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Narendra Modi’s Nepal visit to boost hydropower, infrastructure cooperation: Observers

Narendra-ModiNEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal next month is expected to boost cooperation in hydropower and infrastructure sectors between India and the Himalayan nation, said observers here even as visiting Nepalese Commerce Minister Sunil Bahadur Thapa Wednesday expressed his country’s keenness to learn from Modi’s development model.

“Nepal is more like an elder sister to India than a younger brother. We share a common terrain in southern Himalayas, as well as deep familial, cultural and civilizational bonds,” Jayant Prasad, former ambassador of India to Nepal, said at a discussion here on “India-Nepal Ties: Energising the Future” organised by the Ananta Aspen Centre, a not-for-profit organisation.

“At the people-to-people level, India’s ties with Nepal are closer than with any other country,” he added.

While highlighting the strong geopolitical and historical affinity between the two countries, Prasad identified energy and infrastructure as the key areas of bilateral convergence.

“At the microlevel, the two sides need to work on making the border more people-friendly, without compromising on security,” he said.

“Building infrastructure, especially roads and railways, in Nepal with Indian support offers a great opportunity,” he said.

“At the macro-level, cooperation in hydropower production can provide revenue to Nepal and power to an energy-starved India.”

According to D.P. Tripathi, general secretary of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Indian government’s approach towards Nepal is laudable.

“Despite being in the opposition, I agree that the ‘neighbours first’ approach taken by the Indian government is correct,” he said.

“The government of India is wise enough to understand that history does not go back, it goes forward.”

Tripathi was of the opinion that in India-Nepal bilateral ties, “whenever political interaction has been spearheaded by the leadership, ties have been strong”.

“The relationship weakens when bureaucracy plays the dominant role. Hence, to ensure strong bilateral ties, it is important that the bureaucracy is subordinated to the political leadership.”

Joining the discussion via video-link from Kathmandu, Sujeev Shakya, author and founder chief executive of Beed Management, a management consulting and financial advisory firm based in Nepal, highlighted hydropower and tourism as potential sectors of India-Nepal cooperation.

“Nepal is looking forward to Prime Minister Modi’s visit. The onus of cooperation now lies with Nepal, and it needs to look at cementing development and economic partnership,” he said.

“Hydropower, agriculture, tourism and services are the four sectors where economic relations can be deepened,” he added.

According to data released by the Ananta Aspen Centre, collaboration on hydropower production stands to benefit both India and Nepal.

The hydropower potential of Nepal’s rivers has been estimated at 83,000 MW, and the technical feasibility for development could yield an estimated 44,000 MW. In addition, connectivity between Indian and Nepalese grids could address energy needs of both countries. (IANS)

For Indian tourists travelling by land:- 72 hours (-ve) C-19 report, CCMC form and Antigen Test at entry point

For Indian tourists travelling by land:- 72 hours (-ve) C-19 report, CCMC form and Antigen Test at entry point

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