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Updated: August 15, 2013 11:03 IST
outside insights

Epicentre of good, and bad

Baburam Bhattarai
Comment (9)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

The final fall of curtains on British colonialism in big South Asian countries over six-and-a-half decades ago was an occasion of great joy for all the peoples of the region. The celebration of the anniversary is a moment to reflect upon the general course of development in the region since then, with special focus on the largest member, India. It is also a moment to reflect upon the general course of development in the region since then, with special focus on the largest member, India. Though Nepal has never been colonised by any foreign power in history, it bore the fall-out of colonialism in the neighbourhood and hence empathises with the pains and pleasures of the big neighbour to its south, east and west.

The virtual epicentre of any movement or development in South Asia is India; because of its size, population, history, culture, economy and resources, the developments in India, whether positive or negative, directly impact upon the neighbouring countries. Both its strengths and weaknesses ultimately spill over to the neighbourhood. Hence it would be in our enlightened self-interest to closely monitor the developments in India and pace our moves accordingly.

First, the major achievements of India in the past 66 years.

Consistent adherence to multi-party electoral democracy by a population of more than a billion is undoubtedly the single most amazing achievement. Often mocked as a ‘noisy, chaotic democracy of a billion people’, it has a lot of scope for improvement but is gradually winning the hearts and minds of the people of the whole region. This bourgeois form of parliamentary democracy has been and can be severely critiqued for its many limitations and failures. But in the given historical stage of development of Indian society, this political democracy can be utilised as a spring-board, with attendant organisation and mobilisation of the oppressed masses, to jump to a higher form of socialist democracy.

Another important achievement by India after independence is the relatively fast pace of economic and technological development, particularly in the past few decades. A good base of physical and social infrastructure has been laid across the country and tremendous technological advancements have been made in different sectors. Of course, this mode of capitalist development is, by nature, sectorally and regionally unequal and uneven, but such development of productive forces is a prerequisite for higher societal transformation. This emergence of India as an economic and technological power-house is certain to send positive impulses for similar development in the neighbouring countries.

Now, some weaknesses or failures of India.

The most glaring weakness of India so far is the huge prevalence of social and economic deprivation and inequality across class, caste, community and gender. In the words of Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen: “India has been climbing up the ladder of per capita income while slipping down the slope of social indicators.” The scattered islands of prosperity amidst the vast ocean of poverty won’t be sustainable. Insurgencies and social tensions would certainly arise out of it. And they would inevitably send corresponding impulses to the neighbourhood.

Externally, India has to do more to win the confidence of the neighbours. As S.D Muni and C. Raja Mohan have correctly pointed out, for India, achieving the objective of becoming one of the principle powers of Asia will depend entirely on India’s ability to manage its own immediate neighbourhood. In principle, India’s official pronouncement of ‘peaceful, stable and prosperous neighbourhood’, ‘on the basis of sovereign equality and mutual respect’, is absolutely correct. But in practice, more efforts need to be made to achieve the desired goal.

In Nepal, India can win the people’s goodwill by making minor symbolic gestures without giving in on anything. Given the tremendous geo-political and economic leverage India historically enjoys in Nepal, the simple honouring of sovereign equality in day-to-day affairs and updating outdated treaties would go a long way in doing away with mutual distrust and laying a strong foundation of lasting friendship.

Perhaps, we would do well to heed the age-old observation of French political philosopher, Montesquieu: “If a republic is small, it is destroyed by a foreign force; if it is large, it is destroyed by an internal vice.”

(A former Prime Minister of Nepal, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai is among the senior-most leaders of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist.)

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More In: Comment | Opinion

Happy Independence Day !!! Obviously if we live on the village where
educated people live there will little space for people being with out
education . That's how it's works on the entire neighbourhood . When
india was colonized by British also Nepal was suffering from it's
cruel rana ruler and also by unacceptable Sugauli treaty . Though not
more but few Nepali leader have actively participated on the
revolution and been in the prison for very long year with the Dream of
freedom (I have no idea). But when British left then India started
to behave as a Second british to it's neighbouring countries . We
still have a same relation what we had with British Government just
the East india company is replaced by Government of India . Don't we
need to think this is the time to rectify unequal treaties and also
the behaviour ??? Or it's like what Mahatma Gandi Said " Desh Toh Apna
ho gaya lekin log paraye hogaye ". Or india want to have relation
with it's all neighbour's as with Pakistan?

from:  KP sapkota
Posted on: Aug 17, 2013 at 03:25 IST

I don't know how the distrust between the two countries is on the rise
when India directly recruits the people from Nepal into its defense
forces, both countries still enjoy VISA-less travels and the people of
Nepali origin (including my family) has made India their home and are
being treated on par with the other people of the country. It may be
because of the lack of strategic relationship between the two coupled
with the influence of China in Nepal. All I can say is neither of the
two countries can ignore their importance for each other be it
strategically or on diplomatic terms. But I personally feel that the
relation goes beyond that, to the terms of brotherhood and all the
religious and social affinity we share with each other. And I am a
proud Indian citizen of Nepali origin.

