Roundtable Discussion on Current Developments in Nepal and Implications for India
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On 15 March 2024, the Vivekananda International Foundation organised a round table discussion on the "Current Developments in Nepal and Implications for India''. Brig Vinod Anand, Senior Fellow, delivered the opening remarks, followed by brief presentations by Amb. Ranjit Rae and Dr Nihar Nayak and special remarks by Amb. Kanwal Sibal. In a significant political shift, Nepal's Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal removed the Nepali Congress (NC), a major coalition partner, from the government. He welcomed the Communist Party of Nepal — Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) along with two other parties, Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) and Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP).

Nepal's political scene has been characterised by a high degree of instability, with seven Prime Ministers since the adoption of the new Constitution in 2015. This instability is partly due to the rotating leadership among the major political figures—Prachanda, Oli, and Deuba—and the frequent shifts in coalition partnerships. The latest political manoeuvre by Prime Minister Dahal to form a new coalition with the CPN-UML and other parties is a testament to the ongoing jockeying for power, which has significant implications for governance and policy continuity in Nepal. Furthermore, it is essential to note that the left alliance along with two other parties have agreed on the 8-point agreement, there are doubts about the effectiveness of the 8-point agreement between political parties in Nepal and its underlying motives.

Over a period of time, political governments in Nepal have failed to deliver on their commitments and programmes. There has been disenchantment towards established political parties and the corrupt and scandals, leading to a sense of impunity. The emergence of new political entities like the Rashtriya Swatantra Party (RSP) is indicative of the public's desire for new leadership and approaches to address these deep-rooted issues. The discussion also shed light on the pervasive socio-economic challenges Nepal faces, including corruption, high unemployment rates, and a growing disenchantment with established political parties. The economic crisis, exacerbated by high emigration rates for employment opportunities abroad, poses a serious challenge to Nepal's future demographic and economic stability.

The role of external actors, particularly China, in Nepal's internal affairs was a crucial point of discussion. The increasing Chinese investments and influence in Nepal, including infrastructure projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), raise questions about the strategic implications for India. Nepal's geopolitical leveraging of its relationships with both India and China presents a complex diplomatic challenge for India. The discussion also underscored the necessity for India to recalibrate its approach toward Nepal, considering the evolving political landscape and the emergence of new political forces. Strengthening ties with a broad spectrum of Nepali political entities, while safeguarding India's developmental and security interests, is imperative. Projects like the Pancheshwar multi-purpose project, which have seen limited progress, highlight the need for more decisive action to enhance regional stability and cooperation.

Event Date 
March 15, 2024

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