Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on his way to Nepal today. The visit has generated intense interest with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj having prepared the ground for what will be a historic event. The Prime Minister himself tweeted on why the visit was so important to him personally. The Prime Minister’s tweets that appeared in both Hindi and English brought out two personal aspects of the visit. The first was spiritual as the Prime Minister expressed his deep emotions on being able to worship at the Pashupatinath Temple during the holy month of shravan. The second was social as the Prime Minister revealed the story of Jeet Bahadur a young nepali who had lost his way and got separated from his family. The Prime Minister tweeted on how he took upon himself to give Jeet Bahadur a direction as well as help him find his parents. The visit is special to the Prime Minister as he will be reuniting Jeet Bahadur with his family.
The Nepal visit holds importance both for the bordering states and for the nation as a whole. It also comes at a time as that Himalayan State has struggled to chart its path towards a Democracy leaving behind the Monarchy. The competing political impulses between a now discredited Maoist movement, lurking in the shadows Royalists and a fledgling democracy makes Nepal a test case for Indian Diplomacy in the Neighborhood. How soon Nepal makes its transition towards a new and modern Constitution will also be keenly watched.
Importance attached by the Prime Minister to the Nepal visit must be seen from the point of view that India is the only large democracy with hostile borders on almost all sides. One of the primary objectives of Narendra Modi’s Foreign Policy in the immediate neighborhood would be to turn India’s hostile borders benign and ultimately gateways for free trade and commerce.
Bringing a political and strategic analytical perspective on this visit Team Niti Central had spoken to popular columnist and political commentator Tavleen Singh a few days back.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Nepal visit will be the first occasion after a long gap of 17 years when any head of Government of India will be landing on the soil of the Himalayan country. Will it open new venues for better and more friendly relations with Nepal? Why is the Prime Minister giving preference to smaller countries like Bhutan and Nepal instead of larger countries like US, Russia, China, and Japan? Why had former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi imposed a ban on border travel between India and Nepal? Shivkant Gautam spoke at length with senior journalist Tavleen Singh on the implications of Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal.