Correct the Troubles of Your Own Making

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The net result is twofold: Number one, Nepal going further deep into current quagmire. Number two, India is losing its foothold, sphere of influence in India’s term. In addition, there is a growing danger of spillover effects of conflicts in Nepal.

By Deepak Gajurel

Deepak GajurelPolitical quagmire continues unabated in Nepal with no light sighted at the end of the tunnel. Though it should be the concern for Nepali populace, the heat is felt across the international borders to the south, and equally to the north.

Media pundits in Delhi, and a section of intelligentsia there, are expressing ‘serious’ concerns about the probable fallout upon them, of Nepal’s ever-ending morass.

Indian experts seem worried about Chinese growing clout in Nepal, and say, ‘The economic and other Chinese packages are designed to weaken India’s strategic gain in Nepal. If Chinese wave continues unchecked in Nepal, India might face multiple security threats in the future.’

Security establishment of Nepal’s southern neighbor, which thinks of South Asia as India’s exclusive sphere of influence, has a hard time imagining its neighbors having Chinese muscle as India’s competitor.

Policy makers in Delhi apparently are not ready to deal with the structural shift in its regional environment in general, and in Nepal, in particular. If India fails to timely adapt with the rapidly changing strategic equation, especially vis-à-vis Chinese inroads here, India will have to confront greater negative consequences for its regional standing.

Yes, China is attempting to redraw Asia’s geopolitical map applying various tools, including ‘string of pearls,’ cultural and economic muscle flexing, to name a few.

For years, Indians have been crying foul against Chinese movements in South Asia and Indian Ocean littoral areas. China’s increased involvement in countries of this region has been seen by Indians as a ‘string of pearls’ strategy to encircle India, not surprisingly, they have been taking this Chinese move seriously.

Keeping Tibet in mind, Beijing sees Nepal as probable launch-pad to be used by the West in collaboration with India, in the long run.

At Nepal’s front, New Delhi sees itself in defensive position vis-à-vis China’s growing clouts here. Official data shows that China has outgrown India in terms of foreign investment, which is seen, by some, as India’s dominance and influence rolling back.

China Study Center’s activities in Nepal are another issue of anxiety for Indian establishment, which they take as cultural influence that would spill over into India.

While India has been sponsoring acute centrifugal forces in Nepal, in the form of ethnic federalism such as ‘one Madhesh, one Pradesh’ Chinese have emanated, diplomatically, that Nepalis better not go with ethnic based federalism.

Keeping Tibet in mind, Beijing sees Nepal as probable launch-pad to be used by the West in collaboration with India, in the long run. Nepal going federal on the basis of caste and ethnicity, in addition to numerous ‘states’ adjoining Tibet Autonomous Region, is obviously a cause of ‘security threat’ for the rulers in Beijing.

It is not that China is the only force that is challenging India’s ‘traditional’ sphere of influence in this Himalayan nation.

The India sponsored, through 12-point Delhi Agreement of November 2005, regime change of 2006 has encouraged a myriad of ‘interest groups’ working overtly and covertly in Kathmandu. Any strategic analyst knows that these ‘interests’ are not confined to Nepali soil, rather their ultimate long term targets are on the either sides of Nepal’s international borders, Tibetan high plateau to the north of the Himalayas and across the borders south of Nepal Terai.

Astonishing pace in the spread of thousands of Churches throughout Nepal and their activities are other concerns that cannot be brushed off which would have domino effects across Himalayan Asia.

Clearly, Beijing cannot overlook growing ‘Free Tibet’ movements in and from Nepali soil. Hence, it’s the question of survival for Beijing rulers and to tighten their belt.

Getting precisely into the point, instability Nepal is experiencing since almost a decade lies on the great power rivalry at work here. All have their own vested interests, and everyone is trying to use Nepal as launch pad against the other.

The net result is twofold: Number one, Nepal going further deep into current quagmire. Number two, India is losing its foothold, sphere of influence in India’s term. In addition, there is a growing danger of spillover effects of conflicts in Nepal.

The troubles are of your own making, so should be the resolution. You have no many choices but two: either confront with stronger ones and get messed or step back from destabilizing maneuvers.

The author is Political Scientist with Tribhuvan University, Nepal, and editor of www.nepalpolity.com He can be reached at: deepakgajurel@gmail.com