Thursday, February 4, 2010


The Chinese influence in Nepal is growing

A couple of weeks back, when I visited Nepal, three things were most visible. First being processions, each with a different agenda. The second being – lack of safety, which I experienced one late evening when I planned to visit a local market, popularly known as a tourist destination. And lastly, a visible inclination of Nepali citizens towards China.

The first is not so disturbing as Nepal is a newly formed republic. Such newly formed republic nations go through this kind of initial turbulence, which eventually settles down. And hopefully, should settle down for good! And as far as safety is concerned neither New Delhi nor New York or Paris is safe, always! But what is concerning particularly from the Indian perspective is the growing Chinese influence on the Nepalese. The two days that I was there, the newspapers on one hand reported China on a progressive tone whereas on the other, anything to do with India was pretty regressive. But this overt inclination towards the Chinese got more visible when I went to address a class of MBAs. So during the interaction, I realized that there was this overwhelming majority in the class, who felt that China is far ahead of even the US with respect to every socio-economic parameter. I found it strange, for in India when I take the same session, students do feel the same way for China but their numbers are marginal compared to those students who feel that US still retains the numero uno position and would remain so for some more time to come. For some, US would remain an unchallenged superpower for decades.

Though there is no doubt that Nepalese receive us with lot of warmth as historically with respect to cultural, cross border trade, tourism and overall development of the region, India is deeply entrenched within Nepal. In fact, the Indian footprint is so deep that the most used language is Hindi and Indian currency is accepted ubiquitously across Nepal, except for Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency, but that is on account of counterfeits that are rampant there. Most of the promising businesses are also run by Indians, which means that Indians have not only been instrumental in creating employment in India for the Nepalese but they have done the same in Nepal as well. But then there has been an increasing feeling, particularly within the Maoists, that Indo-Nepal relation has always been unfair on Nepal with an undue advantage for India. And this feeling has been sweeping across Nepal as the political leadership is pretty vocal about it and it seemed that even the common Nepali citizen has also started believing the same. China is leaving no stone unturned to exploit this anti-Indian sentiment within Nepal, for they very well understand the strategic advantage of Nepal. So what China is doing is teaching Chinese to Nepalese and helping them in a big way to create the much needed infrastructure for Nepal. Not just that, among other engagements, China is also helping Nepal build three flyovers in Kathmandu, which are of great significance for right now, as traffic congestion is at a nightmarish level. Indian engagement with Nepal has been pretty silent and behind the scene, whereas a Chinese flyover is overt, on the face demonstration of Chinese engagement with Nepal. There isn’t any doubt that masses tend to get swayed by anything visibly tall and is imposing as a flyover. And thus the visible Chinese tilt for the Nepalese. Not to forget it is just the beginning..

Interestingly, whatever India has built since the last six decades, is getting demolished by Chinese master strokes. Frankly, only they seem to understand that flyovers do not cost much, when compared to the cost of Nepal’s strategic location.


1 comment:

  1. It is true that China drum has been loud lately not only in Nepal but in many parts of north-east India from past few years.Even the only remaining long time friend of India, Bhutan has started to give away,In recent hush-hush land deal Bhutan had to give away a part of its territory to China.
    If even timid country like Bhutan starts recognizing Kashmir as Indian occupied Kashmir in its daily news paper .All hopes of India shining by 2020 should be kept aside and all we can do is wait and watch the Dragon blow fire on tiger the CAT.
    Utkarsh Lavania