from:  Piyush Gurung
Posted on: Aug 16, 2013 at 10:49 IST

Seeing everybody makes a comment about India being a bully, argubly
taking land from Nepal and so forth. What should be considered that the
number of Nepalese people lives in India and India's contribution to the
Nepalese economy. If the grant given by India is not utilised then its a
fault from the other side not to mention how Nepal posing a security
threat to India from both jehadists and Chinese prospective. If you want
to be kingmaker be a king first.

from:  Kalpajit
Posted on: Aug 15, 2013 at 20:33 IST

being a Nepali citizen and having lived for 8+ years in India in the
past, I have seen following observations.
1.Most Indian friends do not know that Budhha was born physically in
Nepal.(may be because they were taught different).
2.Nepal though is small country, it is big enough that if hills/
mountains were flattened it would make a size of modern day France.
3.For a small country with regards to density, Nepal is one of the
most diverse country in the world in terms of geography, caste,
culture,language, politics.
4.India helps Nepal by donating vehicles, funding schools,
scholarships but it also DOES encroach Nepali land at borders may be
because we cannot guard our borders but we know it and that is the
primary reason most Nepali dislike India.
5. Most Nepalese do not realize how big is India and its diversity in
EVERYTHING and Nepal does not matter much to India in terms of taking
benefit out of Nepal. It is solely out of human concern that India
still loves Nepal.

from:  anup
Posted on: Aug 15, 2013 at 15:49 IST

My opinion herewith:1.Sharing his views of bourgeois-ness in India , he tries to remains true to his rebellious self, but the very fact that Maoist abandoning their Naxalites partners , questions their cause for a war that held the dream of a communist manifesto for the whole region .Now trying to forgive himself for giving up the cause.2.The symbolic gestures that he has referred to is an attempt to get ears of Delhi to the now peace-loving Maoist.A pledge for support to his party. Also the very fact that 70% of Indian grants to Nepal falls in the hands of friends of Delhi ,“ghafla”s in foreign aid.Maoist are in bargain for their piece of cake.3.Recognition of the fact that India bullies its neighbors,thus upholding patriotism within the borders. Also this being their only known way to maintain influence.4. BRB (Mr. Bhattarai)) must have acknowledged that Indian think-tank is not well taken care of, and the failing foreign policy of this great nation can be profited from.

from:  dishahin nepali
Posted on: Aug 15, 2013 at 15:32 IST

Happy Independence Day to India ! I know Indian people know better on
the need and importance of independence than us since we were never
directly colonized throughout the history. However, India also should
learn to practically respect the independence of other small
neighbouring countries. Dr. Bhattarai has attempted to avoid caustic
words agains India because of his diplomatic etiquette, but an
ordinary Nepali citizen does not feel happy with the dominating
behaviour of India since its Independence. Rather than just shaking
hands, speaking sugar-coated words of friendship and talking big on so
called "special relationship" the ruling leaders of both countries
should settle the thorny issues between the two countries.

from:  Ramesh Khanal
Posted on: Aug 15, 2013 at 12:54 IST

This article has clearly explained the foreigner;s perspective of
India.Yes,it is rightly said that any development in India will have a
definite impact on it's neighbours.Taking the inspiration from the
achievements that we have scored so far,have to emphasize more on
attacking the ill effects caste,class,community and gender based
inequalities. Our progressive steps in this direction will certainly
boost the confidence among the Indians towards their motherland on one
the hand among the world countries towards India on the other.

from:  NARESH GOUD AAKULA
Posted on: Aug 15, 2013 at 09:51 IST

India is crucial for the economic, political and social prosperity of whole south asia.
Not only South Asian minnows need India, but India needs them as well for its multi dimensional progress. Hopefully India understands this plays its role 'more
responsibly' in the near future.
Happy Independence day to all the Indians.

from:  Sujan Adhikari
Posted on: Aug 15, 2013 at 09:21 IST

It is apparant that Mr. Bhattrai's knowledge about India is mostly from Western Sources and that too filtered from Maoist prism...his beginning statement "The final fall of curtains on British colonialism.....decades ago was an occasion of great joy for all the peoples of the region" is factually wrong since close to 10 Million Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims migrated or perished due to partitioning of India and would not consider that time as 'period of great joy'. If he does not know or understand this basic fact about India/Pakistan's birth, then he has no credibility to lecture Indians about India.

from:  Jaywant Nitturkar
Posted on: Aug 15, 2013 at 04:36 IST
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