleasure since time immemorial, not only in the cities but also in the far flung villages. Historians attribute it to be more than 1,800 years old because of the image of mother Goddess Mahishashuramardini, the killer of the buffalo demon, and other Mother Goddesses found in the Changu Narayan Temple compound dating back to the 2nd century.

But COVID-19 played a spoil sport this year, reducing the celebration to a mere shadow of its former self.

The visit of RAW chief Samanta Goel, however, created political sparks against the backdrop of the gloom pervading the whole country due to the pandemic.

It created such political waves that it has widened the cracks already existing in the edifice of the Nepal Communist Party. It was already up in din and dust due to the never ending internal squabbles between the rival political groups led by Prime Minister Oli and the former Prime Minister Prachanda.

The Prime Minister was criticised heavily for holding a clandestine meeting with the Indian RAW chief.

RAW, abbreviated as Research and Analysis Wing, seeks to safeguard the interest of India through activities ranging from intelligence to even military interference.

RAW is said to have raised the Mukti Bahani, which led to the liberation of Bangladesh. It carried out military operations to flush the invading mercenaries out of the Maldives at the request of the then President, Gayoom, in 1988. It is also held responsible for uniting the opposition to bring about the sudden defeat of Mahinda Rajpaksha, who was otherwise coasting to easy victory in the national election in 2015.

The visit of the chief of an institution whose activities range from creation of a new nation to the installation of a new government will naturally set the tongues wagging in the political circle of any country.

He must have certainly expressed dissatisfaction on the unwarranted remarks of Oli ranging from comparing the Indian virus with the Chinese, interpreting Satya meva jayate as Singha meva Jayate, holding India responsible for his likely fall from the government and the declaration of Ayodhyapuri near Birgunj in Nepal as the birthplace of Ram.

Nepal had a double whammy during the following visit of the Indian Chief of Army M Naravane.

Hehad raised a hornet’s nest in Nepal by labelling the dissatisfaction shown by Nepal on India’s intrusion of Nepali territory on behest of someone implicating China. He came to Nepal at the invitation of the Nepal Government in order to be conferred the rank of honorary General in line with the tradition underway since1950.

Nepal’s relation with India is unique. It shares a porous border with India, the kind of which is very rare indeed. Moreover, the Army Chiefs of either country are conferred the rank of honorary General after their appointment. About 40,000 Nepalis are still serving in the Indian Army. Retired Army personnel receive substantial amounts of money as pension every month. Many Nepalis go to India for their livelihood. It can be seen in the long queues at the India-Nepal border these days.

Moreover, marital relations exist on either side of the border on account of the marriages taking place, whose glorious history go back to the marriage of the revered Ram of Ayodhya, India to venerable Sita of Janakpur, Nepal. Nepal’s relation is thus of both doughnut and daughter, popularly known as roti aur beti. Both the dignitaries must have requested Prime Minister Oli to value the bird in hand instead of romanticising with the one in the bush against this backdrop.

When the relations go deep to the rock bottom, there are likely to be problems also. One of them is the border dispute, which is marked by intrusion by India at several places.

Such dispute was resolved very amicably in the 17th century when the mother of the two ever feuding brother kings, Dravya Shah and Yaso Brahma Shah, dropped milk in the Chepe River by squeezing her breast declaring it as a bordering river. The kings confined themselves to either side of the river as it is forbidden to step over the milk of the mother.

The Hindu kingdom and the Hindu king were such bordering pillars. But the shortsightedness of King Mahendra in 1960 and his son Gyanendra in 1998 in deposing the democratically-elected government followed by the myopia of the political parties in the establishment of a secular state demolished both these bordering edifices. A Hindu kingdom with religious freedom was a twoin-ones word in the hand of Nepal as Hindu-dominated Indians would have come to the rescue of a singular Hindu kingdom of the world upon its invasion.

The restoration of an ornamental Hindu king and Hindu kingdom thus resonates now as it did then in the Nepali political arena.

Many temples in India are opened by Hindu kings, and they have been deprived of this historic as well as religious privilege after the annulment of the kingship in Nepal.

Many vexing border disputes have been solved equally interestingly in the past. One can take the example of Germany, Belgium and the Netherland in Valls, which has been made a tourist hub. What is a disputed area between India and Nepal now could be a centre of bonhomie of also China if addressed properly. But for this, talks should start because that is the only panacea to any problem.

India-Nepal relations got frozen all of a sudden. Fortunately, the visit of the two dignitaries has warmed them up, opening the door for dialogue. Open sesame can be heard across the India, Nepal political arena in the aftermath of their visit.

India and Nepal should grab this opportunity with both the hands to create lasting peace in the neighbourhood.


A version of this article appears in print on November 13, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.


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