New Delhi: India lays great store by Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala’s ongoing five-day visit, at the government of India’s invitation. The importance of the visit can be gauged from the kind of appointments fixed for him. It is significant that he will visit Lucknow and Patna to meet the chief ministers of the states whose borders touch the landlocked Kingdom-turned-Republic. The Nepali Congress leaders have traditionally enjoyed close contacts with political leaders in the two states. Nepal is now passing through a critical period. While nobody doubts the Nepali leaders’ ability to find solutions to their country’s peculiar problems, India can certainly lend a hand.
Unfortunately, decisions concerning India’s relations with Nepal have, of late, been guided by intelligence input, which has its negative connotations. The three major challenges facing Nepal at present are the peace process now underway, the forthcoming Constituent Assembly elections and the need to draft a Constitution capable of addressing the country’s needs. India has said that “it would be ready to help Nepal at a pace and in the way the Nepalese government would want”. India has in the past hosted three Nepalese prime ministers belonging to different parties but together representing almost the entire spectrum of politics in the nation. Koirala’s visit is expected to take the bilateral ties to a new level.
With the abolition of monarchy, India and Nepal now have a lot more in common than earlier. Democracy is yet to take deep roots in Nepal, where ideologies based on narrow loyalties, personal ambitions, distortion of religious beliefs and ethnic considerations have been competing for supremacy. There is need to develop institutions of democracy, which alone will ensure inclusive growth and involvement of people at the grassroots. In the absence of such institutions, national life has stagnated. India should use both political and development approaches to promote democracy in Nepal.
(New Indian Express)
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