Sharachchandra Bhandary, KATHMANDU:- Indian External Ministry’s Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Friday said aside from common civilisational inheritance, India’s relationship with Nepal rests on four pillars – development cooperation; stronger connectivity; expanded infrastructure and economic projects; easier and enhanced access to educational opportunities in India for the young people of Nepal.
At a programme organized in Kathmandu on his two-day official visit to Nepal, he said, “Underlying all of these is a steadfast principle: we will work to Nepal’s priorities. The structure that the pillars hold up is also well-defined and unchanging – mutually beneficial people-to-people contacts. And in all this technology, particularly digital technology, is to my mind a force multiplier.”
He said that India sees itself as Nepal’s foremost friend and development partner. “Developmental experiences that we share with you are the developmental experiences that have proved successful and beneficial in our own country. Given our similarities in environmental conditions and socio-economic challenges, there is so much we can learn from each other,” the Indian External Affairs Secretary said.
Shringla was of the view that one programmatic mechanism that India has used to good effect is that of High Impact Community Development Projects, implemented in Nepal with India’s support. “These projects are tailored to the needs of the local community, create community assets, and promote socio-economic welfare at the grassroots level,” he mentioned.
On the occasion, he said enhancing cross-border connectivity and infrastructure projects were also critical, adding that they unlock potential of millions and in millions.
“Physical connectivity projects such as highways, rail and air links and inland waterways enhance movement of goods and people. Energy connectivity – whether power transmission lines or petroleum pipelines – contribute to the well-being of each other’s citizens, and build mutual trust and partnerships. Digital connectivity through optical fibre networks is our route to the future, particularly, and as we find in India, with remote access to education, healthcare and other services through the digital medium. Finally, trade facilitation through upgraded border infrastructure makes for easier transit and seamless commerce, Shringla stated.
Saying that the Motihari–Amlekhgunj petroleum pipeline was the first of its kind in the region, he claimed that it has created capacity to carry two million metric tonnes of petroleum products into Nepal, and has already led to savings of over Rs 800 million for the people of this country.
According to him, the Jayanagar-Kurtha cross-border rail line should be operational shortly and it will make Janakpur so much quicker to visit from India. “Tourism from India would be an important area of employment, commerce and opportunity. We want to promote it to the extent that we can.”
Similarly, he said that Nepal’s hydropower potential can be a major source of clean energy for the subcontinent, and an economic game changer for your country. “Together we can find solutions to climate change and environmental concerns that trouble us. Together Nepal’s youth and India’s young people can explore the exciting age of technology and innovation. India’s education institutions, research and skilling centres, and start-up ecosystem are primed to forge partnerships with Nepal,” the Indian External Affairs Secretary observed.
Today itself, he inaugurated three school buildings in Gorkha district constructed with Indian government’s assistance and handed over to the local government.
On Thursday, he had met with high-level dignitaries of Nepal government where they discussed ways to strengthen the strong cultural and civilizational bonds that exist between the two countries and further build on the solid foundation of the multifaceted friendly relations for the benefit of the two countries and peoples.
Upon completing his visit, Shringla returned to New Delhi this evening.
Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bharat Raj Paudyal and Indian Ambassador to Nepal Vinay Mohan Kwatra bade farewell to Shringla at Tribhuvan International Airport this evening. RSS
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