India began to push for a stronger influence in Nepal when it urged the country to greatly increase its production of hydroelectric power. This recent development is motivated by the connections China has made in South Asia.
This is not the first time India has wrapped its hands around a smaller neighboring country. According to Nepalese political scientist Professor Rabindra Khanal, India “always prefers to keep countries like Bhutan and Nepal under its security umbrella,” acknowledging the close history shared within the region. India seems to reject the idea of a Nepal-China partnership and is making moves to quickly integrate itself to a more prevalent position in Nepal’s economy .
For the first time in 17 years, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans to travel to Nepal after recently visiting Bhutan after questioning the strength of India’s presence in both nations. However, his visit isn’t welcomed by all. Maoists, a Nepalese opposition party, see the threat that India poses to the country. “The draft impinges on the sovereign right of Nepal to allow investors other than India in the development of hydro-power and renewable energy,” said former Nepali water resources minister, Lakshman Ghimire.
The tentative thoughts shown in the members of government stems from the fear of the possibility that India is attempting to trap them in an agreement that hinders the economic growth of Nepal — a reasonable concern due to the abruptness of the visits and offers.
India offers insight into the benefits of the partnership, claiming that “Nepal is estimated to have the potential to generate 40,000 MW of power, but it has installed capacity of just 600 MW and suffers blackouts for up to 18 hours a day.” With the help of India, the country can surpass their neighbor Bhutan in energy production and become a top producer, which would serve as a huge improvement to the national economy.
Bhutan is only more successful because they have already harnessed hydroelectric power and are projected to have 10,000 megawatts of power by 2020. Nepal has the same option, should they seriously consider the interest expressed by India.
The future of Nepal is in their own hands, but if they partner with India, there is real fear that India will go too far. India could become even more involved with Nepal’s economy, taking away the country’s hard-earned independence.
– Elena Lopez