India- Nepal Relations: Notes for UPSC

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
India Nepal Relations Notes UPSC

India-Nepal Relations


  1. Charactarised by H & C ties, close P2P ties facilitated by open borders. 
  2. SD Muni—Roti-beti ka rishta.
  3. Shyam Saran— “More than exem­plary inter­state rel” 

Critical nature Of Relationship

  1. Shyam Saran (How India Sees the World)—Calls I-N rel as “Relationship of Paradox”
  • Paradox of affinity coexisting with hostility.
  • Dense P2P ties but recurrent tensions in G2G rel.
  • Co-ex of Deep attachment to India & deep fear of domination by India.


  • Economic interdependence
  • Social constructivism
  • Communication approach 

Imp of Nepal

  1. Geo Economics—HEP, Trade & investment 
  2. Geo-strategic—Buffer b/w 2 Asian giants 
  3. Geo-Poltiical– Modi—Nepal is centrepiece of “N-1st” policy, Integrated S.A, SAARC, UNSC reforms, BBIN, BIMSTEC

Issues in India’s Policy

  1. SD Muni—India’s Nepal Policy is a subset of India’s China policy
  2. Constantino Xavier —Some in India still look at 21st century Nepal through a 19th century colonial prism–as a buffer state with limited sovereignty
  3. Shyam Saran—
  • Episodic & crisis-driven and not backed by human & material resources that our neighbours deserve. 
  • Nepal’s dependence for transit makes it feel -‘India-locked’
  • Too focused on political shadow play, little attention to cultivating constituencies with +ve sentiments towards India— Indian Army pensioners, Madhesis etc

Nepal’s policy—

  1. Nationalistic sentiments + China card
  2. Constantino Xavier—Nepal is embracing a policy of strategic diversification to reduce its dependence on India & enhance its non-aligned autonomy.
  3. C Rajamohan—Present FP of Nepal is about weakening “special rel” with India & building more co-op with China.
  4. Manjeev s. puri—Glbl spread Ne­pal’s options beyond India + Geo also stands to change, with Chinese potential to bore through Himalayas
  5. Dinesh Bhattarai (How to be friends in deed)–Rel are Dominated by frustrations of past more than opp of future.
ALSO READ  Governance Notes For UPSC

Tightening Sino-Nepal strategic embrace

Why Nepal is tilting towards China? 

  1. SD Muni— China’s determination of strategic push in S.A & India’s flip-flop approach towards neighbours
  2. C. Rajamohan—China’s dramatic rise in 21st century makes it a far more compelling partner for Kathmandu.

Xi’s visit (oct 2019)

  • Trans-Himalayan connectivity  
  • Legal ass treaty   
  • China became largest foreign investor 
  • Nepal signed a Transit protocol with China which gives Nepal access to 4 sea ports & 3 land ports in China

Why India is failing?

  1. C. Rajamohan—
  • Not bcz of over-reliance on geopolitics, but due to neglect of geoeconomics
  • Communist dominance over Nepal’s politics
  • Bcz of strategic errors in dealing with Nepal
  • Delhi’s much-vaunted “special rel” with Kathmandu is part of the problem


  1. S D Muni— As Rel r deeply intertwined by geo, civilisational bonds, the strain could not have been sustained for long. 
  2. C. Rajamohan-“A more equal friendship”
  • Alleged loss of Indian “hegemony” over Nepal is based on questionable assumptions.
  • India’s hegemony in Nepal is over-stated. It was very limited & always constrained by Nepal’s domestic politics. 

Way forward w.r.t China factor

  1. C Raja Mohan– “A more equal friendship”
  • Rather than object to Kathmandu’s China ties, Delhi must focus on how to advance India’s relations with Nepal. 
  1. Harsh V. Pant— 
  • No point lamenting Chinese presence. Instead, India shd provide an alternative narrative for I-N ties

Way Forward for India-Nepal relations

  • SD Muni— India’s Nepal policy needs caution & not Grandstanding 
  • Rakesh Sood—Rewriting the fundamentals—Need a fundamental reset in I-N rel—Need for India to be a generous partner
  • C. Raja Mohan— Nepal first policy based on ‘sovereign equality’ & strict non-interference in domestic affairs + Mutual respect is the key
  • Amb. Manjeev S. Puri— Update the prism by incorporating realities of a changing India & a changing Nepal.
  • Shyam Saran— Convince Nepal that they are ‘India Open’, not India-locked + Cultivate constituencies with +ve sentiments towards India.
ALSO READ  Reasons and solutions of child marriage in India | UPSC Notes


  • PM Modi—India will continue to remain a steadfast partner of Nepal’s vision of “Samriddha Nepal, sukhi Nepali”
  • PM Oli—Nepal wants “equality­ based friendship” with India

Border dispute

Recently Nepal published new map depicting Kalapani, Limpiyadhura & Lipulekh as part of its territory.

Is this reflects a serious problem? Yes

  • C Raja Mohan— It is “merely a symptom of structural changes unfolding in the external & internal context of bilateral rel.”

Way forward

  • Jayant Prasad— More easily solvable, if there is political good­ will & statecraft exercised on both sides.

1950 Treaty of Friendship

C. Rajamohan— 

  1. It has become symbol of Indian hegemony in Nepal.
  2. Its security value for India has long been hollowed out.
  3. It is a political millstone around India’s neck that Delhi is unwilling to shed for the fear of losing the “special rel”.
  4. Revise, replace, or discard 1950 treaty & negotiate a new set of mutually satisfactory arrangements.

Shyam Saran—Renegotiate all the treaties with Nepal to allay it’s apprehensions & dissatisfaction